THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
TV STORIES "THE KING'S
DEMONS" AND "THE FIVE
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-426
-20429-8) RELEASED IN
patronized by the
highest echelons of
society in the TENTH
millennium. The guests
are projected back in
time to sample the
food and drink of a
When the galaxy’s
most notorious crime
boss is murdered in
the Bucephalus, the
Doctor, Tegan and
for the killing. To
prove their innocence,
they must track down
the perpetrators of
uncover a conspiracy
which has been 5,000
years in the making.
The Crystal Bucephalus
“The Crystal Bucephalus” is a strange one. It really is. At the heart of it are some wonderful ideas, and for the most part it is a novel that does little other than impress. It adds a lot to the overall story of the fifth Doctor as we learn why we see so little of Kamelion until “Planet of Fire” – a reason other than that the prop was rubbish and would not work – and also it puts forward some fascinating (if obscenely controversial) views on religious cults. However, I think it is fair to say that above all else, Craig Hinton's debut novel will be forever remembered for the sheer amount of continuity references that it contains (“fanwank”, if you will).
Do not get me wrong, I love continuity references as much as the next fan; probably more so than most, in fact. I find that the odd reference here and there is often a nice little reward for being such a loyal devotee of the show. I can honestly say though that I do not think there is a single chapter in this novel that is not marred by an avalanche of references or (admittedly quite interesting) theories. I was not keeping score or anything, but Hinton managed to squeeze in that Mortimus (the Monk) was a member of the Celestial Intervention Agency; Tegan bumps into a feisty waitress called ‘Dorothy’ (hmm...); Qo’nos – the KLINGON homeworld – apparently exists in the Doctor Who universe, and is recovering from an environmental catastrophe (as documented in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country!); and on top of that, countless other Star Trek planets – Risa, Vulcan (okay, I will let him have that one) and several others are all mentioned in their appropriate Star Trek context! How did the man not get sued? Even the “foul Marmidons” from Blackadder’s Christmas Carol rear their ugly heads! I know it is a big Whoniverse, but come on...
However, one interesting continuity that “The Crystal Bucephalus” does put forward is that after imprisoning the Legions (“Lucifer Rising”), the Time Lords vanished from the galactic arena, and by the one hundred and eighth century (when this story is set) they are thought to be dead by most of the universe. This is particularly interesting considering Paul Cornell’s recent “Goth Opera” suggested that Gallifrey’s present exists in Earth’s distant past, and
that after a certain date TARDISes cannot enter Gallifreyan space… but why? “The Crystal Bucephalus” suggests that they simply are not there...
It is to be hoped though that Hinton's passion for continuity will not put off too many readers, because hidden behind the pages of shameless fan service is actually a rather fascinating plot. Hinton's story revolves around a time travelling restaurant that is owned by the Doctor
(which over the years he had forgotten about) and the return of the Lazarus Intent’s
thoroughly evil Messiah, Arrestis. Fair dues, it gets a bit soapy at times with the scientist Lassiter, his brother the Maitre D (what a great character) and all Lassiter’s various lovers and children, but it is still good science fiction nonetheless.
Hinton also handles each of the regular characters exceedingly well, including Kamelion, who is once again easily manipulated by the villain of the piece, this time with horrific consequences. Indeed, the mistrust and bad feeling caused by Kamelion’s actions in this novel may well go some way towards explaining his long absence on television.
The thing I enjoyed most about the book were some of the little details. I liked reading about the Doctor living a normal, linear life for five years. About him going to the bank, withdrawing a ton of cash and setting up another time travelling restaurant just so he could get back to the old one. I liked the Doctor having a ponytail. I liked Tegan’s continuing mistrust of the shifty Turlough. I even thought that the (deliberate) parallels between the Lazarus Intent and Christianity worked very well in the context of the novel, although I am sure that some
readers may have been offended. Swap Judas for a Draconian and you are there!
Finally, if you take nothing else away from “The Crystal Bucephalus”, you are at least guaranteed to increase your vocabulary by one word. “The Crystal Bucephalus” may be a strange one, but I think that it is one to be embraced.
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.
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