The Doctor takes a dip; Ace takes a trip.
I am finding this one a bit of a slog. Not because it’s bad- it’s simply so dense with ideas, description and incident.
I was glad of the brief scene with the Doctor, especially his saying that he doesn’t see a future in this place. Is this glib remark from the Doctor what ‘steals’ the future? I also love the Doctor’s indignation at confronting the Process, which complete gives lie to Ace’s version of his rule of being nice to everyone to catch anyone evil off balance.
Ace continues her development as a trainee Doctor as she tries to carefully avoid anachronism when meeting the Phazels for the second time from her perspective, but the first time from theirs. When she tells them she’ll be back, it works on two levels- she knows they’ll see her again, and she hopes that she will see them again.
I haven’t really mentioned the Pythia scenes up until now as I haven’t really seen the relevance of them, but with the revelation that Vael is working on behalf of the Pythia (and thus in opposition to Rassilon), it gives a bit more credence to his actions. The Pythia’s reaction to Vael’s disappearance and her inability to see the stolen future starts to link these two story strands closer together.
Vael is also getting more depth on his own, willing to talk with Ace and Shonnzi, albeit as his prisoners. He is the best kind of Doctor Who collaborator- the one who is just doing what he thinks is best to save his life. As I thought the other day, ‘fake it til you make’ it is an apt mantra for him.
I like that the silver cat has been gaining more prominence in the story, right up to its appearance before the Process(es) in the middle of the book. And how fantastic to have these two time zones next to each other in space, with beings being able to pass physically between now-past and now-present! Like I said, big ideas in this one.
And then, the Doctor appears as a dark ghost in a Time Lord collar and Ace chases the cat onto the roof.
There’s a reason Ghost Light is my favourite Sylvester story. I may not know what’s going on in Marc Platt’s writing, and it may be hard to digest, but it’s never boring.
Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible- Chapters 11-15