About the Author:
Philip Hinchcliffe was a Producer on the BBC's Doctor Who during the 1970s.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
Doctor Who And The Keys Of Marinus
A novelisation of a story originally written by Daleks creator Terry Nation. Here the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and his companions Susan, Ian and Barbara arrive on Marinus and find themselves blocked from the TARDIS by Arbitan the Keeper. They are then tasked with recovering the scattered Keys of Marinus in order to restart the Conscience, a supercomputer which once maintained peace.
What follows is a very episodic series of mini-adventures that is a very strong hold-over from the story's TV serial origins. The individual adventures to recover the keys aren't bad, by any means, but with the exception of the last one, they never get chance to develop much depth before having to gently nudge the overall plot along.
The best element of the book is that last adventure, wherein Ian is accused of murder in a legal system where guilt is pre-assumed and the Doctor has to put together a case to save his friend from execution. If you're a fan of courtroom drama in any sense, this unique twist on the idea should be pretty enjoyable.
The book's worst element is the Voord, an underdeveloped species of antagonists who only appear at the very beginning and very end. We never get to learn much about their motivations, culture or any of their characters, leaving them feeling like tacked-on baddies.
3 out of 5
Doctor Who And The Seeds Of Doom
An adaption of an adventure featuring the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and his companion Sarah Jane. Two alien plant pods are discovered in the Antarctic ice and the Doctor immediately recognises them as the seeds of the deadly Krynoids. He and Sarah Jane rush to Antarctica to contain the threat, but a deranged millionaire has his own plans for the pods.
There's more than a hint of 'The Thing from Another World' about the first half of this story but, although it makes this seem a bit derivative, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The ice base is the perfect setting for a bit of tension involving an alien killer (as John Carpenter also recognised in the 1980s) and I enjoyed this a great deal, although I felt there was too small a supporting cast for it to really hit its stride.
Unfortunately the back half of the story returns us to England, where the Krynoid is unleashed in an isolated manor house. There's nothing inherantly wrong with this latter section, but it definitely fails to deliver on the promise of the beginning.
Tom Baker's iconic Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen's iconic companion are both done perfect justice in this book, but overall it comes out as just an okay story. I'd put it in the top end of middling, but middling nonetheless.
3 out of 5