Doctor Who: Last of the Gaderene: 50th Anniversary Edition (Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection) Paperback – 7 Mar 2013
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The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection: Eleven classic adventures. Eleven brilliant writers. One incredible Doctor.
About the Author
Mark Gatiss is one of The League of Gentlemen from the award-winning television show, and the author of the novels The Vesuvius Club and The Devil in Amber. He has also written acclaimed radio and television scripts, including episodes of Doctor Who. He co-created and writes for the hit TV series Sherlock with Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat.
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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.
Read by Richard Franklin this is a very classic type story with all the ingredients of a 3rd Dr tale of the time.
The story itself concerns the mysterious Legion International, who have taken over an old aerodrome on the outskirts of the village of Culverton to act as the landing strip for an alien invasion. Legion, the Gaderene and 'the swine' (as they call their human hosts) are a reference to the biblical story from Mark ch.5 (quoted, annoyingly, in the King James Version at the start of the story), but nothing is made of this other than the fact that the aliens are 'possessing' the villagers.
Mark Gatiss is of course on home territory writing about sinister villagers (having co-created The League Of Gentlemen), although the otherwise idyllic east anglian village of Culverton is a far cry from Royston Vasey. The village characters are well-written and realistic, although the UNIT troops are less so. Sinister villages and invasions in remote locations were frequent themes in the Third Doctor's televised adventures and so from that point of view, this novel reflects the era well. Perhaps a little too well because, as others have commented, there is little original here. And, whilst enjoyable, the story does not move along particularly quickly. A number of things are being set up for 'the exciting conclusion'. And consequently the pace gathers significantly in the last 50 pages. A good read, but not quite a classic.
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