Cat's Cradle: Warhead Andrew Cartmel
#6 April 1992 ISBN 0-426-20367-4 262 pages
cover art © byPeter Elson

A nice change for the visual style of Doctor Who, whose television stories never visited the cyberpunk near-future setting. While not the best of Elson's covers, it perfectly conveys the grubby and grim world described in the novel.

The Doctor manipulates the lives of two young adults who were born with powerful psychic abilities, in order to halt the Butler Institute's sinister plans for the future of humanity.

excellent

A vividly bleak vision of the near future, Cartmel here displays his immense talent for descriptive detail, in a leisurely told story that makes a nice change of pace from the more action-packed New Adventures. While Cartmel excels at establishing rich atmosphere and strong characters, the plot feels over-complex and despite its strengths does in fact have virtually nothing to do with Doctor Who. But, as with all of Cartmel's work, Warhead is a strong and unforgettable SF novel that stands up well on its own.

  • Andrew Cartmel was the script editor for Doctor Who's final three years on the air (1987-1989).
  • This is the first of the three linked War novels Cartmel wrote for Virgin — the others being Warlock and Warchild. This "trilogy" features many of the same characters, viewed over a period of many years, and more fully explores the near-future setting.
  • This novel continues to show the influence of Nigel Kneale's Quatermass serials on Doctor Who (see under Nightshade for more examples). In this case, the final dystopian Quatermass serial (entitled just "Quatermass," aka The Quatermass Conclusion) clearly provided some inspiration for this novel's bleak setting.