Into the Nowhere Review
Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull gives his verdict on Time Trips story Into the Nowhere by Jenny Colgan.
Jenny Colgan is most certainly a familiar face in the Doctor Who universe. Not two years ago she wrote (under the guise of J.T. Colgan, the fabricated middle name being ‘TARDIS’; she’s now dropped the initials and gone for Jenny T. Colgan) the rather good Dark Horizons, a tale that adopted a Scottish setting with the whole thing being centred around the ancient Lewis chessmen. Now she’s returned to pen a new story but this time it transports the Doctor far from Scotland – to an impossible planet (not Krop Tor, rest assured).
As the writers in the Time Trips series are allowed to pick whatever Doctor they wish with whatever companion Colgan has gone for Matt Smith’s late incarnation partnered with Jenna Coleman’s Clara. It was inevitable someone would pick the most recent double act and I’m thrilled it’s Jenny Colgan. She captures the Eleventh Doctor’s skittish likeness nicely and throws in bucketfuls of charm for good measure. Matt Smith is definitely there, it’s his counterpart Clara that isn’t but, personally, this isn’t Colgan’s fault. Clara doesn’t have a distinguishable personality, no tics other than her pushiness and “oh my stars” so she’s a difficult character to get on paper and Colgan tries her very best. Occasionally moments of quirkiness and madness slip through but the rest of the time she falls under either generic female companion or Amy (she seems awfully like Amy at times).
In terms of villains, I want to skirt this area because you’re in for a load of surprises as to the identity of the true malfeasant. But for some spoiler-free starters, there are living skeletons, something perfectly ordinary in the world of Doctor Who as well as a world perfectly engineered to destroy everything on it through quicksand, gorges, deadly forests and a plethora of more colourful methods. If that all feels a bit Indiana Jones then go with it, Into the Nowhere basically is Indiana Jones in space and that is a very good thing. Into the Nowhere is scary, mark my words; properly, Blink-esque scary with a lot of French jokes and pokes. If that sentence doesn’t make you want to buy it then nothing will.
The pacing is a bit off here and there but Colgan’s potent writing style kept me engaged and her descriptions of the lead two are just spot on. Into the Nowhere might not have the gusto of Dark Horizons but it’s not a sequel so it doesn’t have to be. No, Into the Nowhere is a perfect slice of later Eleventh Doctor action: a bit rushed but overall thoroughly enjoyable.
Something rather neat about Into the Nowhere is that it’s set post-The Day of the Doctor when the Doctor(s) and Clara have saved Gallifrey, depositing it in a pocket universe shut off from the rest of the universe. I’m still not wholly sure whether Colgan had actually seen the 50th anniversary special at the time of writing (judging by her Twitter feed it seems she started sometime around the midpoint of 2013). There’s a clear reference to the events but apart from that the whole thing could easily be placed in Series 7: Part 2 (it’s got the appropriate amount of action and character moments to be a 45 minute episode).
Into the Nowhere is exemplary; an adventurous little e-book that’s packed with plenty action sequences and lots of Eleventh Doctor moments. It’s a bit dull at more than one point but Colgan’s masterful power of the pen and some unexpected shocks mean Into the Nowhere is an enjoyable, breezy outing from the always reliable imagination of Jenny Colgan. In February we’re going to be getting a Tenth Doctor story from Nick Harkaway and it features a woman called Christina. Lady de Souza, anyone?