Timewyrm: Apocalypse

Roots: Soylent Green (zavát). Many aspects of the plot are derivative of other Doctor Who stories. The novel opens with an extract from David Rudkin's Penda's Fen. The Lord of the Rings (a chosen few sail across the ocean to a semi-mythical land from a sacred harbour); The gas chambers in the Harbours are obviously inspired by the Nazi concentration camps. There are references to Miles Davis, King Charles, the Kremlin, Mont Saint-Michel, Captain Hook (Peter Pan), Christopher Columbus. Frankenstein, Hammer Horror, William Congreve, and Godzilla.

Goofs: Ace is said to be from circa 1990, which is an unusual way of describing 1987.

The Doctor is wearing a porkpie hat, rather than his usual white fedora and has a multi-coloured (rather than question mark) umbrella.

As Ace points out on pages 26-27, the Doctor knows Kirith very well for someone who's never been there before.

On page 49, Mirél recites precisely how long ago the Panjistri arrived on Kirith from memories of his schooldays - saying that every schoolchild learns this figure. But surely, the figure would change over time?

If zavát is the remains of the Panjistri's experiments, who are a substantial, but not even complete, subset of the Kirithons, how can it provide enough food to feed the entire population?

How does the Doctor know about the Matriarch? Nobody's even mentioned her existence by the time he works out that she's the villain.

The Panjistri need Ace because they have supposedly bred aggression out of the Kirithons. This doesn't make sense, as we have Huldah grabbing people by the throat, and the Exiles are more than happy to shoot and stab things. There is also a riot when the zavát supply is cut off, with somebody throwing a brick through Huldah's windows. And even if that were the case, why can't they use the Companions?

Technobabble: Retroactive surgery is a highly advanced medical technique, which can heal very severe injuries overnight. There's a deltawave augmenter (see Snakedance). The Doctor mentions a multi-ident trimonic lock (as possibly in The Deadly Assassin and definitely in The Talons of Weng Chiang).

Dialogue Triumphs: 'You'd think I'd have learnt how to deal with locked doors by now.'

The Doctor: 'A hiccough in paradise'

The Doctor: 'I can tell you many things, Mirél. I can tell you of worlds beyond wonder and of a secret older than time. I can tell you of the nature of good and evil, the power of the human heart, and the best recipe for bread and butter pudding.'

The Doctor: 'I'm offering you the chance to be unhappy, Mirél, I want you never to be sure of what the future will bring. I want you to know how it feels to be hungry and I want you to experience the satisfaction of digging your own food from out of the ground. I want to offer you knowledge that you can't understand, and tell you of things you could never possibly achieve. I'm offering you frustration and despair and hardship, and that irreplaceable sense of triumph when you finally win against all the odds. I want you to know failure, and realize that even in failing you succeed. I'm giving you the chance to be dependent on no one but yourself; the chance to make your own mistakes but to know that even if you can't reach the stars at least you tried!'

Ace on the Universe: 'Fantastic. I love it. Its like one big ocean and you're just a tiny drop of water in it. The freedom and all that space. You can look into it and know that even in a million years you wouldn't know one quarter of it, or what its going to do next.'

Raphael: 'Are they all like you in Peri-vale?'
Ace: 'Nah, some of them are really violent.'

Continuity: Following her dissipation at the end of Timewyrm: Exodus, the Timewyrm slipped into the Doctor's past, and entered the mind and body of a small child named Lilith, whom the Second Doctor met between The Power of the Daleks and The Highlanders, in order to give herself time to recuperate. Lilith became the Grand Matriarch, ruler of the Panjistri, allowing the Timewyrm to manipulate the Panjistri and develop the God Machine.

The Panjistri's home world was destroyed by solar flares. Before this happened, eighty-four of them set out in the space ship Kandasi to scour the remains of the universe and take cells from every sapient species that still exists. They eventually came to the dead world of Kirith, which they used as a massive laboratory. Some of the Panjistri are telepathic, and at least one has the power to psychically reduce Huldah to a steaming grey glob. The Grand Matriarch has ruled the Panjistri for three thousand years. The Panjistri use genetic engineering to create new species, including the Homunculus, a huge embryo-like creature with eight limbs, described by Reptu as "a creature of infinite aggression." The Kirithons themselves were actually genetically engineered by the Panjistri to be the perfect race, which is why their entire history was fabricated. The Panjistri also create the boats using this technology, making them out of a living quasi-organic substance; Kandasi itself is composed of living metal and rearranges its molecular structure to expel anyone it identifies as an intruder into space, unless held in check by the Grand Matriarch or another Panjistri. The Panjistri have been experimenting on Kirithons in secret for years, leaving many scarred and deformed; many of these have become the mutated "Exiles" that live in the Darkfell. There are small, furry scavengers on Kandasi Island, more products of the Panjistri's genetic experiments. The Panjistri are also capable of cloning, and rapidly create a primitive clone of Ace. Other products of their experiments include a massive sea monster and the creature that attacks the Doctor on Kandasi Island. The Panjistri have been culling the best and brightest Kirithons into a vast-biomechanism, intending that when completed it would become an independent life form powerful enough to halt and reverse the destruction of the dying universe. The machine has to be a life form that has reached the Omega Point, thus becoming an entity that has been everywhere, experienced every emotion, and done everything, and knows everything there is to know, thus becoming omnipotent and omnipresent, and therefore a literal God Machine. The Panjistri need Ace's raw aggression to complete the machine, having accidentally bred it out of the Kirithons. The Homunculus is an unsuccessful attempt to synthesise the aggression that they need. The Timewyrm inside the Grand Matriarch is actually orchestrating all of this, since she wants to use the God Machine to conquer space and time, not destroy it.

