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A Device of Death

By Christopher Bulis

Book review by Paul Scoones

The greatest appeal of the Missing Adventures format is for me the prospect of reliving a favourite era of the programme through a hitherto unknown adventure. Therefore to my mind, the best Missing Adventures are those that most accurately capture the 'personality' of the era. Christopher Bulis has not always been terribly successful at achieving this, but with A Device of Death he at last appears to be in his element.

Set in one of the most unlikely gaps between stories, after Genesis of the Daleks and before Revenge of the Cybermen, the Doctor, Harry and Sarah are travelling via time ring through the vortex en route to a rendezvous with the TARDIS on Nerva Beacon when they are diverted off course. Paying homage to the time-honoured Doctor Who plot device, the three travellers are split up and spend a fair portion of the adventure struggling to survive and somehow rejoin their comrades.

The Doctor is without doubt exactly as Tom Baker portrayed him in Season Twelve; a wild-eyed eccentric with a strong moral undercurrent but without the overt humour that later crept into the role. Sarah Jane and Harry Sullivan are likewise written entirely convincingly. Bulis has evidently given much thought to what makes these characters tick.

There are surprisingly strong parallels with Genesis of the Daleks, including an ages-old war, taking place both on the battlefield and in a scientific bunker. It would be too simplistic and unjust however to call the story plagiaristic, as there is much that makes the story original and highly enjoyable. The scope of the adventure is such that it would have been entirely unfilmable in 1975, but otherwise A Device of Death feels exactly like an early Fourth Doctor story and furthermore is a highly enjoyable read.

This item appeared in TSV 51 (June 1997).

Index nodes: A Device of Death