The Time Monster
BBC Books
The Quantum Archangel

Author Craig Hinton Cover image
ISBN# 0 563 53824 4
Published 2001
Continuity Between Trial of a Time Lord
and Time and the Rani

Synopsis: The Doctor and Mel have gone their separate ways after a terrible tragedy. The Doctor tries to stop and old friend from making a terrible mistake, while Mel finds herself getting caught between the Master and the Chronovores.


A Review by Finn Clark 8/2/01

On rec.arts.drwho on 15 January 2001, Craig Hinton wrote:

Whether people like tQA or not, I set out (with the full backing of Justin) to write the ultimate in fanwank (and, given that I invented the word in 1993, why shouldn't I? :-) ). Indeed, Justin even suggested areas in the first draft which he wanted uber-wanked. I just wanted to see how far I could go. I was well aware when writing it that a lot of people *hate* that sort of book, but that's always a risk you take writing *anything*.

Given the above paragraph, I should have hated this. Normally I detest fanwank. Gary Russell continuity references have me swearing at the page, but I can't even stand throwaway Benny mentions in BBC books by Cornell or the OrmanBlum. It just really gets under my fingernails. I think the mistake these people make is to misunderstand fanwank's significance. Specifically: it doesn't have any. It's worthless. It adds nothing to the story, but despite this attracts your attention anyway. It jumps up and down on the page, being unbearably smug about its own existence until you want to hunt down the author and punch him.

But despite all this, I didn't mind The Quantum Archangel. Without thinking it was particularly good, I quite enjoyed it. The continuity references were just... there. So thick and fast did they come that they stopped being fanwank and simply became the weft and weave of the novel, no longer gratuitous but actually part of the story being told. (Actually I tell a lie. Chapter Eight went too far even by my revised Quantum Archangel standards, but the offending passage is only a few pages long. You can put the book down, do other things and start again the next day when you're in a better mood.)

Oh, and there's an ill-chosen name in that particular section which invites confusion with Steve Parkhouse's far superior creations in The Tides of Time. That's a mistake, I think. This may seem like a carping nitpick, but when you've got a book that includes multiple references to a 1960s TV Comic story [1] then I think it's fair to invoke the maxim of "live by the sword, die by the sword".

[1] - The Killer Wasps, TV Comic 877-880. Incidentally, ten weeks later TV Comic ran a strip that we know as Father Time.

So let's leave aside all that nonsense. How does The Quantum Archangel stand up as a novel?

In some ways it's the trad equivalent of The Taking of Planet 5. It has huge ideas and not much in the way of story backing them up. Credit where credit is due, at least Craig Hinton thinks big with his fanwank. Gary Russell novels seem suffocated by their continuity, unable to see beyond their self-imposed horizon of three cardboard corridors and a studio set, but The Quantum Archangel is painting on the largest possible canvas. We see the structure of reality and beings that prey on universes. If this were a comic book, it would be the Spectre - tossing planets around and deciding the fate of everything. The opening is almost operatic in its scale and tragedy. I really liked that.

We even get an explanation of the multi-dimensional nature of the Whoniverse. As a mathematician I'm not happy with the idea of a one-dimensional vortex... but let's not start discussing temporal fluid dynamics. It's self-consistent and it works for this story. Let's be happy with that.

All this is good stuff, but weaving a story around it was always going to be awkward. Let's face it, the Doctor doesn't operate at that kind of scale. No one does. Things are good for a while, but eventually temporal physics gets into the action and things start getting bogged down. Craig tries gamely to keep his characters involved, but unfortunately his chosen solution is to invoke technobabble. It's like a Voyager episode. Someone reroutes the so-and-so, engages the blankety-such and finds great significance in the subspace dewop doing its funky thang. "Huh?" goes the reader. Then a magic rabbit is pulled out of a hat and the Doctor solves the problem! No, I'm sorry. For me it didn't work.

Even when things actually started happening towards the end, I still drifted through in a fog of cotton wool. I was disconnected. I didn't understand what the hell was going on and had no great ambitions to do so.

But having said all that, I didn't mind my reading experience. Part of it was the scale, but I think most of it was the characters. The Sixth Doctor is always good value on the page and Mel has become one of my favourite book companions, but the best of 'em all is the Master. Let's face it, the bad guys are always the most interesting. Here he's not the obligatory surprise villain of certain Pertwee PDAs, but instead a vigorous and energetic protagonist in his own right. He's almost the main character of this book. Yes, he's selfish, sadistic and evil. That just makes him more fun! The Ainley Master has also been distinctly under-represented in book form, which gives the character freshness. He's perhaps a bit too Delgadoish, but only enough to make him interesting.

In summary, I thought this was a curate's egg. Much of it is silly and/or irrelevant, but the main characters saved it for me. It's not even Craig Hinton's best book, but at least it's not cardboard pap that hits all the predicted notes without deviating an iota from forgettable mediocrity. You could do worse.

Up Against It (Track 08) by Robert Thomas 21/2/01

First of all if I could wonder into Tammy Potash territory, excellent cover. If an artist can get him/her self this worked up you know this is going to be good.

