Book Review – Doctor Who: Timewyrm: Revelation

  • Title: Timewyrm: Revelation
  • Series: Virgin Publishing New Doctor Who Adventures
  • Author: Paul Cornell
  • Characters: Seventh Doctor, Ace
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/20/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Timewyrm: Revelation is the fourth and final volume in the opening “Timewyrm” series to Virgin Publishing’s Doctor Who New Adventures. Unfortunately, the story spends most of it’s time in a strange dreamscape where both anything can happen and there are no consequences. So the story doesn’t really work – it’s unrelatable, and there’s no sense of jeopardy – if nothing is real in the characters world, it doesn’t matter. This is sad, as this is the final volume of the series, and it’s written by one of my more favorite Doctor Who authors.

The story opens in 1922, in the small village of Cheldon Bonniface, a village the Doctor has visited many times and in many of his regenerations. The local church is inhabited by Saul, a friendly spirit. And yes, Saul really is a friendly spirit. Older than the church itself, Saul’s presence means the area has been sacred to everyone, going back to the ancient Celts and beyond. The Doctor and Ace arrive, only for things to immediately get weird. It should be Christmas Eve, but the people in the village pub are constructs created by the Timewyrm. The local village church blasts off to the moon, and the explosion destroys the entire village and quite a lot of the surrounding area. Once arriving on the moon, a young couple, the vicar, and Saul are charged with protecting the barely alive, comatose bodies of Ace and the Doctor. At one point the Doctor arrives, thrusts a female baby into the young woman’s hands, then leaves with no explanation. Saul and in-universe magic keep a bubble of breathable air inside the church (not to mention normal gravity).

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Ace have been drawn into a dreamscape similar to the Time Lords’ Matrix as seen in the aired episodes, “The Deadly Assassin” and “Trial of a Time Lord”. Also present is a bully from Ace’s past, who, in an alternate reality made possible by the Timewyrm, killed Ace with a brick, and the British Nazi soldier from the alternate future in Timewyrm: Exodus. The Doctor and Ace literally must confront their demons in the dream world.

Unfortunately, in a very similar manner to previous aired episodes featuring the Time Lord Matrix, the vast majority of the book is spent in the dreamspace. Some chapters or sections of chapters flash back to the church, which is on the moon – and those chapters are more interesting taking place in the “real” world. Though at the same time, there’s two issues – first, it doesn’t make a whole lot of logical sense that a church would be successfully transplanted to the moon and the people inside survive, and second, everyone is literally stuck inside a relatively small building. There isn’t much they can do but talk. Saul and company, however, are, eventually instrumental in helping the Doctor and Ace to escape their dream prison.

In the dreamscape, the Doctor and Ace, separately, and together literally confront their demons. Ace shows just how much she has grown-up, especially by the end of the book. The Doctor doesn’t fair so well, especially when confronting his guilt over the deaths of his previous companions. But in the end, one of the people in the church, the young woman, has some latent psychic ability, between that and a medallion hidden by the Doctor in a previous incarnation, she and her mathematician husband, are able to enter the dreamscape to pull the Doctor and Ace out. At first, they seem successful in rescuing the Doctor at least – but without Ace, the Timewyrm, now possessing the Doctor, will win. The Doctor re-enters the dreamscape. Ace finds the Fifth Doctor, tied to the Doctor’s Knowledge Tree, where he has been since the Time War – when he objected to fighting at all. Freeing the Fifth Doctor allows the Seventh Doctor to confront and overcome the Timewyrm, who it turns out, is a natural part of the universe. The Timewyrm is more-or-less, as best as I could figure out, the goddess of cosmic karma, encircling the universe, eating her tail, and responsible for beginnings and endings. The Doctor takes her out of his head where she was hiding and moved her into the body of a clone baby (with no mind of it’s own) to be raised by the childless couple in the church who had desperately wanted a child in the first place.

The church is returned to where it came from. The destruction of the village is reversed. The Timewyrm’s time travel to urge the bully to kill Ace is also undone. The guy from the alternate future does not exist because Ace and the Doctor reversed it previously. In other words, pretty much everything is returned to status quo.

Overall, the first two books in the Timewyrm series were better than I remembered. Well, okay, technically, I think I only read one of them before when the series was published, not sure which one, but still – at the time I hated it. I disliked the third book, intensely. The last book seems to be obviously checking off items on an outline that “must be handled” as this is an on-going series of tie-in novels. So the author was probably constrained in what he could do (I’ve read a lot of other stuff by Cornell – he’s usually much better than this), but at the same time, having the vast majority of the book taking place in the Doctor’s head (literally) but in a dreamspace controlled by the Timewyrm, the enemy and “Big Bad” of the four books didn’t really work – I like having the Doctor in charge.

