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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who: Shada
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on 9 September 2015
Two great worlds collide, the incredible writing of Douglas Adams and the amazing world of Doctor Who, in this instant featuring the legendary Fourth Doctor as played by Tom Baker, not much to say about this other than the fact that any fan of Adams or the Doctor will absolutely love this book
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on 12 July 2017
Excellent Product
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on 20 March 2012
Having not seen any other versions of this Doctor Who story, I was able to come to Shada with fresh eyes and no overblown expectations. Thankfully, that let me see it for exactly what it is: a really great Doctor Who adventure.

It is of course based on the scripts and some of the filmed material for Shada by Douglas Adams, and the dialogue is therefore as funny and quirky as you would expect, while the story is suitably mad and slightly ridiculous. But it would be foolish to ignore Gareth Robert's contribution to the story. He makes the descriptions (that are his obviously own and not Adams') sing and sparkle and entertain, while still writing with great respect for Adams and mirroring his (almost) unique storytelling style.

On top of this great story, there are also nice little continuity references for the fans, including a delightfully surprising mention of fellow rogue Time Lord the Corsair, only created by Neil Gaiman in his 2011 TV episode. While I expect that many people will come to this book with knowledge of its troubled history and production problems, I urge you to out all that to one side, and see it simply as a brilliant and brand new adventure for the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9.
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on 16 May 2012
At last Shada emerges from its own time capsule, ironically like some of the characters in the story itself: frozen in time, because it never made the TV screen owing to a strike at BBC TV centre back in 1979.

Shada was the third of three stories to be penned by the late, great Douglas Adams for the original Doctor Who TV series. This novelisation by Gareth Roberts does the near-impossible job of satisfying three different audiences: fans of the original (classic) Doctor Who Series; fans of the new TV series and of course Douglas Adams fans.

As someone who grew up with Tom Baker as 'my Doctor' ; Lalla Ward and K9 as 'my companions' this novelisation was a real treat. My first recollections of Doctor Who are the 1979-1980 season - of which Shada was intended to be the finale. Gareth keeps true to the spirit of the original series, so much so you can hear Tom's rich baritone voice in his dialogue booming out from the pages; along with Lalla's haughty observations and K9's nasal pedantry. Along with that you have the wit and dry humour for which Douglas Adams is legendary, and the grafting on of issues that would have been taboo back in 1979 - such as the sexuality of one of the incidental characters. All 3 are done with such aplomb by Gareth that you never doubt for one moment that all 3 sets of readers will be happy with this book.

Some of you may recall the sparkling dialogue between Romana and the Doctor, whilst punting on the Cam,in the 20th anniversary story - The Five Doctors. To date, this is the only part of Shada to make it onto the small screen. The book continues in a similar vein, along with observations about 1970's fashions, early pub closing times, wry observations about the (lack of) a gay scene in Cambridge, polluting 1970's motor cars and simply the narrative of a gentler, simpler time when the sun shone in October and the world moved at a simpler and slower rate. Reading this book is like being transported back in time to 1979 Cambridge, along with its gentle sights and sounds.

Reading this book also made you realise that Douglas had an imagination far bigger than the TV series could have hoped to realise successfully- at the time. Perhaps the irony of not making it to the TV screen is that we can imagine the Kraags, Shada, Skagra in all their evil abomination without the limitations of the BBC Doctor Who budget of the late 1970s. The concepts in the story are of course ones which Adams fans will recognise - a talking computer, galatic criminals held in suspension, and of course an evil meglomaniac out to cause mischief- the staple diet of Doctor Who adventures. The story is ahead of its time too, as the villain Skagra, wants to take over the universe not by conventional means, but by absorbing the thoughts and minds of all sentinent beings in the universe. It seems odd we are seriously contemplating this as (an earthy) reality now in 2012!

In the hands of Gareth Roberts, he takes both the scripts and the actors' ad-libs from the TV rehearsals, and gives a novelisation worthy of the imagination that went into the original story by Douglas in the first place. The result is a masterpiece, like Douglas' other major contribution - City of Death - greater than the sum of its parts.

