The Abominable Snowmen
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen

Author Terrance Dicks Cover image
Published 1974
ISBN 0 426 10583 4
First Edition Cover Chris Achilleos

Back cover blurb: A single blow from the giant, hairy paw smashes the explorer to the ground. Terrified, he flees from the monster's glowing eyes and savage fangs... Why are the peaceful Yeti now spreading death and destruction? And what is the secret behind the glowing cave on the mountain? When DOCTOR WHO discovers that a long-dead friend is still alive, he knows why his visit to the lonely Himalayan monastery has led to a struggle to save the Earth!


Not an abominable read by Tim Roll-Pickering 9/12/03

The very first novelisation of a Troughton story, Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen may have seemed an obvious choice due to the presence of the Yeti (indeed the book was at one stage going to be titled Doctor Who and the Yeti) but as the original television story is such an overlong bore it may perhaps have been a better to move to adapt The Web of Fear instead at this stage. However Terrance Dicks succeeds in bringing the story to life through many subtle enhancements with the result that it now moves at a much faster pace and comes across as far more terrifying.

The changes made range from the subtle, such as the slight renaming of many characters such as Padmasambhava becomming Padmasambvha or Thonmi becomming Thomni, or the inclusion of snow in the descriptions of the Himalayas, something that was noticeably absent on television. Victoria also undergoes a subtle change of background, now being introduced as the daughter of a Victorian antiques dealer, though this is not dwelt upon. Whilst this indicates a lack of familiarity with the character's background (hardly a first for any writer for the series), this book appeared in simpler times and is at least consistent with the front her father used in The Evil of the Daleks if not his true profession.

Although this was the first novelisation written by an author who had no direct connection whatsoever with the original television story the book still feels fresh as though Dicks has put his heart into it. More recent authors have complained that the Troughton Doctor is impossible to write for in print because of the degree to which the actor contributed so much of the character, but they could do worse than reread this novelisation to see Dicks easily do it with the occassional subtle line that shows how the Doctor may appear a goofing clown at times but is always one step ahead of those around him, his mind focused heavily on the task at hand. There are a number of good character moments for the Doctor here, especially when he encounters his old friend Padmasambvha and believes he has seen him die. Victoria is also captured well, with some passages showing how lost and alone she feels at times, but unfortunately Jamie is let down, all too often coming across as a generic loyal companion. The other characters are generally handled well, with both Krisong and Thomni coming across as far stronger and more rounded than on television, whilst there is a real sense of desperation surrounding Travers as he seeks first to see off what he perceives as competition and then sees the terror of the Intelligence growing.

Although much of the book works well, there are some obvious chances missed, most notably the Doctor's original visit to the Det-sen Monastery and his original encounter with Padmasambvha. But generally this is a good novelisation, successfully introducing the Troughton Doctor to the novelisation rnage whilst also turning an on-screen overlong runaround into a fast paced action adventure with a real sense of tension as the Yeti encircle the Monastery. Alan Willow's illustrations may at times be a little off (Jamie looks especially bizarre whilst there's a long shot of the Doctor that looks more like Jon Pertwee than Patrick Troughton) but the text is sound and easily holds up to rereading. 8/10

Himalayan Hijinks by Andrew Feryok 6/7/06

"You have enslaved him [Padmasambvha]," said the Doctor angrily. "Now you withhold from him the one thing he craves - the boon of a natural death. You are evil. You are what men once called a demon!"
- The Doctor confronting the Great Intelligence, Chapter 11, page 131 The Abominable Snowmen
There are certain lost stories that I get so emotional over their loss that I feel like punching the BBC in the nose. This is one such story. If ever there was a lost story that deserved classic status, this is certainly one of them. I have owned the surviving episode 2 and clips for several years now and have watched them many times. After enjoying the atmosphere and mystery of that episode, I decided it was time to read the full story in Terrance Dicks novelisation.

Once again, Terrance Dicks seems to be at his best in the earlier Target novels when he had time to focus on characters, settings, and plot development rather than rifling out script-to-books. While this book isn't as good prosewise as Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks, Dicks still manages to capture the mystery and fun of this story. Dicks writes many of the characters well including Travers, who is portrayed as being obssessive and slightly unhinged; Khrisong, who is a man of action in a situation that is quickly spiraling out of his control; and Thomni, a well-meaning warrior monk who is caught between his trust in the time travelers and Khrisong's orders.

