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Pertwee Spits Fire!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Doctor Who: Last of the Gaderene (Mass Market Paperback)
For many years before Mark Gatiss gained some notoriety as a member of BBC2's cult comedy, The League of Gentlemen, he was a Doctor Who novelist of some note (and he's also the last actor to have played the Doctor on TV). Gaderene sees him returning to form. This novel is also quite timely, arriving with the Pertwee repeats on BBC2. Anyone wanting to migrate from the repeats to the novels would do well to start off with this adventure. It is literally imbued with the spirit of Pertwee's era.
An old friend of the Brigadier, Alec Whistler, is concerned about the goings on at the aerodrome in Culverton. A former spitfire fighter, he has a high regard for the place. A bored Doctor, whose feet are itching due to the end of his exile, agrees to investigate. Why has the fascistic organisation Legion International taken over the aerodrome? What's in their coffin-like cargo? Just who is the mysterious inspector from Scotland Yard? With the help of the local people, who are rather more friendly than the inhabitants of Royston Vasey, the Doctor breaks into the aerodrome. There's also something rather nasty in the marshes, and the squabbling of school friends leads to something more vicious...
With its shower of meteors and body snatching methods, the Gaderene aren't all that removed from the Nestene in Frontier from Space, but this hardly matters, since the novel is an enjoyable romp. Gaderene could easily have been a TV adventure, so true are the portrayals of the Doctor, the Brig, and Jo. Gatiss even manages to slip in the word 'chitinous' every now and then, revealing the impact that Doctor Who had on the vocabulary of a whole generation (although he wisely avoids forcing Pertwee to say it). If I have one criticism of the novel, it's that Gatiss tries too much to avoid using clichés. His similes try to be as beautiful as a rose, but turn out to be just as thorny: "An eerie phosphorescence hovered over the now-quiet marshes like the skirts of a ghostly woman" is one such example. But in all other parts of the novel, Gatiss achieves near-perfection.