The War Machines
The Time Travellers
|ISBN#||0 563 48633 3|
|Featuring||The first Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan|
|Synopsis: When the TARDIS touches down in London, 2006, schoolteachers Ian and Barbara are eager to explore their own future. But they have arrived in the middle of a war, a war that has left London a ruin. Mistaken for vagrants, and with no way of proving otherwise, the Doctor's granddaughter and companions find themselves in the execution block on the Isle of Dogs. The Doctor has no choice but to help the military refine its ultimate weapon. The British Army has discovered time travel. And the consequences are already terrible.|
A Review by Hugh Sturgess 17/11/05
The main reason I like The Time Travellers is simple: Simon Guerrier (that's the author by the way, just in case you didn't know) is just like me. Sorry Simon.
One of the great possibilities of Doctor Who books set in the black-and-white era is the potential to rewrite history, as in the the history of post-60s Earth. True, any Who book can do that, but the way the 50s and 60s saw the future ("the year 2000") is just so wonderfully dated (see the reference to the "holographic telepress" in "the year 2000" in The Mind Robber) that they have a charm all of their own, like those old Who annuals. This potential has never been explored in the books - Trevor Baxendale has the right idea when he said he would write a Hartnell book as though it was written in the 60s, but he seems to have forgotten about it.
Think about it - the TARDIS materialises in the year 2000, a world where people take the hovertram to work and thousands of people live in wheel shaped space stations. People read from holographic newspapers and travel on moving pavements. And you can do whatever you want; Geneva was destroyed in 1997. Oh yes it was. The EDA/PDA range have done every other trick in the book, why not this?
Dead Romance looked like it was going that way, but Larry had to bring bottle universes into things, so I thought of The Space Age as a one of a kind. And so, just to show me up, is at last a real "written in the 60s" book.
When the TARDIS is forced out of the vortex by a lab-coated technician in freefall in its depths, it materialises in Canary Wharf underground station. No sooner have they arrived, the technician is found dead, having materialised quite a ways above the ground. When Ian and Susan go into the streets for help, they discover they are in a near-future London. But the streets are oddly quiet, and they soon discover that a war has ruined London.
This obviously isn't our world; this war began in the 70s, after a Machine that could talk to other machines made a bid for world power. The Machine is obviously intended to be WOTAN from The War Machines, but there are also other references in there (the most obvious being Remembrance of the Daleks). However, there is never any reference to alternate timelines; as far as the characters are concerned, this is the future and it is inescapable. Even at the end of the book, there is still the lingering suspicion that the Machine will still conquer the Earth, and begin the whole situation again.
The book also tackles the Doctor's assertion that you "can't rewrite history, not one line". Here, it is treated as a threat rather than a fact; the Doctor doesn't want to attract the attention of certain powers, and if he is seen to alter Earth history he will never be free of them. The events of this novel have been noticed by these powers and the Doctor concludes to leave Susan somewhere so she will be safe.
The Doctor here is not quite like the First Doctor we saw on TV, but since he is pushed to the limit this is forgivable. He's very much bound be the Laws of Time, forgetting his companions, even Susan, so that he can end the time experiments being conducted by the British Army (that's not a spoiler, it's on the blurb). His farewell to the older Ian is touching and his final discussion with that character is truly moving ("you only had to ask").
Susan... well, this is how Susan should be done. There is nothing more embarrassing than having a Gallifreyan having the principles of a spectrograph explained to her by a human schoolteacher in The Sensorites. Here, she easily outsmarts the scientists and deduces the nature of the crisis without even seeing the time machine. She is clearly an alien here, and a Gallifreyan at that. More of this. Now.
Ian has his Father Kreiner here. His story of survival in the post-Machine world is truly depressing and makes you feel almost culpable as you've already deduced that this will happen. His normal self is in character, though.
Barbara has the hardest time of the lot. She finds Ian's body and can finally say goodbye, so she doesn't trust the other Ian that comes to rescue them, even going so far as to bar him from the TARDIS.