The setting for this story is rather unique. It is one of the earliest pseudo-historicals along with The Evil of the Daleks. It is probably the setting of this story which makes it so much fun to read and why it is so memorable. Without the limitations of the on-screen location work which didn't look much like a snowy landscape, Dicks is free here in his writings to paint an inhospitable, remote, and cold setting. The monastery is also very well described and feels like an ancient place of worship which has existed continuously for hundreds upon hundreds of years.

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are all captured extremely well and are true to their original performances in general throughout the series. The Doctor is a definite fine balance between humorous, mischevious, and deadly serious and manipulative. The Doctor gets virtually all the best scenes in this story: such as when he is trying to break the hypnosis on Victoria and accidentally hypnotises Jamie, or his final confrontation with the Great Intelligence which reminds of the Doctor's confrontation with Sutekh in Pyramids of Mars. Jamie is his usual brave self, is extremely protective of Victoria, and joins in with the Doctor's jokes whenever he can. Victoria is also a great character here. She is prim and sensible, but also has a vicious adventurous streek that tends to get her into a lot of trouble. It is her sense of exploration that drives Jamie and her to explore the Yeti cave and allows her to escape a jail cell and find Padmasambvha in the deepest parts of the monastery. Definitely a fun team to read.

Without a doubt, the Yeti and the Great Intelligence are one of Doctor Who's greatest monster teams. The Yeti are interesting because they are truly a "monster" and not just an alien. They roar, have teeth and claws, and attack in a savage manner. Then this idea of a literal monster is turned on its head when we learn that they are robots and are controlled by bizarre silver orbs. There is a great amount of tension built in the middle "episodes" of this story as they try to keep the orbs from entering the dormant Yeti, but find the orbs are being controlled by a mysterious force that impells anyone who touches them to put one in a Yeti, or, if it does not have such a person, will roll along the floor and be almost magnetically attracted to a Yeti. The Doctor nearly gets crushed by one when he puts his own body as a barrier between a Yeti and its orb. The orb is prepared to almost burrow straight through the Doctor in order to get at its Yeti.

The Great Intelligence is also a great villain and through the character of Padmasambvha the Intelligence gains a real sinister edge. If ever there is a character I wish I could see but can't because of the lost episodes, it is Padmasambvha. He comes across as an ancient and gentle character with an enormous and evil power generating behind him. The confrontations between Padmasambvha and the Doctor are particularly interesting. The Doctor and he used to be close friends and the Doctor takes pity on the fact that the Great Intelligence has extended his life beyond natural length and sadistically refuses to allow him to die. The final confrontation between the Doctor and the Intelligence is also great as we get to see the Doctor engage in a titanic mental battle while his friends try to smash up the equipment. But even with these efforts, the Intelligence proves to be a truly powerful opponent as he is still able to take control of Victoria and summon Yeti to its aid while locked in battle with the Doctor.

It is a good thing that Episode 2 survives since it is a very representative episode of this story by showing off the monastery, the Yeti, the silver orbs (including the cool pyramid pile in the cave), all the characters except for Padmasambvha and the regulars. If there were some things I wish I could see from some of the lost episodes it would be the final confrontation at the story's end, the pyramid of light and its oozing of a grey substance out of the cave and onto the mountaintop, Padmasambvha and what the real Yeti look like at the end of the story (unless Dicks merely added this in at the end himself). Overall, this is a classic story that is sorely missed and well-represented in novel format. While not the best novelisation out there, it is clearly enjoyable and definitely worth tracking down and checking out. 10/10

PS: This once again features some great illustrations from Target novels. My favorites include Jamie finding the orbs in the cave, Padmasambvha on his throne shrowded by a thin veil, the monks capturing a Yeti in a net, and most of all the Yeti rampaging through the monastery! I once again wish there were more such pictures in the novels, but for what ones that do have them, they are a great delight and enhance the reading experience enormously.