OK, it's a sequel to in my opinion one of the poorer TV stories. I liked episode 4 and some later scenes but all in all The Time Monster is not a good story. At the half way point to the story you suspect Hinton will pull the trick of changing the main setting, as used in the TV story which in my opinion ruined it. However despite this is actually a very good book and keeps the 6th doctor in the good form he is enjoying with this and The Holy Terror. There is no fixed setting which helps the book and eliminates the problem that The Time Monster had.

The plot is fantastic and the scenes with the parallel universes are amazing, as well as both the wars that are referred to. A little dig at the Eighth Doctor recent story arc. Also the mentioning of old monsters had me laughing at one stage.

This is definitly The Master's best book appearence and it's nice to get inside his mind. To a certain extent instead of being the baddy for once he shares centre stage with the Doctor.

Mel, along with the rest of the human characters, really gets put through the mill. It's a nice change that Hinton puts his aggresion at someone else other than the TARDIS. All the characters go through emotional hell and watch out for someone at the half way stage.

The Doctor, again very good, allthough I hope his angst can now be left behind, the books need to follow Big Finish and have stories with the more developed 6th Doctor. Allthough he is perfect and it can be seen why certain things happen to help the story. Also nice that the books have picked up the TV tradition of Colin picking up the mess made by Jon.

I think the Authors are now having a game with each other in both ranges, 10 points for a cameo by another Doctor and 5 for an old monster. Also I have noticed a habit of words being missed out in the last few books, with 'The cat sat on the mat' being 'The cat sat the mat'.

But ignore this niggle, this book is fantastic even though it's up against the odds.

A Review by Ben Jordan 24/3/01

After spectacularly failing to save a planet from destruction, Mel deserts the Doctor in London of 2003, only to find her old friends dragged into a plot by the Master to open the gate to the Chronovores, which will give him universal domination. Just when all of time and space is completely messed up, an old enemy becomes a friend, and the Doctor is given the chance to make up for past mistakes.

If you're not into stories heavily enmeshed with physics, and therefore technobabble, then stop right here. This sequel to The Time Monster isn't for you. If you enjoyed Hinton's previous work Millennial Rites, then buy this book now. If you want to see a very good sequel, with the Master closer to death than ever before, gods beyond human understanding, and lots of parallel universes, then you've come to the right place.

Hinton already proved that he could capture the Sixth Doctor and Mel down to a T in Millennial Rites, while building new layers upon them which seem just right. It's truly awful to see an anguished Doctor and a mad Mel (and I mean really mad) after a civilisation is totally destroyed at his intervention. I'm a big Master fan, and I love what Hinton did with him this time around: can you imagine a Master even more emaciated than in The Deadly Assassin and The Keeper Of Traken? It's been a long time since I saw The Time Monster, so whether Stuart Hyde was in character or not didn't matter, but he was nevertheless a good foil for the Sixth Doctor's somewhat dramatic nature.

It's probably best to read this story in as few sittings as possible, to keep all the technical side of parallel universes, accessing higher/other dimensions like Calabi-Yau space - which itself is an actual theoretical concept married with the sci-fi aspect that it's home to Chronovores, Eternals, and other dimensional beings - all fresh in your mind to make sense of it all. And that's only part of what you'll come across, but if you enjoy Hinton's writing style as much as I do, it shouldn't be a problem. His narrative involves a great deal of action over scenes involving dialogue only, and considering how much he's trying to impart in The Quantum Archangel, that's a damn good move. I haven't said much about the greatest Chonovore of all yet, because I don't want to give away the part he/she/it plays in the story. Suffice it to say that Kronos is in there somewhere. Parallel universes are obviously something Craig Hinton loves to create, and some of them are truly nightmarish, reminding me of how shocked I was watching Star Trek: The Next Generation's 'Parallels', particularly the scene where we encounter a Borg-laden universe, and a hysterical Riker. There's a similarly shocking scene like that here. For those who aren't Star Trek fans, then just think Inferno, in terms of a nightmarish world that could have been.

The only probably downside for me really is the 'happy ending' problem, whereby no matter how much the author screws up the universe and the characters of the novel, he has to return everything to almost the way it was, since it has to be contiguous with the Doctor Who (t.v, novel and audio) that follows. Even so, he still manages to take everyone (including the reader) for quite a ride before the end patches things up, which is really what he set out to do anyway. I give The Quantum Archangel a very definite thumbs up, and I'll eagerly be awaiting Craig's next book. If anyone should write a Sixth Doctor story for Big Finish, then it should be him.

Three out of Five by Jamas Enright 16/5/01

With The Time Monster having been on Prime recently, a sequel would be easier to appreciate having watched it. Unfortunately, I can't get Prime, so I shall have to do without. I don't think it is that necessary to have seen the story recently, but it might help in getting some of the nuances. Certainly, I couldn't remember what Stuart and Ruth looked like.

