- Title: Timewyrm: Genesys
- Series: Virgin Publishing New Doctor Who Adventures
- Author: John Peel
- Characters: Seventh Doctor, Ace
- Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/12/2017
I originally read this book when it came out in 1991, and I remember that I didn’t like it much. TV Tie-Ins should feel like an episode of the show they come from, and, at the time, I thought this story didn’t. I also didn’t like the characterization of Ace. However, since I’ve decided to read my entire collection of original Doctor Who novels, I decided I really needed to start reading the entire Virgin Publishing Doctor Who The New Adventures series of original novels from the very beginning. So I started with Timewyrm: Genesys.
I actually really enjoyed Timewyrm: Genesys this time around. I read it in about a week. I realise it’s been a lot longer than that since I’ve posted a book review here on GoodReads but I started another novel that I just couldn’t get into, plus I hit one of those rare instances when I just didn’t really feel like reading a book. Anyway, I read this pretty quickly and I actually, honestly, enjoyed it.
The Virgin Publishing Doctor Who The New Adventures series takes place immediately after the aired episode, “Survival”, and follows the Seventh Doctor (as played on the BBC Series by Sylvester McCoy) and Ace, and later in the series, new companions, like Dr. Bernice Summerfield (an archaeologist). This novel begins with a prologue of an alien in a spaceship firefight with her people. Her ship is destroyed and she crash lands on Earth in an escape pod. However, one isn’t to feel sorry for her – she’s an evil megalomaniac who had destroyed her own planet. The alien first meets Gilgamesh, who refuses to help her – seeing her evil, but she becomes the goddess Ishtar and is taken to a temple in Kish by it’s King Agga.
It’s ancient Mesopotamia and Urak and Kish are posed for war. Ishtar (the Timewyrm though that doesn’t become clear until the end of the book) encourages this, and anything else that will help her gain complete control. She uses advanced technology to Touch soldiers and others in Kish, using them as her spies, slaves, and solders. Meanwhile, Ace wakes in the TARDIS with no memory of who she is. She wanders to the TARDIS control room and meets the Doctor. The Doctor had been deleting his memories – and moving them into the TARDIS data banks, when he overdid it a bit and hit Ace as well while she slept. He reverses the process and gives her, her memories back. This is an admittedly weird and strange scene, and it resembles nothing we’ve seen in Classic Doctor Who, though it did remind me of Sherlock Holmes deleting his memories and searching his “mind palace” in Sherlock but that’s besides the point.
The TARDIS lands in ancient Mesopotamia. Ace and the Doctor meet Gilgamesh and become involved in events. Before long, Gilgamesh, his Neanderthal servant, a fallen priestess of Ishtar, the Princess of Kish, and a wandering musician and songsmith, are working together to defeat Ishtar without Mesopotamia being destroyed.
It’s a fast-moving back and forth battle, with small victories being overcome by defeats. In the end, the Doctor saves Kish, but although at first he thought he had destroyed the Timewyrm (as she is by then known) by drop-kicking her from the TARDIS to the Time and Space Vortex, she returns to tell him she’s survived, escaped, and can now, with help from some Chronovores, travel to any place in space and time. And since there are three more books in the series, this provides a set-up to make her a stronger villain.
Overall, I honestly enjoyed Timewyrm: Genesys. It was a fast read, and full of high adventure. Ace did get to do things, beyond simply blowing things up with Nitro-9, though there’s plenty of that. The Doctor sends her, Gilgamesh, and the songsmith to the mountains to find the other aliens who, chasing the alien who had destroyed their planet had also crash-landed on Earth. Later, it’s revealed that the Doctor had done that simply to get the group out of the way and keep them safe. However, Ace learns to be a leader, to work with people, to deal with setbacks, and to use innovative thinking to solve problems. Plus she saved the Doctor, the princess, and the priestess – so there’s that. It seems obvious that we will see growth in Ace’s character in this new series.
Overall, I can honestly say that I recommend Timewyrm: Genesys both as a Doctor Who original novel and as historical science fiction adventure.