REVIEW: "Last of the Gaderene" Doctor Who Novel

by Zepo
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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