Craig Hinton admits to setting out writing a book full of fan-wank, which, while nice for its honesty factor, isn't the most laudable of reasons for writing. The story is undeniably epic in its breadth, taking in wars against gods and the examination of the very structure of the universe itself. Craig Hinton has drawn together many different strands of Doctor Who, dropping many continuity references, nearly to excess. Yes, name-checking is very nice, but when nearly every episode (and book) in Doctor Who has invented another powerful race, bringing them together like this merely underscores the point that there are many powerful races out there, and can the universe really stand so many beings capable of tearing the fabric of time and space apart?

The Doctor and Mel are put through an angst wringer, although, given that dissension builds character, we know that there has to be a resolution, so the break up comes across as a little forced. But that aside, the characterisation is very nice. Mel comes across as very believable, building on her chirpy outlook that is in the show and the more personal development that has been in the few books involving Mel (including, especially, Craig Hinton's previous book Millennial Rites). More of Mel's history is revealed, mainly in what friends she had, who turn up in this story. The Doctor is a little inconsistent, jumping from one extreme to the next in an abrupt manner, even more so than usual for the Sixth Doctor.

The Master feels more like Roger Delgado than Anthony Ainley. Perhaps Craig Hinton should try the Third Doctor next. Certainly as the Delgado Master, this Master works very well, with a little self-conscious thought about various nom-de-guerres. Then again, given that The Quantum Archangel follows on from The Time Monster, this isn't a bad thing.

The new characters, Anjeliqua Whitefriar, Arlene Cole and Paul Kairos, and returning character Stuart Hyde, are handled competently. I did guess one of the secrets about the characters, but didn't make the full connection.

The worst aspect of this book is, it must be said, the writing. Consider these two lines from page 4: 'For the first time since the Big Bang had lit the vortex, the darker strata were dark no longer. They were filled by a light that was even darker.' It does get better, but is still fairly dire. And though this is a sequel, we don't need repetition of scenes that were cringe-worthy in The Time Monster (look out for E=MC³). It made me put the book down and not want to pick it up again.

At the end of this day, The Quantum Archangel is a rehash of The Time Monster with quantum mechanics technobabble added into the mix. If you can handle an almost Star Trek-like pseudo-explanation for the fundamental aspects of the universe, this is your thing. Otherwise, the writing will probably put you off ever getting past the opening chapter.

A Review by John Seavey 21/6/01

This review took a little longer than previous reviews have, because it took me a bit longer to read the book. I'm not sure why -- thankfully, the drugs and therapy are helping me to recover my memories, and Dr. Stein says that the incidents of hysterical blindness whenever I see anything Doctor Who-related should stop soon enough -- but suffice to say, I had slight problems with the book.

The Discontinuity Guide described The Time Monster with the phrase, "like watching paint dry while being flogged with barbed wire -- immensely dull and painful all at the same time". Sad to say, The Quantum Archangel, its sequel, doesn't get up to this level of quality, reading more like the fanfiction efforts of a fourteen-year-old. It's not as bad as Divided Loyalties, but it's close.

It opens with a "cosmic" prelude, featuring some of the most overwritten prose in the history of the English language (descriptive prose isn't Hinton's strong suit. Nor, if it comes to that matter, is dialogue. Or characterization. Or plotting. Come to think of it, writing isn't Hinton's strength at all. He might wish to consider a career in chartered accountancy, or perhaps the insurance industry... both are quite lucrative.) It continues with a suddenly contrived fight between Mel and the Doctor that has to rank as the second-worst example of "tell, don't show" I've ever seen. Suddenly, the Doctor's inadvertently destroyed a whole planet, and Mel's claiming that he doesn't really want to stop evil at all, just to fight it. Since we didn't see anything that leads up to this argument, Mel's words ring hollow, and she comes off as a sanctimonious bitch. (She also came off as a sanctimonious bitch in Head Games, but at least there, it was because Benny and Ace were winding her up.)

By the time we get to the plot, which involves an attempt to create a unified continuity of the "higher beings" of the Whoniverse that is neither wanted, nor needed, nor successful, the eyes have already glazed over... this isn't a novel, this is a 'Cosmology of the Doctor Who Universe' with a thin plot scotch-taped to it. The Master shows up, and we rapidly see why he shouldn't, and between one thing and another, a human being is influxed with the power of the Lux Aeterna... which is apparently Greek for "phoenix force". (It's one thing to rip off the plot, but stealing the direct dialogue that Jean Grey uses when she transforms? Low. Very low. Oh, and I think the Constructors of Destiny might be named 'The Kree' by those of us in the know.)

The whole thing contains vast, vast chunks of exposition that stick in the craw like a particularly unpleasant fishbone (the explanation of the Mad Mind of Bophemeral is the worst example of "tell, don't show" I've ever seen), and the whole thing winds up with a sort of non-ending that fizzles out, about 281 pages later than it should have.

In case I've managed to be overly ambiguous here, and haven't made my feelings clear: AVOID THIS BOOK LIKE THE PLAGUE IT IS!

A Wank Too Far by Steve Crow 27/6/01

There's Fanwank, and there's Fanwank. I don't mind in-depth continuity references if you're trying to do something original with them. And Craig Hinton does occasionally. I kind of like the idea of his trying to tie together every ancient powerful race, creature, and deity into some kind of grand "Millennium War."

