REVIEW: "Timewrym: Genesys" Doctor Who Novel

by Z1R0
18 December 2000

Peel, John, _Timewrym: Genesys_, (London: Doctor Who, 1991)

[Image of Book]

RATING: 9 (of 10)

	When the series ended in 1989, no new _Doctor Who_ adventure 
had yet been written in novel form and released as 
officially-licensed merchandise.  There had been novelizations of 
the televised serials, spin-offs, un-televised scripts, radio plays, 
and records.  There had been 'Create Your Own Adventure' paperbacks.  
There had been novels featuring companions, but not the Doctor.  
There had been numerous short stories and comics.  There had been 
unlicensed fanfic.
	With that in mind, the release of John Peel's _Timewyrm: 
Genesys_ (Doctor Who : 1991) was an important event in the history of 
fandom.  It set the stage for what has become a decade-long 
publishing juggernaut of officially-licensed new adventures novels.  
Mr. Peel proved himself up to the task.  It is an excellent adventure 
in the classic _Doctor Who_ tradition of historical stories.  It is 
also a delightfully well-crafted example of the art of writing, 
marred only by the occasional misspelling and typos that seem to 
plague many of the past decade's novel releases.
	The adventure opens amidst a great space battle.  Qataka, a 
cybernetically-enhanced humanoid from the planet Anu, has destroyed 
her homeworld with a cobalt device.  She is being pursued by Anu's 
now space-bound survivors.  Qataka, alone in an escape pod, flees the 
destruction of her vessel and crew.  The pod barely manages to make
landfall on a nearby planet, ancient Earth.  The pod lands 
specifically in Mesopotamia, then just beginning to establish 
humanity's first city-state.  Qataka quickly sets herself up in a 
temple of the city of Kish as nothing less than the goddess Ishtar 
     The Doctor, meanwhile, has been alerted to a threat by a message 
he left himself during a previous adventure.  He had learned of the 
threat during union with the Matrix, and though the memory of what he 
had learned faded quickly, he managed to leave the cryptic message 
"Beware the Timewyrm."  Having long since forgotten that he'd even 
left the message, the Doctor has no idea what a Timewyrm is.  Next, 
the Cloister Bell sounds, indicating imminent doom on a grand scale.  
The TARDIS telepathic circuits indicate coordinates for Earth, and 
the Doctor and Ace are off to face the unknown.  
     On Earth, the Doctor and Ace quickly encounter Gilgamesh, King 
of Uruk, and are greeted by him as Ea, God of Wisdom and Aya, Goddess 
of the Dawn.  Together with Gilgamesh's right hand man, a Neanderthal 
named Enkidu, a priestess of Ishtar named En-Gula, a minstrel named 
Avram, a princess of Kish named Ninani, and the leader of the surving 
remnant of Anu, Utnapishtim; they attempt to thwart the plans of 
Qataka/Ishtar to gain mental control over humanity.  
     When the dust settles, the Doctor and party can claim victory -- 
or can they?  Qataka/Ishtar, cast into the Vortex to be torn apart by 
the time winds, manages to adapt to it's forces and emerge as a new 
and stronger entity: the Timewyrm.  
	_Timewyrm: Genesys_ is the first of a four part series 
featuring the Doctor's struggle to defeat the Timewyrm, the other 
three being _Timewyrm: Exodus_, _Timewyrm: Apocalyspe_, and 
Timewyrm: Revelation_, also published in 1991.  These titles are now 
out of print.
	The release of _Timewyrm: Genesys_ was not without some 
controversy.  The book contains some sexually-oriented content, 
to which some readers objected.  Though by no means pornographic -- 
at least, in my opinion -- such content clearly indicates that this 
book, and those to follow, were marketed towards a young adult and 
adult audience.  Such content was included by Peel in situations 
where it was clearly an integral part of the narrative.  Gilgamesh, 
for example, is the classic Warrior-King.  His reign is one centered 
on conquest, both military and sexual.  He is not used to being 
denied anything, and when he turns his attentions to Ace, he is 
frustrated by her continual disinterest.  En-Gula, as a Priestess of 
Ishtar, is duty-bound to give of herself sexually to male 
worshippers.  This is no contrivance of the author, this is 
simply historical fact.  As was always the case with the series, 
the Doctor remains sexually aloof throughout the book.
	Though I recommend this book to readers without reservation, I 
refrained from giving it a 10 out of 10.  This is simply because it 
is the first of a four part series, and the rest of the series fails 
to inspire the same level of praise, no doubt due to each installment 
being written by a different author.  I, for one, would have 
preferred that Mr. Peel had written all four books.

(c) Copyright Z1R0, 2000.

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