The second character is Brigadier Lethebridge-Stewart who while investigating New Wave Unversity and being the one to defeat the Yeti, his story is about how he makes up with his daughter, Kate and gets to meet his grandson. His blood and thunder days are indeed long past as Chricton is in charge of UNIT until the end of this story where Bambera takes over. What is nice is that this takes place in 1995, two years before the events of Battlefield which nicely bridges the gap of emotions between The Five Doctors and Battlefield. Kate Lethebridge-Stewart is introduced here and you immediately care for her not because she is the Brigadier’s daughter, but because she is a genuinely good person who doesn’t deserve any ill will. The third character is actually Sarah Jane Smith, but she is rather underused in the novel as there really isn’t much for her to do. She is relegated to exposition dumping and liaison between the Brigadier and UNIT as there are people working for New Wave University who have infiltrated the organization. There are some nice scenes where she is at a zoo doing a story on a Yeti, the creatures seen at the end of The Abominable Snowmen which are actually endangered. It’s a real shame as Platt writes for her really well as a character in almost every regard and we even get a lot of K9 in the novel to enjoy.
Platt also must be commended for the way he writes the Intelligence. It is written very much like Josiah Smith and Light from Ghost Light as an all knowing being. The prose takes the idea that the Intelligence is a Lovecraftian horror to the next level and it fits right in with Craig Hinton’s wonderful Milennial Rites. There is a lot of horrifying imagery in the novel be it the scenes in the monastery where Victoria spends a rather rough night, the astral plane which is described as a pure void or the Yeti who have an upgrade. Platt is good at getting the audience ready for a scare and it really works here. The Yeti are also terrifying as along with the webbing they turn people into them by having upgraded spheres absorbing into them. It’s a really terrifying concept for the novel to pull off and Platt makes it work really well and there is a threat that nobody is really safe in this story.
To summarize, Downtime is a brilliant novel that manages to tell a great story without having to use the Doctor. While there are scenes with two Doctors they really are just a prologue and an epilogue for the story to allow us to continue. Platt has mastered writing the characters in the novel even if Sarah Jane Smith and K9 are both underused in the story. It is really worth it as it adds a lot to the story and is not limited by a low budget to describe with horrific relish what is going on at New World University. 95/100