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Reviews for Timewyrm: Revelation

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By:Liz, Cambridge, England.
Date:Tuesday 12 October 2004
Rating:   9

I read this novel several years ago and still vividly remember the plot. Some of the scenes (a quiet English village on the moon; the literal dance with death and Christmas in a psychic church) are just unforgettable. Weird, surreal, haunting ... I highly recommend it!

Worst Doctor Who Novel Ever Published.

By:Mike McGovern, Edmonton, Alberta
Date:Tuesday 7 February 2006
Rating:   1

This is the novel that ruined Doctor Who. It was the most horrid, depressing thing I had ever seen when it was first published in '92. I cannot describe what this did to my young, happy mind. Truly weird and truly unpleasant.

This novel established my firm hatred of Paul Cornell's work. Apparently it was his first novel, and it was partly responsible for my leaving Doctor Who fandom for a time. I came back, thankfully, when it became clear that later writers like Gareth Roberts were beginning to cheer things up again. But it was a long, hard wait.

Revelation is a story obsessed with loss, sadness and death. The first quarter of the book is interesting enough, with the Doctor and Ace arriving in the small English town, and a "what's going on" mystery is established. Then Ace runs through some bushes and finds herself on the moon' surface, and things just sort of fall apart from there, becoming really, really strange, confusing and meaningless, twisted and sad.

All semblence of plot and intrigue simply disappear, to be replaced with oodles and oodles of the Doctor doing strange, mystic stuff that seems to mean nothing. A Church is snatched off Earth and carried to the moon by an alien power, Ace is drawn into what appears to be Hell, and the Doctor becomes a shadowy, haunted figure of hidden, nostalgic torments. Cornell lovingly evokes all sorts of dark adult resentments about childhood, and then explores them in all their disturbing, Freudian glory.

Bullies and bullets. Machine guns and roses. Punky, irritating, tragic and bleak.

For no apparent reason, Ace finds herself back in her hometown of Perivale, going to bars, trying to pick up guys, lounging around with her backward street-girl friends. I do not have the words to describe how much I loathe seeing things like this in Doctor Who.

The Doctor Who series I grew up with took me to fantastic, wonderous places of scientific mystery and adventure. No swearing. No irritating street-talk. No sex (thankfully.) This stupid book changed all that, and I will never forgive Paul Cornell for opening the door to this disgusting trash writing in my favorite series.

I was thirteen when I first read this book, and the punky weirdness of it all depressed me so much that I quit reading around page 80. It was two whole years before I finally plucked up the nerve to finish the dratted thing. Ugh. What a long, useless haul.

Unfortunately, this so-called novel set the tone for much of what was to come for quite some time. In search of light and hope in my fiction, I actually became *gasp* a Star Trek fan for several years. I am so ashamed. All because of this moronic novel. When it became clear that Star Trek was a lost cause, I began to look at Doctor Who again, and recieved a pleasant surprise. Around 1997, cheerful, brilliant Doctor Who stories were beginning to reappear. No more Paul Cornell! Hurray!

Revelation is beyond failure. It is vile and viperish. I hate it with every particle in my being. I lack the imagination to visualize what state of mind is necessary to write this piece of gutter trash. Avoid, avoid, and once again, avoid!

