Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible by Marc Platt. Seventh Doctor with Ace as the companion. Stupid Ace. Hey, whoever said these reviews would be impartial.

I’m starting with this bonkers New Adventure as it’s the next in published order leaving off from Dan’s reviews. The Seventh Doctor isn’t a favourite, Ace is lame to the izzay and to make matters even worse, it starts off by being set in Ealing Broadway. West London! I ask you! Who gives a fig, well NOT I, I’ll tell you that for nowt.

Unfortunately, this is a very very odd one. It’s easiest to think of the book having two strands, one which is significantly interesting (and the reason why I chose to read the book in the first place), and another one far more FSVO “prosaic”. These two strands which Marc tries to weave to form a coherent whole are the stories of pre-Rassilon Ancient Gallifrey (ie the planet of the Time Lords before they were time lords, ruled by an ancient and superstitious matriarchal culture and making their first experiements into time travel itself) and the story of Ace being stuck in GASP! PLANET UNKNOWN, hijinks ensue ect ect.

I say “Ace” only, because the random thing about this book is that for at least a good half, if not more of it, the Doctor doesn’t feature! As Ace wakes up in a dusty and grinding empty industrial City, she’s alone with no TARDIS, no Doctor, but for some reason, a rusty old bike. No, god knows. She eventually meets other prisoners on the planet – amnesiac refugees from Ancient Gallifrey, and their backstory is explained through the eyes of Vael – an angry and powerful Gallifreyan Individual, who had the power to block out the Gallifreyan communal telepathy.

It’s clear that the author has spent FAR TOO LONG thinking about Ancient Gallifrey – hey no bad thing, someone’s got to do it – but it’s disappointing that it all comes together into a complete incomprehensible mish-mash of the “present day” story with Ace as the protagonist and the Doctor … well the Doctor’s tactics pretty much amounted to “burn the big thing and run away”. A sly comment on the Dr’s real actual lack of subtlety behind his oh so clever fancy talk, or just a bit lame? I think I know which side I’d come down on.

However, the pre-Rassilon Gallifrey stuff is amazing and it’s fair to say I completely gobbled it up. I’m a big sucker for Big History backstories, on saying that READER BE WARNED upon reading the Lord of the Rings I took this as far as the Silmarillion and the appendices. Experiencing the curse that sterilised Gallifrey, gaining some idea of the character of Rassilon and most laugh out loud entertainingly – the founding of the bonkers Sisterhood of Karn was just the sort of thing I wanted from the book.

Just a shame I had to go through so much fogged up GUFF to get to it. But I suppose he had to explain the bad TARDIS science somehow.

Another thing that the book explained to me Was the important Of capitalising the First Letter of every Vaguely portentious sounding Word. In the Beginning there was the Process. To be sure, it can be a good tactic, but when sledgehammered into the mind like so, it has the only effect of making you read the book mentally in a big HUUGE AND BOOMING BRIAN BLESSED VOICE.

Luckily, this only appears to be the distracting case in the books which focus more on the Importance of Time and Chaos over ROMPING YARNS with GIN SOAKED TIMELADIES.

Sounds good, you think?

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