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Doctor Who: Timeless Mass Market Paperback – 4 Aug 2003

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (4 Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563486074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563486077
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11.1 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 520,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 7 April 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sense and reason have been missing from many of the recent Eighth Doctor novels. This is a big step in the right direction. Okay, the way Our Heroes return to "our" universe doesn't actually make sense, but that's the only plot-hole in a well-plotted book that tells an intriguing story, moves the sub-plots forward and provides some nice character pieces, especially for the Doctor and Fitz. Okay, it doesn't explain where Trix came from (have I missed a book somewhere along the line?), but that's forgivable and this is an adequate introduction to the new companion. Certainly a book worth reading.
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By Book Critic TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Feb. 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I couldn't get into this at all and I couldn't even begin to tell you why. It had all the ingredients for a brilliant EDA yet seemed so dull. The story, whilst intriguing and full of interesting elements just didn't go anywhere. While the Doctor was, for a change, very well written - I could really hear Paul McGann's voice saying Steven Cole's words (which is sometimes a struggle), Anji and Fitz were weak, I thought, and Trix was just annoying. I couldn't engage with it at all and struggled terribly to finish it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jane Aland VINE VOICE on 28 July 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
BBC Books 8th Doctor books have been mired recently in a muddled series of alternate universe stories, with a nebulous threat attempting to take over history hanging in the background for the last couple of years. The feeling of going nowhere seems to be lifting, as we finally get some answers to a number of unresolved plot-threads in Timeless (what Sabbaths plans are, who his employers are, the Doctors destruction of Gallifrey, resolving the paradox that led to the alternate universes co-exisitng, Anji's attempts to get home), and while not everything is resolved the series at least looks to be moving forward again instead of wandering in circles. Coupled with a decent tale of people jumping from alternate Earths's to the 'real' Earth, this is Stephen Cole's best book to date.
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By Daniel Adams on 23 Oct. 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I will keep this short and sweet. This is one of the best 8th Doctor books. It gets right into the action from the first page and gives you just enough of the story page by page to keep you hooked. I have found that some of the other 8th Doctor books take a life time to get into some action and hardcore Doctor Who, but this was fast and to the point. BUY IT.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding entry in the Eighth Doctor Series. 1 Dec. 2003
By Bryan Schingle - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The last two books that I read in the EDA were both somewhat depressing. "Reckless Engineering" and "The Crooked World" both had dark shadows to them, feelings of hopelessness and despair. I picked this one up, hoping for a change of pace.
Needless to say, I got what I was hoping for. "Timeless" is a great entry in the series. Humorous, a great story line/plot twists, good characters. It had it's own dark side to it, but it didn't stand out like it did in "Reckless Engineering". The book starts in several different story lines, each line emerging every fifty pages or so, concluding in a tense, dramatic climax. The Eighth Doctor is insightful and childish at the same time, just as Paul McGann was in the television movie. I would love to see this book come out as an episode some day!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Time to end this story-arc 13 Sept. 2004
By Andrew McCaffrey - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If I were to review this book in a couple of phrases, I'd describe it as a mediocre novel with an atrocious ending. Unfortunately, I'm far too grumpy to simply leave it at that. TIMELESS is a frustrating book in a series that I've been increasingly frustrated with. A multi-part story-arc really shouldn't be interfering in an individual book to the extent seen here, yet that's exactly what happens. The story-arc should enhance an individual tale, not drag it down to the depths of incomprehensibility.

The back cover states the plot involves "saving the multiverse from total collapse". Well, this doesn't exactly increase the dramatic tension for me. I mean, first of all, any reader is going to take it for granted that the book doesn't end with the multiverse in a state of total collapse. So the state of play isn't where the book is going to be setting its conflict. What we're left with is to observe how the Doctor saves the universe (or multiverse or whatever). Here's where we have the problem. The threat to the universe has been described with ever increasing gobs of technobabble over the past few books in the series. And it doesn't take a genius to realize that the best way of ridding the world of technobabble is to attack it with even more confusing technobabble. This is not something I enjoy reading.

Now, I'll give Stephen Cole some credit here. When addressing conflicts that potentially alter the entire course of creation, it's handy to see the effect that these Big Events have on actual living people. Made-up science-stuff that doesn't even remain consistent from book to book can be a little -- shall we say -- difficult to grasp. So it's nice to see time spent on developing characters. Stacy, for instance, worked quite well for me, and I enjoyed her subplot as well as her character (if the whole book had worked like this, I would have rated it much higher).

