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This review is from: Doctor Who: Shada (Kindle Edition)
Boasting several very Douglas Adamsish set pieces, "Shada" is a well-wriiten book, doing a very diligent job at capturing both late 1970s Doctor Who and the style of Douglas Adams. The thing is, Gareth Roberts has captured this era of Doctor Who better (particularly in his "The Romance of Crime" and "The English Way of Death") as it does feel like he was tip-toeing on creative eggshells while producing this novelisation. It seems ever so slightly stilted on occasions, straight-jacketed into the constraints of satisfying three different (although not mutually exclusive) audiences: Douglas Adams fans, Old (or "classic") Who fans and New (Russell T Davies/Steven Moffat era) Who fans. Broadly, the book works as it gives each audience rewards for persevering, it is solid and well-told - but it doesn't ever move on from what it is: a labour of love. And, judging from Roberts' own comments in the book, that love was somewhat laboured at times - unlike his own stories based on this period in Doctor Who's history: they positively sing with his joy at writing for the characters he loves, here the joy is muted. There is joy but it's not sung aloud with relish, rather it is polite, even a little restrained.
There is another issue for this reader: Shada may never have been finished but it has appeared as an animated webcast and a VHS VCR with linking narration (courtesy of one Tom Baker); it inspired chunks of the first Dirk Gently book and, consequently, is something many are already reasonably familiar with. Consequently, there is little in the novel which is truly new and fresh. Not a bad thing in itself, just something to be aware of. It's a little like seeing one of those West End musicals based on a favourite film: the story is one you know, there are no major surprises but your interest is held throughout with occasional embellishments in the reinterpretation.
Gareth Roberts' take on "Shada" does not provoke contempt through its familarity. Neither does it invoke shocks or surprises through invoking something new; it will never set the literary world on fire but it will always have its place.