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Resistance is useless
on 10 May 2012
It's the year 2000 and a South Polar military base is tracking a manned capsule probing Earth's outer atmosphere. The TARDIS crew of an ailing Doctor, accompanied by Ben and Polly arrive at the base just as the capsule begins malfunctioning, seemingly affected by a strange force.
By the time this one came out I'd already witnessed my first Time Lord regeneration when Jon Pertwee bowed out, so the big surprise at the end of the Tenth Planet shouldn't have been much of a shock. What it did do to my understanding of the show, that I'd drifted into loving through Jon Pertwee's tenure, was to make me aware that regeneration had occurred before and that sooner or later it was going to happen again. The story also introduces the Cybermen in their original, almost unrecognisable, though very creepy, cloth masked version. I was a month old when The Tenth Planet was first broadcast and by the time this book got into my hands the BBC had already junked much of their pre-70s episodes including that crucial regeneration episode.
Gerry Davis' novelisation sticks close to the original script. There's a few minor changes like the year being 2000 instead of the original 1986, a Roger Moore James Bond cameo (sort of), some teasing lines from the newly regenerated Doctor at the conclusion and most noticeably the reinstatement of the Doctor's lines from episode three which were delivered in the televised version by Michael Craze (Ben) , somewhat confusedly, when William Hartnell missed filming due to ill health. Even though the Doctor doesn't have much of presence in this story it's still a very enjoyable affair and one of the first times the base-under-siege scenario that would soon become familiar was used. Let's face it, in the 1970s most little boys, when they weren't staging dinosaur battles, were probably launching Lego rockets into space - after that all important Thunderbirds countdown of course, so stories with astronauts are something that was sure to grab the imagination of young minds. Much of the tension throughout is generated by the astronauts in peril. The Cybermen on the other hand, though creepy, are a little too easily defeated. There's no mention of a weakness to gold at this stage but it's not needed as their real Achilles heel is not keeping track of their weaponry. They might be 'pretty advanced geezers' as Ben puts it but tacticians they aren't. Then when we find out that radiation makes them keel over like bowling pins, their battle cry of 'Resistance is useless' seems a little misguided. The real threat of the piece comes from the increasingly erratic and trigger happy base commander General Cutler who seems bent on sacrificing half the world's population to save his son.
Aged ten I couldn't really think of anything better than walking home with a book like this under my arm - I loved it.
Original artwork , features on script to novel, Gerry Davis and a new introduction by Tom MacRae.