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Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible

By Marc Platt

Book review by Adam Moffitt

Time's Crucible is one of the most challenging Doctor Who books to date. Its intricate plot and complex style make it both intriguing and confusing - but what is there to like about it?

For one, the surreal atmosphere of impending doom and the feeling of claustrophobic anxiety give it a style unmatched by contemporary Who authors.

Platt vividly creates a world in which the past, present and future meet and converge into 'nows'. Into this confusing scenario enters a character we've all come to love; Ace. Platt portrays her as a determined, strong- minded young woman with an attitude to match.

As for the Doctor, just who is that strange little man? Gone are the days when he was just as confused as we were. Now he has more than just an inkling of an idea as to what, when and how to do what has to be done. I don't think he's Rassilon, but just someone ancient, very wise and powerful. Just who was Rassilon talking to in the shadows of his office? I wonder...

The 'monster' of the story I believe is one of the best and most realistic nasties ever encountered. Platt created a slobbering slug which sent one too many shivers up my spine - but I loved it! The Process characterised power, greed and egomania, all in one.

Nice work, Platt. Nine out of ten.

Book review by Jessica Ihimaera-Smiler

Hallelujah! At last, another decent New Adventures book! It's been long enough in coming. In my opinion, Time's Crucible gets marks over all the others with the possible exception of Exodus. I did however find it to be even more confusing than Revelation. I was lucky enough to read the whole thing in one evening (thanks Paul R for lending it to me!), which is probably the best way.

It manages to be gripping enough to keep you wondering, although I found it very confusing with all the guff about the different phases of the city and people and so on. The stuff about Gallifrey was also a bit confusing and a little tedious - though I suppose it was necessary. The Doctor seemed to be just as confused as I was and I thought that the TARDIS had the biggest part to play.

It was full of the inevitable 'doom and gloom' but that could just be my reaction after finishing it - anyone out there agree that it was depressing?

But out from the jaws of defeat, the Doctor pulled a victory of sorts. I may actually buy this book. I think it can be best described in two words: transcendentally dimensional.

Book review by Phillip J Gray

Time's Crucible was an interesting and confusing novel which was a mixed batch of the very good and the surreal. The sections with the Chronauts seemed gratuitous, and although the absence of the Doctor from the plot is entertaining at first, one comes to miss him as the story progresses. The novel is not as good as Revelation, and the Gallifreyan sections are not well integrated into the rest of the book. I also have sincere doubts about the sustainability of just a Doctor-Ace relationship in the New Adventures novels. Time's Crucible - an interesting attempt but one that needs several reads and for me it doesn't quite work.

Book review by Clinton Spencer

When thinking of Marc Platt, one is usually reminded of his classic Ghost Light, but from now on I will associate his name with Time's Crucible - not because the book is amazing, but because it is, like his earlier work, an inter-woven plot, complex and very thought-provoking. Time's Crucible had me at some points locked in and at others extremely bored - such as the early Gallifreyan scenes. Luckily they get better and more interesting near the end of the book.

In 275 pages, Marc Platt looks at two ideas: the TARDIS inverting (I've always wondered what would happen), and people being able to jump across different points in time. Many of the ideas are extremely complicated and require you to put two and two together, filling in the details along the way. So don't get turned off this book just because it looks as if it's a repeat of Ghost Light in plot understanding.

Read the book and let everything soak in. The first few chapters are a bore but by the last hundred pages everything steps up a notch and gets exciting. By the time you reach the end, you feel rewarded. The story leaves you pleasantly happy - or at least that's how I felt.

I'd like to read Time's Crucible again but I find those Gallifreyan scenes daunting to read. Maybe I should read straight from Chapter 20: The Banshee Circuit (an excellent creation)? Then again, maybe I should just leave it on the shelf, where it should be?

This item appeared in TSV 30 (September 1992).

Index nodes: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible