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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet by Gerry Davis

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Title: Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet
Series: Doctor Who Library
Author: Gerry Davis
Copyright: 1976 (2012)
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781849904742
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Twitter: @EburyPublishing, @bbcdoctorwho, @DrWhoBBCBooks
Format: Paperback
Available: May 10, 2012
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is a current reprint from BBC Books of a vintage Target Books novelization of the Doctor Who story, The Tenth Planet, the First Doctor's final adventure. Target Books would release novelizations of just about every Doctor Who episode, though not necessarily in the order that they serials were released to television. For instance, Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet was released in 1976, while the serial it was based on was broadcast in 1966. I have not seen the episodes this novelization was based on, but I'm familiar with the events and feel like the novel did a more than adequate job of translating the story to print. In fact, I think given that the story was written a decade after the episodes aired, Davis was able to improve on the story in some ways, since the future that was being described in the 1960s episodes was far closer to the 1970s story being told here. In the afterword, it is revealed that there are some changes made to the story, replacing scenes where the Doctor was missing from the aired episodes (William Hartnell was absent from an entire episode of filming due to illness, so changes to the script had to be made to include that absence), slight changes in time (the television episodes took place in 1986, the novelization takes place in 2000), and changes to the way the Doctor regenerated.

This adventure was also the introduction to the Cybermen, who came from Earth's sister planet Mondas, and who were coming to destroy the Earth. Mondas was a dying planet, and when it came back into our solar system, it started to leech power away from the Earth, so that eventually Earth would be laid to waste and Mondas would be a strong planet again. The Cybermen come to Earth to keep the security forces of the planet from interfering with the energy transference to Mondas. Naturally, the Doctor and his companions, Polly and Ben, find themselves in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time, depending on how you look at it), and the Doctor seems to know exactly what's going on and helps to defend the Earth.  Through the course of this adventure, the Doctor grows more and more weak, eventually resulting in his first regeneration.

I really enjoyed reading this novelization. One of the things that made it really work for me was how contemporary the writing and feel of the story is for something that was written 35 years ago. Had I not know when the story was written before I read it, I would have thought it had been written more recently. I felt that the changes Davis made to the story worked well, especially since he wrote the original screenplay for The Tenth Planet and is responsible for the creation of the Cybermen, and was asked by Target to write this novelization ten years later.

This is my first experience with the Target Books edition of Doctor Who stories, and I'm fairly sure I'll be picking more up as I find them.  Recommended for Doctor Who fans!

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