On the other hand, I was more lukewarm to Guy. He's a fairly standard character, but I suspect that's done deliberately. If you like this sort of thing, then you call him an everyman. If you loathe it, then you call him a walking stereotype. My opinion moved back and forth between the two extremes. I think my main problem was just that Cole's attempt at making him a sympathetic and identifiable figure went a bit too far and I couldn't actually imagine anyone this generic really existing. I note that other reviewers have had no trouble identifying with him at all, so it appears the mileage varies on this point.

As for the plot, for the most part Cole is capable of keeping the individual strands separate and interesting. I really liked Fitz and Trix's investigation taking place a number of weeks removed from the main action. But there are way too many little moments where Cole has to cheat in order to allow the plot to emerge in the way he wants it to. Take for example the Doctor and Stacy escaping because the bad guys just throw them off a boat, let them get away and only then do they think to give chase. Sloppy and regrettable. And as for the conversation two grown male characters have about women... well, I'm speechless in my amusement. It reads like a conversation that two twelve-year-old boys would have about girls, but only in the unlikely event that they didn't know any dirty words.

But the biggest problem is that I simply cannot care about the book's main conflict. Now don't get me wrong; I like science fiction that handles big scientific ideas. I have no trouble with the idea of a story doing big things with the universe. But this never felt like "Big Ideas". This felt more like "More Made Up Mumbo Jumbo From The People Who Brought You That Other Made Up Mumbo Jumbo." If there hadn't been any silly story-arc stuff going on and the book had been focused upon the human villains, I'm sure I would have been very positive about it.

I sort of enjoyed reading the first half, but after a while it just wore me down. It also feels far less ambitious than his previous EDA, despite dealing with huge universe-shattering events. VANISHING POINT was an exploration of a society with apparent proof as to existence of the afterlife. It may not have fulfilled its potential, but I admired it for trying. TIMELESS, on the other hand, is about what happens when overwhelming technobabble meets unstoppable gobbledygook. It may not have started out that way, but unfortunately, that's how it ended.
Tapdancing with diamonds on the soles of your shoes only leaves holes in the fabric of time 1 April 2013
By Michael Battaglia - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Oh thank goodness someone rescued this. The multiverse arc has gone on for probably far longer than was comfortable, especially since the conflict was so maddeningly vague at times but if the books were entertaining it was easier to read them as separate entities and not worry about the overall plot in the background. But as the last few books wavered between stridently mediocre and outright bad we were starting to lose that tenuous link between interest and loyalty. I wanted to see this arc end but less because I was becoming emotionally invested in it and more just to see that it was finally over. Part of this has been because it's difficult to write parallel dimensions in a series that can travel to any place in space or time at a whim, as it's hard to tell whether you're in a true parallel scenario or just another weird planet in a strange galaxy. The recurring motif of Sabbath wasn't helping either, as he'd often saunter on as if obligated to make an appearance, do or say something mysterious and then waddle back off again to get ready for the next novel. This is not a situation practically brimming with drama.

But finally Cole promises us a resolution of sorts. Or at least gets us a step closer to it. I wouldn't have pegged Cole as the obvious choice to redeem this last slump. He's written some decent "Who" novels (and was Project Editor for a while, which means he was somewhat responsible for the quality of the line, or lack thereof) as recently as "Ten Little Aliens", but nothing earthshattering. His last attempt to end an arc in "The Ancestor Cell" was capable at best, but did nothing to synthesize the parts given into something greater. Here, with easier components to work with (I imagine Lawrence Miles' ideas were probably difficult to parse properly if you weren't actually him) and maybe a type of story that works closer to his skillset, Cole is able to produce something that comes remarkably close to the feel of the old Virgin adventures, managing to be both universe spanning and personal at the same time.

What makes this one interesting is that it almost simultaneously resolves the multiverse issue and expands on it, fixing a paradox almost as an aside while introducing a problem that Cole seems far more interested in detailing. The Timeless organization is able to make people's dreams come true in a way that seems to involve murder without anyone actually dying, forcing the Doctor to fight a group that maddeningly refuses to define itself.

