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Literature / Time Lord Fairy Tales

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Time Lord Fairy Tales is a 2015 Doctor Who Expanded Universe book by Justin Richards.

Aimed at children, the book is a collection of short stories that are mostly Twice-Told Tale retellings of familiar European fairy and folktales set in the Whoniverse; others are original stories written in the same style. Some are lighthearted as they juggle the tropes of fairy tales and the Whoniverse together, but many are Played for Drama; some could work in the show's continuity, others are Alternate Universe fare.

The stories (and their respective readers on the audiobook edition; the audio versions are also available as individual downloads) are:

  • "The Garden of Statues" (read by Joanna Page) — A year after the death of its elderly owners, the garden of a beautiful mansion, once a playground for children, has become overgrown and mysterious. As two brave children take up a dare to retrieve a silver tray from the mansion, they suspect they are being watched and followed...
  • "Frozen Beauty" (read by Adjoa Andoh) — A rescue mission to find a lost spaceship and its crew, who have been in suspended animation for over a century, turns perilous when the ship turns out to have other occupants...
  • "Cinderella and the Magic Box" (read by Ingrid Oliver) — The familiar story of an abused maiden and a royal ball is twisted: this fairy godfather wears a bowtie, and the handsome lord of the castle has a secret.
  • "The Twins in the Wood" (read by Anne Reid) — Twin heirs to a planet's throne are to be unjustly executed via a space capsule meant to self-destruct...but it crashes in the wilds of Gallifrey instead, which prove to be an unconventional refuge.
  • "The Three Little Sontarans" (read by Dan Starkey) — On a battlefield, it is the cleverest and most practical of these three who manages to outwit an enemy Rutan.
  • "Jak and the Wormhole" (read by Tom Baker) — On his way to sell the family cow, a poor farmboy is entrusted with a mysterious machine by a dying noble. Unable to destroy it as instructed, Jak buries it, and a wormhole emerges in the sky the following morning — one with nasty enemies waiting at its other end.
  • "Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday" (read by Sophie Aldred) — A scullery maid overhears an evil queen's plot to hold her world for ransom with a doomsday machine, but also gets clues to stopping it. Can she find a way to retrieve its hidden keys first?
  • "Little Rose Riding Hood" (read by Rachael Stirling) — When a young girl heads into the woods to visit her ailing grandmother, it's not the fabled Bad Wolf she needs to worry about...
  • "The Gingerbread Trap" (read by Samuel Anderson) — Two siblings investigating a mysterious object that fell from the sky become the prisoners of a shapeshifting "witch" who needs them to solve a problem for her.
  • "The Scruffy Piper" (read by Nicholas Briggs) — Space Station Hamlyn has been invaded by a plague of Cybermats! Luckily, the Second Doctor has just arrived there as well...
  • "Helana and the Beast" (read by Pippa Bennett-Warner) — A woman discovers her scientist father's latest employer is a monster who seeks a cure for his state — a seemingly impossible task. Realizing the creature's loneliness, she agrees to live in his mansion in exchange for her father's release. As love blossoms between the resultant unlikely couple, she discovers a secret in the library that may give them the Happily Ever After they seek...
  • "Andiba and the Four Slitheen" (read by Yasmin Paige) — The new arrivals on a distant planet are seeking to make a business deal with the owner of a factory famous for wine and vinegar, but a plucky young woman discovers a sinister plot at work.
  • "The Grief Collector" (read by Michelle Gomez) — A would-be bride of little means agrees to a stranger's even stranger bargain: All the money she'll ever need in exchange for the tears she sheds on her wedding day. She doesn't expect to cry...but when the day comes, her fiance vanishes. Where did he go, and why?
  • "The Three Brothers Gruff" (read by Paul McGann) — They become prisoners of a Sontaran looking to test the physical and mental capabilities of their species. The youngest brother must find a way to escape the tortuous tests and save his siblings.
  • "Sirgwain and the Green Knight" (read by Andrew Brooke) — An Arthurian story simplified and retold...with the twist that the "Green Knight" is an Ice Warrior.