In terms of recommendations, if you’re going to read any of the Timewyrm series, read all four books, but overall, it’s a bit disappointing.

Read My Review of Doctor Who Timewyrm Genesys.

Read My Review of Doctor Who Timewyrm Exodus.

Read My Review of Doctor Who Timewyrm Apocalypse.

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Book Review – Doctor Who: Timewyrm: Apocalypse

  • Title: Timewyrm: Apocalypse
  • Series: Virgin Publishing New Doctor Who Adventures
  • Author: Nigel Robinson
  • Characters: Seventh Doctor, Ace
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/02/2017

Timewyrm: Apocalypse is the third volume of the Virgin Publishing Doctor Who New Adventures opening “Timewyrm” mini-series. The story features the Seventh Doctor and Ace. The TARDIS lands on a planet that seems to be perfect, which Ace, of course, immediately dislikes. The Doctor, however, surprisingly also dislikes the planet – finding the peace and harmony, and content people to be artificial. He and Ace decide they must figure out what’s going on after rescuing a young man who falls off a cliff, into the ocean and is quite beat-up by the rocks. Yet the next day, he’s fine without so much as a scratch or a bruise.

The main society on the planet is the Kirith, who live their days having all their needs from shelter to food taken care of by the Panjistri. The Panjistri are aliens who landed on the planet generations ago and saved the Kirith from war, destruction, and death. The Kirith can study or do whatever they like. Even leaving their city isn’t forbidden, it’s just considered a bad idea because of the dangers outside it.

The most talented of the Kirith are invited to study with the Panjistri, but instead of returning to teach in ten years, they never return. However, no one objects because as soon as a great artist, or musician, or dancer goes to the Panjistri – everyone forgets that person. This is a bit suspicious, but because of the wide-spread amnesia, it’s not something Ace and the Doctor learn about right away.

Ace convinces Raphael, the boy they had rescued, to go exploring with her outside the city. They discover in the Harbours, the embarkation point for the ships to the island of the Panjistri, a underground lab devoted to grotesque genetic experiments. They escape and meet the Unlike, the mutated survivors of the experiments. One of the Unlike reveals the food the Kirith eat every day is Soylent Green, opps, I mean, it’s made from people, specifically the left over genetic experiments and the dead of the city.

Ace, Raphael, and the Unlike return to the city. Meeting up with Miríl, a scholar, they start a revolution by cutting off the food supplies and electric power. This results in both unrest and a lot of death and destruction. But the Doctor has already left or been taken to the Harbours. The return there, and Raphael is forced to kill one of the worst genetic experiments. He’s devastated by this.

They steal a hovercraft and head to the Island to rescue the Doctor.

There they discover the Matriarch of the Panjistri is the Timewyrm. In defeating her, Raphael dies, taking over the “God Engine”, Miríl had died on the hovercraft trip to the Island. The society is broken and must discover for themselves how to survive without help, and Ace and the Doctor escape.

Timewyrm: Apocalypse is one case where everyone is actually much worse off after the Doctor and Ace interfere than they were before. Although the people of Kirith are described as a “stagnant” civilization, as they are also genetic constructs, one wonders if they are even capable of caring for themselves and creating their own civilization, now that their protectors are gone. In many ways, and not to be mean, the Kirith are like sheep or cattle – and the Doctor and Ace have just destroyed the farmers and the farm – then left, expecting the sheep (or cattle) to care for themselves. If the people of Kirith were being exploited the interference might have made sense, but these are happy, contented people. The Doctor’s argument that they need to be hungry to be alive sounds, well, like an argument made by someone’s who’s never been hungry and therefore romanticizes poverty. And there’s nothing “romantic” about being poor and starving.

The Panjistri are culling the “best of the best” to feed the Timewyrm’s GodEngine as the Doctor calls it, and the Panjistri’s genetic experiments are pretty horrible – but the novel doesn’t really portray those as being “bad”, but more of as side effects. That was disturbing.

Also, Timewyrm: Apocalypse feels very derivative, which doesn’t help.

Overall, this book was only OK. I didn’t care for it. It is one of the middle volumes of a four-book series, though, so hopefully the finale will make it worth the time spent reading it. Not really recommended, but because of it’s place in the series, it must be read, I guess.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Timewyrm: Exodus

  • Title: Timewyrm: Exodus
  • Series: Virgin Publishing New Doctor Who Adventures
  • Author: Terrance Dicks
  • Characters: Seventh Doctor, Ace
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/28/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Virgin Publishing’s The New Adventures follow on immediately after Doctor Who was put on hiatus, and feature the Seventh Doctor as portrayed by Sylvester McCoy, and in this story his companion Ace. Timewyrm: Exodus is the second volume in the four-volume Timewyrm series. Timewyrm: Exodus opens with the TARDIS landing in London in 1951, but upon leaving the TARDIS the Doctor and Ace realize something is very, very wrong. They’ve landed in an UK where the Nazis won World War II. It’s a bleak, war-torn, depressed London, with no freedom. The Doctor and Ace stay just long enough to try and figure out where history went wrong, discovering that the Miracle of Dunkirk never happened, the German airstrikes on civilian British cities destroyed those cities (London and others in the Industrial North), and the Lightening War included a quick strike at England that the British were unable to combat.

