Doctor Who and the Planet of Evil (Doctor Who Library) Paperback – 1 Aug 1977
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The Classic Fourth Doctor Story
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This is a strong novelisation that captures the essence of the serial. The wondrous alien jungle scenery of the televised version was, perhaps, its greatest strength. The novel does a fair job in replicating this with some detailed, atmospheric writing on behalf of Dicks.
The eponymous planet is in fact Zeta Minor where a scientific expedition is attempting to utilise its anti-matter forces as a source of energy. It seems a little unrepresentative of Zeta Minor to claim that it is `evil' as such. Its actions, although severe, are only in an effort to prevent anti-matter leaving the planet and causing some form of universal cataclysm. The same purpose as the Doctor in fact. Sorenson and Salamar, both ignorant and uncompromising in their own ways, prove to be the real threats. This novelisation focuses a little closer on their individual journeys into madness, allowing comparisons between their growing insanities. The Doctor's frustration with them both is also well caught by Dicks.
Dicks also gives the anti-matter monster a somewhat different appearance, frequently describing it as dragon like and often seeming larger than that on screen. It is also a bit more interactive with its attack on the ship.
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However, when the Morestran Empire rescue expedition arrives, the Doctor and Sarah are prime suspects as the mysterious killers. But the planet has a very large secret, one which threatens the whole universe...
'The Planet of Evil' is one of those Doctor Who serials that so many people seem to love, but which leaves me cold (perhaps not a surprise, as it was written by Louis Marks, who also wrote 'Inferno', which falls into the same category. Novelisation hasn't greatly improved the story in my eyes, and deprives us of the wonderful Zeta Minor jungle set.
If you like 'Inferno', you'll probably like this one far more than me.
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