Is there a negative about this story? None, other than it is a shame it has never made it to the TV screen. At what price - a TV remake for the 50th anniversary in 2013? Now that the new series production team has a budget and talent to match the huge imagination that was Douglas Adams.
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on 27 January 2014
Renowned for many years as being the lost Fourth Doctor story due to industrial action, ‘Shada’ has been released, re-imagined and remade across various forms of media more than any other Doctor Who story. Since its initial failure to be completed for television it has experienced a VHS release complimentary of Tom Baker’s accompanying narration, been made into an audio play and released as a web based animation featuring the Eighth instead of the Fourth Doctor. It has also finally been released as a novelisation, which feels as if it might be the closest to what Douglas Adams intended.

It is an amalgamation of Douglas Adams’ original scripts and notes and the inventiveness of Gareth Roberts, renowned for writing some of the most popular Fourth Doctor and Romana novels (some of which are to be made into audio plays later in 2014). As a product of two authors it works very well. Roberts clearly knows and understands Adams’ unique style and humour and there is little indication of who wrote what. Having Roberts, writer of several televised scripts since the programme’s return, write the novelisation has the advantage of making the story feel that it is influenced by both the original run of Doctor Who and its return since 2005. Hence there are references to such things as Carrionites and the Corsair. It makes the story feel less routed in 1979. In a way it becomes more historical than modern.

The writing style is basically what you might expect if you’re a Hitchhikers fan or of any other works of Adams. Effortlessly whimsical and tongue in cheek but rarely frivolous to the plot and never pointless. The balance of humour is perfectly pitched. The novelisation is a fully fleshed out version of the TV story. This provides much more depth for the small cast of characters making them stronger and more dimensional, providing greater incentives and motivations for their actions and behaviour. Thus, however despicable, Shagra also manages to become a figure of sympathy. The love story angle between Chris and Claire is covered more satisfactorily and Salyavin becomes a far more understandable and explained character (something that felt a little absent in the TV version).

It’s great after all these years that ‘Shada’ finally gets a novelisation. It’s a good example of Douglas Adams’ marvellous contribution to Doctor Who and cements Gareth Roberts’ mastery over the Fourth Doctor/Second Romana era. I look forward to novelisation of ‘City of Death’.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 23 November 2013
As tributes to Douglas Adams go, this Gareth Roberts re-interpretation of the abandoned-during-filming Doctor Who story "Shada" is much more successful than the recent Hitch Hiker's Guide attempt by Eoin Colfer. It's also significantly better than the recent (and recently cancelled) Hitch Hiker's Live stage show.

Where Colfer's novel was barely any better than fan fiction, and the stage show diminished the original ideas into basically just a pantomime, Gareth Roberts has both the confidence and the skill to come up with a novel which you can believe is almost as good as if Douglas Adams had written it himself. It works on every level- for young and old Doctor Who fans, for Adams fans, for people with just a passing interest. It works as dramatic sci-fi but it also works as comedy. Thankfully, it reads as a modern Doctor Who novel, and doesn't drop into the style of Target novelisations.

The Tom Baker Doctor is well represented and believable. Romana comes into her own a lot during this story, which is good as even Douglas Adams' writing of female characters was dangerously one-dimensional at times. Human accomplices Chris and Clare become the real, if temporary, companions, and get fairly well fleshed out as characters in their own right.

Full marks to Gareth Roberts for doing a great job with a daunting challenge.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 18 March 2012
Here, at last, after 30 years, is a finished version of "Shada", the "Doctor Who" adventure by Douglas Adams that was never finished (a strike at the BBC interrupted filming, although bits were used in the later "The Five Doctors" to cover for Tom Baker's absence from that).

Gareth Roberts has done a stunning job, returning to the latest notes and versions that Adams left and, as he says in a helpful postscript, having had the luxury of time to complete what Adams was writing in a rush.

I've always been cautious about written versions of Who and never convinced that they work as well as on TV, but Roberts (and Adams, of course!) show here that it's possible. Whether considered as a Doctor Who adventure alongside all the others (including the 21st century revival) or simply as a compelling story, this book succeeds - both bring to life the characters of the Fourth Doctor and Romana and also providing foils in Clare, Colin, and Professor Chronatis, who are swept in their wake (as well as a truly megalomaniac villain).

It's also possible to see aspects of Adams' other fiction reflected here (slightly irritating talking spaceships, bad stuff that might happen with airlocks and much more - it's fun to watch out for this.)

Overall, an enjoyable read, I'd have thought a must for those who are Doctor Who or Douglas Adams fans (or both).
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on 10 September 2013
Douglas Adams was famous for missing his deadlines in a spectacular fashion. So it's somehow fitting that this novelisation of his scripts for a Doctor Who story should be published 12 years after his death. Late again, Douglas!