It's when he does these annoying little "continuity nods", for lack of a better term, that it just seems to be more that he couldn't come up with original dialogue. Do we need the Sixth Doctor quoting Borusa as to the Master's final fate? Or, as Jamas Enright noted, a repeat of the E=MC3 bit? There are a few amusing bits, though, like the discussion of entropy being green (from Logopolis).

I could have also lived without the brief comic book references, such as the destruction of Oa and half the Shi'ar Empire. Thanks but no. There's also a really awkward bit where we actually get to hear the TARDIS talk to Mel in a bit of soppy dialogue apparently lifted from any given Star Trek episode. Ugh.

While I kind of enjoy the role the Master plays in this story, he comes across as a character of bits and pieces: a piece here from Delgado's Master, a bit here from the Deadly Assassin Master, and another chunk from the Ainley incarnation. Sometimes these chunks are welded together fairly well, sometimes (like the Master smoking a cigar Delgado-style, and making a cigar pun Ainley style) they don't.

The story itself? It's really hard to tell. It doesn't slow down for long - I'll give it credit for that. I'm not even sure I'd consider it "technobabble". At least Trek-style technobabble tries to pretend it makes sense. While there are undoubtedly some basic physics concepts being mentioned here, they seem to be just convenient tags. Yes I know there is quantum foam and all, but who knows if it's being used "correctly" here?

Also, it's hard to capture a real feel of menace with a threat on such a universal scale. The scenes of the Master desperately trying to escape the Divine Host provide a more personal and thus reader-involving aspect to the major threat then exposition telling us that all reality is in danger once more. I never really get the sense that reality is endangered. Sure the Doctor says Everything As We Know It (tm) is in danger, but we only really see that through his eyes and the eyes of the few supporting characters. Somehow the threat never really seems that threatening.

The Doctor is adequately portrayed. As other reviewers noted, the driving force of the break-up between Mel and the Sixth Doctor is interesting, but resolved (and rather neatly at that) by the end of the story. Mel is at least interesting, and not the oft-times useless companion on screen. You kind of feel for Stuart by the end of the story, but otherwise it's hard to be concerned about the other supporting characters, or their ultimate fate.

Overall, I'd recommend Quantum Archangel if you want an "epic" kind of story. It's an okay work, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for a deep character piece.

Written with one hand on the keyboard by Robert Smith? 13/2/02

Oh dear God.

Strike one: a sequel to The Time Monster.

The last time Craig attempted to write a sequel, the book misfired because it was so cluttered with references to everything under the Martian sky, like when the Osirans came by and chatted to the Ice Warriors and they both had tea with the Ambassadors of Death, that no one really noticed that it was supposed to be a sequel to Transit and not, say, The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

This time around Craig has pulled out all the stops. The Quantum Archangel is like GodEngine cubed. You won't miss that it's a sequel to The Time Monster, but it's got even more fanwanky references than GodEngine (despite the obvious difficulty that poses). And, it has to be said, as a sequel, TQA succeeds admirably. The links to everyone's favourite Pertwee whipping story are extremely strong and Craig's quite right, The Time Monster is a fun romp. In fact, reading this book made me watch and actually enjoy The Time Monster immediately afterwards. Um, that was a pretty backhanded compliment, I guess.

I like the way the sense of loopiness gets preserved, with every major set piece from The Time Monster getting a look-in, complete with updated versions of the E=MC^3 joke, de-aging Stuart Hyde and the Doctor building a time-flow analogue out of an even bigger pile of junk. It takes skill to make a sequel work, especially a sequel to an almost universally derided story. On this level The Quantum Archangel succeeds.

Strike two: the physics.

Okay, so Craig's got a physics degree and he's not afraid to use it. On the downside, he's got a physics degree and he's not afraid to use it. I should point out that I have a PhD in mathematics, so I actually understood some of the jargon. But only some. Dear oh dear, is there a lot of this. What makes it more of a shame is that this is the only original thing the novel has to offer. It's nice to think that you can explain the workings of the Doctor Who universe and all the loopiness that a bunch of scriptwriters came up with over the years, but... well, the point is that they were writers, not physicists. Anyone who actually cares about the scientific principles behind the series is missing the point, I think. For all its claims to the contrary, Doctor Who isn't science, it's magic. Showing us where the rabbits are hidden only spoils it.

That said, the book is thinking big with regards to its physics. Some of the concepts it wants to explain are the wild ideas from the finest imaginations of British scriptwriters in the sixties, seventies and eighties, so the corresponding physics is huge. This just about makes the technobabble palatable. This is what we'd get if Jim Mortimore had a degree in astrophsyics, so it almost works. Almost.

Strike three and you're out: the fanwank.

Oh. My. God. The. Fanwank. Somebody kill me now.

