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Book Review

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Doctor Who and the Pirate Planet (Paperback)


Authors: Douglas Adams and James Goss
Publisher: BBC Books
183 pages
RRP: UK £7.99, US $10.99, Cdn $16.99
ISBN: 978 1 78594 530 4
Publication Date: 11 March 2021

The Doctor and his new Time Lord companion, Romana have been sent on a quest to recover the key to time, which has been broken into pieces, each piece disguised. Having successfully recovered the first piece the TARDIS is directed to the planet Calufrax. On arrival, where they expected to find a cold, ice-covered land, they discover a thriving city, whose wealth is such that piles of diamonds and rubies litter the streets...

Doctor Who and the Pirate Planet (183 pages) is a novelisation of a Douglas Adams story, written for the shows sixteen season, starring Tom Baker as the Doctor and Mary Tamm as the original Romana.

Although Adams is better known for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, he wrote three stories for Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet, City of Death and Shada (which was never completed) he also served as script editor for the seventeenth series. Initially, Adams refused to have his stories turned into novels, possibly fearing that another author would not be able to capture his unique way of writing.

To a certain amount, this has proved to be true with the James Goss adaptation. It's not bad and initially, Goss attempts to add a little Adams humour at the beginning of the story, but this soon drops away, leaving a standard Doctor Who novel.

One of the nice things about the novelisations is that they give the author the chance to fix any errors or inconsistencies that may have crept into the televised version – usually, due to editing choices – it also allows the writer to expand on the story.

While we do not learn a lot about the Doctor, I’m guessing that that would be dangerous ground, Goss has captured Tamm’s Romana perfectly, allowing the reader to get into the haughty Time Lord's thoughts.

Overall, not a bad adaptation, but it would have been nice to have Adams take on his own story.


Charles Packer

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