From the start there's more a sense here of elements working behind the scenes, of everyone maneuvering to gain the best advantage, even when they don't fully know who the players are. It has the Doctor being proactive and mysterious at the same time, using his friends as a conductor plays an orchestra and throwing them into situations where they can be useful. For once, people treat Fitz and Anji like the experienced adults they are, Anji especially having grown used to this life enough that she can stand with the Doctor. They investigate and operate, aided with the assistance of new member Trix, (re)appearing here for the first time. Her introduction is one of the few false notes in the novel, treated in a sort of clumsy fashion as a stowaway that we never see stowaway, someone pressed into reluctant service who decides to stick around. It's a nice coincidence that her skills are useful, and the interactions between her and the Doctor (the one man she had trouble conning) add a nice element that we don't get from Anji and Fitz. Time will tell whether she becomes a character in her own right.

Fortunately the novel does have character to spare. The new incidental characters (Guy and Stacy in particular) manage to populate the novel without making it utterly crowded, while the various levels of relationships going on kept the momentum intact. Whether it was the TARDIS crew dealing with each other in the little habits and tics they've developed over the years, or how the newcomers deal with them or even how the villains all deal with each other, there's a constant reprocessing at play, an awareness of what homeostasis the novel exists in and what the exact effects can be when something comes along to disturb it. It helps the twists have more impact, making moments like when Sabbath finally starts to make moves have an actual tangible effect, as opposed to mysterious people doing mysterious things for the sake of being mysterious. What struck me most is how it succeeded in the little moments (Fitz's terrible film about parallel universes, or his first casual and wordless hello to Guy) while also managing to balance it out with mystery, often throwing the two together as contrast.

And it is that sense of mystery that redeems this from the novels that have preceded it. While the others were content to wallow in typical SF tropes, this one gives us that essential element of strangeness that sets the good books apart from the average ones. The first appearance of the little girl and her weird pet mark this as a different affair, presenting the mysteries without calling undue attention to their natures and leaving readers to puzzle out the gaps (who is Erasmus? who is working with Sabbath?), straddling that line between the explained and the unexplainable, giving us a Doctor who knows more than he is letting on but is still out of his depth to some extent. Maybe it'll all get overexplained later but here, it works. It's that combination of strangeness working in and against the background of ordinary lives, that mystery that lies under the surface of the world, the quiet horrors and secret battles, that sets the more adult "Who" books apart from their televised cousins.

It's not that everything works here, it's that ninety-nine percent of everything does. Like "Ten Little Aliens" before, Cole manages to give the impression of a bigger world and bigger forces at work without having to tediously detail it. Freed from the need to hit every continuity button or fill in every gap, he's allowed to infuse the story with a combination of lightness and urgency, people using their familiarity as strengths while opponents of equal intelligence sparring in a manner befitting their smarts. This is the first time in a while the Doctor/Sabbath duel of wits has worked for me and it's a welcome thing. If the book does fall from being just short of one of the greats, it's the lack of the extreme emotional gut punch the masterclass authors were capable of delivering, and the fact that this isn't the total resolution, but a partial one of sorts.

Still, it's an ending, literally so in the case of one of our regulars, who gets to bow out with a grace that's both welcome for her and sad for us. Those scenes come close to the book giving us what the peaks demand, with a blend of nostalgia and elegance and finality, giving us an ordinary day and the end of an era, and doing it without the histrionics that a modern-day companion departure seems to require. Friends come and friends go and these friends are perhaps a minute away always, and in some sense across a forever gap. It works, in that tiny way that life sometimes does. Not a masterpiece and not ground breaking, it's simply a matter of a variety of moving parts meshing together extraordinarily well and it's perhaps a sign of how far the line has drifted that the sudden jump in quality is this noticeable. This should be the baseline level of competence, not the happy circumstance it seems to have become.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Best off the Shelf 27 Mar. 2004
By Inclusivity - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Steve's book is great and witty, though, but the darker sides can make it a bit grizzly, but it just about fades out. The concepts are terrific (the big bang, diamonds, alternative universes, etc.) and the character of Sabbath stands out a lot. Best Dr Who book I've read in ages. If the rating counter had more than five I would have typed in 'INFINITY'.
I my opinion it is a must for allDr Who lovers AND non-Dr Who lovers. Wish the BBC would publish more like it...
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