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A cold-blooded thriller!
, 24 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters (Mass Market Paperback)
In the DVD/download/YouTube age, it is so easy to re-discover the gems of your childhood. It's not so very long ago that all you had of your childhood memories were, well, memories.
Nostalgia is a bit of an industry in itself, and people delight in talking about the things they used to watch, or the books they used to read, when they were kids. Very often people will use the "Do you remember....?" as an ice breaker when meeting new people. Something all the talking head nostalgia shows have tapped into.
I loved this book when I was a kid back in the 1980s, and although I've kept most of my Doctor Who Target novelizations, and happily purchased all the Doctor Who VHS and DVD releases, I've been curiously reluctant to revisit the books. It's like one of the last pristine memories that I have. Do you know what I mean? I'd feel like I was overwriting those genuine memories, and then I'd have nothing of the `originals' left, because they were such a massive part of my childhood.
Also, I feared the books may not be as good as I remembered. They are what made me want to be a writer, and were such a source of enjoyment and comfort that I didn't want to spoil them.
These Classic reissues somehow got around that problem. They were the same stories, but with Extras - a bit like the DVD releases. They have their new jackets (although with original illustrations!); introductions from a mixture of modern Who luminaries and classic Who writers; and a Between The Lines feature that examines the book and compares it to the televised show. It felt like buying a new product.
The story here is brilliant. Really clever. It's not alien invaders, it's a race of reptiles who were here on Earth before us! To them, we are the invaders.
The characterization of the Doctor is good and the story feels very modern with it's quandary over energy, sharing the earth's resources, and changes to the environment.
Seven TV episodes are reduced to 45,000 words and it works really well. The story is told with pace and brilliant character moments. The books may have been intended for children, but like the best children's books, they weren't patronizing and they contained a lot of adult concerns.
Somewhere, recently, I read a review or a foreword, or something - about one of my favourite extracts from Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters. (Unless I dreamed that I did. I thought it was some kind of interview with Russell T Davies, but I might be getting mixed up.) Anyway, the bit of the book that I'm referring to is when the character of Miss Dawson is reflecting on her life. She considers herself now to be a spinster, although she's only in her 30s.
"In her heart Miss Dawson feared the moment when people would stop asking `Why don't you get married?' and replace it
with the dread, `Why *didn't* you get married?'"
It's brilliant, and I remember being struck by that piece as a child. Such a brilliant lesson in writing. Illustrating something in a character's life without ploddingly just stating "she was disappointed that she never got married." I love that kind of thing, and the Doctor Who books were full of such clever little moments.
I'd recommend Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters to ... anyone. Kids, adults, fans of the new series, anyone. Give it a try, You won't be disappointed. The stories in the classic series were every bit of good as today, and the books act as a leveller between the gap in what was possible to film in the 70s and the modern show.
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