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The Eight Doctors

By Terrance Dicks

Book review by Paul Scoones

As with Terrance Dicks' television reunion story, The Five Doctors, if you try to take this novel too seriously, it fails to convince. As a launching pad for a whole new series of hopefully long-lived Doctor Who novels under the BBC Books imprint, it is however an effective celebration and remembrance of the length and scope of the entire Doctor Who television era.

The premise is simplistic. Just after the events of the television movie, the Eighth Doctor accidentally triggers a trap left by the Master that wipes his memories, and the TARDIS takes him to a moment in each of his past incarnations' lives where he is temporarily reunited with an earlier version of himself and by making this contact, restores part of his memory.

There is fun to be had in spotting just how well each segment fits into established continuity; I particularly liked the entirely reasonable idea of the pursuit of the Master by the third Doctor and UNIT following the conclusion of The Sea Devils, though the entanglement with a swarm of vampires by the fourth Doctor and Romana in the aftermath of State of Decay - whilst linking up with Terrance Dicks' own Blood Harvest novel - nonetheless somehow doesn't seem quite true to the television adventure.

The best segment is however that set during the sixth Doctor's trial. Mentioned only in passing in The Trial of Time Lord, here Dicks takes the welcome opportunity to recount the story of the Time Lord high council corruption and subsequent revolution on Gallifrey. Unfortunately things don't quite tie up with the Time Lord history established in the New Adventures, but it hardly seems fair to lay blame at BBC Books' door for something that to an extent copyrights held by Virgin prevents them from doing anyway.

For a novel steeped in continuity and strongly evocative of many different eras of the television series, there could have been no better choice of writer than Terrance Dicks to pen the tale. It's not a deeply complex tale, but is immensely enjoyable all the same.

This item appeared in TSV 51 (June 1997).

Index nodes: The Eight Doctors