THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "THE COLONY OF
LIES" AND "HERITAGE."
OFFICIAL BBC 'PAST
RELEASED IN JULY 2000.
Detecting A signal in
the Time Vortex, the
Doctor and Ace land
on Blinni-Gaar. They
soon discover that
the native population
are little more than
zombies, addicted to
Channel 400. As the
he finds that the
has aN agenda that
has nothing to do
Why is the Director-
General of Channel
400 so interested in
the Doctor? Who are
the mysterious aliens
who watch from the
shadows of the Brago
nebula? And why is
a pack of Zzinbriizi
jackals stalking the
streets of THE PLANET?
As the Doctor is
drawn deeper and
deeper into a web of
intrigue, he FINDS an
unexpected ally of
the most dangerous
Short and sweet, Prime Time is Mike Tucker’s first solo writing project. It is also, without a doubt, his most exciting work to date.
True to form, Tucker presents his novel in the form of a three-part television serial, this time complete with a trailer, pre-title sequence, and even a commercial break (the latter being more of a reflection on the story, rather than an attempt to emulate the television series!)
Somewhat gallingly though, the entire novel is littered with footnotes referring to the author’s past and present works – The Genocide Machine, Storm Harvest, and even the short story Stop the Pigeon from the Short Trips anthology are all referenced, most of them more than once. Now as unfashionable as it is to admit to liking continuity-heavy stories, more often than not I love them – but (and feel free to call me a cynic!) I do not want cheap adverts for books and audios that I already own constantly rammed down my throat!
Mercifully though, Tucker’s self-advertising (or possibly BBC Books’ self-advertising, I’m
not sure who to blame!) does not detract too much from what is a remarkably compelling, albeit wholly unoriginal, story. Fans who recall Steve Lyons’ sixth Doctor novel for Virgin publishing, Time of Your Life, will no doubt spot numerous parallels with that story here, particularly in how Channel 400 seeks to control the population of Blinni-Gaar through its programming (which naturally includes their new reality show, Doctor When), but I would argue that Prime Time does a much better job than Time of Your Life when it comes to fleshing out the concepts.
I also really took to Tucker’s Fleshsmiths, an
example of which can be seen on the book’s
front cover, as brought to life by Steve Cole. A
much less sympathetic version of Star Trek:
Voyager’s Vidians, the Fleshsmiths allow
Tucker to do what he does so well and really
push the body horror in this story. The fate of
Ace’s friend Greg Ashby (a Tucker pseudonym,
I believe) wonderfully illustrates just how terrifying what the Fleshsmiths do to you is.
Further, whilst the inclusion of the moribund, cheetah-infected Master feels like something of an afterthought, his presence does really give the novel a real lift in the latter half – I couldn’t get enough of his scenes with the Doctor, even when it was a Zzinbriizi jackal impersonating the Master and not the genuine article.
“He had already checked the body inside the coffin. Ace. Dead.
Not old, young, as she was now. Young and dead. He hadn’t foreseen this…”
Of course though, the real talking point of Prime Time is Ace. Not only is this a strong novel for her in terms of what she has to do and what she goes through, there is also a delightfully harrowing twist at the end which really opens up the possibilities for further stories. I reckon Tucker has already secured his next commission, and it is one that I can’t wait to read.
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.
This story culminates in the Doctor’s discovery of a near-future Ace’s corpse. This apparent inconsistency would be resolved (in a manner of speaking) by the later novel Loving the Alien.
The Master’s role in this story makes it very difficult to explain how he could have travelled directly from the Cheetah planet to Earth, as he claims to have done in First Frontier (which is set later, but was released earlier). Presumably events between this story and First Frontier saw the Master’s memories corrupted in some fashion.
Unless otherwise stated, all images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.
‘Doctor Who’ is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.