Book: Doctor Who, Nuclear Time

"Nuclear Time" by Oli SmithColorado, 1981. The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in Appletown–an idyllic village in the remote American desert where the townsfolk go peacefully about their suburban routines. But when two more strangers arrive, things begin to change.

The first is a mad scientist–whose warnings are cut short by an untimely and brutal death. The second is the Doctor…

As death falls from the sky, the Doctor is trapped. The TARDIS is damaged, and the Doctor finds he is living backwards through time. With Amy and Rory being hunted through the suburban streets of the Doctor’s won future and getting farther away with every passing second, he must unravel the secrets of Appletown before time runs out…

Reading the back cover, I thought I was in for a mystery thriller with the Doctor and his companions–in print form. I was wrong. It wasn’t a mystery, nor was it thrilling. And this is my only exposure to a printed adventure of Doctor Who, but it looks like there are some stories that would be better told in television form, rather than in book form. Then again, had this story been produced as an actual episode of the television series, I highly doubt that I would have enjoyed it even then.

There’s just something about Nuclear Time that rubs me the wrong way. Well, other than the fact that the dialogue is all wrong–and the characterization has gone wonky.

Let’s discuss.

Nuclear Time happens sometime in between The Vampires of Venice and The Hungry Earth, back in Series 5. This is during Rory Williams’ first few adventures with Amy Pond and the Eleventh Doctor. Back when he was pretty much a deadweight to the group. Back when he wasn’t a badass yet. And yet, he is. The Rory Williams we are exposed to in this story is the one post-2000 years of waiting as the Lone Centurion. He doesn’t let Amy take the lead all the time, but knows when he needs to let her decide. Now, how was I able to pinpoint this time frame of Rory’s life? Because Amy called him her fiancé. Which he was. But reading the story prior to being given this information, I thought this happened sometime in between The Day of the Moon and The Rebel Flesh.

I don’t think the author had a good handle on the character of Rory. His Amy was perfect though. But then again, by Series 6, Amy is pretty much every female character with spunk thrown in. So, yeah.

And then, there’s The Doctor. You can actually see in the dialogue how the author is trying to make it sound like The Eleventh. What we get is a cross between Tenth and… well, someone who isn’t The Doctor. But more than the dialogue, it’s the Doctor’s apparent disregard for his companions that irks me. It takes a weak supporting character to actually nudge him back into fighting to get back to them. A very weak supporting character. And it’s not like The Doctor should need any nudging at all! This is Amy and Rory–who have become his best buddies!

Then again, since this is situated within Series 5, maybe he’d care more about Amy than Rory. But he still wouldn’t need any prodding from a mad scientist to actually try to rescue his companions!

I know that the author was just trying to make his original character more important. But it didn’t work.

Nuclear Time disappoints the Whovian in me. Well, the characterization in the story disappoints the Whovian in me.

Maybe it’s best if I don’t pick up any more Doctor Who novels from here on out. The only reason I bought this book anyway was because I was excited to find an actual Doctor Who novel for sale here. But then, if the story looks good, I might be persuaded to pick another one up. Never say never, and all that jazz.

Story-wise though, Nuclear Time is a bit too timey-wimey with a dose of sci-fi jargon that is a little hard to follow. I still don’t get why the Doctor is traveling backwards in time–aside from it being important as a plot device, I mean. Other than that–would the TARDIS really subject the Doctor to this kind of punishment? I’m not that knowledgeable about the Who universe, but I think that’s a bit too convenient.

Of course, this whole thing is just my opinion. Let’s check out what other people have to say about it:
Unreality SF Archive
YouTube: Whoventures


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