Doctor Who: Option Lock (1998) by Justin Richards

Another fairly unmemorable entry in the series, no bizarre misguided lapses into the continuity (The Eight Doctors), the past (Genocide), logic and reason (War of the Daleks), but no truly strong characterisation and unique tone (Vampire Science) or sheer creativity (Alien Bodies).

It fascinates me how the highest of high stakes in this sort of series can feel so low, when the range is such an open playbox to storytelling that you know episode of the week/book of the month developments won’t really stick plot-wise, but character development might. I’m more invested in Sam growing her hair out than I am byzantine conflicts over possible nuclear war. Not that a standalone story can’t be great and engaging, just that it has to be pretty damn good to be, and this wasn’t really that. Garygoles actually being based on aliens is a neat enough conceit, but not enough to justify countless chapters on political thriller developments that don’t really come together.


The epilogue felt like the strong character material in the book, though I’m sure it’s ambiguous nature and placement in the timeline helped its appeal. Some good lines about loss in it though. Judging by the amount of books Justin Richards wrote for this range, he must have been pretty keyed into its developments, so I imagine that epilogue will pan out neatly in future. For now, two gargoyles and some nuclear codes.

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