Synopsis: When the Doctor and Romana land on the planet Zanak, apparently by mistake, they discover a world where young men are tormented by haunting visions and where the people are so wealthy that they leave rare gems lying in the street. High up in the mountains sits their ruler, the Captain, half-man, half machine. The Doctor is appalled to discover that the Captain has found a way to pilot the entire planet around the galaxy, absorbing other worlds. But that’s nothing to how outraged he becomes when he finds out why…
1. The Sky with Diamonds
2. Right Place, Wrong Planet
3. Meeting with Unusual Minds
4. Late to the Party
5. The Normally Delicious Smell of Pork
6. Dark Satanic Mills
7. The Death of Calufrax
8. The Trophy Room
9. Life’s Fleeting, but Plank’s Constant
10. An Immortal Queen
11. Dinner with Newton
12. The Captain’s Plan
Background: James Goss rewrites his earlier, longer novel, adapting scripts by Douglas Adams for a story broadcast in 1977. At 43 years and six months, this once and for all is the story with the longest gap between broadcast of the original story on TV and eventual novelisation as a ‘Target’ book.
Notes: For the first time since Doctor Who and the Sunmakers, we have a ‘Doctor Who and the…’ title! The Doctor is still concerned about Romana’s lack of experience (in fact, he’s slightly afraid of her). Their quest to find the second segment of the Key to Time is officially ‘Day Two’ and only Romana’s second trip in the TARDIS. At the start, Romana’s gown flows behind her ‘with a slithering grace that tended to scare furniture’
The Captain is an impressive giant of a former man:
It was hard to tell where the chair ended and the Captain began. Nestled amongst it all were the remains of a very large man. Half of his face was covered with a metallic plate,. A green eye patch glowed dangerously, metal lips sneered and even half of his beard was iron. Things got worse beneath the neck. A vast robotic arm, two artificial legs, synthetic lungs that hissed with effort, and, at the end of a velvet-covered sleeve, the rather pathetic remains of a human hand twitched.
His parrot is more birdlike than on TV, with metallic feathers and a habit of hopping from foot to foot. The Nurse wears a pale green dress rather than a white one. Calufrax has two suns. K9 plugs himself into a streetlamp to access Zanak’s information network. The planets in the Captain’s trophy room float inside their glass cabinets. Romana tells Kimus that there is a ‘vast space’ on Gallifrey ‘where the memories of dead Time Lords gathered to grumble’ [which could be either something inside the Matrix, or the Cloister Wraiths seen in Hell Bent].
Cover: The Doctor, Romana and the Captain are dominated by an oversized Polyphase Avatron, courtesy of Anthony Dry.
Final Analysis: While this story was previously adapted as a hefty hardback novel, James Goss was working from Douglas Adams’ original scripts, so there were more diversions from what made it to screen. This is a leaner, more faithful adaptation of the TV episodes, but it’s still on the thicker end of the Target scale. As with City of Death, the main impression is one of joyful chaos as the Doctor comes to terms with having a new companion foisted upon him, while Romana is surprised to find herself placing a lot of trust in a man she’s only known for a day. As on TV, it’s the story of the rebellious kid from the wrong side of the time tracks trying to impress a woman of a different class and Goss adds little asides to show us how the relationship develops. By close of play, Romana seems to have got the measure of the Doctor.
Leaving the Doctor alone with the largest bomb in creation was like leaving a child with a toy and expecting them not to play with it.
One element retained from the fuller novel is the narrator’s suggestion that Kimus is a fraud, full of high ideals and hot air, but still just as timid as the rest of the citizens to prevent him from ever actually doing anything. It’s rare that a non-villainous character is shown such justifiable contempt, personifying the general apathy of an entire civilisation that has grown accustomed to obscene decadence and become tolerant of oppression in barely a generation. Little details like this really make the continuation of the Target novelisations worthwhile.
Synopsis: An emergency take-off on a barren world sees a spaceship explode, wiping out the last of the Jagaroth. Millions of years later, the Doctor and Romana are enjoying a holiday in Paris when they bump into a detective investigating a group of art thieves. What appears to be a simple heist turns out to have implications that echo through Earth’s history – and which will ensure it has no future.
Prologue: Escapes to Dangers
1. Decision for the Doctor
2. The Deadly Arrivals
3. In the Hands of the Enemy
4. Meeting with a Monster
5. Sentenced to Death
6. The Doctor Disappears
7. The Face of the Enemy
8. An Army of Monsters
9. Return to Peril
10. In the Power of Scaroth
11. The Doctor Fights Back
12. The World Destroyed
Epilogue: A Kind of Victory
Background: Despite the misleading credit on the cover, this is by James Goss, rewriting his longer novel, which was based on various drafts of scripts written by Douglas Adams, based on a storyline by David Fisher, as televised in 1979. All of the chapter titles are new to this edition, which is a slight shame as there were some corkers in the original.
