(ISBN 0-563-53847-3)







 Imagine a war that

 has lasted centuries,

 a war WHICH has  transformed an

 entire planet into a

 desolate No Man's

 Land. A war where

 time itself is being

 used as a weapon.

 You can create zones

 of decelerated time

 and bring the enemy

 to a standstill. You

 can create storms of

 accelerated time and

 reduce the opposition

 to dust in a matter of


 But now the war has

 reached a stalemate.

 Neither SIDE HAS made

 any gains for over a

 hundred years.

 The Doctor and HIS


 at Isolation Station

 Forty, a MILITARY

 research STATION

 on the verge of a 

 breakthrough which

 COULD change the 

 course of the war.

 They have found a

 way to send soldiers

 back in time. But time

 travel is a primitive,

 unpredictable and

 dangerous business.

 And not without its

 own sinister side



 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT






MARCH 2002






Jonathan Morris is one of my preferred Doctor Who writers. His many scripts for Big Finish Productions have each been with laden with wit and worry in equal measure, and his earlier novel, Festival of Death, is generally regarded as being one of BBC Books’ finest offerings. Anachrophobia, however, is something of an oddity. A cursory glance of its René Magritte-inspired cover is all that’s needed to get a feel for its surrealist tone, but pencils and diagrams are needed to fully get one’s head around the workings of the plot. Whether that’s a blight or a boon is very much in the eye of the beholder.


In a nutshell, Anachrophobia is about a conflict where the weapons being used are temporal in nature. Ever since The End of the World, the phrase “Time War” has conjured up images of Bow Ships and Saucers; of Cruciforms and Nightmare Childs. The television series has, probably rather wisely, chosen not to expound upon the mechanics of such a war, keeping

its references as vague and as lyrical as possible. Back in 2002, however, Morris showed no such fear, revelling in the horrors borne of directed temporal weapons. Anachrophobia’s prosperous prose describes soldiers with ancient, withered limbs hanging from otherwise youthful bodies; combatants whose faces have been replaced by clocks, as an insubstantial force enslaves them to its will; and, most chillingly of all, fear of these things running rampant. Indeed, this book’s compound title is an apt one as, within the confines of Isolation Station Forty, Morris’ takes the fears of his protagonists and milks them for all theyre worth.


The author’s handling of the three regular characters is sublime here, particularly the Doctor, whose newfound frailty is finally given the attention that it has warranted since the removal

of his second heart. What I find so forceful about Morris’ rendering of the Doctor is that he

is clearly trying to be his old self – all that curiosity and zeal is as patent as ever it was - but he’s hampered by the almost human limitations that come with having just one heart. All he wants to do is throw himself headlong into the adventure, but he can’t be who he once was - he has to sleep at night, for heaven’s sake. It’s actually quite painful to read.



However, the Doctor’s

weakness allows Morris

to showcase the strength

of his companions. Fitz

is dashed heroic here,

taking on the mantle of

not only the Doctor’s physical protector, but

his mental guardian too.

He tends to his friend’s

needs, but plays those

needs down in front of

him. Anji, for her part, does much the same, showing her true colours after the perfidy of Hope. Sadly (and quite ironically, really) the novel’s supporting characters are a faceless bunch, with the sole exception of Mr Mistletoe, who can’t really claim to be a new character.


Furthermore, as I’ve already intimated, the narrative is quite tortuous, rivalling the complexity of Festival of Death but not sharing any of its grace. Matters do not become clear until right at the death, when Sabbath appears to explain to the Doctor – and thus the reader – exactly what has been going on and why. But even despite its gaucherie, Anachrophobia’s coda is tremendously exciting, building upon the momentum that’s been snowballing since The Slow Empire whilst at the same time demonstrating the lengths – and indeed the depths – that the Doctor’s new archenemy will go to in order to achieve his goals, the morality of which is very much open to debate. At least for now…


Overall then, Anachrophobia is hard work, but worth it. Deft characterisation and harrowing prose are fused with wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey shenanigans that Steven Moffat would be proud of, leaving the reader with a series of nightmarish images and cruel concepts to haunt their dreams for a long time thereafter.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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