OTTL Book Club #3: “Doctor Who and the Bloody, Shitting, Vomiting Creature”

Timewyrm Apocalypse Cover He examined his sleeve. Blood!? Blood. Crimson copper-smelling blood, his blood. Blood. Blood. Blood….And bits of sick. – Garth Marenghi “Slicer”

There’s a moment about halfway through Timewyrm: Apocalypse where Ace discovers a nightmarish creature “…writhing in its own excrement, blood and vomit” that made me burst out laughing. It’s not that Apocalypse is a terrible novel, it’s just that at it’s worst it harks back to the schlocky sci-fi horror and over the top violence so brilliantly lampooned by Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. 

Written by former Target editor and author Nigel Robinson, the novel brings us the range’s first visit to an alien world in a story that mixes Christopher H Bidmead era science with Eric Saward era gore, liberally sprinkling The Krotons on top.

The Doctor and Ace land on the planet Kirith, a paradise at the edge of the universe and at the end of time itself. The best and brightest Kirithons are sent to join the brotherhood on the island of Kandasi never to return or be remembered. Are the Panjistri and their brotherhood the great benefactors they claim to be? Well, of course not.

For a first journey to an alien world, Robinson gives us an engaging and layered portrayal of a society with dreadful secrets and lies at its heart. It is exactly the sort of perverse alien plot you can imagine rankling with any of the Doctors, and Robinson has a great grasp of McCoys cadence so you can practically hear the r’s roll in your head.

Much like Timewyrm: Genesys, this is a story about the desire to prolong the inevitable, with the Panjistri desperate to avert the end of the universe by any means necessart, including the creation of the aforementioned shitty monster. It’s a fairly standard Doctor Who story with some blood and guts thrown in to justify the more adult direction the range is setting out in.

Indeed, it’s the sort of story you could fit in anywhere in the series’ 26 year run, so much so that the events taking place are linked to something the Doctor has done in a past life. This time, it’s the second Doctor giving his future self a dire warning. It’ll be interesting to see if, as the range gets more popular and confident, the references and cameos from past Doctor’s will calm down and give us a confident and authoritative 7th Doctor. Having already read Timewyrm: Revelation it certainly doesn’t happen any time soon.

Timewyrm: Apocalypse is a fairly average piece of Doctor Who fiction, raised by some great characterisation and dialogue from the leads. But, as the Timewyrm frustratingly escapes the Doctor again, where next for the arc?

NEXT TIME: Sheltering from monsters in a church! People whisked off to the moon! The afterlife! A murderous astronaut! A child in a space-suit! Haven’t we been here before? Or should that be since?

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