Eion Colfer wears a cardigan for Doctor Who

Posted by CB Droege

The first of eleven Doctor Who short story authors talks about his contribution.

About a week ago, we learned that an upcoming short story anthology ill feature eleven of the UK’s most popular children’s fiction authors, each writing a new in-canon Doctor Who story for one of the eleven incarnations of the Doctor. One story will be released each month from January to November of this year, with the collection being released in time for the holidays. Each story will be introduced by a video from the author.

Only one of the eleven authors has, so far, been revealed. Eoin Colfer, bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl book series, will be writing the first story, A Big Hand for the Doctor featuring the original character, played on television by William Hartnell.

The video - which you'll have to watch on YouTube, as embedding has been disabled outside the UK - gives us an introduction to Colfer’s story from Colfer himself, who is surprisingly funny in a dry sort of way.

We also have this synopsis of the story, though it’s nothing that Colfer himself didn’t already tell us above:

London, 1900. The First Doctor is missing both his hand and his granddaughter, Susan. Faced with the search for Susan, a strange beam of soporific light, and a host of marauding Soul Pirates intent on harvesting human limbs, the Doctor is promised a dangerous journey into a land he may never forget.

More interesting is this excerpt from the story itself. The style is a bit juvenile, but that’s part of the intent it seems, since the project is specifically created by children’s authors. The passage is from the middle of the story, so skip it if you don’t want the tale spoiled:

The Doctor and the Soul Pirate faced each other across an expanse of slick grey slate. The wind churned the mist into maelstroms and the great expanse of space yawned overhead. The Doctor’s hat was snatched from his head and sent spinning over the hotchpotch of pitched roofs into a coal bunker thirty feet below.

Where I shall probably soon follow, the Doctor realised, but he had no alternative but to engage this pirate fellow. After all, the grotesque creature stood between him and his granddaughter.

‘Igby kill white-hair,’ said the foul creature from between clenched teeth. He was presumably referring to himself in the third person, and referring to the Doctor according to his hair colour, not randomly informing the Doctor of the existence of a man called Igby who had something against white hair.

‘Release your prisoners,’ the Doctor shouted into the wind. ‘You don’t have to live this way. You can be at peace.’

And even though the Doctor had always abhorred weapons, he wished he had something a little more substantial than a walking stick to fend off the blows that were coming his way.

‘I like white hair. He funny,’ shouted Igby, his own booming voice penetrating the elements. ‘Come die, old man.’

There is an excellent chance that I will do just that, thought the Doctor grimly. But despite the odds I simply must not lose. Sometimes there is more to life than the odds.

The orange anti-grav beam pulsed, scorching a cylinder through the London fog, silhouettes of brainwashed abductees floating in its depths, dreamily certain that they were flying to their own tailor-made heavens.

Jolly adventures, trees to climb, heroes all.

How long would that fantasy sustain them before the reality of the Soul Pirates’ ship manifested?

The Doctor advanced cautiously, picking his way along the slick ridge, keeping his cane extended all the while. As soon as he stepped out from behind the chimney, the full force of the elements battered him with sideswipes of wind and tacks of icy rain. He struggled to keep his balance on the treacherous slating, and each time a loose tile slipped from its moorings and smashed on the cobbles below the Doctor remembered the danger he was in.

Despite what the video above says, the full text of A Big Hand for the Doctor is not yet available. It will go on sale on January 23, 2012 in ebook form only. Another story will follow from a different author, each month until the eleven stories are all out, at which time they will be available in print as an anthology.