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Adventures of the 3rd Doctor #31

Doctor Who: Harvest of Time

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One of science fiction's most acclaimed authors delivers a spectacular original novel in the Doctor Who universe featuring the Third Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee.

"Immediately confounds expectations." - SFX

After billions of years of imprisonment, the vicious Sild have broken out of confinement. From a ruined world at the end of time, they make preparations to conquer the past, with the ultimate goal of rewriting history. But to achieve their aims they will need to enslave an intellect greater than their own...

On Earth, UNIT is called in to investigate a mysterious incident on a North Sea drilling platform. The Doctor believes something is afoot, and no sooner has the investigation begun when something even stranger takes hold: The Brigadier is starting to forget about UNIT's highest-profile prisoner. And he is not alone in his amnesia.

As the Sild invasion begins, the Doctor faces a terrible dilemma. To save the universe, he must save his arch-nemesis... The Master

365 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2013

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About the author

Alastair Reynolds

266 books7,702 followers
I'm Al, I used to be a space scientist, and now I'm a writer, although for a time the two careers ran in parallel. I started off publishing short stories in the British SF magazine Interzone in the early 90s, then eventually branched into novels. I write about a novel a year and try to write a few short stories as well. Some of my books and stories are set in a consistent future named after Revelation Space, the first novel, but I've done a lot of other things as well and I like to keep things fresh between books.

I was born in Wales, but raised in Cornwall, and then spent time in the north of England and Scotland. I moved to the Netherlands to continue my science career and stayed there for a very long time, before eventually returning to Wales.

In my spare time I am a very keen runner, and I also enjoying hill-walking, birdwatching, horse-riding, guitar and model-making. I also dabble with paints now and then. I met my wife in the Netherlands through a mutual interest in climbing and we married back in Wales. We live surrounded by hills, woods and wildlife, and not too much excitement.

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Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews766 followers
November 19, 2017
At the end of chapter one of Harvest of Time an alien entity has taken possession of a poor beachcomber, evicting the original personality in the process. The first thing the alien possessed beachcomber has to say is

"I am Sild and I must find the one. Find the one called the Master".

After reading this line, this popped into my head:
“Dumdedum dumdedum dumdedum dumdedum dumdedum ooo-weee-ooooooooo eee-yoo-ooooooooo...!!!”

OK, that was pathetic but I had to get that out of my system. Although I have been a Doctor Who fan for years this is the first DW novel I have ever read. The reason is that I have concurrently been a sci-fi reader for years and there are ample sci-fi novels to read written by legends like Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov I did not feel a need to read novels based on a sci-fi tv show written by unknown writers. In all fairness some of these are probably very good but I would rather read books based on original concepts by the authors. Having said that, I am always happy to make exceptions, especially when we have well established sf writers deigning to write Doctor Who novels. There are three such novels that I know of: Harvest of time by Alastair Reynolds, Doctor Who - The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter, and Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock. I will probably pick up the Baxter book soon, not so sure about the Moorcock one as reviews are overwhelmingly negative.

Harvest of time is based on the Third Doctor played with aplomb in the early 70s by Jon Pertwee before he regenerated into Tom Baker and Worzel Gummidge (almost simultaneously). The Third Doctor (or “Three” as us Whovians call him) happen to be Alastair Reynolds’ favorite incarnation of the eponymous Time Lord, fans of the show often have a “My Doctor”, in my case I like all of them, but some more than others (bowties, scarves and recorders are cool).

The Third Doctor

The story is set mainly in the UK, in the early seventies (year not specified). Evil parasitic aliens called Sild are invading Earth and also searching for The Master (evil time lord portrayed by Roger Delgado in the 70s) who is incarcerated in a maximum security prison. At this time The Doctor is stuck on Earth, working for (or with) UNIT alongside Jo Grant, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and other familiar characters.

As a fan of Alastair Reynolds’ sf novels it is interesting to read his take on the Whoniverse. His books tend to be epic space operas like the Revelation Space series that span millions of years featuring rises and falls of civilizations, and they tend to be fairly lengthy (around 600 pages or more). There is an element of epic time span in Harvest of time also but the spanning seems to be on a much smaller scale thanks to the time travelling TARDIS, an almost magical spaceship that you would never find in a regular Alastair Reynolds novel. Normally he leans more toward hard sf and avoids inclusion of FTL drives, time machines and other sci-fi handwaviums. You cannot do that with Doctor Who which is basically science fantasy and practically anything goes. With that kind of loose framework Reynolds pretty much jettisons the rigidity of real world science, let his hair down and has a field day with all kinds of crazy inventions and technobabbles.

Harvest of time does not read like a typical Reynolds book, it is very fast paced, light in tone and rather short (around 360 pages). The 70s setting is also atypical of the author, he does such a convincing job here that I suspect that he can turn his hands to writing contemporary thrillers if he wanted to. What is characteristic of Reynolds’ work is the writing which is excellent, not so much for literary value as for the quality of story telling. For a thumping good read he is one of the best working in the genre today. The humour in this book is much more prevalent than in his other novels. He is clearly having fun writing about the quirks of the characters he knows and loves so well, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Particularly well written is the uneasy friendship between The Doctor and The Master, the scenes where they are forced by circumstances to work together and bicker like an old married couple is just wonderful.

I think fans of “Classic Who” will enjoy the hell out of this book, fans of “Nu Who” will probably like it too. As for the rest of the world I have no idea, I don’t understand people who don’t like Doctor Who.
Tardis line
Note: The only other Doctor Who book I read (so far) is Shada, based on Douglas Adams' script. Quite hilarious in parts but also a proper DW adventure (not a spoof).
Profile Image for F.R..
Author 29 books197 followers
April 21, 2015
Barry Letts (producer of 1970s Doctor Who) and Jon Pertwee (its star) are sat in the canteen at BBC television centre. It is about 4.30 on a wet Wednesday afternoon in 1971.