Notes: The old ‘Changing Face of Doctor Who’ blurb is resurrected on the title page with the explanation that the Fourth Doctor’s appearance later changed ‘when he lost an argument with gravity’. We’re also told that the cover shows ‘the 12th incarnation of Scaroth, last of the Jagaroth’. The prologue has the glorious title ‘Escapes to Dangers’. Scaroth’s ship is called Sephiroth. Romana made use of the TARDIS food machine before reaching Paris. K9 chose not to accompany his Master and Mistress on their jaunt around Paris due to the many cobbled streets he detected. After 40 novels, it’s an utter joy to find an author creating a new way of describing the Fourth Doctor: ‘The overall impression was of someone who had been completely knitted’.
The earliest Scaroth splinter – the Primary Fragment – is a caveman who brings fire to a tribe of primitives who worship him as a God. The Primary Fragment is closer in time to the disaster, so is able to direct the course of his future selves; this becomes harder with those splinters that are further forward in time, which is why the final Scarlioni-Scaroth is initially ignorant of his real identity, blindly following his sense of purpose for a greater goal. It’s only when an itch leads him to peel away Scarlioni’s face in ribbons that he finally learns the truth. The face mask is self-repairing and is a ‘pan-polymeric protoplasm’, the product of alien technology that was recovered by Phidias, a previous incarnation of Scaroth. Phidias gave the material to a sculptor, who used his own face as a model. In addition to Tancredi, the other fragments are: A pope in the Vatican; a crusader in Jerusalem (whose resemblance to Richard the Lionheart must have been confusing – see The Crusades); an Irish martyr burned at the stake; a senator in a Byzantium court; an English nobleman in Venice; the architect of the Great Pyramid at Cheops; an astronomer in Babylon; and the inventor of the first wheel, living on the banks of the Euphrates.
Countess Scarlioni’s first name is Heidi, while the tour guide at the Louvre is Madame Henriette. The Doctor namedrops Catherine de Medici and Oscar Wilde in addition to Shakespeare. It’s made explicit that the seven names in Duggan’s address book who are interested in buying the Mona Lisa were the same people who hired him to investigate Scarlioni. The TARDIS is parked in an art gallery owned by a Monsieur Bertrand (on TV, it’s not clear that this isn’t just another wing of the Louvre).
Romana is surprised by the Doctor’s fury as he rebukes her for helping Scarlioni build his time machine (he later apologises for his rudeness). She sees Scarlioni as a better class of villain than Davros, whom she struggles to imagine offering her a fruit platter. She counts among her achievements the triple-first she got from the Time Academy, her position as ‘favoured scion of the House of Heartshaven and her skills in the ‘trans-temporal debating society’ – but her only reaction when the Doctor explains the extent of Scaroth’s plans is ‘Huh?’
Trapped inside the time bubble, Kerenski lives out his life completely; from his perspective, it’s the other inhabitants of the cellar who are frozen in time and he eventually dies of boredom as much as old age. Romana sets the time bubble reset for three minutes, not two. Scaroth doesn’t die in the implosion, but is cast into the vortex, where he experiences the sensation of his past selves all turning their backs on him. The Doctor places the surviving Mona Lisa into Duggan’s hands for it to be returned to the Louvre. The detective waves the Doctor and Romana off and then sees them depart in the TARDIS.
Cover: Anthony Dry’s artwork shows the Doctor, Romana, Scaroth and the Jagaroth spaceship.
Final Analysis: For the first time since The Crusades, we have a Target book making its debut in a different imprint. As referenced in the ‘background’, Doctor Who novelisations took an interesting turn in the 21st Century; almost certainly inspired by the success of JK Rowling’s boy-wizard books, and with the added attraction of being based on scripts by Douglas Adams, Gareth Roberts’ novel of the great lost work Shada came out in hardback in 2012 to critical acclaim. The first edition of The City of Death, published in 2015, was a similarly weighty 320-page hardback volume. Three years later, James Goss condensed and rewrote his previous novel into a 185-page novel with a Target logo – at last!
The Target edition is less meandering, much more faithful adaptation of the TV story, Iosing some of the extended backstories (notably Heidi and Hermann, but also the entire subplot of the critics, which seemed to make little sense until the exact moment it slotted into the scene from the broadcast episode, at which point it became the Best Thing Ever). Luckily, it retains the sheer seductive joy of Goss immersed in a Douglas Adams mindset – as the opening paragraph of the prologue illustrates:
It was Tuesday and life didn’t happen.
Wednesday would be quite a different matter.
Scaroth, last of the Jagaroth, was in for a surprise. For one thing, he had no idea he was about to become the last of the Jagaroth
The destruction of the Jagaroth’ ship, Sephiroth, is presented as one of the universe’s little ironies – an entire species wiped out and leaving nothing behind of any significance except a trail of death. It’s a tiny observation, but it underlines the twist of fate that sees Scaroth fated to accumulate some of Earth’s greatest cultural artefacts while failing to appreciate their value, aside from how much they can be flogged on the black market to greedy collectors.
At the beginning of the first chapter, the scene is set in such a knowing, cheeky way:
A man and a woman stood on top of the Eiffel Tower, every inch in love, if not with each other then certainly with life itself.
As in his previous version – and in the grand tradition of Terrance Dicks – James Goss smooths out some of the TV story’s plot wrinkles. The revelation of Scaroth’s true form, which is dramatic but slightly ludicrous on TV, is beautifully horrific here, as the artificial skin shreds away in ribbons to reveal a monstrous single eye set into a writhing mass of tentacles. The relationship of the Count and Countess Scarlioni is justified, making sense of exactly how an attractive wife can fail to be aware of her husband’s true nature – and in turn uncovering something altogether more unsettling about wealth, greed and human nature. Goss makes sure we never see the Countess as a victim – the truth is, she has a sickening taste for violence.
