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Reviews for Spiral Scratch

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Bloody Amazing...

By:Eddie Wilkins, Cheltenham, Glos.
Date:Wednesday 1 March 2006
Rating:   8

Warning spoilers!

This book is amazing, written by one of my favourite authors, I highly reccomend this book for those of you who were disappointed with the rushed regeneration of 'Time And The Rani', then you'll like this! THe Sixth Doctor gets his perfect final story, having come across as brash and arrogant throughout his reign, he makes the ultimate sacrifice.

This book is also good because it settles once and for all where all the different companions exist in the doctor who universe, as well as a doctor who could have very well triumphed over the Valeyard.

If I have any bad points, I must say that the other characters, Doctors and Mels aside, aren't really fleshed out so you can connect with them. The threat, however, a creature that can eat time, or something, is for once very credible.

This is myfirst review, and I haven't read it in a while so don't rely on this. I'll say one thing though:

Bloody Fantastic!

Spirally randomness

By:Hatman, Rejavik
Date:Friday 26 May 2006
Rating:   8

Probably the most random book in the series. It was ok, though, and the appearence of the snakes was well written. Bit silly near the end, however it was overall a good book.

Squiggly End for the Sixth Doctor

By:Doug, Pocono Summit, PA, USA
Date:Friday 4 May 2007
Rating:   7

Being a Sixth Doctor fan, I just had to read this book when I found out about it. The idea is that this is the final story of the Sixth Doctor that leads directly into the beginning of Time and the Rani, and as such it delivers well.

But getting there was quite a journey, and at times a trial (no pun intended). The book starts out slowly and perplexingly, moving back and forth between rather dull stories (except for the naked green teenagers...) set in a small village in the middle ages (or earlier?), eastern Europe during the time of the Nazis, and the estate of a wealthy Englishman in 1958 (I think). Things start getting more interesting when we finally get to the point where the Doctor and Mel arrive at the library of Carsus to visit the Doctor's friend, Professor Rummas. The library turns out to be the center of some sort of temporal nexus that becomes increasingly bizarrely mangled up as the (at first) ghostly images from parallel universes begin to bleed into it, literally. Rummas, and sometimes the Doctor, are repeatedly seen murdered in these strange, but incorporeal images. And somehow, this all involves pentagon-shaped buildings or forms throughout time and space.

Rummas begins to send the Doctor off to various times and places in an attempt to track down the cause of the disturbance, and an epic story begins to unfold, bringing together the players in the three settings mentioned above, and spanning the multiverse, as alternate-universe Doctors and Mels begin to overlap and run into each other.

After slogging through the slowgoing early parts, Sprial Scratch becomes a fun and interesting read, as the nature and scope of what the Doctor is faced with becomes increasingly apparent: a creature of immense power has become an apocalyptic threat to not just one universe, but all of them. Gary Russell does right by the Sixth Doctor here, basically sending him out with the biggest bang of them all. Mel's character is also expanded, though I found Russell's revisions of her character to be somewhat disagreeable at times. He certainly has a lot of fun here, as he brings in all sorts of brief nods to multiple continuities from the various Doctor Who lines by the end of the story. His knowledge of the Doctor Who universe truly is rather frightening.

Another thing that's a bit frightening, but quite impressive, is how Russell is able to keep track of the multiplicity of timelines and the excursions into and interplays between past, present, and future he's weaved throughout the story.

Spiral Scratch is an enjoyable read with a satisfying ending, but somehow, after finishing it, I just don't feel the need to rate it more highly than a 7. Go figure. Maybe the dizzying cover is part of the problem...

Good Try

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 7 December 2020
Rating:   7

It's not the universe this time; it's the whole multiverse. That is the premise on which hangs Gary Russell's story of how the 6th Doctor ends. There is no doubt that Russell spent years in various media trying to revitalize and rewrite the reputation of Doctor 6. I agree with him that Colin Baker's Doctor was underserved in his time on TV, and that the TV writers never figured out how to write to Colin Baker's strengths as an actor. Russell goes all out to try to rectify that problem. Russell's Doctor 6 is still tetchy, but not just as a personality quirk, but as a defense against his own tendency of caring too much. Russell's Doctor 6 is much more perceptive, too. And, as Russell writes him, Doctor 6 will make the grand self-sacrifice that other Doctors likely wouldn't. So, Russell writes a story that would highlight these characteristics and justify the regeneration that we never properly got to see on TV. Russell also attempts to justify the various media spinoffs (comics, cd audios, fan films, etc.) as alternate universes rather than tie them into a secure, single timeline. The idea to accomplish this is that something has happened to cause ruptures across the multiverse and allowed a hideous time-eating lamprey to turn the multiverse into chaos soup. The justification for this seems to be the existence of a Human-Lamprey hybrid (never mind the impossibility of species from different worlds or realities breeding), and the accidental discovery by an Earth scientist of a special chemical reaction that will open the pathways for the evil lamprey to travel. Or something like that. It's not entirely clear. Instead of trying to follow all the various alternative Doctors and their attempts to track down the problem, Russell concentrates on three, with three versions of Mel quite different from each other (which makes one alternate Doctor mistaking the wrong Mel something of a plot hole). At the heart of this is rather standard Doctor Who fare, though. An evil creature from another dimension with god-like powers that "eats" time has got loose and must be put back into its cage. One can give it a new body, but it's still pretty much the same thing as in dozens of other Doctor Who stories across the media. The villain, therefore, is not particularly compelling, since its motivation is basically nutrition. In the end, "Spiral Scratch" is a noble effort, but deeply flawed.

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