The other characters are pretty much functions of the plot, with only the younger Bamford really standing out. Kelly's a bit of a drip, and Griffiths just performs his function. The incompetent scientists in the 70s are a lot of fun, and the end to the bar brawl is hilarious. I did wish Guerrier hadn't revealed the identity of Britain's enemy, but since they play a major role later one it is sort of unavoidable. But, I mean, South Africans?
One thing I don't get though: what's the importance of that weird traffic light tree on the cover?
A love story... by Joe Ford 22/2/06
Mad time travel experiments and duplicates seem to be all the rage these days don't they, and The Time Travellers has more than a touch of The Last Resort and Spiral Scratch about it. Saying that, it scores over both of those books by having some shocking twists in the mix and some glorious characterisation, that makes it as good (but not better) than the other debut novel this year, Nick Wallace's Fear Itself. Whilst I finished this book with a few loose threads hanging in my mind I fear it was my attention that is at fault and another read of this will proved all the answers I need. Besides re-reading a book as tasty as this should be no hassle at all, and perhaps even more rewarding than my initial read.
Popular in recent years are books with an extremely complicated nonlinear narrative but The Time Travellers has just enough explanations to guide you effortlessly through its pages without turning your brain to mush. The way the book dishes out the answers to the hundreds of mysteries set up is skilfully done, and it continues to surprise and confuse right up until the climax. I love this sense of unreality these time travel books create, with people leaping about through time and playing God, making up their own timeline just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time you are left with the constant impression that this is WRONG...
...and nothing could feel more disquieting than a major war tearing up London in the year 2006. This is a book with a fantastic setting, taking lots of recognisable London landmarks and ripping them down in front of us. The attack on St Paul's is especially disheartening; reading the description of that magnificent structure being punctured and collapsing is jaw-dropping. It would have been enough to have a book set during this terrible (and let's face it set this year it is still plausible...) war but the book refuses to turn itself into a goodies versus baddies war. Once the South Africans (how odd it is have such a human enemy for a change) invade and take over, it is shocking to see the tables turn and see that we have been in the company of the bad guys all along (the British). The South Africans are actually trying to liberate the country! When you realise this is only the background for an even more important plot about the dangers of time travel it's easy to see how many layers this book works on.
Rather than concentrating on characters from our reality in alternative universes (which is about as popular as mud these days) the book actually seems to suggest that this is alternative characters hopping over to our universe. However this simply cannot be the case; I thought at the climax everything would be ironed out and history would be back on track. However, it appears that when the first Doctor eventually meets up with a certain villain later on in his run everything in this book will be erased. Oh my, I've just gone cross-eyed trying to think about it. Unless things really are different now and this is what happened, in which case a certain Hartnell story needs to have a completely different ending. If you're confused, try reading the book; perhaps you can explain it to me one day!
Without ruining any surprises, this book manages to tie in major plot points from this other Hartnell story and a McCoy story without it ever seeming gratuitous or unnecessary. On the contrary, these twists come at exactly the right time and merely exposes the author's eye for pleasing the fans.
The biggest plus point in this book's favour is its rock solid characterisation, both of the regulars and the guest cast. This is some of the most memorable characterisation we have seen in a while, with the trio of supporting characters, Bamford, Andrews and Griffiths emerging as a bunch and well worth taking your time to examine all the nuances Simon Guerrier writes them with.
Much of The Time Travellers hinges on lost time traveller Andrews and his duplicates. His old-fashioned lingo and reluctance to save himself marks him out as quite the hero. Given his character's fates several times over, it is easy to sympathise with him, and especially with the original version as he meets up with the Doctor and co and discovers the will to fight back against the regime that is killing him over and over again.