Admittedly, it helps that the story came from David Fisher and Douglas Adams – both fine minds with the skills to present the universe as basically absurd. While Goss captures the breathless energy of Adams especially, there’s never a sense that he’s showboating; he’s merely serving the story in an appropriate style. As a result, this may well be elbowing its way into my all-time top-five Target books. Just don’t tell Ghost Light.
Synopsis: While Sarah Jane and her colleague Jeremy enjoy a holiday in Italy, they’re surprised to find the Brigadier is also in the region. He’s offering support to a distant relative who’s being threatened by an American gangster determined to acquire the family home by any means. When the Doctor arrives to investigate a haunting, the old team comes together to solve a mystery that spans centuries.
Numbered One to Twenty-Eight
Background: A number of firsts here, as Barry Letts adapts scripts for a BBC Radio drama that, at the time of publication, had yet to be broadcast. The old novelisation imprint having expired, this was released as the seventh book in Virgin’s Missing Adventures line.
Notes: The back cover tells us that the story is set between Death to the Daleks and The Monster of Peladon; Sarah recalls her tangle with a Sontaran, there are various references to Paradise of Death and the Doctor and Sarah discuss their escapades in the Exxilon city. An opening scene helps to set up our new villain in a confrontation between Max Vilmio and head of a ruling family, Don Fabrizzio, which results in the brutal death of the Don.
As was common in the Virgin books, there’s some mild swearing – the Don’s henchmen are said to have been disrespected as if they were ‘the chicken‐shit bully‐boys of a Main Street Boss from the Mid‐West’, the Don considers Vilmio to be a ‘pezzo di merda’ (thank you Google Translate) and Vilmio later calls Fabrizzio a ‘two‐bit Godfather with cowshit between his toes’ (as in the radio serial!). Sarah mentally bestows Jeremy with the name ‘Tail‐Arse‐Charlie’ as he’s always last in line when the action starts. Letts outdoes Ian Marter for one specific expletive: Vilmio threatens Jeremy, ‘I’ll ask you once more, you little bastard’ and Jeremy recalls a boxing lesson at school where he cowered in the corner of the ring surrounded by cries of ‘You’ve got him now, boy, kill the bastard!’. After Max calls Maggie ‘an ignorant broad from Brooklyn’, she agrees, before adding ‘Great tits, though’; later, she’s said to stand ‘silent, hand on tilted hip, chin up, tits out, letting her body do its work’. Least offensive of all is Sarah asking herself ‘Why am I so knackered?’ – it’s an entirely appropriate phrase for someone who grew up in Liverpool, but any readers from the East of England may have another interpretation of the word, where ‘knackered’ can mean ‘sexually exhausted’. The book retains the use of the word ‘catamite’ from the radio scripts and refrains from explaining it. Max’s use of the term ‘dumb Polack hooker’ is, however, excised.
As a child, Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart had visited his uncle Mario and brought with him a set of story books (which his uncle kept to help him with his English) as well as a comforting teddy bear. Listening to the Doctor and the Brigadier talk, Sarah Jane thinks of them as ‘the grown‐ups’. The Doctor’s voice reminds Sarah of a childhood trip with her parents to stay at a caravan on the Gower coast.
We’re treated to a number of ghastly animal combinations from the N-dimension: One is a ‘glowing creature half ape, half carrion bird, reaching out with impossibly extended scaly arms [and] vulture claws’; later, the Doctor provides the gang with a peek into N-space:
Sarah saw again a flash of the chimera of her living nightmare. She saw glimpses of creatures even more horrific: inside out creatures gnawing at their own entrails; gaping heads, all mouth and fangs, with a maw large enough to swallow a full‐grown pig – or a human; monstrous jellyfish with a hundred human eyes, staring, staring, staring; and more; and more; a menagerie of evil.
The three creatures they encounter in the past resemble a thirty-feet-long whale with shark’s teeth and legs with ‘dinner‐plate‐sized hooves’, a ‘nimble slug a mere twelve feet in length’ and a ‘spiny sea urchin, a ball of yard‐long spikes’, with ‘blood-red eyes on stalks’.
The Doctor’s leaping to avoid the beast is compared to ‘Nureyev or Nijinsky’, which seems odd to think back to a time where there even was a ‘world-famous ballet dancer’ who everyone knew by name, let alone two.
We discover that Maggie’s backstory is even more grim than on radio: After the death of her mother, her violent and abusive father revealed that he expected Maggie to take her mother’s place ‘in every sense’. When she fought against his advances, her father beat her savagely and though he subsequently left her alone, he continued to violently terrorise her siblings. Despite this, we’re told that Maggie usually gets a ‘buzz’ from violence – ‘Bruised, cut cheeks and split lips could be quite a turn‐on’ – but even she finds Max’s beating of Jeremy distressing – hence why she helps him.