The Companions serve the Panjistri and are stooped humanoids with snouts, sharp teeth and matted brown hair. Although the Panjistri treat them as little more than guard dogs, they are intelligent and can speak, and they know how to operate firearms. The Panjistri created them from irradiated cells. Robot hunter crabs [presumably also made of living metal] patrol the outer hull of Kandasi. The almost complete God Machine is a vast golden sphere; Raphael deliberately becomes part of it, completing it and thwarting the Timewyrm.

The second Doctor's pockets contained a pair of conkers, a yo-yo, a bag of glass marbles, an old banana skin, and a needle and thread. When he arrived in Australia (The Enemy of the World) he was trying to get to either Shakespeare's house in Stratford-upon-Avon to show Victoria how her ancestors had lived during the late sixteenth century, or the Pan-Galactic Games on Alpha Centauri to show Jamie some spectacle and excitement. At the point of his second regeneration, he was suspecting that the Time Lords' lack of understanding of the human spirit meant that Jamie and Zoe would eventually remember their full time with him (The War Games). The Second Doctor tried to send telepathic messages about his meeting with Lilith to his future self via the TARDIS telepathic circuits; the Seventh Doctor ignores them, but his memory eventually produces an image of his former self due to the repressed memoires of Lilith and reminds him of the encounter.

The seventh Doctor's pockets contain a Geiger counter, which can detect multiple types of radiation, a small brass telescope, "an invention of an Italian friend of mine" [Galileo in The Empire of Glass], some alien coins, a congealed mass of jelly babies, a signed photo of Louis Armstrong, a mouth organ, and a bag of marbles. He suggests that he knows the purpose of the Universe. The Seventh Doctor drinks spiced wine on Kirith.

Ace has learnt to operate the TARDIS door controls, though the doors only open on a delayed reaction. Everyone she ever trusted betrayed her, so now she only trusts the Doctor. She is using nitro-nine again, [so she's run out of nitro-nine-A from Timewyrm: Exodus]. Her Computer Studies teacher was Miss Sydenham, who said she had untapped skills. Half the time they played Space Invaders, but one thing Ace was good at was wiping programs. No one has ever told Ace that they needed her before. She used to go to Greenford disco. Ace wears Doc Martens. The Doctor has mentioned Polly to her. Arsonists burnt her friend Manisha's house down because she was "a filthy Paki" (see Timewyrm: Genesys, Ghost Light [and also Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation of Remembrance of the Daleks]).

Kirith is the only planet circling a red giant in the galaxy known as QSO 0046 to humans. The planet has an escape velocity of slightly less than 6.5 miles per second (so slightly less gravity than Earth), and a day of 16.25 hours. but its atmosphere contains slightly higher nitrogen and oxygen contents than Earth's does [meaning that it must pretty much contain only nitrogen and oxygen]. The planet has one natural moon (the other is Kandasi). [The two moons cause the planet's horrible and changeable weather.] Kirith is one of the strongest sources of Artron energy in its quadrant [see The Deadly Assassin, Four to Doomsday]. In the 1990s humans mistake its Artron Energy for a Quasar. [The energy is travelling backwards rather than forwards in time hence it is visible in the distant past from this story's point of view.] The Kirithons are essentially humanoid, but have six fingers on each hand and have lifespans of several hundred years. The main town on Kirith is called Kirith town. The rulers of the various towns on Kirith are known as the Brethren, and are answerable only to the Panjistri. The leaders of the Brethren are entitled Procurator. The members of the Brotherhood of Kandasi are acolytes of the Panjistri. It is considered the highest possible honour to join the Brotherhood, but those who do are taken away to become part of the God Machine, and their friends and relatives are conditioned to forget that they ever existed. The Panjistri supposedly rule from the Skete of Kandasi on Kandasi Island, but this is actually a way station housing a transmat link to the real Kandasi, in orbit above the planet. New recruits to the Panjistri set out for the island from the Harbours of the Chosen. The Darkfell is a range of hills on Kirith, poisoned and riddled with pollution and ruled off-limits to Kirithons by the Panjistri. It glows, but isn't radioactive. The Panjistri also forbid sea travel and access to the Harbours. According to legend, the Darkfell is the legacy of the original race of Kirithons, which wiped themselves out in a nuclear war before the Panjistri came to the planet. In fact, the ruins are a fake designed to dissuade the Kirithons from developing technology that might threaten the Panjistri. The koríntol is the traditional wind and string instrument of the Kirithons and has four hundred and seventy keys. Despite the simple life style of the Kirithons, they have computers and video links provided by the Panjistri. The Panjistri claim that they banished the stalking beasts on which the Kirithons fed to the far reaches of Kirith [which is probably a lie]. They provided zavát, their main food source, instead, as well as providing technology. Zavát weakens the resistance centres of the brain, making all but the strongest minds susceptible to telepathic suggestion, and is made from the reconstituted remains of Kirithon corpses from the Panjistri's genetic experiments. There are apples on Kirith. The population have two hearts and blue-tinted skin.