BL: So, Jon, what did you make of the script?
JP: The script? Oh yes, this ‘Harvest of Time’ thingy. I very much enjoyed it, old chap.
BL: Excellent! Excellent! I think its top quality writing.
JP: Very much so. Very much so. I just have…
BL: Yes, Jon?
JP: Well perhaps one or two minor concerns.
BL: Oh yes? Well, please do share.
JP: Thank you. These Sild creatures, little robotic crabs with tiny pilots on the back who cramp onto people’s necks and take control of them.
BL: Fascinating creatures, Jon.
JP: Oh absolutely, absolutely. It’s just that the script has thousands of them invading these shores and I was just wondering, how on Earth are we going to do that?
BL: I’m glad you asked, Jon. I’ve already got the special effects bods working on in it.
JP: And they’re confident they can create this invading swarm?
BL: Well, they’re confident they can create one, and we’ll just make it work with stop motion and film it in front of a green screen.
JP: Won’t that leave a blue line around it?
BL: No more than any other of our monsters, Jon, and besides no one really notices that. Suspension of disbelief and all that.
JP: Yes, I suppose so. And the thousands of others?
BL: Well, obviously we don’t have the budget or time to animate them all.
JP: Of course not.
BL: So we’ll just make a small number of them and get one of the crew to shake them around on a tray to give the illusion of movement.
JP: Ha! You really are a maestro, Barry.
BL: Thank you, Jon.
JP: Later in the script there’s an alien creature who is made entirely of water?
BL: Man in a suit, Jon. Works every time.
JP: Wonderful! Now what about this Praxillon world? It reads like a truly impressive place written down.
BL: Oh absolutely. But there’s no alien world we can’t create in television centre. Remember the Zarbi on the planet Vortis?
JP: No, was I in that one?
BL: No that was Bill, Jon, but it was very impressive. My point is that even this civilisation of Praxillon, a nightmare world which we see at two different points of time, one far more decayed than other. A place ruled over by an ancient queen, where most of the population are sentient worms. I’m just saying that everything is achievable here at the good old BBC. All we need is some matte back drops, some interesting lighting and a few pipe cleaners and Bob’s your uncle.
JP: Excellent! I look forward to it.
BL: Me too!

I’ve never read any Alastair Reynolds before, but I know his reputation as a science fiction writer with a great belief in the rigidity of science. He isn’t one prone to flights of fancy like faster than light travel, or transporters, he’s a science fiction author who makes actual science paramount. As such it’s interesting that he has such an attraction to the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who, as even though this is The Doctor most obviously as a man of science, most of the science on display here is absolutely flipping mad. Try it at home, kids, reversing the polarity of the neutron flow really isn’t the solution to every problem thrown at you. So how does Reynolds get around these problems? Well, by taking off his hard sci-fi hat and putting on a more devilish, jaunty cap and coming up with a fantasy novel in the world of Doctor Who.

Set on a distant planet in the far future, set aboard an oil rig, set in UNIT HQ, Reynolds takes the language, concerns and aesthetic of the Pertwee era. We’re in the early seventies here (although Reynolds does throw a wink at the UNIT dating controversy, by having a bus driver be aware of Clint Eastwood’s 1985 ‘Pale Rider’), the whole glam world of the Third Doctor is captured perfectly. Of course there’s Bessie and the Tardis (which at this point the Doctor can’t work) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. It even hammers home environmental concerns, which is an incredibly Third Doctor thing to do. Clearly Reynolds is fond of these characters and captures The Doctor and Jo beautifully, but it’s Roger Delgado’s incarnation of The Master that Reynolds has truly fallen in love with. He adores him, revels every line of dialogue he gives him and clearly worships the whole sinister camp of the most rogue Time Lord of them all. If you know Roger Delgado’s Master, then you understand what a wonderful character he is: definitely one to become madly infatuated with. And if ever Reynolds wants a hobby, a spin-off of Master books would be a fantastic way for him to spend his time.

‘Harvest in Time’ is a wonderfully entertaining read which just keeps building and building, and uses the source material to create worlds and panoramas the source material could never have managed even in its most ambition fever dreams.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,211 reviews111 followers
February 25, 2014
When I first heard that Alastair Reynolds was writing a Doctor Who tie-in novel, I was equal part curious and skeptical.

After reading Stephen Baxter's Second Doctor tie-in, I wasn't sure the melding of a big-name genre writer with the universe of Doctor Who could be very successful.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised that within twenty pages of Reynolds' The Harvest of Time that not only had he captured the spirit of the Jon Pertwee era on the printed page, but that I was also enjoying the book immensely.

Set at the height of the Pertwee era, The Harvest of Time takes place before the on-screen events of "The Sea Devils" and finds the Doctor and UNIT trying to fend off an alien invasion brought about by the Master. But instead of the season eight cliche of the Master bringing a group of aliens to Earth and rapidly losing control of the situation, Reynolds makes this alien invasion one unintentionally triggered by the Master. Seems that our favorite Time Lord villain was sending out a signal to himself across the timelines to help his present self escape his Earthly prison. However, his signal is picked up by an alien race who has already destroyed one world and has now set its sights on Earth and gaining the Master as part of their nefarious plot.

Harvest of Time feels like a story that could have been made during third Doctor's tenure -- assuming they had the budget and special effects technology that help bring the new series to life on our screens. All of the UNIT-era regulars are on hand and it's clear from Reynolds use of them that he is not only a fan of classic Who but also a fan of the Pertwee era. And while this novel feels like it could easily take place during that era, it still has a scope and scale that simply couldn't or wouldn't work as well on our TV screens. Examining the nature of time and the implications of time travel, the story is one of the most entertaining novels -- tie-in or otherwise -- that I've read this year.

It even made me year to dust off some of my old third Doctor era DVDs and give them a viewing (again). It also made me want to run out and read more of Reynolds' non-Who offerings.

Easily the best of the big name genre author tie-in novels, The Harvest of Time gives me hope that the editors of this line would be willing to try this experiment again with some other more recognized authors. And hope that Reynolds might have another Doctor Who story in him because if he does, this is one fan who'd love a chance to read it.
Profile Image for Otherwyrld.
570 reviews52 followers
February 11, 2015
This was not only a good book, but a good Doctor Who book. It is set in the era of the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo Grant, and also features UNIT in its heyday, and has the Master as one of the antagonists.

Firstly the characters - they were all very well drawn, to the point that I could actually hear the dialogue between the Doctor and the Master in my head in the actors voices, not something that always happens for me. Jo Grant and UNIT all get their chance to shine as well. The main guest character is Edwina McCrimmon (nice touch making her a possible descendent of Jamie McCrimmon, a Second Doctor companion), and it's nice to have a no-nonsense woman working and leading in a man's world, especially in one such as the oil industry in the 1970s.

The plot starts out rather similar to the novelisation of Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster that I read recently, with a story about missing oil rigs in the North Sea, which was a little unfortunate because I thought it was a retread of that story. However, the quality rises markedly when the Doctor and the Master take a trip to the end of time to try and find out what is going on. There they find an

There are some massive time loops (in the range of billions of years) and huge paradoxes throughout this part of the story (the John Sims version of the Master is killed?), but this is Doctor Who after all, so you should expect wibbly wobbly timey wimey things to happen. Just don't think about it too much or you brain might explode. The author is well known for writing very ambitious and big hard SF stories, so he is well suited for writing this story.

It's clear that the author has a lot of affection for Doctor Who in general and for this era of Doctor Who in particular, because the book is a lot of fun to read. Edwina's story is particularly satisfying, tied up as it is with the fulfilment of childhood dreams and how one person can make a difference.