Uncle Mario has had a loaded gun on the premises ever since World War II (we’re told that he has been ‘indomitably anti‐fascist’ since the 1920s. Jeremy had an Uncle Teddy, with whom he used to go wild-fowling on trips to Norfolk. Having repeatedly compared his adventures with those of James Bond, Jeremy takes inspiration for his final assault from one of Uncle Mario’s books – one of the volumes that used to belong to young Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart.
Cover: Using the Slatter-Anderson design for the Missing Adventures range, Alister Pearson presents us with a Doctor in his costume first seen in The Green Death, with a Brigadier in what looks like his Mawdryn Undead civvies, while the main panel shows a ghostly monk passing through a brick wall.
Final Analysis: Commissioned as a sequel to The Paradise of Death, The Ghosts of N-Space fell foul of changes at Radio 5 as the station’s remit evolved towards solely news and sport, with no room for fiction. It shifted across a number of potential options before eventually airing on Radio 2 (not normally the home of drama, but Radio 4 had already passed) some two years after it had been produced. In the meantime, Virgin books decided to capitalise upon the success of their New Adventures range by commissioning a second strand of original fiction starring past Doctors and companions. Barry Letts had a ready-made script ripe for novelisation, so was invited to contribute to the Missing Adventures range with The Ghosts of N-Space with no confirmed airdate for the serial in sight. This book is the only Doctor Who adaptation to be presented as an original novel first rather than as part of the ongoing series of novelisations. It’s a distinction that initially led me to decide not to review it here as it, er, didn’t count. However, a last-minute Twitter poll forced my hand. So here we are!
As with the novel of The Paradise of Death, while I don’t wish to review the radio play, this is another instance where I hadn’t actually heard the original episodes before. For the novel, Barry Letts rejigs the order of some scenes and expands others. Mainly, it benefits hugely from the rewriting of scenes that were originally created through breathless dialogue (such as Sarah Jane or Jeremy explaining what they can see and the listener can only hear). The backstories of the various Italian families through the ages are fleshed out and the whole thing just makes a lot more sense than it does as an audio drama. Otherwise, it’s a fairly logical progression through the scripts, even down to a very conveniently jolly ending.
At the time, there was a suspicion in some quarters that the BBC kept shunting the play around because nobody actually wanted it. Whether that was because of its quality, or just because no commissioner ever wants to inherit someone else’s stone-cold project is up for debate. Eventually, both the novel and the eventual broadcast received a lukewarm response from fans.
The adventure itself isn’t that bad. It’s a complicated tale set across multiple points in time that might easily have been produced on TV during the Steven Moffat years. The main problem is one that blighted both Paradise of Death and almost all of the Missing Adventures at the time, a split in the readership between those who wanted the new stories to feel authentic to the productions they were supposed to slot between and others who wanted the kind of stories that could never have been achieved in a BBC Television Centre studio. The Ghosts of N-Space sits uncomfortably between the two. Like most early 1970s six-part adventures, it’s rather flabby in the middle and it all gets a little moralistic in its conclusion. But it’s also extremely atypical of the era it’s trying to recreate, so it feels like one of those feature films in the 1970s where the cast of a popular TV sitcom leave their familiar surroundings for a foreign holiday – with hilarious consequences.
In this case, the consequences aren’t that hilarious as Letts takes advantage of being able to write for an older audience: The Lovecraftian monsters are genuinely horrific; there’s the strong language and mild sexual terms mentioned earlier,; and he reveals an enthusiasm for particularly nasty death scenes:
With one last choking gasp, the wretched man was still. His eyes were popping from his head and his tongue extruded from his mouth, blood streaming from it. His jaw, clamped tight, had bitten it right through. He was, without a doubt, quite dead.
By no means as ropey as I’d been led to believe, it’s still not quite authentic enough to satisfy traditionalists, nor revolutionary to appease the radicals. Even so, it’s disappointing that this is Barry Letts’ final novelisation. He later wrote two original Doctor Who novels for BBC Books, one co-written with Terrance Dicks, as well as contributing to Big Finish’s Sarah Jane Smith series of audio plays. He died on 9 October 2009, aged 84. His autobiography, Who and Me, was published posthumously the following month.
Synopsis: When a body is found in the grounds of a new theme park, the Brigadier asks the Doctor to investigate. Sensing a story, Sarah Jane Smith calls in a photographer called Jeremy and discovers that the owners of the theme park are aliens hoping to negotiate trade deals with Earth. Nothing is as it seems, however, as the aliens have links to a political conspiracy on a far off world. Sarah and Jeremy are left to solve the mystery alone when the Doctor is declared dead!
Numbered One to Thirty-Three. Just missed out on that crown for most number of chapters, Barry.
Background: Barry Letts returns to the Doctor Who novelisation range for the first time since Doctor Who and the Daemons in 1974, to adapt his own scripts for the 1993 radio serial. Although the numbering has ceased to appear on the cover, the title page tells us that this is indeed book #156 in the Target Doctor Who Library.
Notes: The announcer on the Space World adverts is said to have an accent that’s ‘half-Cockney half-Yankee’ (a possible dig at actor Andrew Wincott’s delivery in the original broadcasts). Space World rivals Disneyworld ‘in size and the scope of its attractions’, covering ‘acres of London’s favourite open space’. Many of the Space World staff are out-of-work actors pretending to be robot guides.
