Planet of Giants
Target novelisation
Doctor Who - Planet of Giants

Author Terrance Dicks Cover image
Published 1990
ISBN 0 426 20345 3
First Edition Cover Alistair Pearson

Back cover blurb: The Doctor is feeling confident: this time the TARDIS has landed on Earth; in England; in 1963. But when he and his companions venture outside, they are soon lost in a maze of ravines and menaced by gigantic insects. And the insects are dying - every living thing is dying... Meanwhile, in a cottage garden on a perfect summer's day, the man from the Ministry arrives to put a stop to the production of DN6, a pesticide with the power to destroy all life-forms. But the men who invented DN6 will stop at nothing - not even murder - in their desire to see DN6 succeed. Can the one-inch-tall Doctor foil their plans?


A Review by Finn Clark 28/5/02

I'd been rereading the Target novelisations and so far I'd been very impressed, but I couldn't help thinking that I'd chosen easy ones. Any fool can squeeze a good story out of a six-parter, while the McCoy novelisations are noted for being among the classiest of the range. It seemed only fair to choose one less suited.

I chose Planet of the Giants. My criteria were:

  1. Written by Uncle Terrance.
  2. Original story should be short - in the end I went with a three-parter.
  3. Preferably a Hartnell story, as I hadn't reread one yet.

I'd guess Planet of Giants was the ultimate challenge for a noveliser. Even Edge of Destruction would have been easier. Is Terrance up to the task?

Er, not really.

He tries to pad out the story, but unfortunately chooses to do so with continuity rather than anything wild and crazy like... ooooh, characterisation. The characterisation was also pretty slight in Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks, but there the story was eventful enough for this not to matter. Here we're talking about an incredibly slight story that desperately needs strong character tension to stand up. Doesn't get it, alas. Even the TV version's superior to this, and that's saying something.

And even without the specific faults of the novelisation, Planet of Giants still feels pedestrian in its own right. You've got the TARDIS crew being shrunk to an inch high, which is exciting and intriguing for maybe half a page. Good writing could, perhaps, have made this fly. Then you've got a villain whose base for evil is a country cottage and gets defeated by the arrival of the village policeman. And to top it all, the TARDIS crew can't interact with any of the normal-sized guest characters, so you've got two parallel stories going on that hardly ever intersect.

These are not good ingredients.

It wouldn't have been impossible to write a good novelisation of Planet of Giants, but it was never going to be easy. By 1990 Terrance had his formula well set. Some stories it suited and others it didn't. This, alas, was one of the latter. For the first time in my read-a-thon I'd found a Target novelisation I didn't like, but I'd ask you to note that: (a) I'd specifically gone looking for an improbable candidate for novelisation, and (b) it took me about 45 minutes from start to finish, so it's hard to be too annoyed.

Target novelisations are the kind o' thing you can start and nearly finish if you're going out in half an hour and you're looking for something to do in the meantime. I think they're great and the biggest rediscovery of the year for me. Despite this particular experience, I still recommend 'em. Give one a try!