Links: The prologue summarises the events of Logopolis particularly with regard to CVEs and what they are. The story follows on from Timewyrm: Genesys and Timewyrm: Exodus. Ace mentions that Manisha (originally mentioned in Ghost Light) survived her house being firebombed. She also mentions blowing up the art room at school (Battlefield).

There are several flashbacks to the era of the second Doctor. The first happens just after Power of the Daleks and mentions The Smugglers, The Tenth Planet, and Power of the Daleks as well as alluding to The Daleks. The second is at the start of The Enemy of the World. The third is just before his regeneration in The War Games.

There are references to Iceworld (Dragonfire), Mrs Smith's boarding house (Remembrance of the Daleks), Professor Travers (The Abominable Snowmen/The Web of Fear), Survival, the Brigadier, and Sorin (The Curse of Fenric). The Doctor notes that he has seen acute tissue regeneration on Alzarius (Full Circle). Ace is about to tell the Doctor that she has seen an animal in the TARDIS, foreshadowing Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible.

Location: Kirith Town, the Harbours of the Chosen, the Darkfell, and Kandasi Island on Kirith, a planet on the very edge of the explored universe, billions of years in the future.

Future History: The CVE created in Logopolis will close several billion years after it was created. The Matriarch comments that the Time Lords were always unreliable and unpredictable, even during their last days, implying that they are extinct by this time. [see also Goth Opera, Cold Fusion, The Ancestor Cell, and The End of the World.] Rills visit Kirith two hundred years before this story and are taken to Kandasi Island, where they are presumably killed (Galaxy 4). By this time, the universe is dying, slowly contracting and falling in on itself. The Second Doctor met Lilith five thousand years before this story.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has mentioned Polly to Ace. He also claims that Polly talks very highly of Ace, though from Ace's point of view they haven't met yet. Yesterday morning, Ace saw a cat in the TARDIS (c.f. Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible]. The Second Doctor visited the homeworld of the Panjistri between The Power of the Daleks and The Highlanders to stock up on mercury [we actually witness some of this is flashback].

The Doctor leant his readers ticket for the British Library to Marx, advised Pope Clement on the contents of the Vatican Library, and saved two Aristophanes plays from the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria. An unimaginably long time ago, all the beliefs on which the Doctor's entire life had been based were undermined. He encountered early hominids on the plains of Africa over a million years before human civilisation developed. He has met Alexander the Great.

The Bottom Line (prosecution): 'I can't start a revolution all on my own, you know!' This is by far the weakest of the Timewyrm series, and it's almost as if the Timewyrm was added to the plot during the final edit. Everyone is well characterised, and the concepts involved could have been woven into a masterpiece of a tale, but the plot is definitely not too broad and too deep for the small screen. It's far better than the target novelisations Robinson had been used to writing, but falls well short of the standards we later came to expect from the New Adventures.

The Bottom Line (Defence): Rather overshadowed in retrospect by what follows it, Timewyrm: Apocalypse is actually quite good. Although it still doesn't feel too broad or too deep etc, etc, we get the first hint of the Doctor's future habit of manipulating events as Ace realises that he knew that Raphael would sacrifice himself but deliberately didn't try and dissuade him, thus putting the pieces in place to thwart the Timewyrm. The prose is very simplistic and the novel remains one of the shortest New Adventures, but all in all it's very entertaining, with some surprising twists.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke and Stephen Gray

Other Guides to this Story

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I rather liked this one, although it definitely felt like the Timewyrm wasn't in the first draft of the book and added in later. They really needed to think about the need for Ace's aggression as the Goofs points out here too. I liked the Doctor letting Raphael go and then struggling to justify it to Ace. Oh, Doctor; you go off easy this time but it will be biting you in the future...

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