Alejandro's Reviews > Doctor Who: Shada

Doctor Who by Gareth Roberts
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it was amazing
bookshelves: doctor-who, humor, novel, science-fiction, time-travel, media-tie-in

One of the best Doctor Who's novels that you'll ever read!


The Doctor: The Fourth Doctor

Companions: Romana II & K-9


Cambridge University, 1979


The Fourth Doctor visits his good friend and also a Time Lord, the Professor Chronotis, on his office at Cambridge, responding to a message by him. However, first, Chronotis doesn't remember having to call them; second, he has a powerful and dangerous item with him; third, a crazy villain is after that item.

At the age of five, Skagra decided emphatically that God did not exist. This revelation tends to make most people in the universe who have it react in one of two ways — with relief or with despair. Only Skagra responded to it by thinking, Wait a second. That means there's a situation vacant.


This is the ultimate version of the famous Shada. This is a novel written by Gareth Roberts based on the original script by Douglas Adams for the unaired TV serial Shada.

This is a story that any Doctor Who's fan wants to read since it would to be a TV serial on the original run of the TV series during the period of the Fourth Doctor, however due a strike on BBC, they started to film it but they never ended it and when the strike was resolved, the production just went to the next story and Shada remained as the famous never aired serial of Doctor Who.

The behind-the-scenes story of Shada is as entertained as the chronicled adventure itself. Douglas Adams, the great writer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (just to name his most famous work), was the writer of the original script to be used on the TV serial. For some unknown reasons, Douglas Adams hated Shada and he commented that he was glad that the serial was never completed.

Gareth Roberts, the hired author to develop the novelization of the script (and a great fan of Adams' work) explained that he reasoned the behaviour of Adams to Shada due the pressing by the producers to finish quickly the script and so, Adams didn't have time to revise his work. Due the adquired fame of the unaired serial, obviously BBC was very interested to market it.

Douglas Adams was always adamant about the novelization of any of his Doctor Who scripts and due that, some of the great missing serials in the Target novels are precisely the ones written by Adams (There are unofficial novelizations of those serials made by a fan group based on New Zealand, including Shada).

However, it seemed that at some moment, Douglas Adams signed a permit to market Shada. Douglas Adams claimed that he was fooled to sign a paper that he didn't realize was a permit to the marketting of Shada. Anyway, BBC started his marketting of the famous serial. First, they included it on VHS and DVD boxes, using the few filmed material along with a recording of Tom Baker (actor who played the Fourth Doctor) reading the unfilmed parts. Later, BBC wanted to produce an audio play of the story, however at that moment, Baker refused to do it, and then BBC adapted the script to function as an adventure of the Eighth Doctor.

But after all that titanic efforts, Shada still remained like a broken doll, something with great potential but still lacking to shine its greatness.

Finally, BBC commisioned Gareth Roberts to make the official novelization of Shada and he even had access not only to the original script but also to many notes, drafts and proposed changes to it made by Adams during the tumultuous filming of the serial. With all that precious material along with his own love for the serial and the general work of Adams, the writer Gareth Roberts finally was able to make not only the novelization of Shada but a tribute to one of the best sci-fi writers ever existed.


There is something that I love that Gareth Roberts commented about the key factor of why the Douglas Adams' work is so special, so great, and it's that Adams was able to write a sci-fi material that people laugh WITH it, not AT it. Sounds so simple and logic but nevertheless some people just don't get it, when they know that the novels and works of Adams contained humor on them, they think that it must be some silly comedy and they don't read it, and by that, they are missing a whole delicious experience on reading such wonderful and spectacular work.

Gareth Roberts had to make changes during the process of the novelization, some small, some big, but all in the best interest to show how great Shada is, along making a respectful homage to Douglas Adams' work. This time wasn't an unfinished serial, it wasn't a patchwork video product, it wasn't an alternate version in audio play, now it was the ultimate and definitive version of Shada, a truly epic and wonderful story of the Fourth Doctor, a proud addition to the lore of Doctor Who franchise.

I can assure you that if you decide to read this book, you will enjoy it a lot. You have the Fourth Doctor with the companions of Romana II and K-9. The Doctor is wonderful and formidable here showing why he is one of the best ever conceived sci-fi characters. You will have great supportive characters as Professor Chronotis, Chris Parsons and Clare Keightley. You will have a powerful villain in Skagra. And I can assure that you will have such overblowing scenes that they will make to explode your imagination and excitement to new levels.

Shada is waiting for you.

Inside this book is another book — the strangest, most important and most dangerous book in the entire universe.