A very satisfying book.

Profile Image for Philip.
Author 44 books39 followers
October 8, 2019
Having finished Harvest of Time, I feel about it the same way as I do about Stephen Baxter's Doctor Who - The Wheel of Ice -- it's such an entertaining and fun story in its own right that it would be churlish to criticise it for not being something else. Nonetheless, I wish the hardback Doctor Who range as a whole was encouraging the august authors it's attracting to be a bit more adventurous with the novels they write.

There's much to love in Harvest of Time. In particular, Reynolds excels at characterisation -- the UNIT characters, the Brigadier, Yates and Benton, are a bit superficial, but the Doctor, Jo Grant and especially the Master are given a depth we've rarely seen before. Reynolds' original character Eddie McCrimmon, the primary non-regular, is also a rounded and convincing human person. Jo gets to be resourceful, intelligent and assertive in a way which the character was clearly intended to be but rarely managed onscreen, but it's as a study of the Doctor's and the Master's relationship that the book excels.

It's clear that Reynolds really knows his stuff here, and I'd call this the best Master novel to date.

The Doctor's primary plotline takes him to the extreme future, where a secret from Gallifrey's past has resurfaced. I liked this segment, thought it was clever and inventive, though the setting is rather by-the-numbers. The 1970s UNIT plotline, by contrast, is one long alien-invasion cliche with a side-dish of base under siege (the oil rig), and a strangely unself-aware humourlessness even in scenes where

The prose is effective, the ideas clever enough, but neither sparkles. The plot mostly hangs together, although the end goes a bit handwavey with talk of chaos theory and the butterfly effect. There's nothing that could conceivably be called experimental, and while I've not read Reynolds' other work the impression I get is that this is rather more conservative all around.

Thoroughly recommended as a fun traditional story, though. I really enjoyed it, and you certainly shouldn't skip it if you're a fan of the Master.
Profile Image for Mick.
131 reviews12 followers
March 13, 2015
Alastair Reynolds is a big name in science fiction. One of the biggest, in fact. He's earned a reputation for "hard" science fiction, with a high degree of scientific accuracy and detail. So when I heard that he was writing a Doctor Who book - the latest in a series featuring high-profile authors such as Dan Abnett, Jenny Colgan, and Stephen Baxter - I wondered how his style would fit the decidedly fantastic bent of the show.

Wisely, Reynolds has gone for an action packed and character-heavy story set in my favourite era of Doctor Who's history, the Third Doctor's exile to Earth. Reynolds easily captures the voices of familiar characters such as Pertwee's Doctor, The Brigadier, Jo Grant, Mike Yates, Sgt Benson and The Master. The story, which begins as a stock alien invasion plot from the era featuring mysterious attacks on North Sea oil platforms and a siege of the prison containing UNIT's number one prisoner (it's very The Sea Devils) grows in the telling, and encompasses multiple far future settings.

The third act, which sees The Master and The Doctor (the dialogue between these two is spot on, and one of the novel's highlights) travel to the far future in violation of the Time Lord's judgement while Jo Grant leads UNIT forces against the crab-like alien Sild, builds to a brilliant conclusion.

This is an excellent Doctor Who story from an excellent science fiction writer. I'm not sure how Harvest of Time will appeal to non-fans, but it's easy enough to read and Reynolds makes it clear enough who these characters are that anyone even vaguely aware of Doctor Who should be able to follow it.
Profile Image for Claudia.
947 reviews524 followers
February 24, 2016
Time travel stories were never exactly my thing, but this one changed that. It is, of course, the merit of Reynolds’ incredible writing - exactly the reason for which I started this book. He can transform any subject into magic words, as far as I’m concerned.

It is different than his usual works, which are hard sci-fi space operas. This one is very fast paced with minimum descriptions – of the worlds or technologies - just highly entertaining and also amusing - the dialogues between The Doctor and The Master are simply delicious. And even if you’re not a fan of Dr Who TV series (such as my case) you’ll definitely enjoy this story to the max. Beside the alien invasion on Earth, there is much more to it: the omnipresent TARDIS, Doctor’s travelling police booth (which I always found to be silly, but here is just perfectly integrated) taking us on voyages into other worlds /times never even dreamt of, other species and some outstanding gadgets, not to mention the paradoxes of time travel, plus lots and lots of action and turnabouts.

Also, I very much appreciated the environmental issue in the epilogue:

“We are sucking a resource out of the Earth that exists in a finite, non-renewable quantity – it cannot go on forever. But even if it could, we would still need to change our game. Our dependence on fossil fuels cannot continue indefinitely. We are polluting our planet, warming our atmosphere, and worst of all we are doing so with dreadful inefficiency! […] I’ve seen a world drained of its resources, literally sucked dry. A dry and barren rock, all but lifeless. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can make the right choices, starting here and now. We can choose our own future.”

That’s one of the things I love about sci-fi: no matter how improbable/impossible/incredible things may be presented, there’s always something in it that makes you ponder your own reality…

Highly, highly recommended.
Profile Image for Robert.
816 reviews44 followers
November 10, 2021
I attended a book signing for this work, at Toppings, a delightful independent bookstore in Bath, that hosts many events of this nature.

Reynolds turned out to be a very down-to-earth, friendly and approachable bloke, though not a great (nor terrible) live reader. He talked about how he came to write this book, his Who-fan status and various other topics. He also answered many audience questions before signing our books - drawing a Tardis in them, too!


See the complete review here:

Oh look; I only talk about the author here - all the book stuff is over with the competition!
Profile Image for Liviania.
957 reviews63 followers
January 20, 2014
I wanted to read HARVEST OF TIME, because terrible dick-shaped spaceship cover aside, it promised a team-up between the Doctor and the Master, his enemy and former friend. I love their dynamic on the show and I was eager for more - especially since I'm familiar with Alastair Reynolds' terrific space operas.

Reynolds definitely takes advantage of the fact books don't have a special effects budget. There are oil rigs and bits of ocean disappearing, a large-scale crystalline crab invasion, and more. Nor is the action limited to Earth.

The Doctor in HARVEST OF TIME is the third Doctor, accompanied by his companion Jo Grant. I loved their relationship, as well as Jo on her own. She's got her own ideas about the right course of action and isn't afraid to get involved when the Doctor isn't available. I also liked Eddie, a woman caught between her company's secrets, the military, and another branch of the military. She's smart and determined, two things I love in any character.

While I enjoyed HARVEST OF TIME, the ending drags quite a bit. It cuts between two groups of characters, and the groups definitely don't have an equal amount to do. Certain scenes at the climax are glacial when they should be propelling the action forward. I did enjoy the characters and the promise of resolution enough to push through. And the mysteries at the beginning of the novel are quite compelling.

