REVIEW: "Last of the Gaderene" Doctor Who Novel
28 Jun 00
Mark Gatiss, _Doctor Who: Last of the Gaderene_, (London: BBC Worldwide, 2000).
[Image of Book]
RATING: 10 (of 10)
As the first of the new batch of Doctor Who novels hit the
shelves at my local book store I thought that one should be
tackled immediately to see if the latest batch is up to par.
What I found was perhaps one of the best Doctor Who novels I have
read yet. It is called "Last of the Gaderene."
Mark Gatiss, author, actor and Doctor Who fan, penned this
novel of the Third Doctor's visit to the small village of
Culverton. The people there seem to be changing and a brand new
airline named Legion International has moved in and bought up the
old RAF aerodrome. But not all is as it seems and when old RAF
pilot and friend Alec Whistler contacts Brigadier Lethbridge-
Stewart, UNIT is called in to investigate.
The book's strength is in its atmosphere. Mark Gatiss is
able to capture the derring-do of the Pertwee Era as if I had
turned on a flickering old television set in 1973. The Doctor's
disobeying the Brig's orders and investigating the complex on his
own and even the Doctor's Venusian Aki-Do feels as vivid, when
Gatiss writes, as watching a newly uncovered missing episode.
The story feels like a Third Doctor show right down to the parts
where the Brigadier sends off the UNIT troops, only to have them
return right away in the next episode... make that chapter.
The Gaderene are a bit reminiscent of the aliens from the
film "The Hidden," but the plot moves quick enough that the book
does not fall into science fiction clichés. An army of smiling
innocent villagers marching on UNIT troops that know they are in
danger but cannot fire their rifles is quite a memorable scene.
The Doctor utilizing Bessie to save Jo Grant from an overgrown
Gaderene in a marsh reminds me of the days that I wanted to own a
small yellow roadster to travel about in. Even the Master's
appearance, though properly delayed like in any Third Doctor
adventure, surprised me by the time it came. And it was the
words, "It was Noah who saw..." and its remaining sentence that
reinforced my love of the human spirit that I first discovered
in the Pertwee Era.
But "Last of the Gaderene" still made me doubt once or
twice as a reviewer. Being a continuity buff, I cringed a bit
when the Master was mentioned as being a classmate of the
Doctor's. While this reference was added to the program in later
years, it seemed a bit off pace appearing in a Pertwee episode...
ah, book. The story is also placed as having occurring between
"Planet of the Daleks" and "The Green Death." While the Master's
appearance makes the book seem spot on as part of the Pertwee
run, I must say that having the Master appear in a Pertwee Era
story after "Planet of the Daleks" seemed a bit wrong. Even
though I am quite aware, especially as a fan of continuity, that
Roger Delgado's death in our real world should not affect the
fictional Whoniverse, the reappearance of the Delgado Master
seemed wrong. But the story itself was strong enough to drag me
into it's flowery and metaphorical prose.
Gatiss delivers a grand Pertwee UNIT adventure and in my own
mind I was able to place it at a different time than after the
Master disappearance with the Daleks. This novel is highly
recommended, and while it might borrow a bit from modern sci-fi
trends, Gatiss's ability to recreate 1970s Doctor Who makes it
all seem fresh and new. Gatiss's writing is able to recreate the
feel and wonder of Doctor Who the way the continuing series of
Past Doctor books was meant to. Mark Gatiss, I tip my hat to
you. Jon Pertwee would be proud.
(c) Copyright Zepo, 2000.
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