Spearhead from Space
Target novelisation
Doctor Who - Timelash

Author Glen McCoy Cover image
Published 1986
ISBN 0 426 20229 5
First Edition Cover David McAllister

Back cover blurb: The inhabitants of the planet Karfel are suffering under the tyrannical rule of their leader, the Borad, who has brought his world to the brink of interplanetary war. Those who dare to oppose the will of the Borad are mercilessly sacrificed to the Timelash, a fate considered by many to be worse than death. When the Doctor arrives on Karfel he soon discovers the Borad's horrifying plan, a plan which will directly affect his young American assistant, Peri...


Dreadful by Andrew Feryok 23/10/07

"Most depart into the Timelash with a scream."
- Timelash, chapter 1, page 8
I've read some pretty bad Doctor Who novelisations in the past. I managed to get through The Dominators, Warriors of the Deep and Revenge of the Cybermen, but even they were readable to some degree. But Glen McCoy's adaptation of Timelash has to be the absolute worst Doctor Who book I have ever read and I do not say this lightly. Words cannot adequetly describe how positively painful it was to slog through the text of this trash. I have to admit that when I rewatched the television episodes recently, the characters of the Doctor, Tekker and Herbert at least made the adventure somewhat entertaining. But McCoy buries even these rays of hope under a pile of dung prose.

One of the most infuriating things about the story is McCoy's own prose style. I realize these are supposed to be children's books, but a Dicks book on a bad day is easier to read than this! Instead of writing a story, McCoy has pretty much written a 124 page summary of Timelash, with virtually all the dialogue excised except for a few odd lines that look like they were more accidental than on purpose. Granted, McCoy does get around to using actual dialogue in the final two chapters of the story when the Doctor is attempting to stop the missile and confronts the Borad, but by this time it is a way too late and anyone who has bothered to read that far is just wishing it could be over faster. McCoy could have easily used a narrator to tell the story, or have someone tell it in flashback, but instead he just summarizes whole conversations and actions. The semi-exciting sequence in which the Doctor enters the Timelash to retrieve a crystal from the vortex is reduced to less than a page of the story!

This type of prose approach also means that characterization is nil. Peri is merely an object for the Doctor to rescue and the Doctor is barely recognizable even as a generic version of himself. In fact, if it wasn't for his occasional outbursts you would not even recognize him. Oh, and the horrible sequence where the Doctor screams "bad!? BAD!? BAAAD!?" to Peri in the TARDIS is repeated two more times in the story. As for the rest of the characters, the Borad is still the second-rate villain that he was on screen and the Karfellans are still boring. Herbert has amazingly lost all of his charm and becomes more an annoyance, which pisses me off even more because he was my one favorite character in the television episode who added real charm to the adventure. And, rather than being heroic, Herbert spends most of his time running around jotting notes on what he sees into a notebook for the book he is destined to write. The only characters whom McCoy has lauded any attention to in detail are the rebels whom he spends a good deal of the beginning building up. But I'm reading this book to hear about the Doctor's adventures, not the rebels.

McCoy does add to his story, although why anyone would actually want to add MORE of Timelash into the world is a thought too diabolical to comprehend. Granted, one addition does make an improvement on the original story. The Doctor and Mykros discover the Borad's cloning laboratory before his clone shows up at the end of the story, making his sudden appearance a bit more plausable. But, apart from this, most of the additions are unnecessary and merely drag out an already horrible story. The story opens with some extended scenes with the rebels as they camp for the evening and a sequence in which Katz and Sezon are trapped in a cave and nearly devoured by a Morlox and its children. We also learn a bit about a love relationship between Katz and Sezon which is really unnecessary. Finally, there is a whole extra chapter after the first death of the Borad. His death has triggered a secret army of androids which storm the city intent on destroying everyone as part of a revenge progam set by the Borad. There is then a massive race against time as the Doctor attempts to defuse the android's power source in the main reactor room seen only once on screen in the original television episode. Also, when the Borad holds Peri hostage in the final scene, he has the Doctor and the Karfelans rig explosives on the landing pads for when the Bandrel ambassadors arrive.

Overall, this has got to be one of the absolute worst books, let alone Doctor Who books, I have ever read. The prose is attrocious, the characters are non-existant, the story is convuluted and non-sensical (although I do have to admit that the Doctor using time to actually thwart the Borad is cool) and the book was an enormous chore to get through. I'm just glad that this was Glen McCoy's only story for Doctor Who since I don't think I could stomach another book from him. 0/10