Kim Newman's Time and Relative novella is the first to be published by Telos in a new series of Doctor Who novels, and though it is a very enjoyable novel it doesn't really stand out as anything really different in terms of the substance to the novel than anything published by the BBC or Virgin previously. The novella takes the form of the Doctor's Granddaughter Susan Foreman's diary and the events of the story seen through her young alien eyes makes for an interesting read, but even radical approaches to telling the story like this have been done before, and with superior quality too (most recently with Lawrence Miles' sublime The Adventuress Of Henrietta Street). The storyline itself is at times painfully simple and while this works on a certain level combined with Newman's evocative writing, it doesn't hide the fact that there isn't really anything substantially new or different here, except for the setting and the form of the novel. It's an enjoyable book, but there are other far superior Doctor Who titles out there who succeed in telling stories that do manage to do something fresh and innovative. Time And Relative is a very stylistic novel, but it lacks substance and this prevents it from reaching it's potential. Still, it forms an enjoyable way to spend a few spare hours. A promising start to the Telos novella's but if they're going to last the distance they are going to have to start producing more substantive stories than Time And Relative.
Written from the viewpoint of Susan on Earth prior to the first televised adventure, we find a London where schools can be unhappy places, people can be very unhelpful and monsters can be very frightening indeed. Grandfather (the Doctor) is set in the background, creating an alien distance that was quite apparent in William Hartnell's own performance on TV. Susan has a lot of baggage to handle and a lot of action to contend with - and the alien of the piece is very effective and very - well, alien. It is not without its problems in some aspects of timing, characterisation and perhaps a little too much blood for Who - but very few novels achieved such a level of perfection. A slim book that offers a fascinating and engaging story, with a great frontpiece illustration by Bryan Talbot. A perfect gift for any Doctor Who fan...
Not another Doctor Who book I hear you cry. This one is different, very different. The Virgin and BBC ranges have usually been authored by self-confessed fans of the show who took up writing in order to write a Doctor Who book. Kim Newman is an established writer of science fiction already and reading Time and Relative is a breath of fresh air because of it. Newman is not hamstrung by the fear of continuity he simply wants to tell a story, the same prinicple that applied to most of the production teams behind Doctor Who. Also setting the story in April 1963, six months before the show started gives us a look at a part of the Who universe never seen before. And what a fascinating place it is. Susan, the Doctor's grandchild suffering in an inner city Secondary modern writing her diary, hating her life and the cretinous alien earthlings she is forced to live with while the Doctor tinkers away in a scrap yard. The Doctor himself (not even called the Doctor yet) an alien creature almost unrecognisable to that of later incarnations who has no interest at all in the welfare of the Humans surrounding him and determined to keep to a policy of no interference. This Doctor is fascinating and truly alien, unlike later incarnations, where alien was simply defined as wearing loud jackets and making misquotations. The book is fascinating, one really feels one is in 1963. I recommend it highly, even if you have always been turned off by the post tv series book ranges. This is Doctor Who and its return is very welcome.
The prequel to An Unearthly Child, this is a first person book in the perspective of Susan. This is actually Susan's diary, and explains why The Doctor and his granddaughter are in 20th century earth at the time that they meet Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. It also explains why Susan is at Coal Hill, as it takes The Doctor several months to fix some doodad in the TARDIS, to occupy her time, the Doctor gives her a fake alias and literally shunts her into the nearest high school.