Canaries provides a quieter, smaller vignette of the Time Lord Victorious universe. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things lurking in the dark…
The huge scope of the Time Lord Victorious, in which the Doctor’s actions change the whole history of the universe, has meant there’s been plenty of space for unexpected little extras. Canaries is one such bonus treat, available free from the official Doctor Who website. It’s impacts on the storyline too slightly to even feature on the tangled map of Time Lord Victorious paths. But it does fall clearly into a general area.
The multimedia juggernaut can be broken down roughly into three phases. There are the stories where various characters first realize something has gone wrong with time in the distant past. Then there is the central conflict between the Doctors in the Dark Times. And finally an extended set of epilogues as various characters deal with the aftermath. Canaries sits neatly in the first zone. But more importantly, Dave Rudden uses it as a jumping off point for a story as human, emotional, dark and shaded with terror as we’ve come to expect from him.
A museum of impossible things gathers together exhibits that shouldn’t exist
Anke Von Grisel runs the Verbier Museum of the Impossible. It’s one of those small town museums of minor curiosities that pepper the tourist trail. And it plays host to Anke’s own personal collection of objects she’s acquired over many years. Many are seemingly pedestrian at first glance, like pipes, coins and photographs. But on closer examination the eclectic selection all have one thing in common – they shouldn’t exist. But the Doctor has a grim suspicion of his own part in why they do.
Rudden uses his roughly two and a half thousand words with skill and precision. He doesn’t overburden his brief narrative with incident. Canaries restricts itself to a tour of the collection by Anke. Albeit one punctuated by the increasingly desperate attempts of various incarnations of the Doctor to persuade her to part with them. Instead the author fills it with mood and a growing sense of unease. Tough, uncomplaining old Anke solicits our sympathy and admiration even via this brief pencil sketch. And her secret, deeply personal reasons for devoting her life to the collection bring an unexpectedly emotional punch to the final pages. While distant alarm bells will grow closer in the reader’s mind as frightening familiar exhibits – like a fragment of the planet of the Kotturuh – are unveiled.
Canaries successfully bridges Time Lord Victorious and The Wintertime Paradox, while being a complete Doctor Who story in its own right.
Appropriately enough, Canaries isn’t content with being one thing when it can be two at once. Not only does it tie in to Time Lord Victorious, but it also essentially acts as a thirteenth tale for Rudden’s new Doctor Who anthology The Wintertime Paradox. And with story titles like He’s Behind You and We Will Feed You to the Trees, we can obviously expect The Wintertime Paradox to be full of Rudden’s trademark dark whimsy. Perfect reading for both Hallowe’en and long Christmas nights.
Yet neatly, Canaries also stands alone from both those strands. If you never even knew either of those existed, this would still be a compellingly creepy tale in its own right.
You can read Canaries free on the official Doctor Who page now. Meanwhile, The Wintertime Paradox is available from all good book retailers.