Friday, March 24, 2023

The Lowdown on Shadow of the Gallifreyan

What is Shadow of the Gallifreyan?

A collection of unofficial flash fiction pieces set in the Doctor Who universe, telling the stories of what happens next to the people and worlds the Doctor has encountered in his travels. The book is available in paperback and electronic form and has been written in aid of Shelter. The cover has been designed and illustrated by one our writers, the multitalented Simon Brett.

Where did the idea come from?

The title is based on The Shadow of the Galilean, a 1986 book by the German theologian Gerd Theissen. It tells the story of Andreas, a wealthy grain merchant who lived in first century Sepphoris. He is on a mission to find out who Jesus is, but is always one step behind him. So he never gets to meet Jesus, and must make his own conclusions from the shadows he left behind.

What’s different about this book?

We tasked our writers with taking the perspective of a character from a televised Doctor Who story, the more obscure the better! There may be one or two surprises along the way, but as a rule the Doctor and his companions are not active characters. It gives us a chance to consider what happens to those who must pick up the pieces after the events of the TV story have played out.

Can you give us some examples?

They range from the policeman in An Unearthly Child to Karvanista in Flux – friends, foes and those indifferent to the Doctor. We’ve got historical figures, including King John (The King’s Demons), King James the First (The Witchfinders), Vincent van Gogh (Vincent and the Doctor) and Agatha Christie (The Unicorn and the Wasp), and other humans such as Ping Cho (Marco Polo), Samantha Briggs (The Faceless Ones), Mollie Dawson (The Evil of the Daleks), Ann Talbot (Black Orchid), and Jeff (The Eleventh Hour). Plenty of aliens also have their say - a Foamasi (The Leisure Hive), Gibbis the Tivolian (The God Complex), a Vervoid (The Trial of a Time Lord), Tzim-Sha the Stenza (The Woman Who Fell to Earth) and many more. The book covers 177 different Doctor Who stories in total, from all eras of the series to date.

What about the stories where there are no guest characters or where everyone died?

There are indeed a few awkward ones, but we had some really fun and creative pitches for them. In fact, these were the ones that were most popular with our prospective writers! You’ll have to read the book to find out how, for instance, Horror of Fang Rock and Warriors of the Deep were tackled. But other stories in the collection do include memories from a character who died. Fortunately, the Doctor Who universe has readymade ways around that.

This is book one, does that mean others are planned?

We hope to finish the project with at least every televised story covered, but there is scope for more.

What was it like putting this collection together?

Working with 65 different writers, all of whom have given up their time and talents for free in order to raise money for Shelter, makes this Altrix’s most ambitious project yet. But we have to say, everyone rose to the challenge and were brilliant to work with. Perhaps the hardest editorial choice was how to structure the book. We didn’t want to follow an established list because as a reader it’s more fun not quite knowing what to expect next, but at the same time, we didn’t want it to be completely random. Starting and ending the book with the thoughts of a fictional compiler helped in that respect.


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