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Why is Steven constantly overlooked?

By:Michael Baxter, Coalville, Leicestershire, UK
Date:Friday 11 October 2002
Rating:   5

This is a quite well-written book, faithfully sticking to the television story, and I found it fairly enjoyable, such as it is. I'll say at once, and this is of course no reflection at all on the author, who had no hand in choosing the basis for this story, that I have no great liking for historical stories injected with science fiction elements: these two story types are best done individually, in my opinion. I'm sure there must be enough interesting characters and events attached to 1066 or thereabouts with which to create an excellent pure historical, and especially a Hartnell historical. The character of the Monk, skilfully conveyed by the author, touches on another of my pet aversions: the Time Lords, as they were later designated. Hartnell's Doctor, the mysterious wanderer, the onlooker and observer, was by far the best interpretation of the character, with his beloved TARDIS and unquenchable thirst for knowledge. The introduction of the Monk, skilfully played on television by the late Peter Butterworth, somehow lessens the Doctor - the mischievous fellow would have come across far better as an actual clergyman of the eleventh century, either crooked or straight as the story required. The Monk's TARDIS I found an even more ghastly innovation: it marked the beginning of time and space travel being designated within the series as rather more commonplace, less the exclusive province of our hero, and less of the wonder it was in the eyes of the early companions. In the context of the latter I come to a criticism of the book itself (yes, I have digressed, I know): why did the author, in common with those producing the TV series at the time, fail to provide more background for Steven, the new time traveller? The novel was the ideal opportunity, even if only via a couple of paragraphs, to redress the balance regarding this constantly overlooked character, but all we get is his usual classification as a replacement, and less satisfactory, Ian Chesterton: the change of male companion is over, as it were, let's try and forget it's happened by hurrying on with the story. Steven, as a twenty-fifth century astronaut, had a potentially far more interesting background than a 1960's teacher. Sadly, the scriptwriters at the time, this author, and others since have failed to recognise this and have consistently deprived Steven Taylor of the depth of character I feel he could have had. Much appreciated, however, was the author's attempt at the beginning of this book to recap relevant events from the close of the previous story, which at least expanded Steven's introduction to some extent!

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