Review: Harvest of Time (Doctor Who)/ Author: Alastair Reynolds / Publisher: BBC Books / Release Date: Out Now
Harvest of Time is an adventure for the Third Doctor written by Alastair Reynolds. It is one of a series of Doctor Who novels penned by well-known science fiction authors and follows Michael Moorcock’s The Coming of the Terraphiles and Stephen Baxter’s Wheel of Ice.
The story of Harvest of Time comes at you from two directions: one of these is a conventional 1970s Third Doctor tale with plenty of action and intrigue; the other a tale of a race at the end of time whose manipulations are felt back in the twentieth century.
In terms of tradition we have UNIT, the Brigadier and Jo Grant all trying to deal with mysterious events at sea that are the precursor to invasion by the Sild. The Sild are crab-like aliens who take over those they encounter and are intent on capturing the Master! Meantime the Master has been helping a shadowy government project that involves the use of advanced technology that inadvertently sends messages forward in time. If all this weren’t enough, the Doctor realises that the Master is being erased from time – to save the world the Doctor must save the Master!
At the end of time we meet the Red Queen and a race of aliens plundering an apparently desolate ship to gain access to time travel. In the midst of this we suddenly encounter other incarnations of the Master and this section is the least canonical part of the story. That to one side, most of the story has plenty of UNIT action and some highly original encounters. There are probably more temporal paradoxes than Jon Pertwee encountered in his whole time as the Doctor on television but none of that should be interpreted as spoiling what is an enjoyable read. One of the pleasures of reading books such as this is finding an author that clearly should be asked to write more stories for this or indeed other Doctors.
If you are a fan of Alastair Reynolds then there is enough imagination in this tale to interest even non-Doctor Who fans; if you are a Whovian then there is plenty of authenticity to this tale. If you are both, you probably already have the hardback edition – if not, then this is strongly recommended.