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Doctor Who: Catastrophea [Paperback]

Terrance Dicks
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 May 1998 Doctor Who
A jubilant Doctor has been given freedom again by the Time Lords to roam time and space. But when he and Sam arrive on the planet of Catastrophea, he begins to wish perhaps his exile on Earth had remained imposed, for the Doctor becomes embroiled in the schemes of off-world drug-smugglers.


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; paperback / softback edition (5 May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563405848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563405849
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 522,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Third Doctor fare...with Draconians! 17 April 2001
By finna
Format:Paperback
A very mild and straightforward read, told in a straightforward though entertaining way. Nothing remotely demanding here, but it's very welcome after vague and incomprehensible tosh like Beltempest and Placebo effect. It's basically another variation on the oppressed alien race theme with drugs, sexual inferences and violence which don't always sit comfortably with the plot, instead seeming at odds with it. Doesn't spoil it too much though, and it's ultimately a satisfying read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Catastrophea 12 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback
Catastrophea marks the first appearance of Terrance Dicks to the Past Doctor range. Uncle Terry was script editor on the show back in the 3rd Doctors era, and was also responsible for the novelizations of many classic era Doctor Who. Mr Dicks has a very simple writing style and I like my stories, simple and uncomplicated so he immediately starts hitting the right notes for me.

The main plot of Catastrophea is that the Doctor and Jo land on the planet Kastopheria which is more commonly referred to as Castastrophea as it is a melting pot of a corrupt company, police, drug smugglers, do-gooders and a native race of giants. They soon get involved in local politics, and the arrival of the Draconians threatens to push the tension to all-out war.

The 3rd Doctor, as you'd expect from Mr Dicks, is very well done. He has the arrogance and tall tales, and also shows a use of martial arts and pressure points to subdue attackers. Jo is also true to her TV form and whilst she doesn't get a lot to do, she still does the companion role well. Given Uncle Terry's history with this era of the show it really isn't surprising, and it makes for an excellent read.