The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey is one of the artefacts, dating from dark days of Rassilon. It wields enormous power, and it must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.

Skagra — who believes he should be God and permits himself only two smiles per day — most definitely has the wrong hands.

Beware Skagra. Beware the Sphere. Beware Shada.

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Reading Progress

August 23, 2013 – Started Reading
August 23, 2013 – Shelved
September 1, 2013 – Shelved as: doctor-who
September 1, 2013 – Shelved as: humor
September 1, 2013 – Shelved as: novel
September 1, 2013 – Shelved as: science-fiction
September 1, 2013 – Shelved as: time-travel
September 1, 2013 – Finished Reading
January 6, 2016 – Shelved as: media-tie-in

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)

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message 1: by Tammie (new)

Tammie I enjoyed reading all of the facts you added about the story.

Alejandro Tammie wrote: "I enjoyed reading all of the facts you added about the story."

Thank you, Tammie :)

message 3: by Carol (new)

Carol Glad you are enjoying these so much.

Alejandro Carol wrote: "Glad you are enjoying these so much."

Thanks! ;)

message 5: by B (new) - added it

B Schrodinger I borrowed this from the library Alejandro. I should get around to it soon.

message 6: by Cherie (new)

Cherie Alejandro, you make me want to go back and start reading the Doctor Who books again. I started them many years ago, but never kept up. Like the Star Trek Series too.

Alejandro Brendon wrote: "I borrowed this from the library Alejandro. I should get around to it soon."

Awesome! I hope you'll enjoy it! :D

Alejandro Cherie wrote: "Alejandro, you make me want to go back and start reading the Doctor Who books again. I started them many years ago, but never kept up. Like the Star Trek Series too."

Certainly as in any series, not all novels are good, but indeed are truly great books in Doctor Who and Star Trek :D

This one is a winner in Doctor Who's series :)

message 9: by Pearl (new)

Pearl Angeli Great review, Alejandro! Is it a heavy-read? :)

message 10: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark thanks that was excellent

message 11: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Strömquist Great review Alejandro! I'm very inexperienced with Doctor Who, bud am a Douglas Adams-addict, going to check this one out!

Alejandro Pearl wrote: "Great review, Alejandro! Is it a heavy-read? :)"

Thanks, Pearl. No, it's not a heavy-read. :) The narrative is quite reader-friendly and it has a lot of humor. And even you don't need many knowledge about "Doctor Who", beyond the basics that he is an alien with a time machine with the shape of a British Police Box. ;)

Alejandro Mark wrote: "thanks that was excellent"

Thank you so much, Mark ;)

Alejandro Thomas wrote: "Great review Alejandro! I'm very inexperienced with Doctor Who, bud am a Douglas Adams-addict, going to check this one out!"

Thanks a lot, Thomas! Oh, you don't need many knowledge about "Doctor Who" to engage into this particular novel. If you have clear the very basics that he is an alien time traveller using a machine in the shape of a British Police Box ;)

While it was written by Gareth Roberts, he was quite respectful to do it in the way that Douglas Adams would have did it. So, I am pretty sure that if you give it a chance, you will enjoy a lot the book.

Aj the Ravenous Reader Five stars! Glad you found the perfect read for you, Kuya Alejandro and excellent review.^^

message 16: by Tatiana (new) - added it

Tatiana Great review! Loved the episode of Shada, picked up the book and can't wait to read it.

message 17: by Kim (new)

Kim Bailey Oh, this sounds like a good one! Great review, Alejandro! :)

message 18: by Exina (new)

Exina Awesome review, Alejandro!

Alejandro Aj the Ravenous Reader wrote: "Five stars! Glad you found the perfect read for you, Kuya Alejandro and excellent review.^^"

This book definitely deserves the five stars ;) At least it's what I think ;) Hehehe. Thank you for your kind comments, Aj ;)

Alejandro Kim B wrote: "Oh, this sounds like a good one! Great review, Alejandro! :)"

Thanks, Kim ;) If you want to try Doctor Who novels, definitely this is an excellent option :D

Alejandro Exina wrote: "Awesome review, Alejandro!"

Thank you so much, Exina!

message 22: by Tabetha (new)

Tabetha Great review, Alejandro!!

Alejandro Tabetha wrote: "Great review, Alejandro!!"

Thank you, Tabetha! You're too kind!

message 24: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Awesome review, Alejandro :)

message 25: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie Flower I'm glad that the show was not able to complete this serial, there is no way that it would have turned out as well as this book.

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