- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I live just outside the 4th largest city in the world. And I had to order this book through Amazon because not a single bookstore can get me the Classic Who novelizations. "We can't keep them on the shelf," a vendor apologized. Why? Partly because the books are re-prints of the original novelizations. They keep them as faithful as possible to the original prints gathering dust in high-priced collections, but "update" them with introductions by Whovian players a modern audience can recognize. In this case, Gareth Roberts.
Gerry Davis teamed up with Kit Pedlar and made many film legends, but it bears worth saying that the Cybermen are something special. They are what Kit ( a doctor) feared the most: a person who has de-humanized himself upon the replacement of a living body part with something made of metal and plastic. Why this is a problem was well treated in THE TENTH PLANET, but here, the Cyberman Sequel, we see the Cybermen are developing into newer, more frightening beings. Their original eerie, off-pattern voices are dry and cold; they recognize the Doctor much in the same way the Daleks recognize him in POWER OF THE DALEKS. And they see Earth not as a source of personal revenge, but a cold method of extermination that will caution the rest of the Universe to heed them lest they enjoy Earth's fate.
This is the novelization of the newly animated THE MOONBASE, and there are many small gems within the pages that enhance the episodes (animated or not). Gerry Davis did an excellent job with writing up in story form his old script, and threw in little treasures that you feel would have been in the filmed version had they only the screen time and expense to spare. For example, we often see Troughton's Doctor consulting his diary when troubled. Here Davis explains through Polly's eyes that he is not only consulting, he is creating and solving complicated mathematical problems in the pages; working them through helps him think when he's troubled--exactly one of the reasons why he plays a recorder. Like all of Troughton's companions, Polly is given plenty to do. She uses her brains to create a chemical bomb against the Cybermen, She chafes at women's roles but knows if she wears a miniskirt she can usefully distract men. Jamie may spend most of the story out of his head with a concussion, but his ravings give the Doctor the first clue, and it is his simple solution that inspires Polly to create her weapons. He is a tough, capable boy and we'll have to meet the Brig before we find someone as brave. Seen as "a little thick" Jamie merely shrugs and accepts the wonders around him, as opposed to the others who ask enough questions that they actually annoy the Cybermen.
Ben Jackson is old-school Navy, and Davis notes that Ben's trained ears (he works the radar on the HMS TEAZER), tells him when the TARDIS lands on the Moon. His eyes are also Navy-trained. Despite the future's high skills and technological wonders, it is Ben's trained eyes that verify the Cybermen are coming.
One of the crits with THE MOONBASE was the Cyberman's terribly slow walk across the surface of the Moon on their attack to the base. Davis explains here this is deliberate: the Cybermen scorn emotions, but they know it is a useful weapon against weaker species, so they purposely walk slowly to their attack in a method that reminds the Doctor of how the Zulu successfully slow-marched their way against their enemies. It's nice to get an explanation--and one that makes sense!
OCs are well-developed and easily fathomed with only a few lines. Men from all over the world are here, and generally they work together but this strange plague has them all terrified. You can believe in them--and admire them. The simple style of the book is beautifully done. You may not have seen any version of the MOONBASE, but you can see it well enough in your head when you read it. This is an era where a Hemmingway-simple style prevailed and the broadest possible range of readers, young and old, could read the simply style and not be insulted. I am frequently impressed at the craft that goes into these Classic novelizations.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Thomas E. O'Sullivan
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Originally broadcast in 1967 as THE MOONBASE, DOCTOR WHO AND THE CYBERMEN sees the return of the Cybermen in their second appearance and their first appearance with the Second Doctor, who would go on to fight them again in THE TOMBS OF THE CYBERMEN (1967), THE WHEEL IN SPACE (1968) and THE INVASION (1968). Although their second appearance here holds more historical weight as the Doctor confronts the Cybermen again after his first regeneration - this a minor point in the novel and may go a long way in explaining why the Doctor has some trouble accepting the Cybermen have returned even though Polly (who calls the Cybermen out early) clearly knows what a Cyberman is (having fought them, alongside Ben, in THE TENTH PLANET), the Doctor seems reluctant to totally take her word for it...maybe because it brings up very bad memories for the Doctor?, or maybe the Doctor thinks Polly is just being too much of a girl.
Again, one of the biggest issues with these retelling of the story is the blatant dumbing down of the female lead to secure the boys egos - Polly in THE WAR MACHINES (1966) was a vibrant, thoughtful, intelligent modern girl (from the 1960's - the novel bumps up her decade to the 1970's; a clear contradiction from THE WAR MACHINES) who manages (with both the Doctor and Ben) to save London and the world from WOTAN - here, she does come up with one half of the plan to beat the Cybermen, but she's also reduced to playing nurse (who can't stand the sight of ill patients), making coffee and having her skirt looked up...blah! This story also sees Jamie take his first trip with the Doctor and is quickly knocked out of the story, because in real life, Frazier Hines was added late to the cast and there was no time to rewrite the scripts, so Jamie is knocked out quickly and given a few lines here and there when he finally wakes up (the classic "phantom piper" run) and little else. Ben, if not named Ben in the story could really have been anyone...he's stalwart and true, but flat. The biggest surprise is the Second Doctor himself - as written here and as performed as well, the Doctor is still finding his footing and that easy back and forth and humor comes in a fits and starts. Of course the cast was in the process of changing and Jamie and the Doctor would quickly click paving the way for Polly and Ben's departure...but for the time being, in DOCTOR WHO AND THE CYBERMEN they are a half working family of misfits who turn into heroes when the time is right.
The story is classic Second Doctor "base under siege" storytelling with the overly emotional Cybermen trying to wrest control of a weather control machine and take their revenge on the Earth for the destruction of Mondas. There's a poison sub-plot and the epic battle between men and machine and the quick, blink and you miss it, ending as the Cybermen are taught a hard lesson about gravity. There are moments where the story can be a chore to read as the same action repeats itself over and over. I know there was a limited page count and writing from the original story (with some new additions to smooth over the rough spots) was the norm - but, the limited sets and small cast and off screen Cybermen do little to jazz it up. Not one of the worst stories, but just a bit too often slow.
The BETWEEN THE LINES chapter at the end is very concise and clears up a lot of issues and changes made for the story. Overall, DOCTOR WHO AND THE MOONBASE aims high, but lands flat footed.