1991 was the year of Doctor Who novels. Virgin Publishing had purchased Target books a few years earlier, which Doctor Who fans remember for the long line of excellent novelisations which we had instead of videos back in the day. Editor Peter Darvill-Evans had tried to get the license for Virgin to publish original Doctor Who tie-in novels, but this was refused until the cancellation of the show was official.
So in 1991 a mini-series of four linked novels was released to test the market. The Timewyrm series: Genesys, Exodus, Apocalypse and Revelation were written by John Peel, Terrance Dicks, Nigel Robinson and debut author Paul Cornell.
I ate these books up with a spoon when they came out. I was thirteen, I had pocket money (which I was supposed to spend on clothes, sorry Mum!) and I wanted more Ace and the Seventh Doctor. With these books, I got my wish. I remember very clearly that I loved Genesys and Exodus, was ‘meh’ about Apocalypse, and was confused, disorientated and slightly alienated by the much weirder and more experimental Revelation, which broke the mould from a literary point of view and is the one of the four that other fans tend to get most excited about.
Later on, as the New Adventures (and Ace in particular) got a lot darker, angstier and more WEIRD, I did rather blame Paul Cornell for starting them all off on that particular track. Sorry, Paul. I’m pretty sure I forgave you once Bernice Summerfield turned up.
So. Timewyrm: Genesys. The first of a series of books that would define Doctor Who for the next five years, and a medium that would define Doctor Who for more than a decade. Does it stand up to a re-read, what with all those things about feminism I’ve learned over the last 21 years? LET’S FIND OUT.