For the first time ever, a swear word from an original broadcast is retained for the book (when Nobby discovers ‘a bleedin’ UFO’) rather than it being an addition for the novelisation. Sarah Jane Smith has a studio flat overlooking Hampstead Heath. She’s been a journalist in London for two years and is currently a feature writer for Metropolitan – a ‘glossy woman’s mag’ [as revealed in Planet of the Spiders]. As in the radio serial, Sarah Jane has had one adventure with the Doctor before returning to her normal life [so this comes before Invasion of the Dinosaurs, an idea supported by the opening scenes of the novelisation, The Dinosaur Invasion]. The Brigadier is surprised to learn Miss Smith is a journalist and not, as he’d been led to believe, a scientist specialising in ‘bugs’. The Doctor’s laboratory contains objects that Sarah thinks would look at home in a museum or a ‘junk shop’:
There were odd pieces of clothing – a hat with an ostrich feather plume; a piece of rusting armour; a very long knitted scarf; a pair of pointed Renaissance slippers – piles of dried vegetable matter, including some horribly twisted fungi. a dusty stuffed albatross with wingsoutstretched (she’d had to duck underneath to get into the room), a large photograph of a man with a shock of white hair and a bushy moustache, (Could it be…? It was, you know. Scribbled in the corner, it had, ‘Many thanks for all your help, old friend.’ and it was signed ‘Albert Einstein’) and so on and so on.
Jeremy Fitzoliver is a slight man dressed in a soft leather jacket and designer jeans with a ‘knife-edge crease’ that Sarah suspects must have cost ‘a bomb and a half’. He went to school at Hothorough, as did his uncle Edward Fitzoliver, who Sarah realises is a major shareholder in Metropolitan Magazine. The Brigadier went to school with ‘Teddy’ Fitzoliver and knew him affectionately as ‘Pooh’, as he was considered ‘a bear of little brain’. The Brigadier had also known a ‘Chuffy Knowles’ while at Sandhurst, who left the army to become an insurance salesman. Among the guests at the Space World opening is Septimus Hardiman, a columnist and TV personality who specialises in innuendo.
The alien Kamelius has a slight hump on the back of its armadillo-like body, with legs and weight like that of an African elephant. It has two rows of teeth that look designed to chew rocks, its crab-like claws look powerful enough to snap an arm or leg – and it makes a ‘a low chattering gobble’ noise. The Giant Ostroid looks like ‘an oven-ready turkey on stilts’ with saucer eyes and the habit of belching loudly. The Piranhatel Beetles number in their hundreds; they’re six inches long, with scarlet and black shells and ‘great tearing, biting thingies sticking out of their faces’ and can strip a cow’s carcass to the bone in under thirty-three seconds. Jeremy thinks that the most impressive exhibit is the Stinksloth, an extremely pungent creature that is housed in a pit of foul mud ‘or worse’ and looks like a cross between a sea lion and a jellyfish. The smell comes from the bodies of giant slugs, which the beast stores in the corner of its cell until its next meal. We’re also told of a ‘Flesh-Eating Gryphon’, a ‘Blue-Finned Belly-Flopper’ and a ‘Vampire Teddy Bear’ among the twenty one alien creatures in the park.
Having escaped from Tragan, Grebber decides that the chances of anything happening to him that night are ‘sweet FA’ (a swear word with a flexible level of offense depending on which interpretation you go for, so potentially the strongest we’ve seen in the range so far).
The Brigadier speaks to the Secretary General of the United Nations, a woman with a ‘mid-oceanic’ accent. He recalls his meetings with the Doctor, starting with the Yeti and the ‘uncanny Cybermen’ before recalling that he’d thought the Doctor to be dead once before, during the operation with the Daemon. The pathologist, Professor Mortimer Willow, ponders whether the Doctor and Grebber were ‘pissed or stoned’. He also asks his assistant about his love life, enquiring if Brian is ‘getting his oats’. The Doctor claims to have known General Clive of India (‘A thoroughgoing bad lot, but he knew his tea’) and Lucrezia Borgia. He learned the art of bone relaxation from a wise neanderthal. Jeremy speaks to Captain Yates, who is the duty officer back at UNIT.
The guard-dog creatures accompanying Tragan, later identified as Blestinu soldiers, are an evolutionary hybrid of reptile and canine:
Even more fearsome than the sabre-toothed rottweiler guessed at in the pathologist’s report, it stood nearer to seven foot than six. Its overall shape was dog-like, with the muscles of a pit-fighter rippling under a leather skin denuded of all but a few hairs. But its face, a mongrel mixof demon and dinosaur, could have been used as a model by Hieronymus Bosch in his most graphic depictions of the denizens of hell gnawing at the entrails of those eternally abandoned by God. Its eyes, blood red, seemed to glow with the fire of an internal furnace; its teeth, unlike any earthly creature’s, were jagged and long, each with a number of stiletto points to pierce and tear. It smelt of decay.
As revealed to Sarah, Tragan’s real face is ‘like a thick, purple soup’, his skin is covered with warts and ‘suppurating pustules’ as if ‘melted by some unburning flame’.