Will Forever Divide Opinion

By:James, Melbourne
Date:Friday 27 April 2007
Rating:   6

As you can see, this book provokes extreme reactions. The book is VERY pretentious and laid the way for all the "high-concept Who" that followed (The Ancestor Cell etc.)
I read it quite recently and what got me most was Cornell's ability to surprise, especially given I knew that tons of Who fiction would follow this. There really are lots of twists and turns to this story, and most of them make sense if you can swallow the basic premise.
So, what is this premise? Well, the Doctor has been pursuing the timewyrm, an entity that messes up time and is supposed to someday destroy Gallifrey. The timewyrm has set a trap for the Doctor involving Ace's paradoxical death and his own... past?
You see, whilst the timewyrm's trap is ostensibly set in a fake village on the Moon, most of this story takes place in the Doctor's head. It's actually rather cleverly described - all of the Doctor's incarnation's (except the 6th - he still sucked at this point) show up, though they are mainly described in terms of archetypes (e.g. "the wise librarian").
If you read past this book, you'd become familiar with the whole "Doctor manipulates Ace for the greater good". But at this point, it was all contraversial and I think there'll be many that dislike it. At one point, the Doctor begs for his life with "Take Ace, not me". Yeah.
So, what you have is a novel that's bursting with ideas. The problem is that it often feels episodic and bitty. Oh, and very pretentious.
And amongst these bits, there's something for everyone. I personally liked the psychic church and the bit where Ace reads "Ace, duck" in a copy of NME, which saves her from being shot. At the end, they go back and put that message in NME.
Special mention goes to the characterisation of the Timewyrm. For once, I felt that the Doctor was up against a scary villain. The Timewyrm is basically a sentient computer virus - very powerful, but not entirely in control of herself. She warps everything she touches but is also changed by the guises she adopts and the things she warps. Paul Cornell's writing is punchy, clever and "televisual" - every paragraph ends on a punchline.
But there is a lot of stupid stuff. The 5th Doctor being tied to a tree, saying "I didn't want to go to war, I just wanted to drink tea and play cricket!" Ace's random deviation into a Perivale dystopia. And the fake people on the moon too.
So, it's very pretentious and there'll be bits you'll love and hate.
But one thing that everyone will agree with; none of this high concept stuff has made it into the new series. For better or worse, Russel T Davis has rejected it in favour of witty, character-driven fun. Timewyrm and all it's timewyrmlets are preserved as a Who that never was.

Timewyrm: Revelation - OUCH!

By:Mark List, Midland, United States
Date:Thursday 30 July 2009
Rating:   1

I don't know how to put this nicely, but this book was literally painful to read.

It was so dis-jointed it seemed like a toddler wrote the book. The scenes made absolutely no sense and it was on page 100 that you had the first glimmer of what was really going on.

It was on page 170ish that it got clearer (if you can call it that).

There seemed to be no plot, no sense of the story going anywhere - nothing.

I do not understand why this book commands the prices it gets on line. I can just say I am glad I got this for $4.00 at a used bookstore. Even that was even overpaying.

The Timewyrm series had great potential, but having 4 books written by 4 different authors was a terrible idea, at least in this case.

I really don't think I can accurately describe how awful this book really was.

If you aren't someone who wants a complete collection of the Doctor Who books I would highly recommend avoiding this book.

Weird Just for the Sake of It

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 3 August 2022
Rating:   5

Paul Cornell's first novel is, to put it bluntly, a bit of a mess. At least this is the first of the four Timewyrm novels in which the Timewyrm actually has significance to the plot. So, Cornell got the brief to write the Grande Finale of the Timewyrm series. He decided on what amounts to a pitched battle in fantasy space, just as in "The Deadly Assassin" and "The Ultimate Foe," except that in this novel fantasy space is not the Matrix, but the Doctor's subconscious. The change in source really makes no difference because the way the story moves is mostly the same. The villain has control of fantasy space and throws all kinds of guilt trip scenarios at The Doctor to break him down. Problem #1 for me emerges when Cornell decides that outer reality should be almost as weird as fantasy space. Thus, we get a psychic church, the powers of which are very poorly explained. Yes, a psychic church, a building that talks. What is the point of that? How does the fact of a talking church contribute to the plot in any way that a talking person could not do? These questions never get answered. Cornell does not realize that uncanny nature of fantasy space works only if there is a solid reality space, a normal that is very normal, to work as contrast. If there is no functional difference between fantasy and reality, then any dichotomy the writer tries to make fails. Problem #2 is what turns out to be typical in Cornell's Doctor Who writing: the villain is super-powerful, godlike, able to take over people and manipulate their behavior at will, to change reality on a whim, to destroy worlds without any real effort. If the villain is that powerful, why does it bother with all this nonsense of creating fantasy space and elaborate plots, and debating with companions, and so on? Problem #3 is the HUGE amount of fan-candy flung about in the novel, references to all sorts of Doctor Who esoterica without much need for any of it to be there. To give Cornell some credit, he knows how to build to cliff hangers. He also does well in laying out the pieces of the plot early in places where he can pick them up again as needed, thus giving the story a general thread the holds all the wild elements and keeps them from flying off entirely. Additionally, Cornell describes all the weird and surprise elements in clear and concrete detail, so that the reader is not confused about picturing the scene. My final assessment is that Cornell in this novel is trying too hard to impress.

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