Because not only do I have a few of these books still lurking on my shelves but I had a belting headache on the way into work and wasn’t quite up to tackling ‘The King in Yellow’. I’ll do that on the way home instead.
Doctor Who novelizations are almost pointless these days given that you can have a quick poke around online and just, you know, buy the DVDs. For people like me though, they will always be a reminder of the days when these books were the only way that you could catch up with Doctor Who adventures that were already years old by that point. Take ‘Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster’ for instance; when the last episode aired (20th September 1975) I was only four days old so there was no way that I would have ever seen it. Enter the books then, nearly all of which felt like they were written by one Terrance Dicks. The first truly prolific author in genre fiction? Not at all but it felt like it when I was five or six and just starting to go to the library.
I’ve brought more than a few Doctor Who DVDs since then but never watched ‘The Loch Ness Monster’ so, once again, I was very grateful to Terrance Dicks and his ability to seemingly pull a finished book out of thin air. You want some blurb? Well, here it is…
The Doctor, Sarah and Harry soon discover that the Zygons have another weapon. They can assume the identity of any human they capture. Who knows which of their friends might really be a Zygon?
UNIT faces one of its toughest battles as Broton, Warlord of the Zygons, puts his plan into action and the Loch Ness Monster attacks.
My commute into work is just over an hour (on a good day) and that was just enough time to polish off ‘Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster’; a light entertaining read that seemed to be written especially for a commute. There is nothing deep about this book at all; Dicks always seems to take the approach of ‘telling it exactly how it happened on the telly’ and that never seems to leave any room for character development or even a little more description of the background scenery. In a sense that approach is what made the Doctor Who novelizations so appealing to kids like me; the knowledge that what you were reading was exactly the same as what would have been on the TV. As a reader though, it’s hard to ignore the fact that ‘The Loch Ness Monster’ is very light on everything you would expect from a good read. There are thrills and adventure but there’s not a lot else. One thing that Dicks does do well though is capturing the essence of the main cast (again, tying it back to that whole ‘what you would have seen on TV’ approach). The Doctor has that hint of the alien about him, the Brigadier is very uptight (but resigned to the Doctors way of doing things) and Sarah Jane is resourceful and keen to do the right thing. It’s not enough to raise the overall quality of the read but does give you a feel for the characters and that’s always welcome.
‘Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster’ is more than likely one for people like me then, trying to re-capture memories of reading the Target novelizations as a child. That nostalgia will get through this book (and the rest) but if you don’t have that nostalgia, ‘The Loch Ness Monster’ is nothing more than a fairly enjoyable way to kill an hour’s worth of commuting.