THIS STORY TAKES
AND THE NOVEL "TIME-
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN JUNE 1991.
Mesopotamia - the
So-CALLED cradle of
civiliSation. In the
fertile crescent of
land on the banks of
the rivers Tigris and
Euphrates, mankind is
turning from hunter
gatherer into farmer,
and from farmer into
Gilgamesh, the first
hero-king, rules the
city of Uruk. BUT An
figure arrives, in a
police telephone box:
the Doctor and his
companion Ace HAVE
COME to witness the
first steps of man's
long progress to the
And from somewhere
amid those distant
points of light an
evil sentience has
tumbled. To THOSE
in the city of Kish
she is known as
Ishtar the goddess;
to the TIME LORDS OF
Gallifrey she Is a
Doctor Who’s first-ever original novel had to be good and, though it won’t be to everybody’s tastes, it certainly lived up to my lofty expectations. With Timewyrm: Genysys, John Peel delivers a fast and compelling story that pushes the series in a new, more adult direction.
This ‘official continuation’ of the television series picks up soon after the events of Survival, and the way Peel handles the Doctor and Ace it feels like they’ve never been away. The first scene sees the Doctor restore all of the apparently-amnesiac Ace’s memories, giving Peel a chance to re-state the tenets of the series, just in case you’re one of the four people in the entire universe who decide to read this book without ever having seen a single episode of Doctor Who.
The story itself is rich with realism;
Peel’s evidently detailed knowledge
of the Gilgamesh legend comes across well on the page. The author
manages to weave historic details all throughout the book (detailed
descriptions of how people bathed,
the food that they ate, etc), fusing
the mundane and the fantastic. I’d
compare this novel to something like The Lord of the Rings in this respect – the vivid level
of detail really brings this ancient, mythological world to life.
Furthermore, the eponymous Timewyrm - “Ishtar” - is an exceptional villain. Her realisation would have been tricky (to say the least) on the television show’s meagre budget, but on the page she wields the double-edged sword of being both an imposing and terrifying creature in her own right, and on top of that having a ruthless and utterly evil personality that puts even the Master to shame. She also has the ability to control the minds of others, and towards the end of the novel she appears to be so dominant that it really does seem like she will prevail. It’s exceedingly well-written.
Ishtar’s horrifically beautiful, elegantly evil appearance also helps to fuel the story’s strong sexual undercurrent, which I thinks adds an extra layer to the usual Doctor Who rudiments, not to mention bolstering the credibility of the whole affair. Gilgamesh, similarly, is portrayed as a huge, domineering brute of a man with a proportionately mammoth appetite for pretty much everything: food, conquest, the women of Uruk... and, indeed, Perivale! I don’t think that his character would have been anywhere near as convincing and visceral if the sexually-charged parts of the story had been skipped over.
Peel’s story is also heavily grounded in the mythology of the show, and is abounding with fannish continuity references - perhaps a little too many for most readers’ liking. I think that the apparition of the fourth Doctor is a nice touch, as are the odd references to the Doctor’s deceased companions because they are pertinent in the context. The Doctor’s regression into his third incarnation, however, is a little wanton, but on balance I think I’d rather read a novel littered with continuity references than one completely devoid of them.
All told, Timewyrm: Genysys has really whetted my appetite for further New Adventures. I was engrossed by this novel, surprised by it (I was especially taken aback when the Doctor knocked out Ace with a punch to the jaw!), and ultimately thoroughly enchanted by it.
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.
Billed at the time as a direct continuation of the television series, John Peel’s novel appears to pick up almost immediately after Doctor Who’s final televised story, Survival. When the Doctor restores the amnesiac Ace’s memories, the first thing that she recalls is the Master’s face and the events of the classic television series’ final adventure. This doesn’t necessarily preclude any adventures between Survival and this novel though, as the Doctor may have tampered with Ace’s memories, however there is no evidence of this beyond Ace’s own doubts.
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