For those unfamiliar with the history behind Shada: in 1979, Douglas Adams was script editor on Doctor Who, during the same period that The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy was taking off on radio. So it's unsurprising to find that his TV scripts channel the same brilliant combination of science fiction, humour, wordplay and outrageous ideas. Shada is as much classic Douglas Adams as it is classic Tom Baker-era Doctor Who.

There are two reasons why Shada in particular is unusual. First, it's the only Doctor Who adventure that was cancelled during production - it never made it to the screen. Second, although all other Doctor Who episodes have been novelised, Douglas refused to do so with his stories (mainly because nobody ever offered to pay him the going rate for a bestselling author!). Anyone who has read his novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency will recognise several ideas from Shada, recycled because he assumed they would never otherwise see print.

So here comes Gareth Roberts to correct that, combining his own style with Douglas's to bring Shada into the 21st Century. Rather than just a straight transcription of the TV scripts, this is a highly inventive and imaginative novel that isn't afraid of straying from the course. Minor characters Chris and Claire now gain a comedic full-blown romance, and we get to see the battle to prevent an ancient Time Lord book from falling into evil hands from Chris's perspective, making him much more of an Arthur Dent-style everyman hero than the TV episodes would have done.

I was initially wary of this book, fearing that it might fall between the gaps of its ambitions. But apart from a few niggles, I thoroughly enjoyed it and believe it successfully achieves all of its goals. For Douglas Adams fans, it is written appealingly close to his style without being a soulless copy. For Doctor Who enthusiasts, it retells an old story with the right mix of nostalgia and modernity (there are perhaps a few too many continuity nods to the current TV series, but Who fans tend to love that sort of thing). And for everyone else, it rattles out a rollicking, silly, enjoyable yarn that is more humour than sci-fi.
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on 2 October 2012
There are books that I look forward to reading, but there are very few books that actually get me excited these days. Not like how I used to really look forward to reading books when I was a child.
Well here is a book that should have been written when I was a child, wasn't, but still gave me the frisson of anticipation when it was released this year.

Between the ages of 8 and 18, I absolutely loved Target's Doctor Who books. When I was 10-11, I I devoured them. I was off school for 3 months with glandular fever. Bored? Not a bit of it. I just had loads more time to blast my way through the massive back catalogue of brilliant adventure stories, written by Terrance Dicks, Ian Marter, Barry Letts, Malcolm Hulke et al.

I really enjoyed reading Shada. Gareth Roberts has made an excellent job of creating a very readable novel out of what must have been a collection of bits: a shooting script, the completed sections of the tv programme and of course Tom Baker's own linking narration on the early-90s video release.

It's great to read an adventure of the Fourth Doctor again. The author really captures the fun and the excitement of Tom Baker's era. There was definitely something special about Doctor 4 and his pairing with Lalla Ward's Romana. That relationship is bottled and served like a good wine (not a table wine, no!) in Shada. The villain, Skagra, whilst being as cartoony on the page as he was in the TV version, is still a good nemesis for the Doctor, and gives the Time Lord lots of scope to crack jokes and deliver put downs.

I haven't been able to get interested in the books that have written for Doctors 9, 10 and 11, so this is the first new Doctor Who novel that I've been able to read and enjoy in years.

We just need Gareth Roberts to novelize The Pirate Planet and City of Death now please :-)
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VINE VOICEon 15 September 2013
This is a full length novelisation of Douglas Adams's original scripts for the famous "lost" Tom Baker Doctor Who TV story Shada, partly filmed in autumn 1979 but never completed due to a strike. It apparently includes a lot of original ideas by Adams that were not realised in the final version, or could not be with the state of TV technology at the time. There are also a number of new ideas and scenes inserted by Roberts, who has written a number of original Who novels in the 1990s and later and TV scripts for the modern show. The whole thing hangs together convincingly, though there were a few lines that I could not imagine the 4th Doctor saying. Much more is made of the characters of and relationship between Chris and Claire, though strangely, they are hardly physically described at all, whereas the descriptions of the Doctor and Romana are very good. It's interesting to see how a Doctor Who TV story can be reimagined over the course of a nearly 400 page novel. The story itself is very much classic Douglas Adams and, while enjoyable, isn't in my view the classic it is sometimes made out to be due to its unique partly-filmed-never-shown status.
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