Colony in Space
Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon
|ISBN||0 426 10372 6|
|First Edition Cover||Chris Achilleos|
|Back cover blurb: The evil MASTER has stolen the Time Lords' file on the horrifying DOOMSDAY WEAPON with which, when he finds it, he can blast whole planets out of existence and make himself ruler of the Galaxy! The Time Lords direct DOCTOR WHO and Jo Grant in their TARDIS to a bleak planet in the year 2471 where they find colonists from Earth under threat from mysterious, savage, monster lizards with frightful claws! And hidden upon this planet is the DOOMSDAY WEAPON for which the MASTER is intently searching...|
A vast improvement on the television story by Tim Roll-Pickering 25/11/03
Although this book has been given the title Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon and the Master is a prominent feature on both the front cover and the back cover blurb, neither appears until the latter stages of the novelisation and instead the bulk of the focus is upon the struggle between the colonists and the Interplanetary Mining Corporation. The original televised story, Colony in Space, suffers from being a tedious runaround involving unclear motives and positions but here on paper Malcolm Hulke has produced a far more coherent thread, taking the opportunity to flesh out the back stories of many characters. We learn much about how Earth in the year 2972 (a change of date from the television series) is now completely concreted over with no room to grow and how life is controlled by the hideous limitations of space as well as how the big corporations seize the imagination of individuals and give them a purpose and something to strive for, whilst other humans seek to opt out of the battery-hen like existence and seek to start a new life for themselves. There are many individual scenes of exposition which bring particular characters to life, whether the description of the prejudices of the IMC guards chasing Winton or Ashe's moment alone where he is reading the Bible and pondering what it means to sacrifice oneself. One of the best moments comes in the description of Dent's background, explaining how he realised from an early age that a person needs to be employed by a corporation to get anywhere in 30th century society and so he devoted his entire life to serving IMC, rapidly achieving his own room, being given a wife by the corporation, fathering children who are now taught in the IMC school and so forth. In his brilliant sequence Hulke succeeds in showing many things such as the state of life on Earth, the power and influence of the corporations and the determination of those who serve them because of the rewards they can bring.
This book is also notable for being Jo Grant's first adventure. And no, I'm not confusing it with Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons. As the first published novelisation to feature Jo, Hulke has taken the opportunity to include a sequence detailing her background, explaining how she used her uncle's connections to get her placement with UNIT. This serves to enhance her character and gives a strong sense of how she is resented by the Brigadier and then palmed off onto the Doctor, who barely seems to take any notice of her. As with Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks there is much to be said for the first relevant novelisation to be published to detail the introduction of significant new charecters, but whereas in the 1960s it seemed doubtful that 100,000 BC would be novelised, in the 1970s Target's committment to producing as many novelisations as possible suggested that Terror of the Autons could get novelised not long after (eventually appearing less than two years later) and so with hindsight the continuity is jarring. This is especially the case since the same chapter also makes clear that this story isn't the first encounter between the Master and the Doctor since the latter was exiled to Earth.
Otherwise this is an excellent novelisation by Malcolm Hulke which is far superior to its televised counterpart. Gone are the strange names like Uxarieus whilst at the same time we get a better sense of the Primitives and the Guardian than we ever did on screen. The televised version is so unmemorable that it's difficult to tell how far the plot has been altered, if at all, but overall it feels far more satisfying and coherent. If one part seems underwritten it is the encounters between the Doctor and the Master. Whilst onscreen Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado routinely brought their own rapport to these scenes, making them highly memorable no matter how dire the story, here there is none of the chemistry and instead the encounter seems more mundane. But other than this, Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon is a strong novelisation that is easily preferable to the televised story. 8/10