With Bamford we are afforded a rare opportunity to see a character from two very different perspectives, highlighting how changing time can change your personality in subtle but ultimately dramatic ways. The mean, fastidious, callous Bamford trying to keep Britain in one piece is a real nasty piece of work, terrifying in her lack of interest in seeing vagrants shot to death. She just gives the orders, completely immune to the death going on around her. Seeing the book through her eyes we see how bad things have become in this terrifying version of the future, nobody much giving a toss about the loss of life, just caring about dealing with the enemy. One scene that sees her at the tip of the Canary Wharf tower looking out at the bombs raining down and recognising her lack of reaction because of her distance is heartbreaking. What would it take for somebody to turn their back on their humanity? Later we meet up with a far more agreeable version of her character, one who befriends Ian and Barbara and wants to help to build a better future. Fascinating to see how two people can be the same and yet so different and amazing to think that it was only one act of kindness that saw their timelines take such different routes. This is like Sliding Doors but several shades more complex and interesting.
Griffiths is another character who shows some surprising colours, changing into something quite different as the book progresses. How this man turns from a nervous, fidgety coward into a strong, capable leader is quite extraordinary and excellent writing on the part of the author. His relationship with Barbara and Susan is interesting, provoking some feelings of jealousy rarely seen between the two women.
Guerrier already had an advantage with this set of regulars, probably the most perfect group of travellers to explore adventures in time and space the series has ever seen, forty years on. This is where The Time Travellers comes into its own, thanks to the sparkling, thoughtful and touching moments between the regulars, which really hammer home how much of a family they were without ever once having to say the words out loud.
I have rarely seen the first Doctor written this well; his burning anger and cheeky arrogance captured so beautifully within the book's pages. I could hear William Hartnell saying every single line and such was the strength of his dialogue I wanted to hear him saying every line. The book dares to play about with the rules set up in The Aztecs, with scenes mirroring those between the Doctor and Barbara but this time the Doctor having to face up to the fact that he lied during their previous adventure and terrifying consequences of this novel proving why his initial condemnation of changing history was so vital. Not only that but Guerrier lays down hints that the Doctor's people are after him and that he needs to find somewhere safe for Susan, that he regards Ian and Barbara as much more than just passengers and the frightening notion that despite these feelings he would still put protecting the timeline over their safety. He shines here, whether he is giggling at people's scientific ignorance, condemning them for their inhumanity or accepting his fate to be stranded in one time. His final chat with Ian by the TARDIS at the climax is absolutely tear-jerking. It reminds me of what a fabulous character the first Doctor was and what an amazing actor William Hartnell was and what more can you ask from the book than that?
The Eleventh Tiger set up the romance between Ian and Barbara with a lot of subtlety and feeling and here we see the beginnings of their feelings towards each other. Frankly I would recommend this book on those scenes alone as the pair are written with absolute precision: Ian the reluctant hero, forced to do things he would rather not think about, and Barbara the headstrong mother of the group, desperate to look after the emotional wellbeing of the group. They become closer than ever in this heartless environment and the moment when Barbara thinks Ian is really dead broke my heart. The book goes to great lengths to reveal the strength of feeling between them and is bookended with a pair of scenes that effectively see Ian mourn her loss and start a brand new life with her. Read the book to find out what I mean but it would appear no matter what has happened to history, Ian Chesterton will always love Barbara Wright and I can't think of a more fitting reminder of his character than that. Not only that, but we are reminded what a hero the guy is, as he effectively sacrifices an entire lifetime to bring his fellow travellers home. Gah! What fantastic characters! It's made me want watch a Hartnell story!
A great setting, sizzling characterisation and a surprising, thoughtful plot, you couldn't really ask for more. The Time Travellers is a winner whatever you want, heavy plot or heavy characterisation, and it shares the top spot with Fear Itself for the best PDA of the year. Despite my reservations during the first third that this would be just another alternative universe story, it actually feels refreshingly unlike those books that have already dealt with the theme and transcends itself into a beautiful character tale.