HARVEST OF TIME isn't a perfect novel, and definitely not the best choice for someone unfamiliar with Doctor Who, but it is a fun novel for series fans. Reynolds does not shy away from exploring the relationship between the Doctor and the Master, and that is how I was drawn to the book after all.
Profile Image for Kribu.
510 reviews52 followers
June 28, 2013
A thoroughly enjoyable, well-crafted Third Doctor story.

Harvest of Time would have felt right at home during season 8 or 9, featuring the Master at his charming (and ruthless) best, the UNIT capable and familiar, Jo enthusiastic and willing to take initiative. Come to think of it, I have to say in many ways the Doctor really came off as the weaker character here, compared to the Master, although it fit in with the show - and the Master/Doctor relationship, the central point of the book (in addition to the action-and-time-travel-oriented plot) was portrayed beautifully.

I think my only complaint is really that there was a bit too much Doctor/Master and far too little Doctor/Jo, but that's an issue of personal preference (and I absolutely adored Roger Delgado's Master, so it's not truly an issue either). Another complaint might be that the novel was a little too close to Three's era as we saw it on TV (just with much better special effects, obviously), with no risk-taking at all, but since it is my absolute favourite Doctor Who era, I'm really quite happy with that.
Profile Image for Daniel Kukwa.
3,941 reviews86 followers
June 6, 2013
This fits seamless into the heart of the Pertwee era. The writing is superb, the relationship between the Doctor & the Master is exquisitely conveyed, and UNIT (Jo Grant in particular) get to show off some serious military action-adventure moves. My only caveat is that, by the final third of this novel, I was getting a little bored of the military action-adventure, and wanting to get back to the more engrossing, epic SF invovling the Doctor & the Master. This novel flies at a lightning pace, and you'll be awed by the time it reaches its conclusion.
Profile Image for Natira.
586 reviews20 followers
January 1, 2018
Irgendetwas passiert in der Zukunft, was sich durch Zeitverwerfungen auf der Erde bemerkbar macht; außerdem passieren merkwürdige Dinge am bzw. im Meer, Wasser, dass aus klarem Himmel wie aus einer Schleuse in das Meer stürzt, merkwürdige metallische Krabben, die an Land gehen und zudem eine sich ausbreitende Amnesie (nicht nur) bei UNIT-Mitgliedern. Natürlich interessieren sich Three, Jo und Unit hierfür.

Ich fand die Ära von Jon Pertwee sehr gut getroffen und hatte häufig nicht nur die Stimmen im Ohr, sondern auch die Darsteller - besonders Pertwee und Delgado mit ihrer Haltung oder ihren Bewegungen - vor Augen. Es gibt ein Wiedersehen mit Jo Grant, Cpt. Yates, Sergant Benson und natürlich bleibt auch Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart nicht außen vor. Die Story müsste nach "Demon" spielen und - UNIT - enthält natürlich auch militärische Operationen, daneben aber auch die "Ermittlungen und Abenteuer" - in Ermangelung anderer Worte - des Doctors garniert mit Zeitverwerfungen und daraus resultierenden Problemen. Die Szenen mit Doctor und Master zeigen mehr von ihrer Beziehung * und ich mochte, wie Jo in die Story integriert wurde.

Dieser Roman hat mir einen guten Teil von Silvester und den Morgen von Neujahr vertrieben; ich fand ihn sehr fesselnd und habe ihn kaum aus der Hand gelegt. Diese Story hätten einen großartigen Mehrteiler ergeben (passendes Budget vorausgesetzt)!

Profile Image for Steve.
917 reviews134 followers
April 23, 2015
This book was everything I was hoping for in terms of extended in-flight/jet lagged reading to pass the time in a relatively short (less than a week) trip that involved 30+ hours of flight time, plus plenty more airport lounge and taxi time.... Which, of course, is probably not very helpful for most readers, but it easily exceeds the minimum standard for this broad genre....

As a general (and general sci-fi) reader with little-to-no background (or interest) in Doctor Who, I concede that I picked this up because I enjoyed the other, somewhat recent, hardback, celebrity author BBC experiment (written by Stephen Baxter). So, I figured, why not? [Yes, yes, they're also re-writing all of the Jane Austen novels these days, but that's different....] I don't believe I've ever watched an entire episode of the show, and I couldn't name (or identify) most of The Doctors (let alone put them in order or correlate them with their era's sidekicks). So I expect that Doctor Who aficionados will react far more strongly - whether positively or negatively - to much of the content that, for me, came with no baggage.

The story held together, the characters (while tending towards the one-dimensional side of things) were at least marginally interesting, the action generated some suspense and interest, and, as whole, the book helped pass the time in the most delightful way. For a book based on a long-running (or multi-generational), geek-attracting, low budget, sci-fi/time travel British TV show, that's good enough for me....
Profile Image for Adam Stone.
211 reviews5 followers
October 13, 2013
Harvest of Time is a third Doctor and UNIT story featuring the Master. That makes this story very typical of the third Doctor's era, and this novel by acclaimed science-fiction writer Alastair Reynolds reads more like an expanded novelisation of a television story than of a novel in its own right, but that is ok.

That is precisely why this book succeeds because it really does seem like a story that would have worked back then, and is probably just as archetypal a third Doctor story than stories such as The Daemons, The Mind of Evil and The Sea Devils.

The third Doctor is well drawn and is as haughty and condescending as usual; the Master is urbane, witty and deliciously evil; the Brigadier is a proper military man and not just a buffoon in uniform, which he was sometimes portrayed as.

The main difference between the story as presented in this novel is that this could never have been achieved on the budget that the show had in the nineteen seventies.

I had only read one previous book by Alistair Reynolds (Century Rain) and I think that this book is much better with a much tightly plotted storyline, better characterisation and a much more satisfying ending.

This book will be enjoyed by both Doctor Who fans and Alastair Reynolds fans alike as I don’t think that this book is as far removed from his usual books than people believe it is.
Profile Image for Ade Couper.
287 reviews11 followers
June 9, 2013
I have a deep admiration for Alistair Reynolds, who is currently one of the best hard sci-fi writers currently working. I also grew up in the UK in the 1970's & love the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who. So, what happened when Reynolds did Pertwee...?

This is great! Alistair has written a story that feels like it should have been on TV. The plot concerns the Sild, a viscous alien race, who need the Master to help them escape from their prison at the end of time. There are large parts of the story set on oil-rigs & in nuclear reactors- & the people taken over by the Sild are basically zombies in all but name...

Where this really scores for me is the characterisation: I can hear Pertwee & Roger Delgado saying these lines.

