Synopsis: As the Black Guardian tightens his grasp on the terrified Turlough, the time travellers find themselves taking part in a race across the solar system. The players are a race of Eternals and the prize is ‘enlightenment’, though nobody seems too sure what that means. As one of the eternals tries to cheat their way to victory, the finish line offers a surprising choice for Turlough.
- 1. Winner Takes All
- 2. The Race
- 3. Here She Blows!
- 4. Marker Buoy
- 5. One Down!
- 6. The Officers
- 7. Man Overboard!
- 8. The Buccaneer
- 9. The Grid Room
- 10. Spy!
- 11. Focus Point
- 12. The Prize
Background: Barbara Clegg adapts her scripts from the 1983 serial. She’s the first woman to write for Target’s Doctor Who range.
Notes: As on TV, Turlough and Tegan play chess as a foreshadowing of the battle between the Guardians; significantly, on TV, Turlough chooses to play as white, but here he’s black. The Black Guardian doesn’t appear after the White Guardian at the beginning. The Doctor reviews a newspaper to discern that it’s 1901 (the newspaper on TV is from a year later). In her quarters aboard Striker’s ship, Tegan is startled to see the dress that Lady Cranleigh gave her among her things [see Black Orchid]. Striker’s ship is unnamed (although it’s only named on screen on a lifebelt). Turlough’s communication crystal for the Black Guardian is, once again, a cube.
Quick trigger warning: Aboard the Buccaneer, Turlough sees ‘Persian rugs and a negro statue holding a great candelabra’. Mansell is a much bigger man than on telly:
… his brocaded coat flashed with gold thread, but it appeared to have belonged once to someone else, for it fitted him poorly. His broad shoulders were nearly bursting the seams. He walked with the lithe power of a black athlete…
The Doctor speculates that Eternals don’t have a human form, but simulate it based on the minds of their ‘ephemeral’ crews. Wrack’s deadly jewels include crystals and sapphires as well as the ruby gems seen on TV; they’re all described as ‘capuchon’, so they’re polished, not cut like more modern gems.When activated by Wrack, the gem in Tegan’s tiara turns black and as the Doctor tries to destroy it, they can all hear the voice of the Black Guardian saying ‘Focus… focus…’ (this happens on TV, but it’s not clear if it’s diegetic sound or just a theatrical device). As the ‘Enlighteners’ (the two Guardians) reveal the prize of the race, the Doctor tells Turlough that he wasn’t sure who the boy would push overboard on the Buccaneer; Turlough confesses, neither did he.
Cover: That daft cutout of the Doctor is still blocking the logo, but Andrew Skilleter captures that beautiful image of the sailing ships floating through space towards the glowing Enlightenment.
Final Analysis: Again, the original scriptwriter novelises the story and it’s a cracker. Barbara Clegg brings a level of nuance that I’m not sure we’d have got with Terrance Dicks. While other writers have highlighted Tegan’s brashness, Clegg delves a little deeper: When Marriner corners Tegan and appears ‘inexperienced’ in his pursuit, Tegan feels she can cope with the situation:
There had been other young men boringly concerned about her in the past. She was on home ground…. She did hate emotional scenes, particularly when she could not return the emotion.
Clegg also chooses to hide the Black Guardian’s involvement until very late on, so for any reader who’s missed Turlough’s previous adventures so far, his involvement with the Doctor’s enemy will come as quite a shock.