Five Out Of Ten by Jamas Enright 11/5/06
Although Simon Guerrier isn't a stranger to the world of Doctor Who, this is, as he points out himself, his first novel. There are subtle points about this work that proves this statement, namely the inclusion of a large number of so-so ideas in the hope they'll add up to one good book. Which, of course, they don't quite do.
Firstly, this book is, as it gives away in the title, about time travellers. And, as you quickly discover, about alternative time lines (unless there were some events in history I missed out on). It is possible to write a decent time travel/alternative dimensional story, and to do so as your first book (hello Jonathon Morris), but this isn't it. (The idea of many branches to history virtually eliminates the idea of danger as we know it works out well somewhere else. Loving the Alien showed how bad this could be.) The main reason for this problem is the second point.
Continuity. One of the main plot ideas Simon Guerrier tries out is the idea that the past is different if your future events haven't happened yet. I'll try to explain with an example from the new series. In The End of the World, the Doctor is five billion years into the future, on Earth. But until he goes back at takes part in World War Three, the Earth in fact has been blown up by the Slitheen and not there five billion years later. I put it like this, because I don't want to spoil which stories Simon Guerrier uses, but the premise is that those stories happen without the Doctor's intervention, and so the Doctor and crew are in the future that those unintervened events imply. This is, I will admit, an interesting idea (and one I've considered before, so was able to recognise it), but unfortunately given the number of Earth stories the Doctor will deal with, it shouldn't be there in 2006 (the amount of alien invasions the Third Doctor alone fights off would waste the Earth, let alone the Silurians wiping everything out). It was a nice try, but it wasn't going to work.
Still, at least we have the characters. The Doctor is presented as extremely fragile and manages to tire himself out with just a few steps, just like on the screen. Ian and Barbara get another chance to declare their love for each other, working as well as it did in The Eleventh Tiger. And Susan switches back and forth from 'moody woman' to 'giddy girl', displaying exactly the grown-up, mature attitude Carol Ann Ford was aiming for. It's just amazing how well Simon Guerrier portrayed them. (Note: sarcasm.)
The new characters we get are Bamford, Kelly, Griffiths, Andrews, Andrews, Andrews (etc.). These characters are dark and mysterious, and Simon Guerrier keeps them this way by refusing to delve into their motivations, leaving us wondering just why anyone did anything.
However, there is one excellent thing about this book, and that is the cover. Great work by Black Sheep there, I love all those traffic lights.
Hopefully this first novel uses up all the author's mediocre ideas and next time (if there is one) he can concentrate on a decent one instead.
A Review by John Seavey 29/5/06
This was... interesting. "Interesting" is one of those words that novelists must hate when they see it in a book review; it's the reviewer's equivalent of "she's got a nice personality", that sense of not really having won the reader over. And yet, it's the only way to describe a book that doesn't really seem to be trying to win you over; The Time Travellers is cold, spiky, nasty, and at times seeming to be more of an intellectual puzzle than a Doctor Who story. But despite all that, it's interesting.
"You can't rewrite history -- not one line!" has to be one of the most famous lines in Doctor Who history, certainly the one that's inspired the most fan speculation. In this case, it seems pretty much to have inspired the entire novel, which takes the central caveat of most Doctor Who time-travel stories and upends it. (Doctor Who has fewer time-travel stories than you think, actually; usually the TARDIS just exists to get the Doctor to the place and time the story starts, and actual time-travel, with its attendant loops and paradoxes, is rare.) But in most of Doctor Who, time is relatively set, and changing it fraught with danger; here, time is always in flux, always changing with each step out of the TARDIS doors, and the Doctor's famous line in The Aztecs is just a lie meant to mollify Barbara. It's a pretty difficult notion to reconcile with the rest of the series, in its various media, but it is used to interesting (there's that word again) effect here, as the Doctor and his companions deal with several unrelated time paradoxes caused by his intervention and non-intervention in history.
