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Players by Terrance Dicks
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1812100,760 (3.27)6
Arriving on the sun-baked veldt in the middle of the Boer War, the Sixth Doctor is soon involved in the adventures of struggling politician and war correspondent Winston Churchill. Of course, he knows Churchill is destined for great things, but unseen forces seem to be interfering with Winston's historic career.… (more)



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As far as time travel stories go, this one ticks a particularly large number of boxes for me. It takes in the Boer War (an under-discussed conflict in time travel, at least in my experience), Winston Churchill, and England during the inter-war years, with a major thread about the 1936 abdication crisis. And running through all this is a group known as the Players, who get their jollies by travelling through time and messing with human history. In this story it is the (Sixth) Doctor's job to thwart their callous games, with the assistance of Peri.

I tore through this in a couple of days and really enjoyed it. Lately I've gone off alternate histories involving WW2, but in this case the story was set in the years leading up to WW2. This meant that, while the idea of the Players succeeding in creating their alternate history was horrifying, the story was still in the real world, which made it easier to handle.

Another bonus was the flashback set during the First World War, in which the Doctor was actually the Second Doctor. It was like getting two Doctors for the price of one!

I would recommend this book if you like the historical Doctor Who stories or want to check out an adventure involving the Sixth Doctor. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Aug 2, 2015 |

This is the first of Terrance Dicks' three novels about the Players, a mysterious race of manipulators of human history for the sake of a grand Game, reminiscent of Roger Zelazny's "The Game of Blood and Dust" (a favourite short story of mine). Anyone who wondered why Ian McNiece's character seemed so chummy with the Doctor back in 2010 can find the answer in this book, which is largely about the Sixth Doctor and Peri encountering Churchill in the Boer War and then in 1936, though with a brief flashback to an adventure of the Second Doctor with Churchill in 1915, in which the future prime minister is rescued from capture by the Germans.

Dicks is of the generation who knew Churchill as a genuine time-travelling hero, in that he progressed from a young officer in the British army's last meaningful cavalry charge at Omdurman in 1898 to being the man in charge of a nuclear power. It sort of seems obvious in retrospect that Churchill and the Doctor should meet, and it's almost surprising that it hadn't happened on screen or page before.

The plot itself is thrilling stuff, ending in confrontation with Joachim von Ribbentrop and a direct intervention into the 1936 abdication of Edward VII, where the Doctor and Peri successfully keep history back on the right lines despite the efforts of the Players. Fun, if not profound, told in Dicks' characteristically clear prose, and bringing in plenty of references to Dicks' other Who work - The War Games, of course, but also Dekker from Blood Harvest and off-screen references to the events of Timewyrm: Exodus. Interested readers can pick up a brand new edition, as it is one of the 11 books reissued by the BBC for the 50th anniversary. ( )
  nwhyte | Mar 23, 2013 |
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