The Horns of Nimon
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and the Horns of Nimon

Author Terrance Dicks Cover image
Published 1980
ISBN 0 426 20131 0
First Edition Cover Steve Kyte

Back cover blurb: In the great maze of the Power Complex dwells the dreaded Nimon, a fearsome monster with immense scientific powers. The Nimon has promised to restore the Skonnan Empire to its former glory. But first it demands sacrifice - youths and maidens from the peaceful planet Aneth. The Tardis collides with the space ship delivering the victims, and the captured Romana is condemned to be sacrificed to the Nimon. Aided by the faithful K9, the Doctor goes to the rescue. In the heart of the maze he confronts the Nimon and uncovers a terrifying plot to enslave the galaxy.


Myth and mania by Tim Roll-Pickering 20/10/08

On screen, The Horns of Nimon is an unabashed party, appropriately transmitted at Christmas time. The novelisation didn't take long to follow, but by the time it arrived the series had become distinctly more serious. Here in print, there are signs of both the old and new approaches - the flippant attitude of the Doctor to his foes is preserved, but there are moments of serious contemplation, showing up the unquestioning approaches of some of the characters such as Soldeed. A prologue explains the rise and fall of the first Skonnan Empire, and how a middle-aged laboratory technician became the ruler of his people when a sphere arrived, helping to place the story in context. Soldeed is presented as slightly more seriously than on screen, but it would be near impossible to reproduce Graham Crowden's performance in print; it's a fair trade off for also losing the weak performances by the Anethans. There's still plenty of madness from the TARDIS being used like a cricket ball to the way the Doctor runs rings around his opponents time and again.

As with so many of its contemporaries, Doctor Who and the Horns of Nimon is a solid short read, faithfully adapting the camera script. However, when adapting a story that is very much rooted in performances, this approach can fall flat. Much of the story is absurd even by the series' normal standards and so the Doctor's actions in putting the TARDIS at risk at the outset, the complete failure of the once rulers of a galactic empire to question why the Nimon is helping them or the risky nature of the Nimon's plan that relies on them being able to build multiple transmat stations in time before Crinoth is destroyed are all gaping absurdities that now stand out in full. The mythic roots of the story remain acknowledged, with the Doctor now wondering, as in both the televised and novelisation versions of Underworld, if the myths aren't confused retellings of the past but predictions of the future.

What emerges is a solid, if not particularly exciting, book. But then The Horns of Nimon is an especially distinctive adventure that would always have been a challenge to adapt well, and certainly not suitable for merely transcribing the camera scripts. 4/10