Buy this book. If you're "of a certain age", or just love Jon Pertwee era Doctor Who, it will be like 5.15 Saturday night...
Profile Image for Nicholas Whyte.
4,565 reviews176 followers
July 27, 2013
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2141903.html[return][return]This wheeze of getting well-known writers to contribute new Doctor Who books is proving an awfully good adventure. This is an excellent Doctor/Master/Jo story with UNIT in a supporting role, with adventures on oil rigs and a brilliant time paradox which poses an existential threat to the Master, and through him to the universe - very neatly done, and the Doctor is forced to make a crucial choice about his old enemy. Reynolds has caught the spirit fo the Pertwee era and made something new out of it. Strongly recommended both for Who fans and Reynolds fans. (Many of the latter are already in the former category, of course.)
Profile Image for Kate Sherrod.
Author 5 books78 followers
June 8, 2013
Doctor Who doesn't do Alastair Reynolds quite as well as Alastair Reynolds does Doctor Who. But that's all right.

But I'm eager for Alastair Reynolds to go back to doing Alastair Reynolds 8)
Profile Image for Katie Hanna.
Author 6 books106 followers
January 25, 2019
Harvest of Time was a Christmas present from my wonderful big brother, who feeds my Doctor Who obsession even though he does not share it. #A++sibling

And I had such a great time with it!!! I was a teensy bit apprehensive that the author wouldn't be able to capture the "feel" of the show, but I was proven wrong. As a matter of fact, capturing that very specific Whovian essence is what this book does BEST. That wide-eyed wonder, that zaniness, that optimism, darkly tinged with bittersweet realism at times, yet always bouncing back to incurable hope in the end . . . it's all here, from the first page to the last. Ya done good, Alastair Reynolds. Ya done good.

Harvest of Time features the Third Doctor (yep, Classic Who!), Jo Grant, Mike Yates, and the Master, all thrown together on a hair-raising mission to save the Earth from brutal alien domination for, like, the fifty billionth time. There are a whole lot of aliens out there, guys, and their sole raison d'etre is the enslavement of Earth, particularly Great Britain, okay?? Don't question the fundamental realities of the universe. ;-)

Actually, I misspoke: The Master isn't TRYING to save the Earth, he's trying to save his own skin; but sometimes self-interest just happens to line up with the lives of innocent people, dontcha know.

This particular alien invasion was unusually gross, even by Whovian standards, since it involved alien parasites infesting human hosts, using them to kill others, then leaving them for dead . . . so, certainly, stakes were believably high. Notwithstanding the whole "alien of the week" effect, I definitely hated these little beasts by the time all was said and done. I mean, SILVER ROBOT CRABS???? YUCK.

I loved that all the on-Earth action centered on the North Sea and its oil rigs; it was such a vividly bracing and cold and windswept atmosphere. Reynold's descriptions are so colorful!! There was one bit in Chapter Two where he described a rig as "an iron and concrete fist ramming its way out of the grey water, like the great gauntlet of some vast drowning knight," and as soon as I read that, I knew I was in good hands.

And the oil company executive--Edwina "Eddie" McCrimmon--her story left me with my jaw metaphorically on the floor. No spoilers, just . . . wow. Not many authors would devote such time and attention to a middle-aged single woman's character arc, WITHOUT including romance--let alone paint her as such a sympathetic and deep and flawed and admirable character. I am most definitely a fan.

I have to say, I wasn't quite as big a fan of the Doctor himself, in this book. It's not that he wasn't well written, because he was; it's just, I'm not used to seeing such an early incarnation of the Doctor (we're only on the Third here, after all). He still has so much left to learn. Which is totally appropriate, because the Doctor's story is all about growth and learning and change . . . You see, this Doctor is still teetering on the fence of "how much do I really care about the Earth and its people," having to continually reject the temptation to run away and leave us poor humans [including his friends!] to our fates. Like, by the time you get to the Tenth Doctor (my personal favorite), we're WELL past all of that--it's not even a question anymore. But I completely understand how necessary it is to show the early stages, the shaky beginnings of what is now a rock-solid bond.

All I'm saying is, I kept David Tennant's voice on repeat in my head, through all of those [slightly uncomfortable] scenes: "I think you look like giants."

*heart eyes for David because he deserves it*

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, what else? Mostly, Alastair Reynolds is an excellent writer, and this book is both thoroughly enjoyable science fiction and a beautiful tribute to the genius of Doctor Who. I highly recommend it, if you're a fan of either one.

Profile Image for Alexander Popov.
65 reviews43 followers
October 12, 2013
Doctor Who: Harvest of Time is a novel about the third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee between 1970 and 1974. Now, I’ll admit it from the get-go – I’m not a dedicated fan of the TV show. I like it quite a lot, but I haven’t seen a single episode of the old series and I have watched less than two seasons of the new. Some episodes I loved as a child loves, others bored me senseless. OK, it’s out there, whew. Harvest of Time is also a novel by Alastair Reynolds. I love Alastair Reynolds novels. So my thinking was as follows: if I absolutely love the best parts of the show, then a writer whose work has not let me down has a damn good chance of hitting just the right notes with this one.

Well, he did, and I loved it. Harvest of Time could easily have been an on-screen episode (a double one most probably, there is a lot going on); can’t say how well the characters of the Doctor and Jo Grant echo their TV incarnations but it all felt just the right amount of zany. The number of actively used SF tropes scarcely drops out of the absurdly extreme end of the spectrum; the tropes themselves are also extremely absurd, as is only proper. The action oscillates from Earth to planets far away in space and time, there is tons of time travel, plenty of gizmos and gimmicks, the fate of the world and more hangs in the balance, the good guys must battle not one but two ruthless enemies… You only need a writer capable of translating the spirit of the show into good writing, and then you have three hundred pages of light-hearted, mind-bending, cosmic-scale fun.

Not all the show’s idiosyncrasies can be preserved over the transition, of course. Most of the hallmark tics of the characters that are conveyed visually, especially the Doctor’s, had to go; and I think it is the physical quirkiness of the on-screen Time Lords, even more so than their verbal extravagancies, that so often salvage the show from lapsing in monotonicity. Eccleston and Tenant are both great in this respect, I imagine Pertwee had his arsenal as well. The good news is Reynolds does a decent job of compensating through witty dialogue. It’s not enough to turn character into a major strength of the story, but I think it should suffice to keep the fans happy. Especially successful is the juxtaposition of the Doctor and his life-long enemy and friend the Master – a genius Time Lord who, for some reason, has it in his bonnet that being the avatar of chaos is such a cool thing (for those like me who need some explanation of the mythos). Character development is not in focus either, but nor is it in the show where it mostly emerges as a side-effect. Here this is slightly awkward for the uninitiated readers, as characters such as Jo Grant never come off as more than plot-furthering agents. But hey, what a plot!