A 2016 slipcovered edition reprints each story as a paperback and adds an additional tale, "The Emperor Dalek's New Clothes".

This book contains the following tropes:

  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: "The Twins in the Wood" turn out to be safe on Gallifrey in part because of this trope — the Time Lords just aren't concerned with their kind, much less the circumstances that left them here.
  • Anonymous Benefactor
    • The stranger who provides the stranded twins with a cottage and supplies on Gallifrey in "The Twins in the Wood"; turns out to be the kind official who wasn't able to protect them from their enemies back home, but was able to ensure their execution ship malfunctioned and landed on Gallifrey.
    • Played with in "Helana and the Beast": The Twelfth Doctor, secretly in the mansion and claiming to be a librarian when Helana finds him, enlists her help so he can be this to the beast by finding a cure for him. Neither of the lovers learns who he actually is, why/how he was there and willing to help, etc.
  • Beast Man: The creature in "Helana and the Beast" is described as appearing as a combination of a lion, bear, and man. It's the result of an time-related accident that altered his DNA, merging several potential evolutionary paths into one.
  • The Big Bad Wolf: The trope and its famous variant in Doctor Who are referenced in "Little Rose Riding Hood"; the heroine is well aware of the warnings about a Bad Wolf that lurks in the woods. Of course, her television counterpart turned out to be the Bad Wolf, and the villain in this story turns out to be a Zygon instead.
  • Bittersweet Ending: One story has this: "The Garden of Statues", as the two children become the elderly couple after being trapped by the Weeping Angels.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of "Helana and the Beast", the Twelfth Doctor leaves without a word as soon as he sees that they will live Happily Ever After; in fact, they are so preoccupied with the Beast's transformation that they don't even realize their friend is watching and have no chance to bid them goodbye.
  • The Chessmaster: The Eleventh Doctor in "Cinderella and the Magic Box", who sends Cinderella to the ball as part of a plan to destroy a clan of vampires.
  • Collector of the Strange: The Grief Collector literally collects people's grief in the form of tears, which he keeps in labeled jars in his mansion. And in another room he keeps jars full of still-living loved ones whose disappearances evoked all that grief.
  • Deal with the Devil
    • The dying noble in "Jak and the Wormhole" made a deal to help the Nimon after they promised his world great prosperity. He realized the truth too late and now can do little more than find someone to destroy the wormhole device for him.
    • The Grief Collector offers anything someone might want in exchange for the tears they shed on a certain day that should be happy. He ensures it will not be happy by causing a loved one to vanish...
  • Disneyfication: "The Scruffy Piper" is a lot lighter than "The Pied Piper of Hamelin", with the Second Doctor serving as a purely benevolent hero who defeats the Cybermats and hightails it out of the station before the people in charge can ask how he got there in the first place.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Magical events in the original stories are given soft-sci-fi Doctor Who equivalents and Technobabble here.
  • Fallen Princess: Both Cinderella (non-royal but of a well-off family) and Snow White (actual royalty) are reduced to the status of Scullery Maid by a villainess. (In Snow White's case, this is a similar situation to that in the Disney animated film — though that was not the first adaptation to have this happen to her.)
  • Find the Cure!: The heroine's father is hired to do this in "Helana and the Beast", and has access to a lab, etc., but finding a way to rewrite a living being's DNA is beyond his abilities — and perhaps anyone's. After Helana decides to stay with and befriend the lonely, hopeless creature, she discovers there is someone with the needed ability in the mansion, who needs her help accessing the lab in secret to do so.
  • Gingerbread House: Subverted — the titular Gingerbread Trap is a prison cell that takes on the appearance of one to lure in curious, hungry kids.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Played for Drama in "The Grief Collector", as the heroine's screams of grief, rage, and horror are sufficient to shatter the jars of tears and the People Jars.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The queen in "Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday" isn't concerned with being fairest in the land, but finding the means to activate a doomsday machine if she ever needs to terrorize her people into submission!
  • Grimmification: "Cinderella and the Magic Box" has this when it's revealed that the lord of the castle and his court are vampires! The other retellings go with Disneyfication or simply averting the trope, the latter being easy to do because Doctor Who itself has a good deal of terror and violence on the level of classic fairy tales and it's easy to swap one peril or messy death for another. (The villains are killed with boiling oil in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" and vinegar in "Andiba and the Four Slitheen". Neither is a pleasant experience for the victims!)
