Book Review – Doctor Who: The Harvest of Time

  • Title: The Harvest of Time
  • Series: Doctor Who – Unknown
  • Author: Alastair Reynolds
  • Characters: Third Doctor, Jo, UNIT
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/23/2016

Harvest of Time is an original Doctor Who novel featuring the Third Doctor as played by Jon Pertwee and his companion Jo Grant. The UNIT boys – Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Captain Mike Yates, Sgt. Benton, and the Master also are involved in the story. Like many of the Third Doctor Era aired stories, this novel starts a bit slow – but it builds and builds to an awesome conclusion. The story also has a relevant message for today. The plot is a bit convoluted – but comes together in the last third of the book, and uses time travel in a plot that is both novel and that makes a certain logical sense.

The opening sequence is probably the most “separate” part of the novel, though it begins to make sense eventually. Then the Doctor and Jo are called, with UNIT, to investigate an anomaly at an off shore oil rig. When they arrive they are summarily dismissed. Yet, on the nearby shore something odd is going on. Before long, UNIT is engaged in combating one of the weirdest invasions ever – caterpillars in ambulators. However, far from being cute – early encounters in which the caterpillars take over the neural systems of human hosts – and the fact that the Doctor recognizes them immediately as the Sild a creature so terrifying they were destroyed by the Time Lords, makes them scary rather than cute. Even the Master shudders when the Doctor tells him that the Sild are invading. Besides their ability to take over humans, animals, or anyone else – the Sild conquer by sheer force of numbers. Meanwhile, on the oil rig, the daughter of an oil magnate has realizes she needs UNIT’s help, only to be stopped by government/corporate hacks in league with… you guessed it – The Master.

The Master is also the subject of “Time Fade” – slowly being forgotten by everyone, even UNIT. The Doctor, and the Master, discover why and engage in some fascinating bits of time travel and re-arranging to prevent and reverse the damage of the time-fade.

As always with a Jon Pertwee story, things do eventually work out, despite a somewhat high body count (this novel even manages to keep the “we can only have so many people on camera” feel of the Pertwee stories – telling us about various disasters while showing a few in detail.)

Overall, it’s a unique SF and time travel story, the monster is very unique, I really liked the end, and the story has an interesting message. Definitely something to pick-up and add to your Doctor Who collection.

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