Time & Relative

Novella | Kim Newman | 2001 | Telos

Available through Archive.org (embedded below).

Content Warning/s

Death described in detail with blood mentions.

Threat of death of main character.

Racial slur from 60s England.

First Thoughts

Susan's diary, with conversations written to a degree perfection that I would never expect from myself!

Ignoring that, I enjoyed the story. I really feel like a good grip how Susan is feeling about everything. I especially think that the concept of Time Lord brain fog (probably induced by the stagnency of staying in one place for a long time) help us to understand and reconcile the premiere tv stories.


Between Wednesday 27th March 1963 and Wednesday 4th April 1963 (except Tuesday is repeated twice [2nd and 3rd April 1963] and it isn't explained in-story; In our timeline, April 4th 1963 is a Thursday).


"The Box" (TARDIS)

Coal Hill School

Notable Quotes

"without Grandfather, I'd be alone. In the hateful universe.

"I must keep my mouth shut. People don't like being told what's coming next. It makes them uncomfortable."

"cretinously literal, like the singlehearts who clutter up this planet" - the Doctor on humans

"I don't forget things, but sometimes I can't remember."

I was sent to the Head for saying that Religious Education is just Histroy with more blatant fibs."

"I think I like rebels, being at least an honorary one myself."

"memories are like newspapers and magazines. You can't keep them all, but you can cut out the articles and pictures to put in a scrapbook. Only it's not your choice."

"I think meddling is an obligation."

Gadgets & Habadashery

Susan mentions the Doctor's everlasting matches (see The Exiles).

The Doctor wears some sort of spectacles which allow him to see the special aura exuded by younger humans.

Accurate or Anachronistic?

Susan and Gillian watch a movie at the cinema: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) on IMDb . I imagine cinemas used to keep replaying movies unlike present day 2023, where a cinema only gets the rights to screen a film for a certain amount of time (typically a couple of months).

Susan also reads the book to Saturday Night and Sunday Morning during this adventure. (It's available to borrow and read through Archive.org).

Death Count

I counted at least 13.

  • Year 4/5 Coal Hill students in detention (5)
  • Ape Okehurst, Games teacher
  • Captain Brent's driver
  • Frozen woman at a bus stop being licked by a cat
  • Soliders on duty (3)
  • Captain Brent
  • Dolly

Also was mentioned that there was "a lot of casualities" because of the excessive cold, and because of the "Cold Knights". This includes dogs and cats frozen solid, and all the patrons at The Pump on Tuesday April 2nd, 1963.

Energy Alignment

The Doctor is "grumpy and crotchety" with a side of hyperfocus in this adventure. ("little complicated tasks like forgery always get him enthusiastic"). He is unfeeling, almost robotic, with a brain fog which won't shake. A brain fog which almost kills someone he holds dear. But at the risk of losing unique creativity from the universe, he chooses to meddle; a core trait of the Doctor we know and love.

Adventuring Mentions

The Doctor says that John 'the Martian' Brent's surname is "a name to be reckoned with. In some futures."

It's almost as if the Doctor has had a run in with Mozart already, as Susan quotes him calling him "a bad-mannered show-off with a silly hairstyle".

Someone named Cassandra "saw the future and was kicked to death for it". - Not sure if this is an Earth history reference or a Whoniverse reference.


Especially in the classic television series, there are a lot of screams. It will be amusing (and eye-opening) to collect stats on screams; how many in a story, who is screaming, etc.

Litmus Tests

The Bechtel test passes, as Susan and Gillian have conversations that are just them. The Race Bechtel test does not.

Other Stats

A 6 year old from Trinidad and a 14 year old with some sort of learning difficulty (trouble spelling and completeing maths, but very smart).

Social Issue Focus

Interestingly the novella was published after 9/11 (23 Nov); about a 2 month difference, but I doubt it has impacted the story in anyway as the timing of the release was purposeful and I imagine the story had to be ready well before time.

In saying that, I'm not sure I can pinpoint any specific social issue this story may be reflecting. I'll give it more thought.

And the moral of the story is...

If we don't act for so long, we forget that sometimes we have to meddle.

Thoughts & Collections


Request: The TARDIS in the snow and ice in Foreman's Yard, Totter's Lane.

Sparkling white and blue, with light trapped inside the pearly slabs of ice, and the buried shapes of scrap iron vague behind the semi-transparent frozen thickness.

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