In the American Midwestern town of Lychburg, something is afoot. Its citizens are being killed in inexpressibly horrible and brutal ways and the police don't have a clue who's responsible. The only suspects are a mysterious and sinister stranger, who calls himself the Doctor, and his young companions Jamie and Victoria.


The Fourth Doctor and Romana, meanwhile, have been summoned by the Gallifreyan High Council. A force has been unleashed into the space/time continuum... a force so unimaginably terrible that it is set to rip the universe itself apart and plunge it into primal, screaming chaos from which nothing will survive.


Of course, since something of this nature happens every other day of the week, the Doctor's really far more interested in finding out what's happened to a close personal friend, who seems to have vanished under mysterious circumstances. And quite right, too. The fate of a universe plunging into fetid and unending chaos can look out for itself for a change...






Heart of TARDIS

JUNE 2000






Of all the Doctor Who novels that I’ve read, Dave Stone’s are without a doubt the most delectably written. His languid, introspective prose is outstanding in the truest sense of the word and, just like the words that he chooses, his method of storytelling is entirely his own. As a result of this, to some readers Stone is the best thing since sliced bread; perhaps even that little bit better. To others, however, he languishes at the other end of the spectrum, more unicycle than sliced bread (innovative and wholly original, but wacky and not all that practical). Unfortunately Heart of TARDIS is another unicycle.


My criticism of this book is single-fold: its plot is completely elusive. This is doubly frustrating as what I could decipher of it was entrancing stuff; in fact, I’d go so far as to say that’s exactly the kind of temporally-twisted tale that I’m generally so fond of. Take, for example, the following excerpt:


“The idea, for example, that an incident in ancient Babylon and the first Mars landing are in a certain sense happening simultaneously, are components of the same discrete paratemporal event, can only catch the faintest breath of notions and perceptions that a Time Lord would understand in the bone.”


A breathtaking phrase to describe an extraordinary notion; absolutely brilliant in its way. But, as ever, Stone’s inimitable story structure means that the reader is bombarded with information, both relevant and otherwise, in such a level of detail that the whole affair becomes nigh-on impossible to follow. It’s overkill, simply put.


“Now, by ‘did not happen’ do you mean that Gallifrey is doing a spot of cultural revision and would prefer to forget all about such things? Or do you mean that you’ve been doing some actual revising of the time lines?”


Heart of TARDIS is also drenched in continuity. When used well, a smattering of well-placed references can lend a novel a certain weight and, in the best cases, even develop the mythology of the series. Here, however, grand talk of Rassilon, time wars and rogue prototype TARDISes is debased by gratuitous references to the likes of Queegvogel Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Seven from Stone’s Missing Adventure Burning Heart, and you don’t even want to try and reconcile his take on UNIT dating with… well, anything.


Craziest of all though, Stone sets the second Doctor’s segments of the story in Springfield – as in The Simpsons’ Springfield. Heart of TARDIS thus has a glut of Simpsons characters bludgeoned into it – Comic Book Guy, Dr Nick Riviera (oh sorry, “Dr Rick”), Dr Hibbert… - meaning that half the novel feels downright surreal. Hilarious at times, I’ll grant you, but surreal all the same. And that’s just The Simpsons influence – The X-Files, Buffy and even Queer as Folk are all on the menu, albeit to a lesser extent.


“I never did! I’ve never been in a discontinuous singularity in my life. Not one I can’t account for, in any case.”


Thankfully though, some of Stone’s characterisation is sublime (particularly his fourth Doctor and Victoria); so much so, in fact, that it almost makes it worth reading Heart of TARDIS for this element alone. You might also learn a thing or two – Heart of TARDIS is the first novel that I’ve read in about ten years where I’ve had to look up a word in the dictionary, and the novel’s preamble explains the true significance of * * * in a manuscript, as opposed to the common publishing convention. It’s a plunge over a catastrophe curve, see - a typically lovely turn of phrase that neatly sums up the “unending chaos” of this bizarre, maelstrom of an effort.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.



According to this novel’s blurb, for the second Doctor these events take place between the television serials The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Abominable Snowmen. We have placed them accordingly.


For the fourth Doctor, they take place between The Stones of Blood and The Androids of Tara. Within this gap, we have placed them after those depicted in The Shadow of Weng-Chiang, which was released earlier.


This novel is also noteworthy in that it implies that Romana resolved to regenerate into a more petite frame as soon as she could find a nice body to copy, playing upon the conceit that Time Ladies are able to regenerate on a whim (a conceit that both the Gallifrey audio series and The Chaos Pool audio drama would later try to debunk).


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