on 25 January 2000
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.
on 7 July 2013
There can be no doubt as to why this novel has been chosen to be part of this series of re-releases to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary; it is the ideal representation of the Third Doctor's era. Set in a very English East Anglian village where the Master is conspiring with a race of aliens to infiltrate and invade the planet, this story has all the hallmarks of many of the televised UNIT stories from this period. From the construction of the plot and the flow and pace of events it is easy enough to imagine that this might have been a novelisation of a four or six part serial under the helm of Barry Letts.
The Third Doctor's characterisation, which I often believe misses the mark in many Doctor Who novels, is absolutely spot on here. There is also a particularly accurate portrayal of Jo Grant in which you can hear Katy Mannning delivering the lines. Even though they have somewhat smaller roles to play, it is also clear that the author is well versed in the behaviour and mannerisms of The Brigadier, Yates and Benton. The UNIT team shines here as it does in the very best of its television appearances.
This is also Roger Delgado's Master to a tee. Supercilious charm and malicious menace are delivered with equal smoothness. His bickering, mutually untrusting, alliance with Bliss (although similar to all the Master's alliances and thus not particularly original) is perfectly in character and utterly enjoyable. As parasitic, body snatching aliens the Gaderene aren't the most original or unique of science fiction species but there is enough to them to function more than effectively within the confines of this story and alongside the Master.
I'm not often taken with Mark Gatiss' offerings for the television series (apart from the recent `Crimson Horror'), usually finding his Doctor Who novels to be the better stories. That is certainly the case with `Last of the Gaderene'. In another dimension this could have easily been a televised Third Doctor story. As such there couldn't be a better novel to represent Pertwee's incarnation of The Doctor for the fiftieth anniversary.
This is the 50th anniversary story representing the Third Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee - the dashing, debonair man of action with all his gadgets, Scientific Advisor to UNIT, and Timelord initially exiled to Earth. Initially published in 2000, it is set prior to the TV story The Green Death, where Jo leaves to get married. So Jo features in this story along with the Doctor and UNIT. The original book cover features the Doctor's face, along with a plane from WWII (I guess it's a Spitfire, as this is a feature of the story, but stand to be corrected). As the Third Doctor stories often were, this one is Earth-bound, but that's what you really expect from a Third Doctor story, and that's what is so reassuring about the Third Doctor as a whole. All those great UNIT stories, with the Brigadier, Seargent Benton, Roger Delgado as the Master, various monsters set to conquer or destroy Earth, and great gadgets - ah, those were the days. This novel has many of those elements, and even has a Government bureaucrat, who so often turned up in UNIT stories, causing trouble, or blocking the Doctor's good intentions.
Set in the early 1970s, there is plenty of nostalgia in this story. The Doctor, starting to get itchy feet with his life on Earth, agrees to go to Culverton when the Brigadier is contacted by a friend who flew in the RAF in WWII, concerned about mysterious goings-on in the village. This is a great story, and a great Third Doctor story. The key to good Doctor Who novels, I thought as I read this, is that the author absolutely must get the characterisation of the appropriate Doctor just right - if that's not done, then it just doesn't scan as a Doctor Who story at all. This story has the Third Doctor down perfectly. And the story is absolutely one that is a Third Doctor story - you can just see it rolling past you on the tv screen as you read.
Absolutely totally recommended as a Doctor Who, Third Doctor, and great story.
on 18 April 2000
Mark Gatiss has become my favourite Doctor Who author. After the way the Third Doctor was mistreated in the hands of Lawrence Miles, "Last of the Gaderene" is a breath of fresh air. A mysterious military group that have set up base in a small village have caught the Doctor and Units attention. Although, the leader of this organization has said she has the villages best intention in mind, the Doctor feels there is more to this group than meets the eye. I haven't read a Doctor Who novel that feels like it could be a television episode since "The Hollow Men". Not only are the main character well written, but the supporting character have dimension and are a lot more than just cardboard cutouts standing in the background. This is a very hard thing to do in writing. But I highly recommend this book to all Doctor Who fans out there. It's full of so many surprises that the only time you'll be disappointed is when you've finally finished reading the book. I really hope Mark Gatiss writes more really soon.
on 13 January 2013
The Last of the Gaderene by Mark Gatiss is a novel about the third Doctor and is set in a seemingly sleepy east Anglian village in the 1970s. The sinister Legion International are a cover for an extraterrestrial force, and they need to take over a former airforce base in order to execute their shocking plans. The Doctor and his assistant, Jo Grant, eventually get to the truth and save the day, ably assisted by his usual UNIT helpers of Lethbridge-Stewart, Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton.
