THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
VERVOID INCIDENT ON
THE HYPERION III AND
THE NOVEL "INSTRU-
MENTS OF DAKRNESS."
OFFICIAL BBC 'PAST
RELEASED IN JANUARY
Five thousand years
ago, the Priest-Kings
of Atlantis attempted
to enslave Kronos,
greatest of the
Thirty years ago, the
Master sought to do
the same, and barely
escaped with his life.
apart by tragedy, the
Doctor and Mel have
gone their separate
ways, only to find
their paths crossing
once more. While the
Doctor tries to stop
an old friend from
making a terrible
mistake, Mel is
horrified to learn
that her best friend
has fallen under the
influence of the
desperately tries to
against the power of
Kronos, the Doctor
and Mel must
differences. If they
don't, the Quantum
Archangel will be
triumphant. And if she
is, nothing in the
Universe will ever be
the same again.
Unlike many, I love “The Time Monster”, and so for me Craig Hinton was onto a winner from the start with this one. From Stuart Hyde and TOMTIT, all the way to the Master and Kronos the Chronovore, “The Quantum Archangel” is a sequel in the truest sense of the word... except in the bits where it is a prequel, that is.
“Calabi-Yau space is more than just a scientific curiosity –
the Transcendental Beings call it the Six-Fold-Realm. It’s their home!
With TOMTIT, you were simply knocking on the door.
With TITAN, you’re inviting yourself in and making a cup of tea!”
As you may already have gathered, this novel, whilst brilliant, is something of a head-scratcher. In writing this book, the author has clearly called upon his physics degree not only to help create his plot but also to flesh out the inner workings of the Whoniverse. And although I cannot claim to understand a fraction of the quantum physics employed by Hinton here, some of the images conjured up are absolutely epic - even the very names ‘Lux Aeterna’ and ‘Six-Fold-God’ really fire the imagination.
“And in the aftermath of Event Zero, eleven dimensions did fight for existence.
Five were triumphant – together they did become the three dimensions of space,
and the two dimensions of time through which we travel.
But the remaining six dimensions did still exist…
they curled and curdled amongst themselves to become a six-fold universe,
separate but conjoined... A realm protected by the Great and Ancient Covenant.”
And what’s more, I have to concede that after reading “The Quantum Archangel” I feel like I have a much better understanding of the Doctor Who universe. Finally I understand the relationship between the Time Lords and mortals in the ‘Higher Place’, and the Eternals, Chronovores, and Guardians in Calabi-Yau space (the so-called ‘Six-Fold-Realm’). For this alone, “The Quantum Archangel” is well worth the purchase price.
But more importantly, Hinton’s story itself is a real cracker. A lot of books that I pick up these days seem to be all over place in terms of structure, but “The Quantum Archangel” is pleasantly progressive, with the stakes increasing page by page in tandem with the drama, all the way up to the blistering climax.
The Doctor and Mel are both handled terrifically by the author once again. The novel’s opening is incredibly powerful - the consequences of the disaster on Maradnias for the regulars are truly traumatic; it is not often that you read about Colin Baker’s Doctor with tears in his eyes. And so whereas in “Millennial Rites” Hinton explored what it was like for Mel to be dumped in 1999, a good decade or so into her personal future, here he takes things one step further, showing us a disillusioned and perhaps unduly cynical Mel actively choosing to leave the TARDIS to start a new life in 2003.
However, as imposing as the regulars are here, for me the Master steals the show. I do not recall the character’s twin desire for dominion and survival ever being explored quite so directly by any writer before. In “The Quantum Archangel”, the Master is the closest to death that we have ever seen him. The power of the Trakenite source has all but expired, and so he has shed Tremas’ body and reverted to his true self – the desiccated husk that we last saw in “The Keeper of Traken”.
I love how Hinton describes the suave Master in Tremas’ body, compared with how he describes the real Master later on the book. If you think that the Peter Pratt Master from “The Deadly Assassin” was frightening, the Master that Hinton creates on the page will really make your skin crawl.
“Hear me, Lord of Time. We are a vengeful people. Our reach is infinite and our patience eternal. For your actions, we will have vengeance. And the vengeance of the Chronovores is terror beyond imagining.”
What I like the best about the Master here though is that he is trying to pull off his biggest bid for universal dominion yet – in effect, he is trying to become a God – and the reason for this is his will to survive. Following a Chronovore attack on his TARDIS in the Vortex, he realises that unless he is prepared to settle down in just one time zone, he will never be safe from the retribution of the Chronovores. The Master’s solution? Wipe them out. All of them. But how do you wipe out a race of godlike beings?
You become an even bigger God.
“All the other races that have tried to access the Lux Aeterna stand as warnings –
their stars supernova, their planets lifeless.”
Naturally the Master’s plan goes TOMTITs up, with Mel’s former friend Anjeliqua Whitefriar tapping into the power of the Lux Aeterna and becoming ‘the Quantum Archangel’ instead of the Master. But whereas the Master would have used his godlike powers for evil, Anjeliqua wants to use her powers for good, and so she ends up trying to make everyone in the universe happy by creating their own romanticised little parallel universe for them. It is not difficult to envisage the disastrous consequences of this as the Chronovores gorge themselves on a superfluity of parallel universes.
To be honest, I did not enjoy the ‘parallel universe’ sections of this novel as much as I did the rest, but fortunately these passages are much more compact here than they were in “Millennial Rites”. Within a relatively short spread of pages, we see the book’s main characters living out their ‘fantasies’ – for example, the Doctor (or should that be the Ka Faraq Gatri…?) leads the Time Lords in a temporal “jihad” against the Daleks, and Prime Minister Mel Bush is betrayed by a half-cybernetic third Doctor who never escaped his exile.
And as for the story’s conclusion, well… I love it. And that is saying a lot given that I normally loathe stories that tie themselves up as neatly as “The Quantum Archangel” does – just look at the Paul Kairos / Kronos development, for example, or the Master getting his old Tremas body back. Heck, thanks to the Dæmons and a rogue segment of the Key to Time, even the series’ disparate explanations for the destruction of Atlantis are consolidated! I think my appreciation of this neat wrapping up is simply down to the sheer cleverness of it all; in my view Doctor Who does not flex its temporal muscles as often as it should, and so when a novel actually revels in time loops and paradox and it makes sense, I cannot help but be impressed.
On a final note, I should sound one note of caution as “The Quantum Archangel” is a full-on continuity-fest, even by Hinton’s ‘fanwanky’ standards. Now this is all fine and good if you are like me and enjoy wallowing in such things, but be warned – this one is not for everybody. I do not think that to follow this story you necessarily need to be familiar with every Doctor Who story out there, but if you are not then this one may read more like a reference book than a novel at times.
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 novel’s blurb suggests that it takes place between the television stories The Trial of a Time Lord and Time and the Rani, and the text makes it clear that these events follow those depicted in the author’s earlier novel, Millennial Rites. It must also take place prior to Instruments of Darkness as there the Doctor refers to these events. We have therefore placed it between the two, just after the events of Terror of the Vervoids.
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