on 27 July 2001
'Bullet Time' is a strange novel to be sure, but it's one I quite enjoyed. After the contrived way of getting the Fourth Doctor and Nyssa to meet up in 'Asylum' a few months ago as I was a little wary of this one which teams the Seventh Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith together, but the way that David A. McIntee brings these two characters into the same story works well.
Certainly the way the book was structured reminded me very much of Andrew Cartmel's 'Cat's Cradle: Warhead' as the Doctor here hardly features in the first two thirds of the novel, but although his appearances are kept to the minimum they have great impact on the story. This is the Seventh Doctor of the New Adventures here (even down to the cream suit.) Dark, manipulative and someone whom Sarah has a hard time believing is the same person who was once her friend McIntee characterises the Doctor well despite the infrequency of his appearances. I've criticised the previous PDA 'Rags' for it's lack of involvement of the Doctor, but the same accusations shouldn't be made against 'Bullet Time' as it feels right to have this Doctor working in the background and out of sight to his own motivations and reasons.
Sarah Jane Smith was one of the best companions throughout the television series, and therefore it's surprising that since the BBC began publishing Doctor Who books that she hasn't featured at all apart from a cameo appearance in 'Millennium Shock' and her role in 'Interference.' McIntee gets her character right and shows her doubts about this version of the Doctor well so they come across as very believable.
A lot seemed to happen in this novel and although this was adequately explained throughout, it did give the book a very cluttered feel. Perhaps if it had been a little longer then this could have been avoided. There are some interesting characters throughout the book and it's good to see a different branch of UNIT to the regular British version with the appearance of UNIT-SEA. It was a shame that some poor editing marred the book slightly (witness the Lieutenant who becomes a Captain a few pages later with no explanation for the promotion) but aside from these minor complaints, there wasn't much wrong with this book.
'Bullet Time' is an worthy novel which is certainly McIntee's best BBC book since 'The Face Of The Enemy.' The Seventh Doctor PDA books have frequently been disappointing, but this one doesn't disappoint. With an intriguing plot and some good characterisation, David A. McIntee has produced a very readable book which I enjoyed.
on 17 April 2013
As far as Doctor who stories go this is a fairly Doctor-light novel. The Doctor doesn't really have a great deal to do and isn't really featured for much of the first half. His characterisation is also one of the poorest in any Doctor Who media. He doesn't feel at all like the Seventh Doctor or any other version of the Doctor. Not even typical generic characteristics of the Doctor are present. He is also portrayed in a very unlikeable fashion. This is, perhaps, somewhat due to the nature of the plot, but if the author was attempting to deliver a scenario where the Doctor's behaviour and attitudes are questionable for a time before becoming justified and likeable he has failed very badly.
Often in Doctor-light stories it is the job of other characters or a companion to engage more with the reader/viewer. This novel lacks any characters written well enough to fulfil this role. Most of the characters are quite bland, two dimensional and often a little too similar to each other to stand out. The early stages of the book give the impression that Yi Chung could be the focus of the narrative. Despite having plenty of potential his character and its various sub-plots are soon dropped.
Sarah Jane Smith who, I suppose, fills the companion role (the Doctor has no actual companion in this novel it seems) is a pale shadow of her on screen persona and it is often hard to associate the version in this book with the onscreen version either in Doctor Who or The Sarah Jane Adventures. To be fair though, I may be a little put off by her `romantic' behaviour in this story. After watching the character in the seventies as a child it feels a little wrong. Her relationship with the Doctor also feels completely wrong when the two of them eventually interact. She seems to get along perfectly with Doctors Three, Four, Ten and Eleven but not at all with the Seventh.
The whole plot of the story is fairly mediocre and the narrative doesn't really inspire the reader to keep reading. The aliens are very poor and of absolutely no interest. There is very little to say about them. At best this is a bog-standard gangster/triad/police thriller which happens to have the Doctor, Sarah Jane, UNIT and some aliens thrown into it. It gives the impression that it started out life as a somewhat different story that was subsequently converted into a Doctor Who novel.
David Mcintee has produced much better Doctor Who novels than this. His novel `The Shadows of Weng Chiang' deals with similar settings and themes but is far better structured and atmospheric. Try that instead.