"DOCTOR WHO: THE AMERICAN ADVENTURES" by Justin Richards, Penguin Group UK, $14.99, 180 pages (f)
Doctor Who comes to America from the United Kingdom, where he makes out-of-this-world visits to mankind with his handy sonic screwdriver. "Doctor Who: The American Adventures" by Justin Richards is a collection of short stories that are easy to read, mysterious and different from the usual fare. It's easy to see why the British television series based on this visiting alien are popular with the young and the old alike.
The stories always feature Doctor Who first noticing something out of place or slightly odd and then setting out to figure out what's up. He doesn't wear a cape or wield a sword or have any unusual powers, but he does travel through time. He's unobtrusive at the same time that he's effective. He solves the mystery, rights the wrong and goes on about his way.
In one of the stories, though, he doesn't explain who he is or why he's on Earth; he sorts out why people are losing energy on an amusement park roller coaster. In another, he puts a wagon train back on track and he gets spooky ghosts out of the way of subway rail construction. In others, he learns how to deal with alien robots made of spare wood, leather and scraps of metal, he battles people who are profiting from war and he stops an assassin.
Doctor Who is smart, bold and quite literally ahead of his time in these stories. He's a true hero in that he doesn't want any credit, money or reward. He simply comes in, saves the day and heads out to the next question.
For young readers who want a little adventure and sci-fi without gore and nightmares, these simple but engaging stories are it.
There's no swearing, violence or sex in these stories.