It's a face-paced, action orientated story and Gatiss really evokes the atmosphere and feel of both the 1970s and the relationships and sense of the third Doctor's era. There's a few well-placed references to the series internal history, and it gives some lovely hints to Jo's approaching final story The Green Death.
A great read, enjoyable for both hardcore Doctor Who fans and newbies alike.
© Koplowitz 2013
on 15 June 2001
A very traditional and typical third Doctor adventure, combining familiar elements such as alien invasion and an isolated earth-bound setting. Not without its' problems however-the interesting Gaderene race not having nearly enough attention and detail paid to them, also there was frequently far too much running around and pages where nothing seemed to happen for ages. Also, the involvement of a certain enemy of the Doctor came across as largely superfluous and irrelevant to the story. Despite this, the story is a strong one due to its' delightfully nostalgic feel and spot-on characterisations of the Doctor, Jo and UNIT, hence it is worthy of 4 stars. Not quite up to Mark's former standards, but certainly very welcome and readable
on 7 February 2007
After Virgin Books' license expired in 1997, BBC Books continued the theme of 'Missing Adventures' - original Doctor Who novels to slot in between the adventures that had appeared on TV - with their own series of 'Past Doctors' (which ran fot 76 books, until 2005 when the TV series returned). Although Virgin's 'Missing Adventures' were usually careful to reflect the Doctor Who era in which they were set, the 'Past Doctors' books don't always succeed in this. This one, the 28th to be published, does a pretty good job of reflecting mid seventies Doctor Who in an adventure featuring the Third Doctor, his assistant Jo Grant and of course UNIT. It was designed to fit in between the TV adventures Planet Of The Daleks and The Green Death, and cleverly includes a degree of closure for one character, who wasn't able to get it in the series.
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.
on 7 April 2014
Last of the Gaderene is a 3rd Doctor adventure by Mark Gatiss and his first novel since the lacklustre The Roundheads. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge lover of Mark Gatiss. There is no doubting his passion for Doctor Who but he never manages to hit the mark for me, both in novel or in TV form. Last of the Gaderene is set during my all time favourite period of the show (3rd Doctor’s UNIT era) so hopefully Gatiss won’t ruin it for me.
Story wise, Gatiss gets it right but it’s hard not to with Earth based UNIT stories (although The Devil Goblins From Neptune almost managed it). The aerodrome in Culverton is a perfect setting for the story, and it falls nicely into a base under siege type story with an alien race attempting to take over the Earth.
There are slight annoyances though. Gatiss has a lot of plot threads going on at the beginning which whilst not confusing, slows the pace of the book down. I can’t help but feel a more Terrance Dicks style would have suited the story much better. We are also treated to two chapters of the Doctor coming to an end of a solo adventure for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Those things aside however and it’s hard not to love the story.
The 3rd Doctor is done well, especially in his pointless solo adventure bit, and Jo is also on top form as a companion who is on her way out. UNIT wise it’s more of what we expect from UNIT, with only the Brig really standing out by having to make some hard choices.
Supporting cast wise there are a lot of villagers, most of whom fall into the usual stereotypical villager role. Whistler as an ex-air force man is done really well, as his is unlikely partnership with teenager Noah, but they are the exception to the rule. Not that it really matters, as a Doctor Who by numbers isn’t a bad thing in the PDA’s.
The main threat are the Gaderene who are trying to take over the Earth under the guise of setting up a new airport. They do this by taking over bodies, which is an idea which has been done to death in recent adventures so no points for originality. The history behind them is pretty good though and they are being helped out an old foe who is always entertaining. Don’t really want to spoil it by letting you know who!
Last of the Gaderene is actually a pretty good effort from Gatiss. There minor annoyances, but on the whole I was pleasantly surprised with how much I did enjoy the novel. Highly recommended for fans of the era.
on 19 June 2014
I am not a great fan of literary extensions of TV shows, even if I love the original shows. However I have been working my way through this series of Doctor Who books as they are meant to be the pick of the crop to mark the 50th anniversary of Who – and in this case it does indeed meet that high water mark.
This does exactly what was required of it – particularly when it first published when Who was in its long TV hiatus – ie provide new Doctor Who that reminds you of the fun and glory of the original telly episodes.
It’s the third Doctor so it has all the popular elements of that incarnation: UNIT, Bessie, The Doctor in charge of another new fun fast vehicle, a familiar villain, and a quaint English village a la Daemons.
Mark Gatiss delivers a pitch perfect Third Doctor and a book that feels just as good as the best of original Pertwee TV episodes – good thing he is also so deeply involved in the new TV Who.
on 12 April 2013
This had all the ingredients of Jon Pertwees doctor who period and it was like being taken back to 1973 again. If Jon was your doctor you will love it and if not you will enjoy it anyway. Gatiss does a great job as usual.