Michael's Reviews > Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion

Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion by Terrance Dicks
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's review
Aug 05, 12

bookshelves: doctor-who, 2011, science-fiction, review
Read in July, 2011

The basic story of this one owes a lot to Nigel Kneale's second Quatermass serial, with sentient meteorites being scattered about the countryside, mysterious industrial compounds manned by dull faced workers, high ranking officials being subverted or controlled, an alien intelligence brewed in a vat and scientists aiding the military to bring down an alien invasion.
Doctor Who script editor Terrance Dicks took to writing tv novelisations like the proverbial quacker to the wet stuff. Without him it's doubtful that the Target range would have lasted the course. Generally his novelisations were very faithful to the tv stories, with some slight character expansions, some additional or extended scenes and a handful of small changes, usually included to emphasize something that wasn't clearly explained or got lost in the production.
He can't resist correcting little mistakes either (ones he missed the first time round) like Liz Shaw's 'The world is fast asleep' line or big mistakes like Channing recalling the Auton when it's shot at by the Brig's sidearm, even though it had previously cheerfully shrugged off both barrels from a shotgun. Dicks explains this away by getting the Doctor to trick Channing by the shouted bluff, "The platoon must be nearly here. We'll capture it when they arrive." Ah, the old ones are the best.
The country poacher, Sam Seely, is probably the character who gets the most additional coverage as he skulks about Oxley Woods, searching for 'thunderbolts' and observing the UNIT soldiers. He even gets to witness the arrival of the Tardis and the emergence of the newly minted Doctor. On screen Seely is little more than a Robert Holmes poacher archetype. Dicks gives him a little bit more and even tries to give him and his wife Meg a touch more marital devotion than seen on screen. Some of the rank and file also get more of a mention, notably the ill fated Corporal Forbes. The latter part of the book gets the lion's share of attention by Dicks, with added scenes ramping up the scale of the Auton Invasion. The imagination doesn't bow to budget restrictions; street to street fighting, quarry men fighting back with explosives and I would have loved to have seen the tanks crushing the invaders under their tracks.
The Autons were the first old monster to be resurrected for the present day series, so I guess this novelisation of Spearhead from Space, Jon Pertwee's first outing, might be a good place for the present young generation of fans to dive in. It's clear that this book had some influence on Russell T. Davies; when the Autons first crash through the store front windows, one of the first witnesses' blames it on 'students' just as Rose does on her first encounter; and from the final battle there's a great line about a severed Auton arm lashing 'wildly round the room, spitting energy-bolts like a demented snake'.
Fittingly this new edition includes a special introduction by new series executive producer (2005-10) Russell T. Davies, a spotlight on writers Terrance Dicks and Bob Holmes, original illustrations and a between the lines feature noting the novelisation process and the differences between the broadcast series and the book.
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message 1: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mills The Quatermass writer/creator was Nigel Kneale, Nigel Bruce played Dr Watson.


Michael Thanks for the heads up. I thought I'd corrected that memory hiccup ages ago. Doh.


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