(Which, I've just realized, is absolute bollocks. One of the main points in the novel is that this all takes place in a future England devastated by WOTAN's mad march to conquest -- which occurs because the Doctor hasn't stopped it "yet", hasn't changed that bit of history. But the time travel machine that drives the course of the story is derived from Dalek technology left behind in Remembrance of the Daleks... which also wouldn't have occurred yet, because the Seventh Doctor wouldn't have done what he did "yet" either. It's possible that even without the Seventh Doctor's interference, the Daleks would have just left behind huge chunks of their technology, but that's not the impression Guerrier leaves in the relevant scenes.)
In any event, the story revolves around the future England, the time machine, and the way that it interacts with the TARDIS in ways that build a wonderful sense of impending doom... which never quite builds to any sort of actual doom, as it turns out. What feels like the big climactic scene really isn't. In fact, there's not really any kind of "climactic scene" in that sense; the novel sort of slowly relaxes its grand finale out in a series of quiet character moments that suggest that the real way to save the future is to just be nice to people and ask them for help building a pulley. (Which, I suppose, is actually a kind of nice message for a story to send, when you think about it.)
But getting back to the impending doom... as I say, there's not much actual "doom" at the end, but the "impending" part is great. The story's villains really are the nastiest bunch you could get, and Guerrier does pull some remarkably clever tricks to make sure they stay that way. There are very few last-minute reprieves, acts of mercy, or dodgy bits of stupidity on their part. They're coldly, clinically, brutally efficient in the way they kill people, and you do sympathize with Ian and Barbara when they feel like their future has turned out to be a nightmare.
"Cold and clinical" seem to be the watchwords for this novel, and I don't think I'll ever curl up with this and a mug of hot tea for a good afternoon's read, but it did keep me interested, which is exactly what an interesting novel should do.
A Review by Finn Clark 3/7/06
Hooooooo boy. I'm going to say good and bad things about this book. Admittedly a good reviewer should always be trying to do that, but in this case it won't exactly be difficult. You know how some showers have a hair-trigger temperature control and seemingly only two settings: "activates cryogenic freezing" and "will melt lead"? The Time Travellers isn't quite that bad, but it's not far off.
First of all, the TARDIS visits an alternate universe.
That could be the whole review. No, really. That's all anyone needs to know, especially commissioning editors. It's a simple rule: "If it contains the word "alternate" in any form, it should be burned." I realise I'm coming across like a broken record, but dammit, what the hell is going on with BBC Books? I feel like a WW1 machine-gunner in No Man's Land who's sick of the slaughter but has just seen yet more press-ganged enemy grunts trudging into his sights with orders to bludgeon him to death. I don't want to pull the trigger, but someone's got to for the sake of future generations.
I mean, honestly. We suffered through the BBC's alternate universe arc, or at least some of us did. The smart ones gave up on the books (and don't imagine I'm exaggerating), but sadly on this score I'm not smart. Like some kind of dumb-ass, I emerged battered and bleeding on the other side but at least hoping that we'd seen the last of alternate universes. Ahahaha, no. Out of 2005's last five PDAs (Spiral Scratch, Fear Itself, World Game, The Time Travellers, Atom Bomb Blues) only one book is free of altered history. Was this deliberate? Did Justin Richards have a PDA story arc going when the books were cancelled? If so, thank goodness they're dead! The alt.universe 8DAs actually damaged Doctor Who, the most flexible and damage-resistant series imaginable, over and above the small matter of sucking hard enough to pull spaceships into the sun.
You have to feel sorry for the poor authors. The TARDIS crew see a dead man walking and the reader doesn't think, "Oooooooh!" but, "Bloody hell, I bet it's another sodding alternate universe." Even if you later discover that the truth is more complicated, it's still a novel-killing moment that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. The Time Travellers is a book of two halves. Acts One and Two are set in a neo-fascist alternate Earth  in 2006, then Act Three is set thirty-four years earlier. I quite liked Act Three, but the book's entire first half is almost unreadable. It's The Domino Effect all over again! It's a world of such one-dimensional bastards that you couldn't have believed it would outlast the end of the book even if it didn't clash with the rest of continuity. It's hard to care about something that's doomed to unhappen. Gee, people just got shot! Golly, England's at war! Are we losing or winning? Look, monkeys just flew out of my arse! Listen: snoring... no, wait, that's me.
