Lord Emsworth and Others by P. G. Wodehouse (Herbert Jenkins, 1937) Nine short stories evincing Wodehouse’s usual joie de vivre and knack for comedic happenstance, yet, save for ‘The Crime Wave at Blandings’, lacking closure, giving instead the impression of half-conceptualised novels (or subplots thereof) cut down in the mid stages of drafting.
Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, Volume 5 ed. Sean and Corie Weaver (Dreaming Robot Press, 2018) A substantial but fast-moving collection of middle grade SF short stories, some fully formed, others little more than scenarios that cut off at some arbitrary word limit. All convey positive messages, although the predilection for underrepresented protagonists becomes artificial in its ubiquity.
All You Zombies and Other Stories by Robert A. Heinlein; audiobook read by Spider Robinson (Blackstone, 2014) Although lacking the plot progression, character arcs and no-frills brevity mandated by modern editors—for shame!—these five Heinlein stories demonstrate the engaging effect of powerful ideas wrapped in real narrative personality (and additionally, through Spider Robinson, a bona fide storyteller’s delivery).
Doctor Who: Landbound by Selim Ulug; audiobook read by Nicholas Briggs (Big Finish, 2017) While exiled on Earth, the Third Doctor crosses paths with a grounded sea captain. After an uninspiring beginning—a rather forced set-to wherein the Doctor can display his Venusian aikido—this develops into an apposite, rather wistful vignette, cathartic for both characters.
The Doctor Who Audio Annual (BBC, 2017) Presented in chronological order (First to Sixth Doctors) and read mostly by erstwhile companions, this collection of stories from the old Doctor Who Annuals has a nostalgic appeal, capturing the tone of each era. Little surprise though that the authors were uncredited.
Mulliner Nights by P. G. Wodehouse (Herbert Jenkins, 1933); audiobook read by Jonathan Cecil (Chivers, 2011) The stories in this collection read somewhat like unused subplots from Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle and Jeeves & Wooster novels, but in their upgraded state fairly dazzle with insouciance. Wodehouse riffs masterfully on his favourite topic (thwarted engagements), his prose wild and expressive.
Doctor Who: Legends of Ashildr by James Goss, David Llewellyn, Jenny T. Colgan & Justin Richards (BBC, 2015) A shameless, mostly unreadable cash-in. Of the four stories in this collection, only Colgan’s could claim anything like independent worth. In the other tales, Ashildr is either unrecognisable (Goss), superfluous (Llewellyn), or bland (Richards). Uninspiring narratives that fritter away Ashildr’s unique potential.…
A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 2012); audiobook read by Michael Fenton Stevens & Stephen Briggs (Isis, 2012) With the exception of ‘The Sea and Little Fishes’, this collection of short stories and miscellanea (some Discworld, some not) is sadly lacking, at least by Pratchett’s standards. The qualities that brought his novels alive simply don’t lend themselves…
Doctor Who: Forever Fallen by Joshua Wanisko; audiobook read by Nicholas Briggs (Big Finish, 2016) A nicely low-key story exploring one of Doctor Who’s great untapped questions: what would happen if the villain just stopped when given the chance to rethink his megalomaniacal scheme? Between them, Wanisko and Briggs capture some of the Seventh Doctor’s melancholic brooding.
The Father of Lies by K J Parker (Subterranean, 2018) A 500+ page compendium of Parker’s recent short fiction, focussing in particular on those pieces depicting gods, devils, magic and religion. As ever, Parker crafts believable worlds in which to tell fantastic, habitually mordant, stories. Anti-heroes abound and suffer for their sins.