Following some complications, the Doctor and Ace are able to return to the TARDIS and head back in time to correct the aberration.

The TARDIS lands in Munich where Hitler’s led a completely unsuccessful attack by the Nazis. As the defeated Hitler runs away, he remarks that he considers suicide an answer. The Doctor aids Hitler in his escape and talks him out of it. Ace is flabbergasted. But the Doctor insists that history must follow it’s course and if it doesn’t it could lead to the disaster they just left.

The next section makes up the bulk of the novel, as the Doctor and Ace arrive in Nazi Germany, just before the Germans invade Poland. Hitler welcomes the Doctor with open arms as the man who saved him in Munich. Ace is appalled by everything – the “No Jews” signs in parks; the atmosphere of fear on the streets, the Nazi-controlled newspapers that report that Poland is rattling the sabre at Germany and threatening the Germans (the exact opposite of the truth) and the other daily horrors of life under a racist dictatorship.

The Doctor and Ace attend a Nazi Rally in Nuremberg, and as Hitler finishes speaking the Doctor asks Ace what she just heard. Ace can only report vague thoughts: blame on everyone else, the idea to make Germany Great Again, etc. But mostly Ace only experienced emotions. The Doctor tells her that her emotions were played like a violin, manipulated, that it was a form of psycho-conditioning, and something that shouldn’t even exist yet. He suspects something alien is aiding Hitler. After the rally, the two are caught, Hitler welcomes the Doctor, and the Doctor meets with him alone. Hitler has a fit – a storm of psychic activity. Items fly off walls, swirl around the room, crash on the floor. The Doctor sees the Timewyrm in Hitler. Then Hitler collapses. Only Hitler’s private secretary (by instinct) and the Doctor (by knowledge and by his own telepathic abilities) can calm Hitler’s fits. The Doctor obtains a medical history.

But there are also rumors of the Black Coven, a secret SS group that is helping Hitler and the Nazis to gain power and control. An invitation is sent to the Doctor, but Ace receives it, and as she’s bored (she keeps getting left behind in hotel rooms with nothing to do) she goes to investigate. She’s captured, and a threatening message is left for the Doctor. Ace is taken to Drachenberg Castle, a secret SS stronghold and home to the Black Coven. In due course, the Doctor follows to rescue Ace.

At Drachenberg Castle, the Doctor and Ace discover the War Lords and the War Chief are out to manipulate time. These are characters from the aired Doctor Who episode, “The War Games”, and I must admit it was fascinating to read a story that bought them back, though their plans were horrifying (bringing about a Nazi Earth, then a Nazi Galaxy, and an Nazi universe – horrifying). Among other things, the War Lords have set up a nuclear reactor in the basement of the castle, have used conditioning on SS stormtroopers to not only make them totally loyal but to make them unafraid of death, and have found a way to bring dead soldiers back to life as zombies. The War Lords remark that it’s easy to finish conditioning the solders because they were half there already. Ace and the Doctor discover what’s going on. The SS plan to sacrifice Ace in a occult ceremony to the Teutonic gods (mostly to appease the superstitious Nazis). During the ceremony, the Doctor frees Ace and uses one of her Nitro-9 capsules he’d confiscated earlier to bring down the roof – and killing most of the War Lords and their SS hoards. The Doctor had also called in the “cavalry” so to speak, and the German regular army attack the castle and SS, and Hitler arrives in a plane. The Doctor explains he uncovered a plot to overthrow Hitler himself and replace him with someone more reliable. But the SS zombies attack. In the end, the Doctor overloads the reactor, and he and Ace escape in the TARDIS.

But the Doctor realizes he’s made one mistake – he taught Hitler how to control the Timewyrm trapped within him. He and Ace take the TARDIS to Felsennest, where the Doctor goads the Timewyrm to leave Hitler and be dispersed. The Doctor also gives Hitler a lot of bad military advice, which assures that World War II will follow it’s historical path – Dunkirk, the failure of bombing the UK, Germany’s attack on Russia, etc.

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor is extremely depressed. He can only think of all the death the six-year war will bring. He feels guilty and responsible. And he’s not even sure if history is on the correct path. Ace talks him into returning to 1951 London. They do and it’s the London they know. They attend a fun fair festival.