  • Happily Ever After: Most of the stories end on this note.
  • Homage: "Helana and the Beast" has a private library as a key setting, likely referencing the Disney adaptation of its source story, in which a stepping stone in the lovers' relationship was him effectively gifting her the castle library.
  • Love at First Sight: Played straight in "Frozen Beauty" and "Cinderella and the Magic Box", which fits with how the trope is used in the traditional stories being adapted.
  • Magic Mirror: "Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday" has a mirror that isn't powered by magic but rather technology. It can not only show the user the locations of the titular keys, but serve as a (small) portal to said locations.
  • Meaningful Name: Helana is likely a reference to the famously beautiful Helen of Troy; incidentally this makes for one of the few "Beauty and the Beast" adaptations in which the heroine's name isn't/doesn't mean "beauty" or "rose".
  • My Nayme Is: As all of the stories are set on other worlds and are Twice-Told Tale variants, this turns up a lot when it comes to protagonist and locale names. ("Hamlyn" instead of "Hamelin", for instance.)
  • Mysterious Protector: In "The Grief Collector", the Unexpected Character comforts the bereaved heroine and encourages her to figure out what happened to her fiance. She's ultimately the one who saves the day, but she couldn't have done it without their support. (It's possible that since the Tenth Doctor didn't have a personal stake in the villain's plot, he couldn't summon up the deep grief needed to end it on his own.)
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Lord Darke in "Cinderella and the Magic Box"; his name hints at the reveal that he's a vampire, as is the whole royal family; notably they have to stay out of the sun.
  • No Name Given: Applies to many supporting characters throughout, which makes some sense given how many actual fairy tales do this. At the same time, it's often played with in that a Doctor Who viewer could easily realize that certain characters' names/species simply aren't being used because the viewpoint characters wouldn't be aware of them.
  • Once Upon a Time: Used to open two of the stories; several others use variations such as "Long ago and far away".
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The ones encountered in "Cinderella and the Magic Box" have a unique weakness. Their monstrous features only emerge at midnight, but if that transformation is interrupted in some way — say, with a sonic screwdriver — they perish.
  • Painful Transformation: The beast's transformation back into a human, to the point that both he and Helana think administering the cure has actually poisoned him.
  • People Jars: Victims of the Grief Collector end up in these.
  • Plot Parallel: The beast in "Helana and the Beast" is intimidating both in his appearance and mannerisms, but Helana senses almost immediately that he is not evil. Though he intends to imprison her and her father when the latter cannot find a cure for his condition, Helana realizes this merely stems from a desperate need for companionship; in offering to stay voluntarily she is able to convince him to let her father go and allow her a great deal of personal freedom. It's several nights before they can even break the ice with each other in simple conversation, but their relationship grows warm with time. The parallel to this is that the Unexpected Character who finds the cure is the Twelfth Doctor — an imposing, frightening, socially-awkward Hurting Hero capable of deep compassion, who needs much patience and kindness from who would get to know him.
  • Scullery Maid: Both Cinderella and Snow White are these.
  • Stable Time Loop: "The Garden of Statues" hinges on this (see Bittersweet Ending above).
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: A rare good guy version, in that Helana administering the cure to the beast involves slipping it into his drink at dinner.
  • Twice-Told Tale: Most of the stories; moreover, several double down on the trope by also acting as variations on televised Doctor Who stories.
    • "Frozen Beauty" combines "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Ark in Space".
    • "Jak and the Wormhole" combines "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "The Horns of Nimon".
    • "The Gingerbread Trap" combines "Hansel and Gretel" with "School Reunion".
    • "The Three Brothers Gruff" combines "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" with "The Sontaran Experiment".
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Cinderella must not run away, but use the sonic screwdriver!
  • Wicked Stepmother: Played straight in "Cinderella and the Magic Box"; avoided in "Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday" because she and the evil queen aren't related as in the traditional story.