THIS STORY TAKES
THE NOVELLA "THE
OFFICIAL BBC 'QUICK
RELEASED IN FEBRUARY
Can eating a bag of
crisps really make
you more clever? The
company that makes
the crisps says so,
and they seem to be
right. But the Doctor
is worried. Who
would want to make
people more brainy?
With just his sonic
screwdriver and a
full of crisps, the
Doctor sets out to
find the truth. The
answer is scary –
the Krillitanes are
back on Earth, and
everyone is at risk!
Justin Richards’ first Doctor Who novella is the last of the government-backed Quick Reads to feature David Tennant’s Doctor. Indeed, until very recently this delightful romp looked as if it was going to end up being Ten’s de jure swansong, but BBC Audio have just announced one further release that has put paid to that. And it’s a shame really, because Code of the Krillitanes is about as truthful and as enjoyable an illustration of the Tennant era as you can get.
Continuing the Quick Read tradition of resurrecting a popular foe from the television series, Richards’ story sees the return of the Krillitanes, first seen in Toby Whithouse’s well-liked 2006 episode, School Reunion, and more recently the stars of Christopher Cooper’s far less notable Krillitane Storm. Despite his light word count, Richards does a fabulous job
of presenting the very best of the winged beasts here - in fact, much in the style of the ever-evolving Krillitanes, Richards cherry-picks all their most successful facets and discards the rest.
The Krillitanes’ ‘Brainy Crisps’ serve as
a wonderfully evocative lure (both for the
Doctor within the story, and prospective
readers in the nation’s bookshops and
supermarkets), and from there Richards’
story unfolds with all the pace and vigour of
an old Target paperback. It’s a joy to read about Tennant’s Doctor, armed with nothing more than supermarket trolley full of Brainy Crisps and his trusty sonic screwdriver, infiltrating the Krillitanes’ business and acquiring a secretary before teaming up with the firm’s neglected techies (a nod to the author’s previous career, I wonder?) to foil the alien monsters’ devious plot. And it’s a brilliant, progressive plot too: one built around websites and market research, every bit as of the moment as “DVD easter eggs” and “spoilers”.
“I blame those new Brainy Crisps.
Since he started eating them, he’s been too clever by half.”
But what really makes Code of the Krillitanes a worthwhile read for those of us above the age of ten is that, for all its exuberance and ‘young adult’ foibles, the whole affair is under-scored by a wry, almost mischievous feeling of cynicism that constantly flits between astute and amusing. Supermarket loyalty cards, deceptive two-for-one offers, and even managerial non-entities are all fair game for Richards here as he quietly puts the modern world to rights.
And so to say that it only demands £1.99 of your money (less than a pint!) and about forty minutes of your time, there’s no real excuse for not dipping into this “short, sharp shot of adventure” – an alliterative abridgment that I might well have coined myself, had I not been beaten to it by Code of the Krillitanes’ own blurb.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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