THIS STORY TAKES
place BETWEEN the
events of the Doctor’s
trial as depicted in
THE TV STORY “THE
TRIAL OF A TIME LORD”
and the novel “KILLING
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-426
-20438-7) RELEASED IN
entertainment to the
planets of the Meson
3000, Prisoner: The
for the citizens of
offers the only
escape from a reality
to horrible to face.
However, all is not
well AT THE NETWORK.
A soap star has
murdered his wife’s
lover; the regulars
of Timeriders are
kidnappings; and a
lethal new game
show is about to go
Can the Doctor
uncover the cause of
– or will his
appearance as a
competitor on Death-
hunt 3000 be the last
of his life?
Time of Your Life
Over its twenty-six year run, it has to be said that the continuity between Doctor Who stories was generally pretty tight. The Missing Adventures released prior to “Time Of Your Life”, no matter how good they were, all felt like optional add-ons. Steve Lyons’ second Doctor Who novel, however, truly lives up to the mantle of being a ‘Missing Adventure’ in that it genuinely fills a gap between stories.
On television, the current Doctor and the future Mel took off in the TARDIS together at the end of “The Trial of a Time Lord” leaving many fans like myself scratching their heads. If the Doctor and Mel did not meet until some point prior to the Vervoid Incident on the Hyperion III, how in the blue hell can they go off travelling together before they have even met? And armed with the knowledge of what happened – will happen – in that particular adventure, surely it would effect their actions? Well in the Doctor’s case, it certainly does…
“I’m trying to change my future…
It’s a physical impossibility and in absolute contravention to the
First, Second and Every Law of Time.”
Having dropped off the future Mel with his future self, the Doctor is now living as a hermit on the planet Torrok, desperately trying to fight a future that, thanks to the interference of the Time Lords, he only half remembers. He knows he has to avoid a computer programming redhead called Mel, and that something awful has happened to Peri… but he cannot quite remember what. Most importantly of all, he remembers the Valeyard and the future that he must avoid at all costs. Of course, not even the Doctor can fight the future, and we all know that he did go on to meet Mel and some time later ended up regenerating on the TARDIS’s console room floor, but what “Time Of Your Life” does is give fans the first insight into the sixth Doctor’s interim years.
The sixth Doctor here, however, is very much in-line with the television portrayal of the character. In fact, it is probably more 1985 than 1986 in that the story depicts the Doctor as an angry, often violent man; pompous, arrogant… and full of angst.
Unlike the early sixth Doctor though, this guy has a reason to be in a bit of a mood. He has been put on trial by his own people and his life turned upside down; worse still, his future is spiralling into darkness. He also carries so much guilt. Peri’s fate is unclear in his mind, and even if he knew the truth, others have died recently in his company. Adric. Kamelion. And in this novel, Angela. Lyons very cleverly gives Angela all the build-up and attention that a new companion would have in their debut story, then does the big swerve and kills her off. Rather gruesomely too, it has to be said. When the Doctor learns of her death, his reaction is to punch straight through a monitor screen. He even sheds a tear. There is no two ways about it; this sixth Doctor is a damaged man… but I like it. I think it works – at least, it does here, in this context. He will lighten up, of course, but gradually. His experiences are hard to get over and change doesn’t happen overnight…
So what about the story? Ah.
Well, I did find “Time Of Your Life” very interesting. I wanted to know what was going on, and that did make me read on, however normally when I am reading a Doctor Who novel I know what is going on and I am reading to see how it gets resolved. “Time Of Your Life” seemed to just wash over me (entertainingly, though) until the final few chapters when the plot – what little there is of it – was finally unveiled: Krllxk is a ‘villain’ who dreams of being like Drathro from “The Trial of a Time Lord.” There’s something not right there… 'nuff said.
There are some good bits in it though– there is a cybernetic wolf that is simply unstoppable; a classic Doctor Who monster! There is also a lot of wry commentary about the cancellation of Doctor Who (for Doctor Who read Timeriders) and the infamous Mary Whitehouse (in this novel, Miriam Walker), which probably would rub some people up the wrong way, but I found it amusing; sledgehammer obvious, but then it had to be! How Lyons resisted the urge to kill of Miriam Walker savagely at the end, I have no idea…
And the ending is genuinely shocking. The Doctor manages to save the lives of many on board the Network, only to send them back to Torrok to face the planet’s darkest hour. The bittersweet ending is rounded off by the Doctor being joined in the TARDIS by a young computer programmer – not a female redhead, but a rather nerdy-sounding young chap, Grant Markham, whose inclusion in the novel feels (rather deliberately I would imagine) like an afterthought. And so the Doctor and Grant fly off into time and space, their adventures truly beginning to plug the gaping chasm between “The Time of a Time Lord” and “Time and the Rani.”
At the end of the day, "Time of Your Life" is a disaster novel - no more, no less - that is well-written with great characters. It does, however, lack one of Lyons’ usually water-tight head-scratchingly good plots. He must have worn himself out getting his head round the whole
Doctor / Mel / “Trial of a Time Lord” saga!
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
The novelisation of The Trial of a Time Lord established that shortly after the events of that serial’s final episode, the sixth Doctor returns Mel to his future self. Time of Your Life marks a new chapter in the life
of the sixth Doctor – one that would see him rally against his future, desperate to avoid meeting Mel for
fear of walking the dark path that would see him become the Valeyard.
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