(ISBN 0-426-20378-X)







 Bernice suggests THE

 DOCTOR investigates

 the mystery of the

 Seven Planets - an

 entire system that

 disappeared without

 trace before Bernice

 was born.


 As riot and anarchy

 spread on the SEVEN

 PLANET’s coloniES, the

 Doctor is flung into

 another universe AND

 Bernice closes in on

 the horror that is

 about to be unleashed.

 a horror THAT COMES

 from a secret in the

 Time Lords’ past...


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The Pit

MARCH 1993






The Pit is perhaps the least-inspiring title that I’ve come across in Doctor Who,

if not ever. Nevertheless, it’s one that’s only an ‘s’ short of fitting the bill, as for all its good ideas, Neil Penswick’s novel is utterly impenetrable. What we have here is 276 pages full

of languid, perplexing text; shallow, lifeless characters; and a plot that just doesn’t gel at all.


To look at the novel’s positive attributes firstly, as I’ve intimated above Penswick’s book is blessed with a veritable flood of intriguing ideas and mesmerising concepts. Indeed, the fundamental premise of the Doctor and Bernice going to investigate the disappearance of an entire solar system is full of potential; potential that Penswick incessantly threatens to capitalise upon through his use of the Yssgaroth.


The Yssgaroth are presented as being ancient enemies of the Time Lords from another universe that were allowed to enter our plain of existence due to a blunder in one of ancient Gallifrey’s early time travel experiments. As someone that finds “the Old Time” incredibly absorbing, this idea appealed to me instantly, as did the author’s use of the unidextrous ancient Gallifreyan warrior Kopyion, who is the novel’s standout character by a clear mile.


The author also handles Bernice very well. Her adventures with the religious android, Spike, are some my favourite passages in the book, and I particularly like how a lot of emphasis is put on Benny’s journal and her thoughts about her Mother and the Daleks that murdered her.


Unfortunately though, the book is plagued with long passages that seem to go on forever, dwelling on tediously one-dimensional characters with blatantly transparent agendas. The novel’s density isn’t buoyed its structure either - The Pit is divided into just four parts, like

a television adventure, and although these are sub-divided into readable chunks it makes reading the book feel like a mammoth task, overfacing the reader, as it were.



Perhaps the biggest let

down through is the poet

William Blake. As the

cover illustration proudly

announces, the glorious

luminary features heavily

in the adventure, though

contrary to the impression that it gives he is actually a friend and ally to the Doctor… mostly. For such a dynamic and exciting historical figure, he is portrayed especially blandly. Some

of his wacky adventures with the Doctor were diverting - particularly the “Jack the Ripper” segments - but even there, the links to the main plot are so tenuous that such highlights felt like irrelevant digressions.


The final nail in The Pit’s coffin is provided by its ending. Kopyion destroys all the Seven Planets to seal a hole in the fabric of the time-space continuum and prevent the Yssgaroth re-entering our universe… and the Doctor just lets him. Billions of lives destroyed, and the Doctor doesn’t even try to stop him. To be frank, I don’t care about how he is supposed to respect the Laws of Time; he should never be portrayed as sitting back and letting a horror of this magnitude unfold before him. It’s not so much the Doctor’s decision itself that grates; more his dispassion. He just doesn’t feel like Doctor. If Penswick’s aim was to make the Doctor seem “un-Doctorlike” as he stated, then he certainly achieved his goal. But, in my view at least, he went too far. 


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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