"Good grief. We're there already. The month of April 2021 marks the first-year anniversary of Eden By Annihilation's publication by Divergent Wordsmiths. An occasion that, originally, was going to spark off the development of a second novel continuing the cosmic wanderings of the Sixth Doctor, Peri and Frobisher. However, what I failed to anticipate was that a short while after the end of the first novel, I was already drawing up plans for the next. Pages and pages of ideas in ink. Swirling like a percolating coffee pot.
It’s no underestimation to say that this trio has had an unerring ability to get under my skin in the best way possible. Despite the brevity of their tenure, there was a good sense of camaraderie to the three in the vein of the best Doctor/companion teams. Here were a trio that could be picnicking one moment and zapping Cybermen the next and yet, they weren’t terribly well explored in the twenty/thirty years of expanded universe media. Frobisher, the ever-faithful whifferdill, has still had cameos to this very day in comics, audio and novel, but this unerring link between comic strip and videotape remained as it ever was. Incomplete. As open-ended as the vanishing of Liz Shaw or the musing farewell of the Seventh Doctor and Ace.
As a writer, that’s difficult to resist, but where to begin? I wouldn’t be able to do justice to it in a directly visual follow-up to John Ridgway’s full-motion panoramas. My medium was the written word. The same words you're reading now. It would have to be in prose. Better, it would have to be a novel. A good challenge and a possibility to flex those creative neurons. The World Shapers, the final illustrated voyage of the trio, concluded in October 1987, almost a full year after the Sixth Doctor’s exeunt from his trial on television. In that borrowed time, the TARDIS had visited slavers on the hijacked Mayflower, the contrapuntal motion of Raygun Gothic Zazz, an old man’s gentle respite in Scotland and a mythology-cracking development on the planet Marinus. As steady an array of worlds as those visited before (and during) the '86 hiatus. I knew where I wanted to go next, a neat little place on Trailblazer Prime, but something caught the Doctor’s eye in Natasia Tor.
The story itself is one steeped in the headlines and pop culture of 1987. One year after, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Aliens debuted in cinemas. One year after, NASA’s Challenger shuttle has exploded on a clear blue day and Chernobyl’s radiation cloud has fallen over Ukraine. It’s a bitterly Cold War at the present. Everything has an urbane formality, almost a chill, to it. But, nevertheless, the characters themselves refused to stay confined to that box (bless 'em). Over time, they've become a halfway-house rendition of how they appeared in Doctor Who Magazine and where they ended up at Big Finish. This is a Sixth Doctor of passion who’s been pitted against both the mad Astrolabus and obsessive Toymaker, a Peri who's negotiated both the Elohim of Paradise 5 and the dungeons of Sylvaniar, and a Frobisher who became both bounty hunter and worshipped as a living god (oops).
Life returns to the Doctor, Peri and Frobisher after 33 years in stasis and one which has, so far, endured the test of time in the big ("They seek him here, they seek him there...") and small (who knew the Doctor's fourth self was also a fan of Winnie-the-Pooh?). That was a well and truly worthwhile experience and, best of all, it's a way for others to get into Doctor Who books that doesn't cost a mazuma. With more to come, alongside Divergent Wordsmiths' other projects, in the future."
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