Racing back to the TARDIS in Bessie, the Doctor is pulled over for speeding by a policeman; the Brigadier intercedes after the Doctor tried to justify driving at 140mph by baffling the officer with science. Tragan asks Sarah if she’s ever travelled through space before and she briefly wonders if time travel would count (so again, this is very early days for Sarah). The Brigadier is reminded of when he was a young subaltern [See the novel of The Mind of Evil], stationed in Leicestershire, where he had been invited to join ‘some of the fashionable hunts’. He also recalls leading a ‘cutting-out expedition’ (landing from canoes behind the enemy lines) when he was ‘seconded to the SAS as a captain’ and he alludes to an undercover mission that saw him flying from Kathmandu to Patna, where the jungle had, when viewed from above, looked like the ocean.
The Gargan is about the same size as a Tyrannosaurus Rex but with short, sturdy back legs. It walks on its knuckles, like a gorilla and it has a long curved neck so it can ‘hold his head close to the ground, like a bloodhound hot on the trail’ and its mouth contains rows of teeth like those of a crocodile.
A series of flashbacks fill in the backstory of Onya Farjen – back when she was called ‘Katyan Glessey’ and before she discovered her links to the Kinionyan tribe on the island of Lackan. When preparing to take on Jenhegger in combat, the Doctor removes the fancy dress that Tragan forced him to wear – leaving him in just his underpants (the broadcast version is not as specific, stating merely that he has removed the costume). Sarah has apparently been in love before and while she doesn’t think she is in love with Captain Waldo Rudley, his death leaves her full of regret and grief, ‘as if Waldo’s death had left a black hole in her heart’.
Cover: A tasteful trio of portraits of the Brigadier, Sarah and the Doctor (using a reference photo from Invasion of the Dinosaurs) in shades of blue that evoke the title sequence introduced for Season 11, all beautifully painted by Alister Pearson.
Final Analysis: Throughout this project, I’ve tried to avoid reviewing the TV stories or discussing things that aren’t specific to the adaptation. My assumption is, anyone who’s reading this is at least familiar with the source material, even if they’ve not read the book. With Paradise of Death, there was a point a few chapters in where I realised that I er… hadn’t actually heard the radio serial beyond the first episode, despite having it on CD for 20 years. So now I have!
It’s a strange one, this – broadcast on Radio 5 in the early years of the station, before it refined its output to focus on news and sport. It has the same production techniques as the established Radio 4 house style, so it surprised me to learn that most of the mild swear words that appear in the book came from the radio scripts. The book also falls into Doctor Who’s transition as an ongoing concern mainly in print, as the decade featured only three TV stories (a movie and two charity specials of dubious canonicity). So we have a few references that don’t really fit with the period the story is set, but the focus on virtual reality very much reflects the cultural obsessions of the early 1990s. There are a few examples of Barry Letts tipping his hat to social issues, but it’s much less heavy handed than in some of the much-loved serials he produced for TV. And one rather ugly reference from the radio serial is thankfully omitted, where the Doctor describes Experienced Reality addicts as being as hooked ‘as a junkie is on heroin’.
Setting the story in the early days of Sarah Jane’s involvement with the Doctor allows for a little character development as she still doesn’t know what to expect and at first the Brigadier still thinks she’s a scientist, not a journalist with a fake ID. There’s a lovely line, retained from the broadcast version, where Sarah tries to explain to Jeremy that she’s only just met the Doctor, but news of his (apparent) death has left her more bereft than she can understand: ‘It’s silly, I know, but I feel as if – as if I’d lost my best friend.’ Later, when confronted with Tragan’s true face, her internal monologue betrays Barry Letts’ hand:
The pause gave Sarah the time to gather her shattered defences. After all, she thought, it didn’t really matter what he looked like, though she couldn’t stop herself from shuddering when she tried to look at him with an objective eye. It was sheer prejudice to judge people by their appearance.
Meanwhile, the Brigadier tries not to cause offense to his hosts by picking his way through an exotic buffet to find the alien items most closely resembling cheese and meats. It’s a nuanced portrayal of the Brig, at once showing him to be a man of simple tastes coupled with an awareness of his role in intergalactic diplomacy. Other authors fall into the trap of playing the Brigadier as either an obstinate military mind or a boorish idiot, so it’s good to see the character treated with respect.
And that’s that. After this run of Target books had ended (including the three Virgin publications), Doctor Who’s future in print would be in the form of all-new adventures, ‘too broad and too deep for the small screen’. And often too sexy, too sweary and too drug-referency as well. But I’m definitely not reading those.
Synopsis: The TARDIS has been stolen and the Doctor and Jamie follow clues to an antiques shop where the items for sale appear to be both genuine yet brand new. Suddenly, the two men are gassed into unconsciousness and when they awake they find themselves a hundred years in the past. Two inventors, Theodore Maxtible and Edward Waterfield, ask the Doctor for help with their experiments, before revealing that they are prisoners of the Daleks. As Jamie tries to rescue Waterfield’s daughter, Victoria, the Doctor is forced to help his enemies in a project that will lead him back to the Daleks’ home planet, Skaro, where he will meet the Dalek Emperor at last.