Another thing that inevitably feels different is the sense of setting. Imagination almost always trumps special effects, even when we’re talking cinema. Doctor Who has a history of being slightly silly in that respect, which I think is often a plus for it. In a book though, the decors all feel somewhat more realistic, so that particular aspect of the show is definitely toned down. Mind you, the central ideas of the novel are just as goofy and over-the-top as one would expect, and I loved them from beginning to end (“I will grant you this. You have always had an idiotic attachment to style.”). The science, unsurprisingly, is of the “chronosynclastic infundibulum” kind. It is occasionally invoked with respectable phrases such as “neutrino emissions”, etc., but mostly it is masked under long streams of semi-invented geek talk they only teach in the Time Lords academy. Again, the Doctor-Master interactions are pretty fun when it comes to bickering how best to configure some arcane gadget.

As the TV show, Harvest of Time is very meta. It’s inevitable, once you remove all restrictions to what can possibly happen in the fictional universe. The unique way goofy and awesome are often combined in the show (and here) is a winner on its own, but I’ve always seen this approach to tinkering with SF ideas as a deeper comment on the genre itself. On the one hand, going in that end of the plausibility spectrum allows the writers to be very honest about certain decisions they make:

”Never mind. If the driver had learned one thing in his military career, it was that there were some things you just weren’t meant to ask too many questions about,”

thinks a random soldier in the novel. Swap the military semantic field with that of science fiction readers, and you have much of the modus operandi assumed by the writers.

“When the Vortex did at last release the TARDIS, it was with another series of lurching jolts and bumps.”

The show, and the book, move in jolts and bumps – they have so much territory to cover and they can’t waste time to carefully color between the lines. It’s no small sacrifice, especially in this genre where, I’d argue, suspension of disbelief can be even frailer than in mainstream fiction.

On the other hand, the perks! Once the mind is habituated enough to let go of those time paradoxes and just flow, well, then it can be engaged in all sorts of incredible stuff:

“The day time travel stops astonishing you,” the Doctor said, “is generally the day something ghastly goes wrong.”

Which is essentially what this series is all about, to me. Teaching the waking mind to overcome the walls of overfamiliar logic, even if only for brief lapses of reason, and how much fun that can be. Other SF stories do that in subtler ways, by undermining the walls, or training the mind to climb over them. The Doctor just tears them down and does as much crazy shit as possible, before they reassert themselves. A simple lesson, but a hard one to get through.

There is also the slightly more sentimental core missive:

“Was that, ultimately, the Doctor’s greatest achievement – not the deeds he himself did, but the deeds he inspired in others? The Doctor was one man, but he had touched countless lives.”

That’s valid as well, as it targets the reader who tags along the Doctor in the shoes of his companions. In the novel the need for an audience surrogate is diminished, as we have access to the Doctor’s thought process. Indeed, Jo Grant spends much of the time apart from him, which is fine because, really, the best parts of the novel center around the Doctor and the Master. In other respects that have to do with techniques of showing though, Reynolds has been very true to television. Point-of-view switching, for example, often conforms more to TV than to established literary practices – the “camera” hops around main, supporting and random characters to give the reader a more comprehensive idea of what is going on. And that is perfectly all right, for velocity is key!

The bottom line is that there is a lot of cool stuff in Harvest of Time. Usually, Alastair Reynolds spends much time in his novels to set the ground for grand scale imagery and conceptual dazzlement. He is meticulous like that. He didn’t have to be here. And he has plenty of writing skills he can show off:

“And then an eruption of billowing bright light punched apart the hall in a kind of cone formation, dragging fire and gas and dirt in its wake, and an instant later there it was, the incipient mushroom cloud, hauling itself into the sky like a vast swollen cerebellum, propelled upwards on the piston of its own monstrous knotted spinal column.”

There is a lot of this in the novel, some of the imagery being far more bizarre. And then there is the pretty cool alien invasion. And the Master. And it’s all packed in less than three hundred fast-paced pages. It’s not exactly like the show, but it’s close enough, and in a good way. Pretty decent means to having some fun, and an appetite-whetter before I get my hands on Poseidon’s Children #2 (which should be any day now; for a review of the first installment, click here).

Originally published on my blog.
Profile Image for Christian.
277 reviews24 followers
February 2, 2020
I bought this book when it came out and then proceeded to not read it for a bunch of years. That isn't weird; I do that a lot. I kept seeing it mentioned lately though and so I went and found my copy and read it.

I find a lot of time that licensed books do not get the time and energy that they need put into them to be anything more than okay. That is not true here. Reynolds is clearly both knowledgeable and fond of the third Doctor era and does an excellent job of both capturing the era and telling a story set in it that stands out.

There are strange going on's on a oil rig; a government program seems to be performing odd experiments and are working with an enigmatic man who wears all black and has a sinister beard. Meanwhile robotic crabs have been crawling out of the ocean in huge numbers. They can be taken out easily but they have incredible numbers and once they get to a person they can control his or her mind. Meanwhile everyone at Unit is forgetting the Master.

Reynolds did a good job of both writing a good story and a good third Doctor story. At its heart it's a story about the Master and even includes some surprising revelations about him. It's one of the better Doctor Who novels I've read and I would highly recommend it especially for people who are fond of Pertwee's Doctor.
Profile Image for Ellie.
156 reviews7 followers
December 18, 2020
I honestly wasn't expecting much from this (it was a spontaneous purchase from a discount bin) but I actually really loved it?? Alastair Reynolds evidently loves both this era of Who and its characters, bringing it to life so accurately that I could hear their actors' voices - particularly so for Pertwee's Doctor, the Delgado!Master, and the Brigadier. Also the Doctor/Master content was soooooo good and I love the little references to New Who sprinkled here and there.
Profile Image for Robert.
44 reviews2 followers
May 7, 2022
I've dived into the book without having any previous knowledge of Doctor Who (neither books nor films) and it was absolutely captivating. I enjoyed the story very much even though I don't know any history and developement of the characters. I don't know if I enjoyed it this much only because it was written by Reynolds or if actually the whole series is so good. I'm thinking about giving another Who book a try.
Profile Image for Lesley Arrowsmith.
160 reviews12 followers
April 23, 2018
What a superb read! Absolutely perfect return to the glory days of Jon Pertwee and UNIT. It has everything - mysterious goings-on on North Sea oil rigs, helicopters, a UNIT convoy being attacked, the Doctor and the Master reluctantly working together. The dialogue sparkled, especially between the Doctor and the Master.
I loved it!
Profile Image for Jeanne.
14 reviews8 followers
June 28, 2013
"We are Sild. You will become Sild. Please stand by."

