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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who 15: Relative Dimensions > WORLDS WITHIN WORDS


Doctor Who was rarely seen on television between 1990 and 2004. The gap was filled by a plethora of original novels that expanded upon the Doctor’s on-screen universe – but also created many more.
Details of cover art from original Doctor Who novels of the 1990s and 2000s. Clockwise from top left: Time Zero (2002); The Burning (2000); Interference: Book One (1999); Alien Bodies (1997); Spiral Scratch (2005); The Last Resort (2003), all with art by Black Sheep; Conundrum (1994), art by Jeff Cummins; The Dimension Riders (1993), art by Jeff Cummins; and The Infinity Race (2002), art by Black Sheep.

Before 1991, most Doctor Who novels had been adaptations of existing episodes. This changed when the show was placed on indefinite hiatus – and Virgin Publishing was licensed to continue it in book form. Virgin’s New Adventures picked up the Seventh Doctor from the end of Survival (1989) and showed us where he went next.

Publisher Peter Darvill-Evans was keen to market these books as mainstream science-fiction novels. To this end, he produced an 11-page document, attempting to nail down the workings of time travel in the Doctor Who universe.

His conclusion was that the past is immutable but the future a mass of possibilities, which “crystallise” when they are observed. To facilitate this, he placed Gallifrey in the distant past. This way, the Doctor’s travels through time were actually – from his perspective – creating the future. Darvill-Evans used the term “fixed point” long before the revived TV show did (in 2007’s Utopia). This theory, however, suffered from one glaring omission.

“The New Adventures cosmology is designed to prevent tampering with the hard-and-fast past,” Darvill-Evans wrote to established and prospective NA authors in 1992, “but this cosmology, by logical extension, also makes alternative universes impossible.”

Of course, television Doctor Who had already stated the opposite. As it turned out, the New Adventures were quick to follow suit. In the series’ fourth instalment, Paul Cornell’s Timewyrm: Revelation (1991), the Doctor recalls the events of 1970’s Inferno. In that story, he saw the face of a parallel Earth’s fascist leader. It occurs to him now that this was one of the faces offered to him by the Time Lords when they forcibly regenerated him in The War Games (1969).

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who’s creators envisaged a series that would go forwards, backwards and sideways in time. The Doctor’s trips to parallel universes and alternative dimensions have provided the show with some of its best-loved adventures – from its black-and-white beginnings to the latest episodes, starring Jodie Whittaker. Uncover the background to these memorable journeys and explore the greatest stories beyond the television series in this lavish publication, which is packed full of exclusive features and rare images.