Catastrophea has various factions and as such there are quite a lot of supporting characters. These do fall into the stereotypical category more often than not, but it actually fits quite well with the simplistic nature of the story. You have trigger happy military, pencil pushing administrators, drug/booze fuelled smugglers, and do gooder hippy types of which most are that description to a T. Some show slightly differing tendencies but in the main you know what you're getting.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too modern for Pertwee's era 10 July 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is a great adventure but it has many bad points. In this book there is swearing, drugs, violence and sex mentioned. Doctor Who was never like that, especially in the Pertwee era. Would the Doctor chuck his foes in the air and then say 'i detest violence!'. However, it is a great tale and all the characters are well drawn and presented. Terrance Dicks i think aimed this novel for a young generation thats why the violence and swearing is added.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars AN OK READ 29 April 2001
By P. M. Connolly VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I read this book in two days and thought it was very good. the doctor and jo are very good even though Jo does not do very much. The story is about drug smuggling and the draconians are in it too an ok book but nothing startling.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Pertwee Yarn 27 Sep 1998
By Reuben Herfindahl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It was with rather mixed feelings that I approached Catastrophea. I had quite enjoyed the only Dicks NA that I had read (Timewem:Exodus) but lothed the Eight Doctors. However the temptation was too great, the 3rd Doctor, and Jo Grant are perhaps my favorite Doctor companon team.
Review:The back cover blurb sets the story directly after Planet of the Daleks and before the Green Death. There are two Virgin MA's set up in this same gap (Paul Leonard's Dancing the Code, and Speed of Flight), but both are earth bound adventures so Catastrophea easially fits in with their continuity. Dicks captures the feel of the 3rd Doctor's era very well.....
The bottom line: Just because the Eight Doctors was a load of horse dung, doesn't mean you should assume Dicks has lost his talent to tell a good yarn. Nothing new and groundbreaking, just a entertaining read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Catastrophea by name, catastrophe by nature 28 Nov 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In my reviews of various Doctor Who stories adapted to a book form by Terrance Dicks, I have often commented that they lack spark. When it came to writing original Doctor Who novels, I have found that Mr. Dicks usually does a far better job. However, 'Catastrophea' is an example of the fact that he can produce some right stinkers.
Set during the show's tenth season, the Doctor and Jo are travelling away from the planet Spiridon when the Doctor senses a huge amount of pain. He materialises the TARDIS to investigate.
On the planet Kastopheria, they find native race, the People, are being repressed by human colonists. The Doctor is mistaken by the humans as revolutionary leader El Llama (and being a revolutionary, he has to have a Spanish sounding name - very lazy writing!) while the People recognise him as a prophesied saviour.
As it turns out, the humans are using a drug known as skar to keep the People passive. But the Doctor soon discovers there is more to skar than the humans understand...
I think the main problem with this story is that Mr. Dicks came up with some ideas and wrote the book before thinking it through properly. It hangs together OK (Mr. Dicks is too professional a writer for it not to), but there are sudden turns of events that just seem so unlikely.
For Doctor Who completists only!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book captures the 3rd Doctor era very well. 25 Sep 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Overall the book was fun to read. It really brings out the nostalgia for the Pertwee era in the TV show. The plot, although not very complex, illustrates the Doctor, and his companion Jo wonderfully. The book borrows visually from the film 'Casablanca' and plotwise from the serial 'The Mutants.' It's also pleasant to have a reappearence of an old adversary -- the Draconians...
5.0 out of 5 stars This could easily have been a Doctor Who serial 5 Dec 2013
By Rich M. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
An excellent Past Doctor adventure featuring Jo Grant and the Third Doctor. This one reads exactly like one of the original serials! Good characterization, well-written, and has a touch of the good humorous that makes the show so much fun.
5.0 out of 5 stars Title notwithstanding, it could have been so much worse 18 May 2008
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Terrence Dicks is how a lot of Americans know about "Doctor Who", as he wrote most of the novelisations of the TV serials (that was how I first discovered the show, or at least became familiar with it) . . . and while his writing style in those books worked just fine to convey what was on screen in a prose form, it lacked a certain amount of flair overall, something that became obvious when the Virgin New Adventures came around. Dicks' few novels for that line were passable, entertaining but seemingly out of place with the other writers' more considerable verve and insistence on breaking new ground (sometimes doing that instead of telling a story but that's a debate for another time). In that context he seemed like one of the Old Guard, while they were trying to push the series in a new direction.

This only got worse when he inaugurated the BBC line of adventures featuring the Eighth Doctor, as his first novel for that was just godawful, a string of "This happened and this happened and this happened and then the story was over" that wasn't even that entertaining. The saving grace was that it read quickly. So now he comes along again with a novel featuring Jon Pertwee's Doctor, a era of the series he's probably vastly more familiar with. And the difference shows.

The Doctor and Jo Grant, alerted by a psychic distress signal, land on a colony world where the passive native giants are used as slaves by the current landholders. But strange things are starting to happen, as the giants are randomly starting to become violent, smugglers are combing the planet for a local native drug, and every dogooder for parsecs is arriving to further their own cause. The Doctor gets mixed up in things and as usual has to figure out what's going on while everyone is either trying to recruit or arrest him (and sometimes both at the same time).

The novel is impressively readable and while it's not pulse-pounding or emotional, it's highly professional, doing what it has to do to keep the story moving. The main military and administration people are shown to be well rounded and even reasonable, which keeps the situations humorous at times and distracts you from the fact that the story boils down to the Doctor getting captured and escaping and getting recaptured several times, with only mild variations. Like I said, Dicks is able to do this well enough so that the story remains entertaining without being repetitious, but at the same time it points out that the plot isn't really that complex.

As a side bonus, the rather underused Draconians show up and while Dicks doesn't seem to be sure if they are supposed to be comedy figures or taken seriously, it's a nice call-out to a memorable alien race from those years of the show, even if they don't do all that much and seem to be there merely to allow the plot a neater wrap-up (or needlessly complicate things).

You'll read it, you'll probably enjoy it and it will only take you a few hours, at which point you'll rarely think about it again. This literally could have been a TV episode, and does a good job of evoking the era. So if you want a dose of nice comfortable "Doctor Who" then this is probably exactly what you're looking for.
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