Although it was very hard reading a novel set for the most part in Nazi Germany, this was a good story. I can’t say I enjoyed it because who enjoys reading about Nazis slaughtering people because they are different or simply for kicks? But the story did flow well, and wasn’t predictable. I was not expecting the War Lords and War Chief to show-up, even though in the story the Doctor tells Ace they are dealing with multiple forms of manipulation of the time lines. The Timewyrm really isn’t in the story that much, much to my surprise. She’s basically trapped – and in the end, the Doctor must free her. No doubt she will be back as there are two more books in the mini-series.

Terrance Dicks does treat Ace terribly though – he keeps having her faint. This is completely out of character for Ace – this is the woman who attacked a Dalek with a baseball bat after all. But every time he wants to get Ace out of the way – Dicks has her faint. It’s pretty sexist writing. But aside from that, I can honestly recommend the book.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Timewyrm: Genesys

  • 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.

Doctor Who – New Adventures Booklist

The Doctor Who New Adventures were a series of original paperback novels that were published by Virgin Publishing, along side the Missing Adventures, after the series disappeared from our screens in 1989. The books started with the Seventh Doctor and Ace, but later introduced new companions, such as Dr. Bernice Summerfield, an archaeologist. They must be read in order. The chart below lists the book number, the title, the author, and the cast.

 

Virgin Publishing New Adventures featuring the 7th Doctor
Book # Title Author(s) Main Cast
1 Timewyrm: Genesys John Peel 7th Doctor, Ace
2 Timewyrm: Exodus Terrance Dicks 7th Doctor, Ace
3 Timewyrm: Apocalypse Nigel Robinson 7th Doctor, Ace
4 Timewyrm: Revelation Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Ace
5 Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible Marc Platt 7th Doctor, Ace
6 Cat’s Cradle: Warhead Andrew Cartmel 7th Doctor, Ace
7 Cat’s Cradle: Witch Mark Andrew Hunt 7th Doctor, Ace
8 Nightshade Mark Gatiss 7th Doctor, Ace
9 Love And War Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
10 Transit Ben Aaronovitch 7th Doctor, Bernice
11 The Highest Science Gareth Roberts 7th Doctor, Bernice
12 The Pit Neil Penswick 7th Doctor, Bernice
13 Deceit Peter Darvill-Evans 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
14 Lucifer Rising Jim Mortimore & Andy Lane 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
15 White Darkness David A McIntee 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
16 Shadowmind Christopher Bulis 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
17 Birthright Nigel Robinson 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
18 Iceberg David Banks 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
19 Blood Heat Jim Mortimore 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
20 The Dimension Riders Daniel Blythe 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
21 The Left-Handed Hummingbird Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
22 Conundrum Steve Lyons 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
23 No Future Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
24 Tragedy Day Gareth Roberts 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
25 Legacy Gary Russell 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
26 Theatre of War Justin Richards 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
27 All-Consuming Fire Andy Lane 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
28 Blood Harvest Terrance Dicks 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
29 Strange England Simon Messingham 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
30 First Frontier David A McIntee 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
31 St Anthony’s Fire Mark Gatiss 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
32 Falls the Shadow Daniel O’Mahony 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
33 Parasite Jim Mortimore 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
34 Warlock Andrew Cartmel 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
35 Set Piece Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
36 Infinite Requiem Daniel Blythe 7th Doctor, Bernice
37 Sanctuary David A McIntee 7th Doctor, Bernice
38 Human Nature Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Bernice
39 Original Sin Andy Lane 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
40 Sky Pirates! Dave Stone 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
41 Zamper Gareth Roberts 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
42 Toy Soldiers Paul Leonard 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
43 Head Games Steve Lyons 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
44 The Also People Ben Aaronovitch 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
45 Shakedown Terrance Dicks 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
46 Just War Lance Parkin 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
47 Warchild Andrew Cartmel 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
48 Sleepy Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
49 Death and Diplomacy Dave Stone 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
50 Happy Endings Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
51 GodEngine Craig Hinton 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
52 Christmas on a Rational Planet Lawrence Miles 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
53 Return of the Living Dad Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
54 The Death of Art Simon Bucher-Jones 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
55 Damaged Goods Russell T Davies 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
56 So Vile a Sin Ben Aaronovitch and Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
57 Bad Therapy Matthew Jones 7th Doctor, Chris
58 Eternity Weeps Jim Mortimore 7th Doctor, Chris
59 The Room With No Doors Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Chris
60 Lungbarrow Marc Platt 7th Doctor, Chris
61 The Dying Days Lance Parkin 8th Doctor

Note that some of these novels have been adapted to stories on New Who, including Human Nature, and possibly, The Also People.