THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "DANCING THE
CODE" AND "RAGS."
OFFICIAL BBC 'PAST
RELEASED IN JANUARY
The new owners of aN
aerodrome promise a
golden dawn of
prosperity for the
village of Culverton.
rejoices - with one
spitfire pilot Alec
Whistler knows the
aerodrome of old,
having found a
there years before...
The cover of this book portrays the third Doctor, whose physical appearance was altered by the Time Lords when they banished him to Earth in the twentieth century. The cover of this book also betrays the fact that it is quite possibly the most overly traditional Doctor Who novel ever written. Pure and simple, “Last of the Gaderene” is Mark Gatiss’ homage to the glory days of Target and the Empire of Terrance Dicks. And it is absolutely chuffing brilliant.
Gatiss has taken just about every staple of the Jon Pertwee era that one could possibly think of and cast it into a great melting pot. A claustrophobic village evocative of “The Dæmons”; rather well-rounded, yet slightly hackneyed ‘locals’; the UNIT presence; the Master; even the brief foray onto an alien planet – they are all here to be found within these pages, and I lost count of the number of times that the Doctor rubbed the back of this neck.
What is more, here Gatiss creates a villain that is entirely appropriate for the third Doctor’s era – the Gaderene. A race of planet-usurping body snatchers whose invasion force is spearheaded by the vile Ms Bliss, the Gaderene really nail that Nestenesque (have I just invented a new word?) eeriness. The crab-like embryos were an especially chilling touch.
"No. I mean... I should have listened to you years ago.... I liked this body... It had style."
But as I have mentioned above, the Gaderene are not the only villains on parade here – in writing the definitive Pertwee novel, how could Gatiss not include the original Master in the proceedings? He may only show up for what would have been the last couple of episodes
on television, but his presence is keenly felt nonetheless thanks to some razor-sharp dialogue and a particularly well-crafted climax. For a moment, Gatiss had me believing that we were going to have the Roger Delgado Master dying in the third Doctor’s arms as the production team of the time had originally planned! Suffice it to say that the final showdown between these two iconic characters is much more satisfying than the way things were left
up in the air after “Frontier in Space.”
Nevertheless, what impresses me the most about “Last of the Gaderene” is how it manages to be completely and utterly traditional on the surface – I mean, just check out the nostalgic chapter titles! – yet underneath, manages to subtly develop the character of third Doctor, almost without the reader noticing. There are some particularly beautiful passages where
the third Doctor realises that he has become “institutionalised” or even an “old lag”, and
that, for this incarnation at least, Earth and UNIT would always be his home. There are some similarly nice passages for Jo too as she reflects on her life and her career, and realises
that her adventures with the Doctor cannot and indeed will not last for much longer.
And so if you are looking for an injection of pure, unfiltered Pertwee then this is really the novel for you. Gatiss’ best novel since “Nightshade” by light years.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
According to this novel’s blurb, this story takes place between the television stories Planet of the Daleks and The Green Death. Within this gap we have placed it between the novels Dancing the Code and Rags, which it was released in between.
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