In a recent tidying session, I found a pile of stuff I wrote in 1991. Some of it appeared in Drabble Who, a collection by Beccon Publications (1993) that raised money for the RNIB Talking Book Library.
That book had nearly 100 contributors, including people who had worked on Doctor Who in the past, some who would work on the show in the future, novelists, editors, and enthusiasts like me.
A drabble is a piece of fiction containing exactly 100 words, excluding the title. The word comes from a joke in Monty Python’s Big Red Book, which itself was subsequently mentioned in the 2008 Doctor Who TV story “Silence in the Libary”. (I hope you’re making notes… there may be a test at the end of term.)
Drabble Who is out of print, and will not be republished, so I think that over a decade and a half later it’s safe to blog my two drabbles here. And then later, I may publish the three that I wrote but they did not use.
The first one is “Mark Four”, a typical bit of fan fiction enthusiasm.
The second, “Initial paragraphs from a draft letter to my oldest companion” is an acrostic, the effect of which was rather spoiled on initial publication because they indented every new paragraph. It also has a theme that would later appear in my novel Frontier Worlds.
Working from memory isn’t always easy, but working from reports is perhaps more difficult. A few months’ effort, though, and you’d have thought I’d had blueprints.
One last minor adjustment, and the lights blinked on. The tail aerial wagged a wary greeting. The radar sensors pricked into life.
I flicked briefly over the tongue of ticker tape. “Old technology. You’re a collector’s item already.” It hummed, a mechanical question in a rising note.
“I hardly suppose I need to introduce myself,” I murmured, running a clean finger along the burnished black casing.
“Affirmative, Master,” whirred K-9. “I will obey you.”
Initial paragraphs from a draft letter to my oldest companion
Theft and disguise started my career, I suppose, though appearing first on that monochrome world Earth established my distinctive style.
Afterwards, my look changed several times – shifting shades of light and dark, subtle variations of line and effect, though I could on occasion transform completely, be unrecognisable, camouflaged or transparent even to you.
Recognition’s rarely a problem now in our spins around the universe.
Doubtless my looks belie my age, but then you know I transcend more than expectations.
I’ve known many of your friends, Doctor, yet remain your truest companion.
Sharing the changing times is what keeps us close.