Tired of waiting for Wonder Woman, American Gods, The Dark Tower or yet another big SFF event to drop? In a new regular feature, The Waiting Game, I'm going to recommend five stories you could be digging into while your favs keep you hanging on.
This week, I rec five stories fans can try out while they wait for Peter Capaldi's last appearance (sob) as The Dr in Dr Who Series 10 (starting 12th April, 2017):
➝The Librarians - A plucky band of Librarians, their Guardian, and a cantankerous caretaker travel to different time periods, worlds, and locations with the help of a magical Library Annex. What's that sound you can hear over the noise of the Annex's doors opening to a new world? Oh yes, it's the sound of the Librarians pleasantly bickering away while they work together to defeat evil. I love the sound of argumentative team dynamics in the morning.
Seriously though, The Librarians is an SFF show with a lot of heart, plenty of feelings, and an eye for its genre. Like Dr Who, much of its delight comes from the central team bouncing off each other, and the emotions that are generated as the characters are constantly confronted with highly pressurised SFF situations. Dr Who is often powered by emotional struggle and The Librarians isn't shy about filling its screen with feels. These feelings ricochet around the Annex walls even as the show prepares to throw itself into another mildly silly SFF plot.
And, wow, does The Librarians ever love tropes, common SFF devices, and special episodes which let it indulge in SFF silliness. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and at the same time it is obviously seriously in love with the trappings of its genre. In one episode, the Librarians discover Santa is real and that he has a magical hat which causes the wearer to be extra jolly. In another, they visit what appears to be a murderous house. Fairy tale towns, ghosts in the machine and the King Arthur story are all gleefully thrown into its mix. This willingness to borrow, and lack of inhibition, should appeal to Who fans because Dr Who is often at its best when it just says 'why not', ignores any desire to be 'serious' science fiction, and decides to see what comes of being all out weird. Dinosaurs in space. Remember, dinosaurs in space?
So, time travel, adventure, snark and feelings - The Librarians has many of the major ingredients that lie at the heart of Dr Who's success. It's a solid, super fun pick for Who fans currently missing all the banter and tropes of good Who episodes. While The Librarians is more fantastical where Dr Who is science fictiony, it's a good fit if you like the whole range of make believe encompassed by SFF.
➝The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman - Hm, how is The Invisible Library like Dr Who? Intelligent, time travelling being who ages differently to other people? Check. Young, ingenue assistant who is not quite what they seem? Check. Arch-rival who is both the flip-side of said intelligent being and also maybe a little bit in love with them at the same time? Check. Magical structure that allows travel to different worlds. Check, check and check-aroo. Plus, The Invisible Library is all about a world that looks a lot like Victorian London. And, as we know, Victorian London is the spiritual home of Dr Who. So many episodes set in Victorian London. So many.
I make no bones about the fact that I would like the next Dr to be a woman. The fact that this seems to be so mind-bogglingly impossible for the creative team to conceive of is part of why I'm drawn to stories about women who get to charting trips to different worlds. And I loved meeting Irene, the heroine of The Invisible Library, who is both capable and often struggling to keep up. She's one of my favourite world jumping women, and I look forward to reading many more adventures that feature her.
➝DC's Legends of Tomorrow - DC's Legends of Tomorrow stars a mismatched team lied to, drugged and cajoled into helping a rogue Time Master save the future. Not exactly feeling the Who vibe? What if I tell you that Time Master is Arthur Darvill; formerly seen playing Amy Pond's husband Rory Pond. Are you getting Whovian feels now?
As a fan of Dr Who, I found it impossible to resist at least trying a cracky SFF show where Darvill had clearly accepted a role because it meant he finally got to be the Dr. And once I started watching, I got hooked by the rest of the team (particularly Mick Rory & Leonard Snart but let's not go there right now). At first glance, the whole show is just a vehicle for side characters from other DC properties (The Flash, Arrow) and it wedges a whole load of unrelated characters together. However, as with the best spin-offs, it soon becomes its own thing partly by owning its own messy nature.
The cast hurtle through time on a mission to stop the villainous Vandal Savage. Like Dr Who, DC's Legends of Tomorrow can't resist a good time traveling period episode; particularly if it gives its characters a chance to dress up. It is, and stop me if you've heard this before, a very fun show at times. I really think fans of Dr Who appreciate that show's fun side. Surely, no one wants it to be all Rose Tyler endings? So that's why I've filled this list with suggestions that are as much about fun, and developing relationships, as they are about serious faces, action, and the consequences of time travel.
➝The Shape of My Name by Nino Cipri - I think Nino Cipri's short story is perfect for Dr Who fans that crave the tricky twists and heightened emotions only time travel stories can provide. It's difficult to talk about this story without spoiling the finale so I'll just say it's about time travel, and the relationship between a mother and child. Pick it up if you love when Who plotting goes right, you can't guess the ending, and you come away full of emotions.
➝The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - This may seem like an odd book to compare to Dr Who but its episodic structure, which features many trips to learn about different alien societies, makes me think of the early episodes in each new companion's story. The Dr takes each new companion all over the place at first, and I think Becky Chamber's book will appeal to any Who fans that are fascinated by the space colonies, alien species and strange new cities that feature in these episodes.
What would you recommend to Dr Who fans waiting for that next series? Share your thoughts in the comments.