EBOOK REVIEW: Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman

Nothing O’Clock
by Neil Gaiman

Out Nov 21

Review by Andrea McGuire

For the final ebook published as part of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, Puffin very possibly saved the best for last with fan favourite, and author of the wonderful television episode The Doctor’s Wife, Neil Gaiman penning this adventure for the eleventh Doctor.

Nothing O’Clock starts with the tale of how the Time Lords built an unimaginable and inescapable prison for the Kin; an ancient and mysterious foe so dangerous it…or they…could never be allowed to leave.  What the Time Lords could never have foreseen, however, was the Time War and the end of all things as they knew it. And so the Kin made their escape and set out to find the last Time Lord in the Universe.

The story then lands in a 1984 Britain complete with Amstrad computers and floppy disks where the Kin begin a seemingly benign takeover of the planet. It is up to the eleventh Doctor, played on television by Matt Smith, and companion Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan, to save humanity and possibly even the whole of creation.

Even though Nothing O’Clock is set in a time somewhere not long after The Eleventh Hour, which heralded Smith and Gillan’s first appearances in Doctor Who, it shows the Doctor and Amy Pond’s relationship as an established one. Gaiman’s description of the interplay between the two in the TARDIS is an absolute delight; the eleventh Doctor’s childlike simplification of technical language – "timey-wimey" and "squiggly whatsit" are given an outing -  and Amy’s challenging of him, “to show him who’s boss” are gloriously depicted.  Gaiman also gives us a glimpse into the depth of Amy and Rory’s relationship, which the Doctor at this point is unaware of.

As the whole of Great Britain becomes voluntarily homeless, the Doctor has to remember tales from his childhood to try and discover who or what is behind the unravelling of the world before humankind very quickly dies out.

In the Kin, Gaiman gives us the most interesting new enemy the Doctor has faced since the Weeping Angels made their first appearance in the 2007 television episode Blink, penned by current show runner Steven Moffat.

Gaiman has said that when he’d created the Kin, he thought, "You know, wouldn't it be fun to put this on screen?" Well, if there was a way of doing this, it would certainly be a sight to see, since the Kin use masks in the most disturbing way possible since Christopher Lee decided to throw a party for the harvest in The Wicker Man. It would be fascinating to see if this could be developed for television. Here it’s done with horrifying results using  a cat, a wolf, and the grotesque face of a former Prime Minister (one who older viewers may recall) shown in 1984 as an absolute monster talking casually about the end of humanity.  It’s all terribly satisfying.

One of the always pleasing elements of the 50th Anniversary ebook are the loving, sometimes momentary, nods to the show’s history and in this respect, Nothing O’Clock doesn’t disappoint, with reference to characters from the classic and the new series, and even one we are aware of from the future…or is it the past? There’s even a lovely twist on the now-traditional “It’s bigger on the inside” TARDIS gag.

Nothing O’Clock has a fairy tale feel and Gaiman’s gorgeous prose and his play with language will carry you with it from the very first sentence. With a dark and somewhat ingenious/partly frustrating ending, this is a completely appropriate tale to end this wonderful series of stories on.

Thanks to Puffin

Review by Andrea McGuire

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