1. To Set A Trap
2. The Old Curiosity Shop
3. The Net Tightens
4. Further Curiosities
5. Curioser and Curioser
6. Kennedy’s Assassination
7. The Net Tightens
8. The Better Mousetrap
9 Portrait Of Innocence
10. The True Enemy
11. The Kidnapping
13. A Trial Of Strength
15. Double Dealing
16. The Test Begins
17. A Test Of Skills
18. Friend And Foe
19. Terall’s Agony
20. The Traitor
22. Pawn Of The Daleks
23. The Human Factor
25. Dalek Superior
26. Time Bomb
29. At Last!
32. The Dalek Doctor
33. The End Of The Daleks?
With 33 chapters, a prologue and an epilogue, The Evil of the Daleks steals the crown for most number of chapters from Delta and the Bannermen. Even though two of the chapters have the same title!
Background: John Peel adapts the scripts from David Whitaker’s 1967 story, published by Virgin as a continuation of the Doctor Who novels range. It’s the longest novelisation so far, with 288 pages. At 26 years and a month, it doesn’t quite beat its immediate predecessor for the record of the gap between broadcast and novelisation, but it does complete the run of stories from Season 4, the Second Doctor’s era and the 1960s as a whole. The book also means that at this point, there’s a complete run of adaptations right up to The Ribos Operation.
Notes: A prologue, set 1,000 years after the events of The Daleks’ Master Plan, sees the Dalek Emperor on the verge of defeat on all sides, as separate wars with the Earth Empire, Draconia and the Thals. The Emperor had been the very first of Davros’s creations – and the one that exterminated him. This Dalek became the Dalek Prime and conducted experiments on other lifeforms before releasing the resulting mutants into the petrified forest or the lake of mutations at the foot of the Drammankin Mountains [see Doctor Who and the Daleks]. Eventually the Prime began to experiment on itself to become ‘a hundred times greater than any other member of the race’ and inhabiting a new casing for its enlarged body.
The Doctor realises that at the very moment that Ben and Polly are returning to their old lives, across London they’re just about to disembark in the TARDIS with his previous self [see The Faceless Ones and The War Machines]. The Tricolour coffee bar plays French music like Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier (on telly, they play ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’ by the Seekers and ‘Paperback Writer’ by the Beatles). The Doctor checks a selection of daily newspapers available in the Tricolour, which are filled with reports of the War Machines incident and the problems at Gatwick Airport (he’s relieved that his own involvement in both instances have been omitted).
The Daleks permit Victoria to write letters to her father. Victoria’s captivity is introduced much earlier than on TV, explaining Waterfield’s prime motivation and making him a much more sympathetic character. Waterfield has agents who took the photos of the Doctor and Jamie; they also took pictures of Ben and Polly but Waterfield has been informed that the former companions have returned to their old lives so he discards their photos. In his photo, the Doctor is wearing the tall hat that he didn’t wear in any televised adventure on 1960s Earth, so that suggests an unseen adventure, although as he hasn’t worn that hat recently, the Doctor believes the photo might be alien in origin or from his own future.
Bob Hall flees his rented digs and drives north in his Ford Popular (on TV he’s said to have fled via Euston, presumably by train). Kennedy did National Service in the 1950s, which he considers to have been worse than prison. He plans on stealing money from Waterfield, confident that the antiques dealer won’t go to the police. When he discovers that Waterfield hasn’t locked his safe he utters a mild swear word (‘bloody hell!’ and later ‘for God’s sake’). He sees the Dalek and thinks it looks like something the BBC might have designed for the science fiction anthology Out of the Unknown or ‘one of those daft Quatermas serials’ (a Dalek did actually appear in a 1969 episode of Out of the Unknown – ‘Get Off My Cloud’ – which was the first time one of the props had been shown on TV in colour). Waterfield’s shop assistant Perry is plotting behind his back to steal some of Waterfield’s best clients for himself. Perry is an ‘avid viewer of Z-Cars and No Hiding Place’, so knows not to touch anything at the scene of a crime, such as the position of Kennedy’s corpse.
Jamie wakes up feeling like he’s been ‘partying for a week and left his brain somewhere in a Glasgow slum, where it was being stomped on by a party of hooligans on the rampage (we’ll have to assume this is the narrator’s interpretation, not Jamie’s, as none of those references would mean much to a Jacobite). After finally meeting Maxtible and Waterfield, the Doctor ponders as to why there’s a portrait of Waterfield’s late wife in Maxtible’s house and whether it’s on display to keep Waterfield in line (we later learn that it was placed in the house as an enticement specifically to lead Jamie to Victoria, a clever explanation on Peel’s part to resolve an issue from the TV version). The Doctor asks if the two scientists have read Edgar Allen Poe and Waterfield confesses he only reads textbooks while Maxtible reads ‘the financial papers’.
Jamie claims that he’s heard the Doctor talk about those ‘nasty wee creatures’ the Daleks before – and the Doctor once showed him a book from the future with ‘moving pictures’ of the Daleks (he’s also aware that Daleks use flying discs and wonders if this is how they reached the upper levels of Maxtible’s house). Victoria recalls how she and her father had been invited to live with Maxtible, who was funding Waterfield’s experiments. She and Maxtible’s daughter Ruth had become good friends but the strange change in mood of Ruth’s fiance Arthur Terrell has led her to suspect him of becoming obsessed with Victoria. Alongside the standard ‘grey’ Daleks, the operations in Maxtible’s house are overseen by a red Dalek, an ’emissary of the Supreme Council’.
