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By Marc Platt

Book review by Paul Scoones

Unlike Terrance Dicks' Shakedown, in which the original sections of the novel stood very clearly apart from the video adaptation, Marc Platt's Downtime has its expanded material interwoven with scenes derived from the video production. Platt's novel has a greater sense of a cohesive story.

Marc Platt clearly has a deep love and understanding of series continuity and has taken every opportunity to create an adventure with strong ties not only to the two Yeti stories but also to aspects of Mawdryn Undead, Fury from the Deep, K9 and Company and even Battlefield (the novelisation as well as the TV story). UNIT have a greater role to play in the proceedings than was evident in the Downtime video, and particularly gratifying is the inclusion of Brigadier Crichton, a character who makes only a fleeting appearance in The Five Doctors. The disturbing implication in the Downtime video that UNIT has become a corrupt and untrustworthy organisation is thankfully clarified in the novel.

Although the Doctor does appear briefly, the novel is principally about Victoria and the Brigadier. For Victoria, the adventure starts ten years after Fury from the Deep, when she leaves the Harrises to begin a life on her own. We learn the exact circumstances of her trip back to the Det-Sen monastery in Tibet and just how it was that she came to set up New World University. The Brigadier has just retired from teaching maths, and other familiar characters with a strong presence in the story include Sarah Jane and the tragic figure of Professor Travers.

I prefer reading fiction to watching it so I was always going to be more receptive to this book than I was to the video. There is so much fresh material that it somehow seems wrong to call Platt's book a novelisation. If you expected more from the Downtime video than it delivered, do not let this deter you from taking the opportunity to experience the adventure in print.

This item appeared in TSV 47 (April 1996).

Index nodes: Downtime