Ace is beside herself; the Doctor puts it all together.
This book was certainly gorgeous- but what was the point of the overlapping time zones aside from weirdness? It was a decent demonstration as to how the TARDIS can treat different time zones as physical dimensions, but that’s a narrative device. What was the reason for it in the plot?
If Vael’s inability to become the Pythia is the Stolen Future, why does the Process care so much about it? If the Stolen Future is the Process dying as it takes the pyrokenetic blast intended for the Doctor, how can the Process remember this? If the Stolen Future is the key to the TARDIS, it’s not really stolen as the Process never had it! If I’m missing someone obvious, someone please tell me. I would love to understand what the point of all this was.
It’s a neat touch that destroying the Process at birth reconnects the ships, and Pekkary keeping his scar reminds us that this is not a simple reset button (which I was rather expecting). Ace’s farewell to Shonnzi is well handled, as is her challenging the Doctor as to whether he cares about Vael, only to find him shaking.
I know that many fans now find the looms of Gallifrey to be a somewhat wanky explanation of something which didn’t need explaining, but I rather like it. It explains why we never see children on Gallifrey in the classic series, and only hear vague mentions of them. The closing remarks on Gallifrey hint at the development of regeneration and time travel. For some reason, I like the idea that Rassilon is a short arse, and it has nothing to do with me being 5’4″ so shut up.
Funny how we’ve heard of the Sisterhood of Karn just a few books ago in Timewyrm: Exodus. To fans, the Pythias becoming the Sisterhood is a nice nod of continuity. TO new readers, it sets up for a sequel which may or may not be forthcoming. I have no ideas if the Pythias make trouble further down the book line, so please don’t tell me if you know!
I apologise in a previous entry for saying that Amnoni’s only character trait is her gender. In the final confrontation, she abandons her decorum- so we can now say that decorum is her main character trait. Good to know.
Cat’s Cradle started life as a pitch for a TV story, and was the first thing which drew Andrew Cartmel’s attention to Marc Platt. I imagine the plot would have been much simpler on TV, not to mention the execution. The Process would have had a humanities form or been a less mobile puppet, and the plot massively condensed into the typical four part structure. It could have also benefitted from a smaller cast- of the Phazels, only Pekkary, Shonnzi and Vael are essential to the plot. The ancient Gallifrey sections were probably recounted, rather than depicted- given these are probably my favourite parts of the novel, that would have been a shame.
In those scenes, we have our first appearance of “the other”- here uncapitalised. Picking up from suggestions from Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch and Kevin Clarke, I know that the other is later implied to be the Doctor, but I had trouble seeing it here- because I was imagining Sylv. When I imagined a young Billy Hartnell, however… wow.
I wanted to like this novel. As previously mentioned, Ghost Light is one of my favourite Sylv stories, and I adore Marc Platt’s work for Big Finish. There is some fantastic imagery here, but like the Process’ egg crushing the tower, the plot collapses under it’s own weight.
Oh well. Robert Holmes wrote The Space Pirates, so I suppose everybody gets one.
4/10 (yes, I’m rating it below Apocalypse because even Apocalypse had a plot)
Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible– Chapters 25-31