Kemel comes from the Tekir Dag [sic] mountains in Turkey, which is where he first met Maxtible, helping him to repair a broken carriage. Kemel has always been aware that Maxtible has assumed his muteness was also a sign of stupidity, but it’s the discovery that his employer has lied to him that finally tips him over the edge and he begins to actively work against him. Jamie quotes Macbeth to Kemel (‘Lead on, Macduff’) – is he copying something he’s heard the Doctor say or has he actually read Shakespeare or seen it performed since joining the TARDIS? Maxtible cites the Rothschilds as an example of the kind of successful family he wishes to be part of.
The Doctor takes a break from working on the experiment, explaining to the Dalek guard that if he doesn’t rest, he risks making mistakes. The freedom that he’s allowed to explore the house forces him to realise that the TARDIS cannot be inside the house and must have been taken elsewhere. With the experiment complete, he explains to Jamie how Daleks are ‘grown from the genetic basis of their being inside vast vats of nutrients’ and then, once the creature has reached maturity, it’s placed inside the ‘travel machine shells’, where the shell’s computer teaches them everything they need to know to be a Dalek. Identifying the three human-Daleks, the Doctor scratches the symbols for the Daleks’ names on the domes of each unit (on TV, he drew on their skirts).
Once Terrall collapses, the Doctor inspects him and discovers a metal collar around his neck and a small box on his chest, the Dalek control unit. It reminds him of the Robomen (on TV, the control unit is merely a box in Terrall’s pocket. The Doctor stops Maxtible from killing Waterfield. On their arrival on Skaro, the Doctor remembers how Ian and Barbara had fetched water from the Lake of Mutations and he tells Waterfield about the war between the Daleks and the Thals that left the planet desolate. Later, he recalls the Slyther [The Dalek Invasion of Earth] and the Varga Plants [Mission to the Unknown].
The Red Dalek leads Maxtible to a Dalek that is ‘almost entirely black’. The Doctor initially speculates that this might be the same one he destroyed on Kembel in an earlier point in time, until he sees more all-black Daleks in the approach to a chamber containing the Emperor:
It looked at first superficially like a Dalek, but it was over forty feet tall. The gigantic base rose upwards. There were few of the semi-circular sensors that covered the other Daleks’ lower halves. This part of the casing was honeycombed with panels. Above this section was a thick‘neck’ made of metal struts supporting a vast domed head. This monstrous creature possessed neither arm nor gun, but it had a huge eye-stick that was trained on the captives. It appeared to be completely immobile, supported by huge struts; a web-like arrangement that filled the entire far wall of the control room. There were about a dozen huge tubes leading into the immense form: power supplies and nutrients, the Doctor assumed, for the creature within this casing.
We’re later told that the Emperor sacrificed mobility in favour of brain-power – a decision it comes to regret.
Among the various weapons being developed by the Daleks are a dust cannon – which can shatter asteroids into dust that clogs up the engines of enemy ships – a Magnetron that can ‘draw passing starships out of the sky’ and the Dreamwave, which projects ’emotional waves’ at other worlds, subjecting the population to ‘abject terror or dark, lingering, suicidal despair’ which makes resistance impossible. When they finally meet on Skaro, Victoria reminds the Doctor of Susan, while she sees in him ‘an underlying compassion, thoughtfulness and steel’. In the epilogue, the Doctor speculates whether other Daleks failed to return to Skaro from other times and worlds, but takes some comfort from knowing the Dalek Emperor is no more.
Cover: Alister Pearson’s majestic cover uses interlocking segments containing the Doctor, a black-domed Dalek and the Dalek Emperor centre.
Final Analysis: The last 60s story to be novelised and it’s an epic – closer in scale to a modern season finale. As he’s done with each of his books, John Peel builds upon the established history of the Daleks so far to create a sense that it’s all been leading to this point, while the prologue also connects the Emperor Dalek to the very first ‘Mark III Travel machine’ as seen in Genesis of the Daleks.
It’s often been pointed out that the middle episodes involving Jamie’s quest sag a little and feel like padding, but here the events manage to maintain a decent pace. The entire subplot involving Arthur Terrall (including the characters Toby and Molly) might easily have been deftly omitted had this been a traditional novelisation, but with the increased word-count even these elements manage to serve the story well. Peel uses Toby to expand upon the theme of corruption through greed that’s introduced with Kennedy and, to a lesser extent, Perry, while Toby’s ultimate fate provides us with a reminder that, while they’re deliberately not attacking Jamie and Kemal, the Daleks are still a lethal force. Terrall’s role as a Dalek agent is developed as an additional mystery for the Doctor to solve, as well as to undermine Maxtible’s belief that he is invaluable to his new ‘partners’ (had he failed them, they might well have controlled him as they did Terrall).
So that’s the final TV novelisation for some time – and John Peel has secured joint-fifth place with Gerry Davis among the most prolific authors to contribute to the Target library (even if, as with Power of the Daleks and the next entry, this has become an imprint of Virgin books and an actual Target logo is nowhere to be seen).