Doctor Who
Sometime Never...

Author: Justin Richards
BBC Books
RRP £5.99, US $6.95, Cdn $8.99
ISBN 0 563 48611 2
Available now

The Council of Eight have painstakingly mapped out every moment in history. They take drastic measures to ensure that it follows their predicted path, dispatching hideous ape-like creatures to nudge events in the "correct" direction. For their scheme to work, they need to control or destroy the rogue element known as the Doctor...

The BBC's Eighth Doctor novels are a bit like The X-Files used to be, in that every now and then we get a "mythology" episode: a book that tackles the wider, over-arching themes of the series and pushes the story arc forward. Previous novels of this nature include The Adventuress of Henrietta Street and Time Zero, and they tend to involve the introduction of new characters and concepts, as well as the return and/or departure of old ones.

I cannot be much more specific about what transpires in Sometime Never... without spoiling the plot for you, but what I can say is that we finally get to meet Sabbath's superiors, a group of crystalline vortex-dwelling aliens called the Council of Eight. We also discover, at long last, why these beings have strived to reduce the multiverse to a single unequivocal timeline. Revelations about the Council's machinations and the catastrophic consequences of their confrontation with the Doctor are all very satisfying. These revelations tie into aspects of several previous novels, such as the gemstones in Timeless, the possible deaths of former companions in Bullet Time, Heritage and Wolfsbane, and the removal and restoration of the Doctor's diseased heart in The Adventuress of Henrietta Street and Camera Obscura.

However, the temporary re-introduction of a certain popular character from an earlier book seems rather pointless to me, and doesn't do that character any justice (sorry to be so vague, but it really would ruin the story if I were to say more).

As in the author's earlier Time Zero, there is some discussion of quantum theory and Schrödinger's cat, which is entirely appropriate since in many ways this novel finishes off what the earlier one started. Richards also throws in additional brain-straining theories about potential energy and mathematical fractals. I had to read some paragraphs two or three times to try and get my head around them!

Despite my reservations about the treatment of a certain character, this book successfully brings a sense of closure to several long-running narrative threads of the Eighth Doctor's adventures.

Richard McGinlay

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