THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

Tomb of the Cybermen
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen

Author Gerry Davis Cover image
Published 1978
ISBN 0 426 11076 5
First Edition Cover Jeff Cummins

Back cover blurb: The Cybermen - silver, indestructible monsters whose only goal is power - seem to have disappeared from their planet, Telos. When a party of archaeologists, joined by the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria, land on the Cybermen's barren, deserted planet, they uncover what appears to be their tomb. But once inside it becomes clear that the Cybermen are not dead, and some in the group of archaeologists desperately want to re-activate these monsters! How can the Doctor defeat these ruthless, power-seeking humans and the Cybermen?


Reviews

The book that made a reputation... by Tim Roll-Pickering 26/3/04

Gerry Davis' first two novelisations, Doctor Who and the Cybermen and Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet, were both strong contributions to the range and so the appearance of this book is unsurprising. The story is well known now thanks to its release as a script book in 1988, its rediscovery and video release in 1992 and then the DVD release in 2002, but it is here that many in the early days of Doctor Who fandom first got to find out about this tale. Nowadays many criticisms are levelled at the story, the most obvious ones being a lack of logic in the plot such that the Cybermen lock themselves away for centuries without a release mechanism or that the Doctor's actions are suspect such as when he helps Klieg work out how to operate the controls or later when he suggests putting Klieg and Kaftan in a room with a gun in it. Both these elements are present in the book but it is told at such a pace that the reader never stops to wonder about these things. Indeed at times it seems as though the Doctor is driven by a determination to find out what is going on that is extremely rarely tempered by a realisation that danger could be unleashed.

There are a number of subtle alerations, such as Kaftan now offering 500 instead of just 50 to whoever opens the doors (inflation had been rampant in the 11 years between the story's original transmission and the novelisation's publication), or the initial sequence with the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria in the TARDIS being replaced by a scene set later when Victoria finishes changing. This has the unfortunate effect of deleting the moment when the Doctor reveals he is about 450 years old even though it is later referred to - a sign of Davis' common failing to ensure that the repercussions of an alteration are managed throughout the text. Victoria is now shown to be more in awe of Kaftan, as the Victorian girl for the first time encounters a woman who interacts with men on an equal basis. Later on Victoria proves to be a more realistic shot than on television, taking several bullets to destroy the Cybermat (now explained to have been revived when Klieg activates the thawing mechanism). More significantly the Controller is now described as being like other Cybermen but with a black helmet - i.e. like the Cyberleader in Revenge of the Cybermen. This means that Alister Pearson's cover for the 1992 reprint comes across as inaccurate since it depicts the onscreen Controller, though in fairness the cover is recycled from the video release. The original Jeff Cummins cover also has its faults since once again the Cyberman depicted is from The Invasion instead of either being one from The Tomb of the Cybermen or what in 1978 was the-then contemporary model from Revenge of the Cybermen. Davis also uses the term "Doctor Who" at times to describe the main character, suggesting that this was missed at any proofing stage. Whilst the debate about whether this is the character's name is not as clear cut as some may like to think, with most of the evidence for coming from Davis' period as script editor, this inconsistency in the text is striking. One other alteration comes with Toberman, who is now described as being a Turk. Whilst it's possible that Davis is confusing his memory with Kemel from The Evil of the Daleks, or that this was how Toberman was originally envisaged before the need arose to avoid a blatent recycling of the same concept in two adjacent stories, this could well be an admittance that a silent black man was no longer acceptable in the late 1970s.

Otherwise Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen is quite a strong book. Davis' prologue from Doctor Who and the Cybermen is once more used, and this time the only confusion about the Mondas/Telos question comes from one line later on where the Controller refers to Mondas as "our home planet". There is no confusion at all on the dates this time. The prologue also contains some additional lines that give away the book's inspiration by drawing parrallels with the pyramids of the Pharohs, albeit with the difference that the danger still stands. Throughout the book there is a real sense that the characters are archaeologists seeking to uncover secrets rather than casual explorers. The pace of the novel is also altered, with a lot of description in the early stages of the book as the characters are built up, before the main action comes in the later stages. Consequently it feels far more balanced than if a consistent proportion of text per episode had been maintained. Although not the most perfect novelisation in the range, this is nevertheless a third good effort from Gerry Davis that can easily stand alongside his earlier two books. It is easy to see why the story was so well thought of by fandom in the 1980s. 8/10