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Time and Relative (A Doctor Who Novella)

Kim Newman

Telos Publishing

UK Hardcover first

ISBN 1-903889-02-2

121 Pages ; Price £10

Date Reviewed: 04-17-02

Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel



Science Fiction, Horror

04-18-02, 09-11-02, 10-08-02, 11-13-02, 12-13-02

British science fiction doesn't begin with, end at, or ever escape from Doctor Who. Created in 1963, we're still seeing fresh and interesting material nearly 40 years later. Telos Publications has just launched a series of Doctor Who novellas, and if Kim Newman's first entry in the series is anything to judge by, it will be worth watching. Of course, anything by Newman is worth watching, but 'Time and Relative' allows him to call on his many talents in a particularly unique way. "'Continuity, bah!' Grandfather said yesterday, or the day after." As an SF, film and music historian, Newman is particularly well suited in his choice of setting. 'Time and Relative' takes place in 1963, just before the first episode in the TV series, and is told from the point of view of young teenaged Susan Foreman. It's winter, and everything is Cold. Grandfather is cold, and the Cold outside seems a bit more virulent than natural.

Newman gets into the voice perfectly, and then starts slinging the references as only he can. The story is first class Doctor Who -- snowmen seem to be taking on a vicious life of their own. Soon the snow itself seems to be possessed of an alien intelligence. Susan is a young time lord, not that she knows it that way. She knows she has two hearts, and she knows much more than the children around her. She certainly knows enough to go 'Grandfather' when things get really dangerous.

But more than the Cold is dangerous in 1960's England, and Newman's fine vision ensures that we see all the undercurrents of class, race, war-mongers and beatniks that color the social interactions. We see them through a set of slightly alien eyes, both those of Susan, who isn't always aware of the implications of the behavior of the humans around her, and our own alien eyes, looking at a past that is both fondly remembered and yet filled with many things best left behind. For a Doctor Who Novella, it's interesting that the name itself never arises, and that the Time Lord himself, is not the major player in the events that pass. Newman follows the finest of the Who writers in this regard, those (er) who knew that the guest characters needed to be as interesting as the continuing characters. The character of the Doctor is not the friendly goof many think of, though you can see how that (uh) man grew out of the more alien creature we meet here.

'Time and Relative' benefits from the expansive Telos printing. It's a very nice hardcover with huge type. With Newman's fine writing at the forefront, it's a great launch for this new series of books. For Newman fans, for Doctor Who fans and for those (uh) who are both, this book is pretty much a must buy. Even if you're outside those rather wide categories, you're certain to find a very nice slice of the sixties that you might have missed had you not stepped into an innocent looking police box.