on 12 June 2013
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. The faction of note are the original inhabitants of Catastrophea, golden skinned giants who quite happily work as slaves but on the odd occasion go mental and kill. I found the plight and history of this race very interesting. It's also worth mentioning the Draconians who are only mentioned in passing during the first two thirds of the book as planning to invade and stopping traffic to the planet. Obviously the Doctor has history with them (Frontier In Space) and Jon Pertwee even said they were his favorite monsters from his time in the show. In the final third they appear on Catastrophea and help resolve the plight of the natives.
Catastrophea isn't a stand out novel by any stretch of the imagination but it does tell an entertaining story in a simple fashion which is very true to the era of the time. It doesn't require much concentration, but it still gives you an entertaining story. Perfect bit of holiday reading.
on 17 April 2001
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.
on 10 July 2000
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.