 - aka. Stock Alternate Universe Number Two.
It doesn't help that the characters are repellent. They conform to the usual Neo-Fascist Alternate Universe stereotypes without even trying to add any wit or originality. I was in agony. Theoretically there's the TARDIS crew, but... mmmmm, I'm coming to them.
However as I said, I liked Act Three. Furthermore bear in mind that this is from someone who'd almost been driven out of his mind by then. Hitherto everyone had been merely trying to survive and make the best of things in Bollocksworld, but at last the characters were focused on the real problem. 2006 was the wrong 2006. Pissing about with other stuff had wasted half the book, but at last the situation was being addressed. Trying to unravel the causality attracted my attention.
I was particularly impressed with the ending, which should perhaps have been an anticlimax with no big dramatic confrontation, but for me really worked. It breaks the rules, but in a good way. After all, this is Hartnell. His era most of all went for this kind of formula-busting. It's about working together, thinking of the future and finding courage and humanity within yourself instead of just killing the bad guy. That's a kind of ending I'd like to see more of, though admittedly if mishandled it could be toe-curling. I should add that while I bashed Messingham's The Indestructible Man for doing inappropriate things with the Troughton TARDIS crew, this book does extreme things with the regulars for which you couldn't have a better team than Hartnell's.
It's a shame we don't get them, then.
Oooooooh yes, my other problem with The Time Travellers. Reread what I just wrote about alternate universes, then imagine a similar level of feeling and invective about what's coming now. I'll keep this short, but suffice to say that I was swearing aloud. Ian and Barbara are in love. It's long-established that they subsequently got married and even had a son (Johnny Chess), but I don't have a problem with that. I liked Face of the Enemy. The Eleventh Tiger is the book I can't stand. My objection is that it takes fan-imposed subtext and makes it text. It kills the subtlety. It snatches away the sublime William Russell and Jacqueline Hill and thus reduces the finest companions ever to fanwank puppets.
Hence my swearing. However otherwise ("But apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, what did you think of the play?"), I liked what Simon Guerrier was doing with the four regulars. The line-by-line prose doesn't dig very deep, but he gives all of them at least one interesting scene that gives us an angle on their characters. The Doctor's is probably the weakest portrayal, since occasionally I couldn't imagine Hartnell making the acting choices that Guerrier imposes on him. However Ian gets a lot to do, Barbara is convincingly intelligent and Susan is great. She's both an alien and a teenage girl in a way that the TV series often didn't manage. I could cite favourite scenes for all of them, which is more than I could say for many books. Plus of course there's the fact that a PDA starring the Season One regulars is inherently superior to a PDA starring any other TARDIS crew.
I should mention continuity. I won't mention spoilers, but this alternate history has a backstory which extrapolates from televised stories. However it's never explained. If you know your Whoniverse history then this is undoubtedly a good thing, but I'm wondering how newbie-friendly it is. I could imagine someone who'd spent the book waiting for answers to these questions going away pissed off. Oh, and wasn't Dalek Invasion of Earth supposedly the first time the TARDIS had reached London since An Unearthly Child?
Overall, I finished this book glad I'd read it. With parts of it I was even impressed. It has ingenuity, even if it doesn't seem particularly interested in having you like it. However the pain I suffered during the book's first half had me swearing revenge.
These Times They Are a Changin' by Matthew Kresal 29/3/15
The BBC's Past Doctor Adventures, like their Virgin predecessors the Missing Adventures, could often be mixed affairs. Some Doctors and eras proved difficult to replicate either character or story others would be overdone to the point of being nothing but a series of cliches. Occasionally, though, there would be moments when authors would not only be able to recreate Doctors and era but take them in new (or more contemporary) directions. One such example of blending past and present would be The Time Travellers by first-time novelist Simon Guerrier, a novel that holds the distinction of being the penultimate of its range and also being one of the best books to come out of it.
