Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible
By Marc Platt
Reviewed by Felicity Scoones
Time's Crucible held my interest although at times it is (deliberately) confusing and hard to visualise - in fact I think it would be virtually impossible to film! This however is not a bad thing in itself as it makes this novel not just a substitute for the programme but something in its own right; if this story was not told in a novel it could not be told at all.
The plot is lacking in action at times and seems somewhat circular, but this only illustrates the theme of the story, although it can be frustrating. It is definitely a book aimed at the adult intellect, requiring the reader to connect a number of seemingly unrelated incidents to understand what is going on.
Notably, Time's Crucible introduces a lot of "facts" about the history of Gallifrey and it will be interesting to see if these are amalgamated into future stories where relevant, or contradicted. I think that future writers may find some of them too limited when dealing with the topic.
In conclusion I found Time's Crucible an interesting book with strong characterisation and certainly an original plot. I would particularly recommend it to those who enjoy the mysterious quality of Doctor Who and who don't like having everything spelt out for them.
Reviewed by Paul Scoones
The two best Timewyrm books were written by a Doctor Who script writer and a dedicated fan - a combination both these factors in the latest New Adventures novelist has produced a book that surpasses both Exodus and Revelation.
Marc Platt's novelisations of Ghost Light and Battlefield both rate in my top ten favourite books, so I knew to expect great things from Time's Crucible - and I was not disappointed. It is a book far more complex and layered than Ghost Light, but at the same time more rewarding to those who take the time to work out the plot contortions.
Platt has taken an area of Doctor Who mythos that we know next to nothing about - the Time of Chaos on Gallifrey - and expanded it into a fascinating glimpse into pre-Time Lord society. What's better is that he has also made it entirely consistent with the early Gallifrey excerpts from the Remembrance of the Daleks novelisation. Unlike most of Platt's predecessors in the New Adventures series, there's not a Past incarnation of the Doctor in sight - not unless you ascribe to the theory that the Doctor is Rassilon, of course!
In fact, there's quite a bit less of the current Doctor than you'd expect; he takes so much of a backseat role that he actually disappears for over a third of the book, leaving Ace as a very strongly-written and consistent central character.
The Doctor's absence not only allows Platt to develop Ace, but also to bring out some very strong original characters, the group of Chronauts from Ancient Gallifrey, who might otherwise have been overshadowed by the Doctor's presence. The monster of the story - the Process - is a truly hideous creation - far grosser than the cover lets on, and you'll find yourself thankful that it only appears in words, and not on the screen - not that this book could ever have been a television story anyway, which makes it all the more intriguing to learn that this was exactly how the story started life, as a script submission to Doctor Who. All I can say it's no wonder it was rejected as you'd need a major motion picture budget to even attempt to film what Platt has visualised as the ravaged landscape that was once the Doctor's TARDIS.
As the title indicates, this is a book all about time in its many representations. Events don't always follow the established pattern of cause and effect; in this book often the effect appears some time before the cause, and it's left up to the reader to link the two; Platt is not a writer in the habit of spelling everything out at the end of the story, and Time's Crucible is no exception to this.
I know I said Revelation was an absolutely superb book last issue, and I still stand by that - but this book is even better. If each New Adventure improves on the last in this way, then soon readers are going to wonder why we ever wanted the series back on screen.
This item appeared in TSV 27 (February 1992).