Marter, Ian

About the Author:

Ian Marter worked as an actor and played Harry Sullivan, a companion to Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor on Doctor Who.

 

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

3.4 out of 5

(5 books)

Doctor Who And The Enemy Of The World

Based on David Whitaker's original script, this novelisation features the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companions Jamie and Victoria.  Arriving in Australia in the year 2030, the Doctor soon finds himself under attack due to his uncanny resemblance to Salamander, a devious tyrant attempting to seize control of the entire planet.  The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria ally themselves with Salamander's enemies in an attempt to expose the villain's devious plans by having the Doctor impersonate him.

This story serves to illustrate just how much story potential Doctor Who has, with its characters (and the TARDIS) able to drop into just about any situation conceivable.  Here what we get is a tense thriller filled with political machinations, double-crosses and abundant espionage.  Honestly, the main plot could very well be that of a James Bond story as much as it is a Doctor Who one.  Personally, I found this total change of pace and genre to be a really interesting and refreshing addition to the Doctor's mythos.

Marter writes the Second Doctor brilliantly and I enjoyed seeing the mischievous side of the character contrasting with his impersonation of the cold and ruthless Salamander.  And I it should be noted that Salamander's fate is definitely a new one on me.  To be honest, Jamie and Victoria don't have a great deal to do, except be belligerent and get captured a lot, but that isn't uncommon for those characters, sadly.

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who And The Sontaran Experiment

The novelisation of a Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) adventure featuring his companions Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan (who Marter played onscreen).  Arriving on Earth in the distant future, the TARDIS crew discover a group of ragged castaways who live in fear of the Scavenger.  It is soon revealed, however, that the Scavenger is merely a tool of the brutal Sontaran warrior Styr.

This book follows directly on from the events of 'The Ark In Space', which proved problematic for me because I've neither seen the TV version nor (so far) read Marter's novelisation of it.  Presumably because he expected the reader to have done one or the other, Marter spends no time recapping those events or revealing the setup to where this story starts and consequently I had a really hard time actually getting into this book to begin with.  I was nearly half way through before I actually started to feel engaged with what was going on.

What finally got me engaged was Styr's appearance in the story.  It has to be said that there are some elements of his appearance that don't feel quite right, such as toxic breath, dribbling on himself all the time and him apparently being made of rubber, but those things don't blunt how compelling it is to see the return of the Sontarans.  It's hard to grasp now since the Sontarans have been Who regulars for a long time, but this was only their second appearance after 'The Time Warrior' (novelised by Terrance Dicks) and the first recurring villain to face Baker's now-iconic incarnation of the Doctor.  Although I love modern era Strax for pure comedy value, here we're reminded that the Sontarans are a cruel and callous race which delights in causing 'inferior' races to suffer.

Even with the benefit of the Sontarans, this story does play out fairly straightforwardly and doesn't really push any boundaries.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Earthshock

This novelisation begins with the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and his companions Tegan, Adric and Nyssa arriving amid a paleontological dig on Earth.  They soon encounter murderous androids and, tracing their control signal, take the TARDIS onboard an immense space freighter.  Once there it soon becomes clear that one of the Doctor's most persistant and deadly enemies is behind things.

'Earthshock' is often cited as one of the most iconic stories of Davison's era and this adaption perfectly showcases why.  Too often Who stories involve the Doctor and chums thrown into an adventure which has no lasting effect on their overall character arcs or that of the franchise.  That's not the case here, as we see the tense relationship between the Doctor and the surly Adric develop across the book to an ending with a surprising amount of emotional punch.

There's also a real sense of danger to this story, which can sometimes be lacking in plotlines featuring enemies who the Doctor has defeated many times before (I'm trying not to spoil that for you, since for once they didn't feel the need to plaster the villains all over the cover, ruining it anyway).  This time, however, those enemies genuinely feel like they're on the brink of getting the revenge they always harp on about.

For me, the only real downside is that the Doctor himself seems a bit out of sorts, being by turns snappish, smug and not very proactive.  I don't know Davison's incarnation well, so maybe these are all elements of his portrayal, but reading this book at times it was hard to connect the main character with the Doctor I know and love.

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Dominators

This novelisation sees Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor, along with his companions Jamie and Zoe, arrive on the planet Dulcis in search of some rest and recuperation.  However, their arrival coincides with the arrival of the Dominators, a ruthless race of beings intent on stripping the planet of what they need using their deadly robots, the Quarks.

There are three main points to this book that I want to comment on; one good, one bad and one not so much ugly as irrelevant.  I'll start with the good.  Here Marter gives us some great depictions of the puckish Second Doctor and his companions and, for once, all of them have something significant to do in the story.  I particularly enjoyed Jamie's guerilla war against the Quarks and the associated character arc of the Dulcian native Kully.  The Doctor himself is also on top form, by turns impatient, clownish, superior and wry.

The bad element to this book is the titular antagonists.  The two Dominators themselves are pantomimish and repetetive, lacking any of the menace that the story seems to imply they should have.  As for the Quarks, they were clearly intended to be the next Daleks, but instead come off as rather incompetent and generally a bit silly.  As for their design, it's just ludicrous... almost as if it were created to fit into a very limited television budget...

The irrelevant element to this book is the native Dulcians themselves.  There's the kernel of a story about these pacifists being confronted with a situation where they have to choose subjugation or resistance, but it's never actually developed to any great degree.  As I said earlier, the character Kully does get a satisfying character arc, but all the other Dulcians are just sort of there.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Invasion

A novelisation of a Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) adventure.  When the TARDIS is attacked by a mysterious spacecraft on the dark side of the moon, the Doctor and his companions Jamie and Zoe are forced to hurriedly land on Earth.  They then team up with the newly founded United Nations Intelligence Taskforce to investigate the sinister goings on at International Electromatix and its connection to the sudden increase in UFO sightings.

Troughton's Doctor was most famous for his besieged-base storylines but here the scale of the story is far larger as the investigation of the mysterious electronics company expands into a full-scale invasion of Earth by the Cybermen.  This would have been a bit unwieldy if not for the sudden expansion of the Doctor's resources with help from UNIT, appearing for the first time (although Lethbridge-Stewart has already met the Doctor once at this point).

So, with UNIT, the Cybermen, epic scale and the puckish Second Doctor, this book has a lot going for it.  Unfortunately, for some reason that I'm struggling to quantify, it didn't grip me the way I felt it should have.  Perhaps is was the repetition of yo-yoing back and forth from London to the Electromatix compound or the fact that the Cybermen don't show up for quite a while.  Whatever it was, I felt that whilst this book was perfectly fine, it wasn't as good as the sum of its parts should have been.

3 out of 5

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