I have never, ever seen the point of fanwank. The idea of clever parallels with decades old TV stories was done to death in the NAs and they're ten years old now. I mean it's nice that someone can tie in The Daemons to The Time Monster, as Craig does on page 251, but that someone could just as easily be me on rec.arts.drwho. And there's just so much of it, almost all of it completely pointless. I mean, just what is the point of saying "It reminded Mel of the Library of St John the Beheaded" (page 90)? It serves no function within the story, confuses anyone who doesn't get the reference and stops the flow cold. I'm not talking about all the references to The Time Monster here - they do serve a purpose. But paragraph after paragraph reads like:

"The Time Lords, destroying Minyos, colonising Drornid and Trion, interfering with Planet 5; the Osirans, completing their millennia-long hunt for the renegade Sutekh on Earth and Mars; the Jagaroth and the Daemons, both meddling with human development..." (page 117)

(No, I didn't make that up. It's there, word for agonising word.)

I have no idea why a reasonably promising book has decided to drown itself in fanwank, on top of the sequelitis and the technobabble. I mean, we've got it all here: references to every Master story, alternate realities featuring the third Doctor teaming up with the Cybermen, the Doctor as President leading the Time Lords against an Enemy who screech exterminate and call him the Ka Faraq Gatri, the Deca for all those people who fondly remember Divided Loyalties, whole summaries of Logopolis and Castrovalva, the Kaesov Marine Owse, an explanation for why the Eye of Harmony was in the TARDIS in the telemovie (naturally it was copied using block-transfer computation, what else?) and a fictional history of the universe where every old race can team up and be namechecked together. I'm amazed there wasn't an attempt to tie in the Atlantis scenes to The Underwater Menace - in fact, this amazes me so much I assume I must have missed it.

On the bright side, the book does introduce the events on Maradnias at the beginning, instead of using a fanwank example to drive a rift between the Doctor and Mel. This is a rare use of restraint in The Quantum Archangel, but I really appreciate it. I also like the characterisation of the sixth Doctor, which seemed spot on. But it's nowhere near enough to save the book from its own excesses, like the time the sixth Doctor discovered that painting of himself and Jo on Karfel.

Somewhere, buried deep below the masses of continuity, there's a good story trying to get out. As a sequel to The Time Monster it succeeds beyond all expectation. But as a whole, the novel sinks itself in its own fanwank. Avoid this one, unless it's been a really long time since you had a good Doctor Who book and you only read it in the privacy of your own room and feel pretty guilty about it afterwards. But if you read it too often, you'll go blind.

A Review by Terrence Keenan 20/9/02

My tolerance for fanwank has diminished considerably since plowing into the Who novels a year and a half ago. It's probably why the post Ancestor Cell books are some of the best to come out with the DW logo, IMO.

Which leaves only the current PDA line for authors to indulge their desire for shameless and pointless continuity references. And up until I read started Craig Hinton's most recent effort, I had thought that the Gary "Big Fish" Russell's masterpiece of fanwank, Divided Loyalties, would be the final word on this subject.

How wrong could I be.

Perhaps I shouldnıt complain. Itıs pretty common knowledge that Craig Hinton decided he wanted to Uber-wank TQA. He even boasted about it on RADW (or warned people, depending on your POV). Anoraks welcome! People desiring new ideas, abandon all hope from the first page in.....

I have said before in other reviews that I do admire audacity in a writer. If you're going to do something, even if it is pointless, then shoot big. And Hinton does not disappoint, dropping wank bombs left and right to the point where you become accustomed to the discharge without checking for damage. To be brief, whatever wasn't covered in Divided Loyalties was touched by TQA. And, as Finn Clark mentioned in his review, you kind of get used to everything. Though, there was a section of chapter 8 that had me curled fetal on the floor screaming "No, not the Mind probe!" over and over until a Good Samaritan gave me a sedative and put me to bed.

Hinton has another stylistic touch he uses, tons of hard science and technobabble. And although I did take some college physics courses and enough math to understand differential equations, all the stuff about superstrings and Crab-Yahoo space and quantum foam might were on the same level as reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, and Ganemeyde drivers. There was enough hard science to make me feel incredibly stupid.

You might think that between the technobabble and fanwank, there wasn't much of a story. There is, about enough for half a Terrance Dicks Target Novel. TQA is a sequel to The Time Monster, which I haven't seen in a long time, although I remember enjoying it despite its glaring silliness (and people complain about Nimon). The Master returns, and is equal parts Snidely Whiplash villain and pitiful wretch. I was disappointed by the 6th Doctor and Mel, because Hinton had done a good job with them in Millenial Rites. It's as if characterization was an afterthought because of the wank/babble quota set by Hinton. The guests have the presence of bellybutton lint. The best part of the book, even with the Gallifrey Hills 90210 cameo bit (See Divided Loyalties), were the alternate realities. There was thought put into these, at least.

I beg of you. Do not read this book. It will allow that inner Anorak dwelling inside of you to take over completely. Before you know it, you'll be wearing a multi-patchwork coat, and convincing your girlfriend to wear a curly red wig. Your brain will turn to mush and you'll find yourself building time flow analogues out of your bongs and beer bottles.

Believe me. I only got out of the ward yesterday.