A cybermen like force of mutant mini-seahorses in cybernetic crab bodies that take over the minds of other species and drain their planets for resources has answered a distress call that the Master sent out to his past and future selves to break him from prison. Oil rigs are collapsing into the sea in the midst of inexplicable storms. A mysterious Red Queen, billions of years in the future, is on the cusp of opening a ship that contains both untold horrors and the secrets of amazing technology from the Epoch of Mass Time Travel.

And they are all brilliantly connected together.

There are so many things about this book that are brilliant that perhaps it's best to start with what ISN'T. The list is much shorter.

The book starts off rather slowly, introducing a few freak incidents that, when investigated, turn up nothing. The Third Doctor's character shines through in these first few slow scenes, as does Jo Grant's, Bentons, and the Brig's. However, not much is happening, and there are a lot more little incidents than exciting bits. But, like an episode of DW from the Pertwee era, if you get through the setup, you realize that it was all necessary to set up the brilliant conclusion.

The story begins to pick up nicely when the Master appears on the scene, using his psychic powers to make a man kill himself and then being returned to prison, where it is clear he won't be staying for long.

From there, I couldn't put the book down. Everything from the utterly terrifying idea of the Sild (even one touch of their pincers will destroy your mind, and worse, they can take it over and turn you into their host), to the time-fade of the Master, to the way that McCrimmon and the Red Queen fit together are all brilliantly executed.

Three parts of this book really stuck out to me as excellent:

1. The way people tried to remember the Master when he was being time-faded away was as realistic as such a thing can be. You could really feel them trying to bring him to mind, but just not being quite able to, like they were trying to remember the name of a man they'd met once twenty years ago.

2. How difficult it actually is to fly the TARDIS really shone through here. Especially in the new series of Doctor Who (particularly with the 11th Doctor, who can fly it perfectly), you just see the Doctor flip a few switches and they go exactly where he wants, unless, it seems, the TARDIS deliberately messes up and takes them off course. The way the Doctor had to mess with all the settings and make calculations, and missed the mark several times, was excellent.

3. The timey-wimey of the Masters, the Sild, and the Red Queen with the Consolidator. The Sild should be a monster in the TV series, because they are not only timey-wimey (opening up time rifts to dump one ocean into another) but also very creepy. The Masters (present and future) all together in once place was excellent timey-wimey, and an opportunity for an author, writing from the 21st Century, to accurately depict the Master's future incarnations (you know, the ones played by Ainley, Roberts, Jacobi, and Simm), rather than just make up faces. A nice little joke for the fans. And, of course, the Red Queen tied them all together so brilliantly in a massive journey through time that it all worked perfectly.

I have to say, this is only the second Doctor Who novel I've ever read (after The Dalek Generation), but this one has definitely made a better use of the time travel reset button than the other. I was expecting a reset button in Dalek Generation, not only because there was so much destruction and sadness (and kids died, and that doesn't happen in Doctor Who) but also because the 11th Doctor's era is filled with reset buttons. I was not expecting a reset here, but it worked, and it worked much better because it was what the Doctor and the Master were working towards as soon as they got into the future, rather than just being a Deus Ex Machina that showed up at the end.

The ending was a little bit over-politicized and a bit of a space whale aesop, given that the message seemed to be, don't industrialize or a ship full of all the worst evils the Time Lords could lock away will come to your planet and infest it with mind-destroying seahorses in cybernetic crab bodies, but I skipped most of McCrimmon's speech, so it was bearable.

This makes me excited for the other DW novel I bought. I'm off to read Only Human.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 13 books7 followers
August 23, 2015
Over the past few years, the BBC has been complementing its regular series of shorter, viewer-friendly Doctor Who novels with occasional "prestige" releases, generally about twice the length and penned by popular and established authors from outside the Doctor Who world. At first, these focused on the then-current eleventh Doctor as portrayed by Matt Smith, but more recently, authors have been allowed to select their own preferred Doctor from the show's history. (The results, while interesting, have been less diverse than one might expect.) Harvest of Time, published during Doctor Who's 50th anniversary year, sees award-winning hard sci-fi author Alastair Reynolds try his hand at a 1970s-era story, featuring his childhood team of the third Doctor, Jo, UNIT, and of course, the Master.

It is obvious from the very beginning how much affection Reynolds has for this era of the program; his take on both the Doctor and the Master feels remarkably true to the TV performances, and if his Jo is a little more grown-up than usual and his Brigadier a little more cold, they're hardly the greatest deviations of character I've ever read. Reynolds' plot, involving an oil rig, mysterious government affairs, and an invasion by the crab-like Sild, feels exactly like the sort of thing we might have seen in 1972 if Barry Letts had been provided with a limitless budget. The first half of the novel is extremely entertaining, especially if you can turn your fan brain off and keep it from asking questions like, "How did the Master go from this intense high-security prison to the genial environment we saw in 'The Sea Devils'?" As fans, these are the things we wonder about, but of course it won't make a bit of difference to the casual reader.

What affects Harvest of Time a lot more negatively is the second half of the novel, where Reynolds greatly slows down the action. Once the Doctor and the Master join forces (did you ever expect anything else?), there are some very interesting plot developments - and then Reynolds is content to let them spend most of the rest of the book conversing with each other (or with one other character). The Jo/UNIT plotline, while relatively simplistic, at least has a sense of urgency; the Doctor and the Master investigating a derelict ship...well, it just doesn't, especially when it's a foregone conclusion that Reynolds will eventually have to restore status quo, get the Doctor home, return the Master to prison, and so on. The inclusion of a time paradox doesn't make things much better, and I, at least, found myself waiting impatiently through the last fifty pages or so for everything to line up and be resolved.

I'm not sure quite what needs to change for the Doctor Who prestige line. I've read about half a dozen of them now - Dan Abnett's The Silent Stars Go By probably being the most successful - and they all feel a little bit too long, a little bit too much in need of an editor. Perhaps a reduced page count (around 250 instead of 350) would help. I really like the idea behind the line, and I hope they continue to attract interesting and varied authors. There's a lot of potential involved. Right now, though, something is keeping the results from being truly great.
Profile Image for Rusty.
Author 10 books26 followers
July 27, 2015
Yep, I’ve read Doctor Who books, back-to-back. I think that makes me pretty hardcore about it, I guess.

Of course, it’s really just an excuse (this time) for me to read a novel by one of my favorite SF authors (Who am I kidding? He isn’t one of anything, he is my absolute favorite) who just so happened to write a Dr Who story.

Now, the last one I read, after thinking more about it, really got a generous rating from me, I really didn’t like it very much. If I were to go back and rate it now, I would probably give it two stars.

But, I don’t have a Tardis, I can’t go back in time. The review stands.

