The Loneliness of the Long Distance Time Traveller by Joanne Harris


Following his showdown with the Great One at the end of Planet of the Spiders, the Doctor is nearing the end of his third incarnation. He is returning to Earth, but finds himself in the mysterious Village.

In his Doctor Who New Adventure novel Love and War (Virgin, 1992) Paul Cornell wrote that, while the Brigadier and Sarah wait three weeks, the time between the Doctor leaving Metebelis 3 and arriving at UNIT HQ was, for him, ten years.. The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller has a shorter journey for the dying Time Lord, and sees him diverted to The Village. Here his impending regeneration is temporarily held at bay, while he investigates the sinister reality behind the seemingly idyllic setting.

Although it is clear early on what kind of antagonist is behind the strange way the Villagers are forced to live, the greater mystery to solve is the how and why. In traditional Doctor Who-style innocuous, everyday things are turned dangerous and disturbing.


As a follow-up to Planet of the Spiders, this tale continues with the theme of psychic powers that began with the Doctor investigating Professor Clegg at the opening of his on-screen swan song. The Third Doctor is accepting of his fate and the price he has paid for his greed for knowledge. He is perhaps more fond of quoting classics here than on screen, but he is in an understandably introspective mood. His references to Goethe’s Faust fit with the terrible price he has paid in his pursuit of knowledge. And on television the final, unfinished, words we hear him utter before regeneration are from Cicero, “Where there’s life, there’s (hope).”

It is also odd to hear this most rational and scientific of incarnations ‘thanking the gods’; but in crinkly-eyed charm and vintage gentleman dialogue, he’s recognisable enough as Pertwee’s Doctor. And the image of him riding a My Little Pony fits with the glam aesthetic which helped define his era visually.

Ultimately, this is a quietly moving and elegiac story; about the inevitability of change with the passage of time. No matter how much we might wish certain things to always remain the same, we have to accept that they cannot. A theme perhaps particularly pertinent for Doctor Who fans.


Order from Amazon:

Doctor Who: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller (Time Trips)

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