A Review by Brett Walther 9/7/03

The Quantum Archangel starts off terribly, with a sub-soap opera confrontation between the Doctor and Mel. Apparently, the Doctor's miscalculations have resulted in the destruction of an entire world, and this has made Mel rather upset. There's tears and outbursts from both parties, and Mel pulls a Tegan with a very out-of-character "it's stopped being fun Doctor" departure. This falls into the trap of the PDA's: we don't care that Mel is leaving the Doctor, because we know that she doesn't really leave until Dragonfire.

Problems with characterization abound. Hinton never seems to have a handle on the Master, either. One moment, he's seducing women to join his hypnotized harem as a Delgado-esque smooth-talker; a few moments later he's degenerating into his Deadly Assassin husk; and occasionally he launches into one of Ainley's wild-eyed rants of the 80's. As is all-too typical of the character -- and one of the reasons why the Master often suffers from a lack of believability -- he throws away countless opportunities to bump off the Doctor and Mel.

Far too much of the first half of the book involves these countless "traps" laid by the Master to ensnare the Doctor and company, from a bizarre and rambling set-piece at Heathrow Airport that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the novel, to a nanovirus the Master planted in TOMTIT thirty years before...

Hinton apparently thinks that he's infusing the book with a sense of humour by lifting numerous atrocious bits of dialogue and concepts from The Time Monster and reproducing it here. Not only do we have to contend with "Simmer down, Stu" and "like a boa constrictor eating a rabbit -- fur and all!" all over again, but we also have the Doctor building another "hilarious" time flow analogue device from bric a brac. Although this time it just happens to be disused furnishings rather than wine bottles and tea leaves... Nevertheless, it's no easier to stomach the second time around.

Hinton's attempts to make the book's contents seem more impressive than they really are are incredibly juvenile. His reliance on technobabble and the word "apotheosis" -- just try counting how many times that one pops up! -- are signs of desperation. It's like he's taken a plot that's 100% pure, recycled fluff, and at the last minute, decided to make it come across as an epic. Instead of units being measured in the millions, or even billions, Hinton uses QUINTILLIONS. Instead of a computer being insane, it's "utterly, utterly insane"... Furthermore, he throws in a subplot concerning a completely absurd "Millienium War" in which apparently each of the god-like races of the universe fought this "utterly, utterly insane" computer. This war ultimately amounts to nothing, but gives Hinton the chance to regurgitate the name of ever race ever presented in the series' history.

The mind-numbingly bland final stretch of the book consists of various parallel universes in which each of the main characters have their greatest dreams fulfilled. All of these parallel universes, following the model set by Inferno, are of course completely and utterly doomed, however, as the Quantum Archangel learns that granting people's wishes doesn't necessarily buy them happiness. This smarmy parable is completely tacked-on to the main plot, and reeks of a last ditch attempt to fulfil page count.

Putting it simply, this book should never have made it past the editor's desk. Easily the worst BBC PDA I've ever read.


The sequel of doom! by Joe Ford 5/11/03

What a brilliant novel this is, managing to do a million reality defying things at once! I mean come on... it's a sequel to The Time Monster! Surely the one book every single man, woman and child wanted to see on the shelves!

Craig Hinton... what a guy. He spent years nestled in Doctor Who magazine giving his high and mighty opinion on the merchandise that was released and was utterly ruthless in slating the works he considered inferior. I hope his arrogance prepared him for the onslaught of negative reviews when this book was released.

I do not know where to start, honestly I don't, this book is so inept in every single way it is almost the dream book to review (if, like me, you love slating stuff!). It betrays every single facet of a good book, poor prose, poor characterisation, poor plot, poor pace, poor science, poor everything. It starts with a laughably underwritten 'magical' chapter and just gets worse and worse.

The worst thing about these Craig Hinton books is the lack of descriptive prose. Sit The Quantum Archangel next to Camera Obscura and its wonderfully detailed prose and you can see where Craig is going wrong. He has the very annoying habit of describing the events of the book without giving any details. People are given a quick description and that's it. Surroundings are given a cursory glance but never given any depth. Now I'm not expecting miracles but it seems to me that Craig realises every now and again that his writing is a bit flat and adds the odd grandiose metaphor, the book's opening chapters fare better than the middle and end sections, they are extremely underwritten, Craig so entranced in his muddled plot that visualising events is nigh impossible. Next to this Camera Obscura offers you a London you can see in every detail, a place bursting with life and character. Two very different calibre of writers. His prose was a problem with GodEngine and Millennial Rites but it absolutely sucks here.

I actually gave up with Millennial Rites after about 50 pages and it was all thanks to a scene which made me chuck the book at the wall (yes, I did a similar thing with Heritage, I get quite agitated with these little books!). It concerned Craig's token gay character, Vincent, in a period where token gay characters were all the rage. This one scene, genius in its obscenity, has Barry try and slip by coy security guard Vincent by flirting with him. When Vincent realises this he actually has the nerve to say "I'm still a human being with feelings you know!" Oh God I was weeping! I honestly thought this would be the nadir of Craig's characterisation.

