FOR THE SECOND
DOCTOR, THIS STORY
TAKES PLACE BETWEEN
THE TV STORIES "THE
AND "THE ABOMINABLE
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-
IN JUNE 2000.
THE citizens OF
Lychburg are being
killed in brutal
ways and The only
suspects are the
SECOND Doctor, Jamie
meanwhile, have been
summoned by the
Council. A force has
been unleashed into
continuum so terrible
that it is set to rip
the universe apart
and plunge it into
chaos from which
nothing CAN survive...
Heart of TARDIS
Of all the Doctor Who novels that I have ever read, Dave Stone’s are without 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). And I am sorry to say that, in my view at least, Heart of TARDIS is yet another unicycle.
My criticism of this book is single-fold and straightforward – the plot is completely elusive. Now I found this to be doubly frustrating as what I could decipher of it was entrancing stuff; in fact, I would go so far as to say it is exactly the kind of temporally-twisted tale that I am 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 pacing is entirely his own, and his 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 is 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?”
Furthermore, Heart of TARDIS is absolutely 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 further the mythology of the show. Here, however, all the grand talk of Rassilon, Time Wars, and rogue prototype TARDISes is dragged down by gratuitous references to
the likes of Queegvogel Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Seven from Stone’s Missing Adventure Burning Heart.
Craziest of all though, Stone sets the second Doctor’s segments of the story in Springfield – as in The Simpsons’ Springfield. Consequently Heart of TARDIS has a glut of Simpsons characters bludgeoned into it – Comic Book Guy, Doctor Nick Riviera (oh sorry, ‘Doctor Rick’), Doctor Hibbert… - meaning that half the novel feels downright surreal. Hilarious at times, I will grant you, but surreal all the same. And that is 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 simply sublime (particularly his fourth Doctor, and Victoria), to such an extent that it is probably worth reading Heart of TARDIS for this element alone.
You might also learn a thing or two in reading this one – Heart of TARDIS is the first novel that I have read in about ten years where I have had to look up a word in the dictionary (pulchritudinous) and, better still, the novel’s preamble explains the true significance of * * *
in a manuscript. It is a plunge over a catastrophe curve, you see - a rather lovely turn of phrase which I think better than anything 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, Designs 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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