This is a story of investment banking, the white-collar rat race, fraud, debt, the subjectivity of value, and the dangers of compound interest… sort of. It’s not about money or stocks, though. It’s about time — using it, managing it, borrowing it, trading it, and paying it back — with interest, compounded hourly.
An alien time trader has come to Earth and is loaning harried bank employees the time they feel they need to conduct research, prepare reports, do presentations, and everything else necessary to climb the corporate ladder while still having some time for themselves and their families. The snag is that the time must be paid back, and under the fine print terms of the contact, some people find themselves owing more than a lifetime. The 11th Doctor, Amy, and Rory must expose the dangers of borrowing on the future because if they don’t, humanity may not have one.
This novel has a serious and timely underlying theme, although the story itself is not to be taken seriously. I seriously love books like this. There are far too few of them. When Doctor Who is done well, though, it can provoke thought about a serious idea and still be fun. This story does that well enough. I won’t say it’s not without some flaws. I thought the characterizations were just a bit off. The Doctor was perhaps a bit too eccentric and Rory a bit too goofy, and the bank employees, well, they were unbelievably oblivious to the strange things going on around them. But, all in all, I enjoyed this book. It’s a quick and easy read and a great way to spend an evening or two between Doctor Who episodes. I recommend it to all Doctor Who fans and other lovers of positive science fiction.