How wrong was I?

I could never ever imagine the sixth Doctor balling his eyes out like he does at the beginning of this book, the death of Peri brought him to the verge of tears as though he didn't quite know how to deal with his pent up feelings but screaming with anguish in the console room? Nah. Craig tries to make the guy playful and I appreciate that but the plot demands a scientist at the helm and not a clown and his goofish behaviour simply highlights the dullness of the plot. Plus the emphasis on the "Bad?" "Bad?" "Bad!" triple repeat gets tiresome very quickly, I think he includes five or six of these in the first half alone.

And what about Mel? How stupid is she? If there was such a terrible atrocity commited by the Doctor, especially by accident I can't imagine her overreacting in such a way. Mel was always a bit hyper but she was also a realist, she would understand a mistake when she saw one. She makes so many stupid decisions in this book I got terribly bored reading her sections, her weird choice to leave the Master's console room and get lost in the corridors of his ship because she'll be SAFER (huh?) quite defies logic.

This sort of story is precisely the reason I think the Master is such a cheap villain. He is such an inconsistent character at the best of times but when used by a writer of Craig's calibre he lacks even the barest of logical motivations. The first few chapters set up the Master as a withered, desperate being, alone and under attack. Quite interesting to read about actually, his desire to kill off the Chronovores before they kill him actually seems to make sense. But as soon as he gets to Earth and steals TITAN he has reverted back to the cackling loony with a thousand, million master schemes at the ready to trap the Doctor and wipe out the planet. Yes, very consistent characterisation. Craig sacrifices all his good (hmmm) work in the first few chapters just so he can have the same cigar puffing Master from The Time Monster. His over the top dialogue suits the character true but is still hugely embarrassing, I could only imagine what a non-fan would make of this book. Probably tear out his eyes so he never had to read again.

The story starts out okay with the Doctor and Mel going their separate ways and the Doctor chasing the Master, trying to stop him stealing TITAN but soon melts into nothing more than a cheap re-hash of The Time Monster. The thing Craig forgets is that that story was actually a lot of fun with knights on horseback, doodlebugs and lots of trickery with slow motion. It was not one great long science lecture thank you very much! And copying the story's all time worst aspects does not convince that you have captured the stories 'camp menace' as you so aptly put it. Whole scenes are torn from the earlier story and pasted into the book, even that awful bit where Prof Stu leaps around going "We've done it! We've done it! We've done it!" and plot points like the Master hypnotising the men/women in power, games with the TARDIS, etc. Even that stupid "E equals MC cubed" scene is duplicated! Geez Louise, Craig! This isn't clever or funny, just bloody irritating.

The middle sections are the worst, endless tedious scenes of the Doctor and the Master locked into battle with their TARDISes. These scenes, chock full of boring scientific jargon and the two protagonists trying to outfox each other, could be the worst pieces of Who fiction I have ever read, not clever, not interesting and not even entertaining. Just headache inducing in the extreme. I honestly couldn't fathom why I was still reading the book.

The book is loaded with melodrama, shallow secondary characters attempting to give the story some balance. The return of Stu from Time Monster is something that could have worked if there was a single human being on the planet that would want to spend their time reading about this foppish prat. But Craig writes him as a cynical old man; twisted by the events of the last time he met the "Doc". Next to him childish, comic book loving Paul (you expect me to believe this man is a genius? HAHAHAHAHA!) and bitchy, spineless Anjeliqua are adequate but still piss poor, both acting out of character when the plot suits it (Paul's sudden affiliation with the TARDIS). Craig's cod romantic scenes between Arlene and Paul do not convince for a second because nobody would ever date such a twat.

Like I said, this book is absolute genius and review gold. Move over Warmonger, push off Heritage we now have a winner for the worst Doctor Who book ever. And it's not even a New Adventure! Go figure.

A Review by Brian May 9/10/04

I began to read The Quantum Archangel with the foreknowledge that it's a fanwank tour de force. So in preparing this review, I decided to make a few lists. I'll leave all Time Monster related ones for later. As this book is a sequel to that televised story, they need their own examination.

I will first get out of the way those mentions I find to be acceptable. I've never had any objections to the occasional reference to Doctor Who's history, if they're appropriate to the story at hand. In The Quantum Archangel, they are as follows: the events of The Trial of A Time Lord, as recollected by both the Doctor and the Master. This novel takes place soon after, so a few musings are not a problem. The Source of Traken and the numismaton gas from Planet of Fire are other passable ones, given the situation of the Master's decaying body. Finally, the references to the Guardians and the Eternals - the story ventures into multi-dimensional realms, inhabited by similar beings, so it's logical to assume they're around somewhere. A few mentions of the Matrix, Rassilon and Omega also scrape home.

