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Tegan and the Trogs (Galley Proofs)

by Janet Fielding

Reviewed by Mark Olsen

Having a brother who works in the BBC production office, one is luckily privileged to much inside information, including a copy of the latest companion novelisation, a photocopy of which has been forwarded to me by my brother.

I would like to stress that these are only the galley proofs - a rough copy put out by the publishers for merchandising potential, copies that have not yet been edited. Any of the information contained in this review could be quite inaccurate by the time the finished work hits the shelves mid-next year.

But even if half the book gets changed it should be well worth a read, without a doubt the best novelisation I have ever read, and I have them all. Janet Fielding missed her calling as an actress; she should have been a writer full-time.

The story takes up shortly after Resurrection of the Daleks with a disillusioned Tegan picking up the pieces of her life after leaving the Doctor. It chronicles her as she drifts through jobs as a waitress and in the red light district of Soho, trying to get enough together for her plane fare back to Brisbane. (Astute readers might recognise a fellow waitress Tegan befriends here - a streetwise teenager called Dorothy who swings a mean baseball bat - Ms Fielding is nothing if not a stickler for Who trivia). What is most interesting about the story is the character of Tegan, the difficulties she has in adjusting to ordinary life, not gallivanting around the universe with the Doctor - everything seems mundane in comparison and she longs for adventure. We get a real glimpse into Tegan's head here - what makes her such a tough cookie.

However her boredom doesn't last long, it soon comes in the form of an unemployed black musician she meets outside the Social Welfare Department (where her problems are quite hilarious as she has to go through the bureaucrats and immigration officials trying to prove where she was in the four years she was away). Willie, the musician, believes her fantastic story outright and comes asking her assistance with strange evidence he has uncovered. It eventually transpires that the unemployed youth of Britain are being taken over as the slaves of a nasty bunch of underground dwelling creatures known as Troglodytes, rock-based life forms that have existed alongside man since the dawn of time, are in the process of taking the country over. It appears that the creatures exist in some kind of dream-state and their thoughts are able to control group behaviour - which Ms Fielding puts forward as an explanation for football rioting in the UK. The Trogs have been disturbed from their aeon long sleep by coal-miners and have used their mass control to stir up the labour unions to strike in order to protect their hiding place, Ms. Fielding daringly suggests at one point. With zombiefied unemployment beneficiaries stalking the English midlands and bad-tempered rock life forms stalking the sewers occasionally venturing up above-ground to attack double-decker buses in Piccadilly Circus - they consider fuel an intoxicant (just wait for the scene where they all sit around on a train platform getting high on LPG) this is one of the most ingenious and daring stories I have ever read in the whole Doctor Who canon. Its political implications alone are bound to give Mrs Thatcher a heart-attack. This is one that deserves to be made into an episode, and one that is a must for your bookshelf. Roll around June 1990 - I can't wait to get a copy.

(Footnote: One will also note that Ms Fielding dedicates the book to the memory of Matthew (Adric) Waterhouse, who of course, died in a crash with a drunken driver on the way to a Who convention in Leicestershire.)

Editor's note: this was a spoof inspired by rumours that were originated by a well-known New Zealand fan. Janet Fielding did not write a novel about Tegan and Matthew Waterhouse did not die in a car crash.

This item appeared in TSV 14 (July 1989).