Guerrier manages to recreate his TARDIS crew splendidly. That TARDIS crew being the very first featuring the first Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara. Their reactions to the world(s) they find themselves in throughout seem spot on to what fans have watched and listened to for close to half a century. In a way, Guerrier is at something of an advantage by writing for this TARDIS crew. The novel gives the reader the chance to get inside the character's heads in a way a TV story never can and Guerrier puts that to full use here with a TARDIS crew that is still getting to know one another. You have to remember that this was a time when the Doctor was more mercurial if not downright mysterious than later incarnations, and we're reminded of this at moments throughout the novel where Ian and Barbara worry about the Doctor possibly leaving them behind. Guerrier also foreshadows some things still in the character's futures as well, such as Susan leaving the TARDIS crew in The Dalek Invasion of Earth (for which we are given a reason why the Doctor let her) and even get a mini-sequel to the final minutes of The Chase as well (one that thankfully isn't as cringe-worthy as that story). The result of all this is that the characterizations are all spot-on in a way that is both familiar yet surprisingly fresh at the same time.
There are also some fine supporting characters. With such spot-on work on the TARDIS crew, it would have been easy to make the supporting characters bland and barely noticeable. Yet Guerrier chooses to invoke one of the things that the Hartnell era would occasional do right: create supporting characters as interesting as the regulars. Bamford, Kelly, Griffiths, Andrews (splendid chaps all of them) and Wu all come across as three-dimensional characters rather than possible cardboard characters. That sense of realism is heightened by Guerrier choosing not to delve into their motivations, though we are given plenty of glimpses into what those might be. Plus, like all good supporting characters should, they give the protagonists something to bounce off. In fact, the novel's best character moments come out of such moments with Barbara's moment of realization on page 162 being one that stands out most clearly in my mind. The result is a series of fascinating characters populating the novel throughout.
It is in the plot that the book truly becomes a true mix of past and present. Whether Guerrier intended it to or not, this novel has the feeling of being one that puts the earliest TARDIS crew in a story that could be right out of the New Series of Doctor Who. The characterizations of the TARDIS crew, the scientific explanations, the occasional runarounds and even the title itself are all evocative of an era of Doctor Who that occurred nearly fifty years ago now. Yet elements like its time travel paradox, a big reveal involving one member of the TARDIS crew that comes out in the final chapter as a consequence, its Canary Wharf setting during much of its length (if not the whole embattled 2006 London setting in general), pacing, even the prologue and epilogue all seem to be from the New Series. These styles should clash, at least in thought, you say? In practice though, Guerrier makes them work together to create a story that both honors the show's past while embracing its present without hesitation.
The icing on the cake is the fact that the novel is both a sequel and prequel to a first Doctor story still in his future that also has references to a few other stories here and there that are done in a way that is great if you get them but aren't necessary to understanding the story. Yet Guerrier keeps in mind that this is a novel set during Doctor Who's earliest days and as such when he references things he keeps them vague, such as not naming the Doctor's people. Plus he takes one of the most (in)famous lines from the show's earliest days, "You can't rewrite history! Not one line!" and gives a much-needed explanation for it that is truthful not only to what was originally intended when it was said but what ended up happening in the show's future as well. In short, that means it's fan-wanking done right.
Even being a first novel, The Time Travellers proves to be a standout novel. While the characterizations of the TARDIS crew, the scientific explanations, the occasional runarounds and even the title itself are all evocative of an era in the past, other elements such as the time-travel paradox, a big reveal that comes out as a consequence, its setting during much of its length, pacing, even its prologue and epilogue bring to mind the Who of the present day. As a result, Guerrier achieves a rare thing in either runs of the BBC's Past Doctor Adventures or the Virgin Missing Adventures: a story that blends the past with the present and comes out all the better for doing so.