Okay, now for the list of the unacceptable: the Great Intelligence, the Nestene Consciousness, the Animus, the Daleks (including the Emperor), the Cybermen, the Vervoids, Krotons, Sontarans, Rutans, Quarks, Daemons, Eldrad and the Kastrians, Osirans, the Nimon, the Jagaroth, the Xeraphin, the Minyans, Xoanon, the Conscience of Marinus, Silurians and Sea Devils, the natives of Uexarius and Exxilon. Then there's Morbius, the Rani, the Meddling Monk and Drax. The Master's various pseudonyms. Commander Andred. The Key to Time. The worlds of Dronid, Trion and Logopolis get a mention, and there's an unnecessary predictive reference to the planet of the Cheetah people. The events of Inferno, The Invasion of Time, The Creature From the Pit, Castrovalva and Time-Flight. And three cheers, one each for Katarina, Sara and Adric, for yet another encore of dead companions, this time accompanied by Kamelion! The latter part of the book features some fascinating and freakish journeys into the parallel universes of possibility, but unfortunately also include the third Doctor and the Cybermen; renegade Time Lords ganging up; and the Time Lords at war against the Master and the Daleks, the latter of which Hinton carefully avoids naming, presumably to avoid the wrath of Terry Nation's estate.

And there are probably some I've left out!

Shameless dialogue steals include "Remember Atlantis!" (The Daemons); the Doctor's "I want to announce my presence!" (Earthshock); "kindly refrain from calling me Doc" (The Dalek Invasion of Earth); "his sins will find him out in time" from The Five Doctors, plus that dreadful "spurious morality" from Trial. And it's not just the televised series that's plundered - it's come to the point that the various strands of fiction have become fair game. The Pythia, the Faction Paradox and Iris Wildthyme's No.22 to Putney Common. Craig Hinton even fanwanks himself (oh, what a disgusting thought!!!) with references to the Ice Warriors' GodEngine and Anne Travers's death from his MA Millennial Rites.

I refer you to the description of the Millennium War on pp.194-197, which, if I may quote from Terrence Keenan's article, makes The Quantum Archangel the "ultimate fanwank marathon!"

Okay, now onto The Time Monster. As a sequel, of course it's going to incorporate elements from the original, so I have no qualms with the inclusion of Stuart Hyde, Ruth Ingram, TOMTIT and Kronos. The reference to the 1970s technology of TOMTIT - "boxy units filled with printed circuits and some very dodgy wiring" (p.61) - is a clever and humorous allusion to the programme's low budget. However, the fanwank takes over again with nods to the televised serial that are way too smarmy for their own good. The TARDIS sniffer-outer; the Time Ram; Stuart's age reversal and his "we've done it!" celebrations (thankfully minus stupid music and dancing); the time flow-analogue which "just is". More repetition of dialogue - the "E=MC squared/cubed/to the fourth power" exchange, "Simmer down, Stu" and the boa constrictor metaphor. All these are unnecessary and they're not clever. They're not a sophisticated, witty homage or tribute. They're tiresome and frivolous. What with all the other references, Hinton doesn't just go overboard, he's adrift and sinking!

However, in spite of all this, The Quantum Archangel is an entertaining read! For the most part, it's an enjoyable, action filled story, which keeps along at an even pace. I read it in just a few days. Hinton has a good writing style, but occasionally gets bogged down with too much description (see the next paragraph). He's realised a good sixth Doctor and Master (although a bit more Delgado than Ainley at times), and Mel is almost unrecognisable from the televised companion - which is a good thing! Stuart Hyde is no longer a bumbling idiot, he's an intelligent, thoughtful and troubled man, and there are some decent supporting characters. There are some effective images as well - the one of the Master, dressed in a suit and tie but having reverted to his decayed form, is quite a nasty, lingering one.

Hinton goes into mega extra-dimensional territory, capturing most of it as a haunting, awe-inspiring series of landscapes (for want of a better word!) The descriptions of the Midnight Cathedral are beautifully done, as are the thoughts of Anjeliqua as the Archangel. Realms of existence such as the Lux Aeterna and Calabi-Yau space are, to those non-physicists among us, quite mind boggling, and Hinton tends to go a bit too far, especially as he's writing a fictional piece, not a textbook! Along with the fanwank, the story of the Millennium War is virtually unreadable. The final pages, with all the showdowns, confrontations and revelations are also difficult to read - they're incomprehensible in some places (and there seem to be so many beings that live in these dimensions, it's hard to keep track of them! It must be rather crowded!)

The apotheosis of the Doctor is interesting, but the Archangel's accusations against him are, as mentioned above, ANOTHER excuse to dreg up the dead companions. This is just plain unoriginal - it's been done so many times to the seventh Doctor in Who fiction, that this repetition is practically inexcusable. However, this is not the case for the use of Maradnias. The reader is only treated to the aftermath - we're not given the complete story about what happens, but we know it was something dreadful, and that the Doctor was responsible. It's the best element of the showdown, and also makes for an interesting dynamic in the Doctor/Mel relationship, and another welcome stretching of her character beyond the televised one.

It's unusual for me to devote so much of a review to the fanwank factor, but for a book like this, it's inevitable, for The Quantum Archangel is swimming in it. It's a pity, for the adventure, despite some technobabble and verbosity, is fundamentally an enjoyable yarn. Another case of "If only"... 6/10