(ISBN 0-563-55597-1)






 Detecting A signal in

 the Time Vortex, the

 Doctor and Ace land

 on Blinni-Gaar. They

 soon discover that

 the native population

 are little more than

 zombies, addicted to

 Channel 400. As the

 Doctor investigates,

 he finds that the

 television company

 has aN agenda that

 has nothing to do

 with entertainment.


 Why is the Director-

 General of Channel 

 400 so interested in

 the Doctor? Who are

 the mysterious aliens

 who watch from the

 shadows of the Brago

 nebula? And why is

 a pack of Zzinbriizi

 jackals stalking the

 streets of THE PLANET?


 As the Doctor is

 drawn deeper and

 deeper into a web of

 intrigue, he FINDS an

 unexpected ally of

 the most dangerous



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Prime Time

JULY 2000






Short and sweet, Prime Time is Mike Tucker’s first solo writing project. It is also, without a doubt, his most exciting work to date.


True to form, Tucker presents his novel in the form of a three-part television serial, this time complete with a trailer, pre-title sequence, and even a commercial break (the latter being more of a reflection on the story, rather than an attempt to emulate the television series!)


Somewhat gallingly though, the entire novel is littered with footnotes referring to the author’s past and present works – The Genocide Machine, Storm Harvest, and even the short story Stop the Pigeon from the Short Trips anthology are all referenced, most of them more than once. Now as unfashionable as it is to admit to liking continuity-heavy stories, more often than not I love them – but (and feel free to call me a cynic!) I do not want cheap adverts for books and audios that I already own constantly rammed down my throat!


Mercifully though, Tucker’s self-advertising (or possibly BBC Books’ self-advertising, I’m

not sure who to blame!) does not detract too much from what is a remarkably compelling, albeit wholly unoriginal, story. Fans who recall Steve Lyons’ sixth Doctor novel for Virgin publishing, Time of Your Life, will no doubt spot numerous parallels with that story here, particularly in how Channel 400 seeks to control the population of Blinni-Gaar through its programming (which naturally includes their new reality show, Doctor When), but I would argue that Prime Time does a much better job than Time of Your Life when it comes to fleshing out the concepts.



I also really took to Tucker’s Fleshsmiths, an

example of which can be seen on the book’s

front cover, as brought to life by Steve Cole. A

much less sympathetic version of Star Trek:

Voyager’s Vidians, the Fleshsmiths allow

Tucker to do what he does so well and really

push the body horror in this story. The fate of

Ace’s friend Greg Ashby (a Tucker pseudonym,

I believe) wonderfully illustrates just how terrifying what the Fleshsmiths do to you is.


Further, whilst the inclusion of the moribund, cheetah-infected Master feels like something of an afterthought, his presence does really give the novel a real lift in the latter half – I couldn’t get enough of his scenes with the Doctor, even when it was a Zzinbriizi jackal impersonating the Master and not the genuine article.


“He had already checked the body inside the coffin. Ace. Dead.

Not old, young, as she was now. Young and dead. He hadn’t foreseen this…”


Of course though, the real talking point of Prime Time is Ace. Not only is this a strong novel for her in terms of what she has to do and what she goes through, there is also a delightfully harrowing twist at the end which really opens up the possibilities for further stories. I reckon Tucker has already secured his next commission, and it is one that I cant wait to read.


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 story culminates in the Doctor’s discovery of a near-future Ace’s corpse. This apparent inconsistency would be resolved (in a manner of speaking) by the later novel Loving the Alien.


The Master’s role in this story makes it very difficult to explain how he could have travelled directly from the Cheetah planet to Earth, as he claims to have done in First Frontier (which is set later, but was released earlier). Presumably events between this story and First Frontier saw the Master’s memories corrupted in some fashion.


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