Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Prior to the recent TV revival, Terrance Dicks was arguably the Doctor Who author with the closest association to the programme.

Not only did he write several TV stories over 15 years, but was script-editor for half a decade and novelised well over 200 episodes. That's about a third of the entire 26-year run. The other two-thirds? Well, he edited most of those adaptations too, and in so doing turned this teenager into a book-reader, along with a great many others.

And I haven't even begun on his Who-related original novels, stage-plays and CD-adventure.

In fact, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Terrance Dicks had spent his entire career writing Doctor Who, but the incredible thing is that it's only a drop in the ocean of the gigantic amount of other writing he's done / continues to do...

When he wasn't involved in the TV show's revival in 2005, I was gobsmacked, and four years later I still can't understand it.

Anyhew, he still finds time to knock-out the occasional new Who book, so it was with some nostalgia that today I spent a couple of hours on the train reading Revenge Of The Judoon.

It's a short runaround novel featuring all the familiar Doctor Who ingredients, including, yes, his trademark description of the TARDIS making a "wheezing groaning sound."

Despite having said in a DWM interview that he reckons each Doctor can generally be written the same, here he gets the tenth Doctor's extremeties and pop-culture references to a tee, and as a result you can really hear David Tennant's voice throughout.

And he patiently fixes Martha too. Despite this tale being pre-Utopia/The Sound Of Drums/Last Of The Time Lords, Martha Jones' crush on the Doctor is never even alluded to, and she's the intelligent version of her character that she'd only become by the time she later joined Torchwood.

In fact, here she even gets to be quite Doctorish in her scenes with the all-at-sea Carruthers.

'This is more like it,' whispered Martha. She ran her fingers along the wall – it felt smooth and warm to the touch. 'Plastic,' she muttered. 'That hasn't even been invented yet.' She pointed to the double doors. 'Come on. It looks as if the main attraction is down there.'

In short, this is the more interesting Martha who we might have seen had Dicks actually written an episode that series. (harrumph)

There are a couple of minor plot-goofs. Challoner's transformation takes "a few moments" on page 37, but on page 45 Martha says that there wasn't time for the doorman to go fetch him. Also Black Dog Lane becomes Black Horse Lane in the last chapter. However generally speaking there's not really enough plot in here to get mixed up in the first place.

I guess it's a little ironic. Dick's Target novelisations tended to be about 25 pages longer than this, which ends quite suddenly just as the big showdown seems to be getting started. We even leave the story with the Doctor and Martha discussing all the work that they still have to do.

Maybe his next one could be given an extra 25 pages?

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