The only reason I bring it up is because this one is waaaay better than the previous one. Despite that fact that early portions of the novel don’t involve the Doctor at all. Since this is a throwback to one of the early Doctors (#3, I think) I can honestly say that I’m only vaguely familiar with the characters at all.

But around all that, Alastair Reynolds has written a very compelling story. One that I think, at least, works even if you don’t understand anything about The Doctor.

The Master, the Doctor’s nemesis, is up to something creepy from behind his super-max prison cell. Meanwhile, at sea, atmospheric anomalies have been destroying oil rigs, and eyewitnesses are describing things that don’t make any sense.

It’s up the Doctor to figure out what’s happening, and prevent the end of the world.

Pretty standard fare, but executed very well. This one still suffers from the Doctor being either absent, or passive, for most of the novel. What makes it work so well for me is that the portions where there is no doctor, especially the portions of the story that center around Eddie, the daughter of the great oil tycoon, are much more interesting to me that the Doctor’s are.

The Master is pretty intriguing to me too. I’ve only really watched the more recent incarnations of the Doctor, and have only seen the Master on a few occasions on the show. In this novel at least, he’s way more brilliant than the doctor is. Which makes things very interesting. I like that he has an adversary that is better at all the things that make the Doctor great. And reading the two of them have a conversation is pretty great. I like seeing the good doctor getting out-doctored.

I’d go so far as to say that if the book had been solely about her, and it was retold so she could have center stage, it probably would have been even better.

As it stands though, The Doctor, Jo, and Eddie (don’t let the name fool you, it’s a girl) share POV’s for most of the book. There may be a few others in there, but nowhere near as many as in the last one I read. Which is also interesting because the previous Dr. Who book, despite being only a little over 200 pages long, had 8 or 9 POV characters.

This one though, this one feels like a novel. Eddie show real growth as a character. It’s got real SF wonderment in those pages, and nefarious aliens that are truly alien.

Good stuff all around, a decent SF book whether you’re a Who fan or not, and a pretty good story if you are one.

I think I might give a shot at some Dr Who fan fic. Why not?
Profile Image for James Barnard.
111 reviews2 followers
August 21, 2014
It’s fair to say that BBC Books’ drive to get established sci-fi authors to write full length Doctor Who books for them hadn’t always met with overwhelming success. Poor Michael Moorcock was stymied in his work on ‘The Coming of the Terraphiles’ by the fact that Matt Smith and Karen Gillan hadn’t been seen on screen at the time of writing, whilst Stephen Baxter’s ‘The Wheel of Ice’ suffered by being just that little bit too faithful to the tone of the era of the programme the story was set in (Season Six tended to equal dullness, sadly). I had modest hopes for ‘Harvest of Time’, and these were exceeded by a very long way. It’s the best of the bunch, and it’s great to see the UNIT era depicted in print again.

Reynolds manages to capture the feel of the era brilliantly, to the extent that I could almost hear the regular cast speaking the lines. He writes for Roger Delgado’s incarnation of Master very well indeed – something which isn’t as easy as it looks – and there is a genuine sense of danger around the fact that he seems to be disappearing from time itself. The scene where he comes across a multitude of alternative versions of himself is a real highlight, especially in his reaction to John Simm’s incarnation, and Reynolds treads the line between making the Master a victim of circumstance, and taking control of his own destiny, very well indeed.

On the basis of this one, I really hope BBC Books continue their occasional forays into stories about past Doctors. It both reflects the Third Doctor’s era and feels like a new work, with unobtrusive nods to the revived TV series and a well thought out and genuinely frightening foe. Never less than completely entertaining, this gets a big tick from me.

I’m even encouraged to read more of Reynolds’ work, because if he’s as good at creating a set of characters as he is in using the canvas others have created, I think I’ll enjoy it immensely.
Profile Image for Jared Millet.
Author 18 books55 followers
February 11, 2015
More than Trek or Star Wars, I've always been a hardcore Whovian. You'd think it wouldn't be an issue for me to enjoy a Who tie-in written by a hardcore SF star (such as this) but I did struggle through a big chunk of this book through no fault of the author. Harvest of Time is set during the Third Doctor/UNIT era of the series, which is much beloved by many Brits but is actually my personal least favorite period of the show. (Yes, I like Colin Baker more. Sue me.) Reynolds's story really takes off and the book comes together as a whole only when the Doctor and the Master get swept away to another planet in the far distant future - and that's usually how all Pertwee stories run for me.

But my, does Reynolds nail the Pertwee era of the series perfectly, with the mix of the alien and the mundane - heavy on the mundane - and the Brig, Jo, Benton & Yates taking almost as much precedence in the story as the Doctor himself. But this is Pertwee with a budget - exploding oil rigs, nuclear attacks, legions of robot crabs surging from the sea, and life-or-death battles at the End of Time.

You can also tell from this book that Reynolds really loves the Master, especially the Roger Delgado version who the author paints as the "Sean Connery" of Masters. I'd go so far as to say the Master is treated with far more depth and nuance than any other character, including the Doctor. The Doctor in this novel is only really interesting when considered in terms of his relationship with the Master. Since every other incarnation of the Master also has a cameo, it'd been nice if we could have got some actual dialog from some of them (a Delgado/Ainley team-up perhaps) but that might have overshadowed the title character far too much. It still says "Doctor Who" on the cover after all.
Profile Image for Mark.
1,302 reviews54 followers
January 2, 2014
Alistair Reynolds a serious scifi writer takes a stab with a book for the Doctor Who series, and the 3rd Doctor as well who was mostly earthbound due to his shenanigans which the Timelords found less than amusing.
The Doctors' enemy is locked up on Earth and as always it is tough to lock a timelord away. Some English organisation finds that teh Masters talents are wasted and use him and his skills for some cold war project concerning submarines. The Master would not be true to his nature if he did not find a way to engineer a way to escape. However not everything goes to plan, according the Master that is. A invasion of an alien race commences whose first target seem to be the Master and secondary take possesion of our lovely blue planet.
The Master finds his existance is being wiped from peoples memory and the Doctor undertakes a daring prisonbreak during an attack on the Masters prison. Both end up further in the future than anybody has travelled before, here they find the answers they are looking for. And it will take a joint effort of both renegade Timelords to stop the invasion of Earth and The Master being deleted from time.

It is a great tale of the 3rd Doctor who comes not all looking great out of this adventure. And it demostrates what a great villain the Master used to be, something the NuWho tv show has yet to understand. Perhaps the older actors were just more convincing and stronger, a value that seems to be the point of view of mr. Reynold.

For readers new to the DW series it is well worth your time, for the regular readers it is a great tale that is more than fitting for the show.
Well worth your time.
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