Saward, Eric

About the Author:

Eric Saward has written for both radio and television and was the script editor for the BBC's Doctor Who for five years, as well as writing several episodes.

 

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

2.3 out of 5

(3 books)

Doctor Who And The Visitation

The novelisation of Saward's own televised script, featuring the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and his companions Tegan, Nyssa and Adric.  Accidentally arriving in the Seventeenth Century the TARDIS travellers stumble across a group of fugitive aliens who plan to make a new home for themselves on Earth by wiping out the human race.

Whilst it's not really objectionable, the simple truth is that this book is boring.  The plot is nothing new either to science fiction as a whole or to Doctor Who in particular and the villains of the piece are among the least interesting aliens ever to try to wipe out mankind.  About the only thing of note about them is that it's the Terileptils who destroy the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, which was the last time it would appear until the show was revived by Russell T. Davies.

Whilst I've not read/seen enough of his adventures to really get a feel for the Fifth Doctor, what we have here is more of what little I have seen; an affable but unremarkable character.  Added to that is a less-than-stellar crop of companions; Adric is just irritating (if only someone would come along and crash him into a planet...), Tegan does little but complain and Nyssa, whilst the most capable of the group, manages to do everything pretty blandly.

There's a final-page twist to the whole story which, rather than being a nice ending, actually leaves you wishing you'd just read a story featuring that particular historical event, rather than some vague meandering in an old manor house and the woods around it.

2 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Attack Of The Cybermen

A novelisation of a TV story featuring the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and his companion Peri.  Recently regenerated, the Doctor arrives on present day Earth (back when the present day was 1985) to find an old enemy, Commander Gustave Lytton, apparently collaborating with a group of Cybermen bent on changing the course of history.  After travelling to the Cybermen's adopted homeworld of Telos, it soon becomes apparent that there is far more going on than meets the eye.

This book starts very strongly, introducing us to a group of hardened criminals seemingly intent on a major diamond heist.  The first appearance of the book's true villains is where things start to go awry, however. 

Saward's prose is easy to read and keeps you turning the pages, but the plot and its main characters all come across as feeling like the product of fanfiction.  The Doctor, Peri and the Cybermen are all handled just ever-so-slightly wrong and as such don't seem like their 'real' selves.  Some of this can be put down to things like the newly regenerated Doctor still not having established his unique persona, but the same cannot be said of the weirdly emotional and easily overpowered Cybermen.

I guess this book is a product of why the mid-to-late Eighties represented the decline of Doctor Who which ended in its cancellation.

2 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Revelation Of The Daleks

The last story of classic Who to be novelised, here Saward adapts his own original script featuring the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and his companion Peri Brown.  Heading to the funerary planet Necros in search of an old friend, the Doctor and Peri discover that a sinister character known as the Great Healer has been experiementing on and mutating humans.  As they begin to investigate they realise that there is something truly monstrous in the making on Necros.

This is an odd book really, full of the grim violence that 1980s Who was criticised for at the time, but also full of cheesy and camp touches that give it the feel of a Saturday morning cartoon story.  I couldn't exactly tell (not having seen the screen version) whether it was that the story wasn't taking itself seriously or if Saward, in hindsight, wasn't taking it seriously when he novelised it.

What I can say is that it's a very unimaginative adaption.  This book is really dialogue-heavy and reads almost as if Saward just transcribed his original script wholesale.  Personally, I prefer novelisations to have a bit more to them than the televised version, be it greater description or perhaps exploration of the characters' inner thoughts.  There's not much of either here, however.

What I will say is that the core idea here is brilliant, with a new, flawed race of Daleks being created in defiance of the racial purity which the original Daleks hold as their core ideal, something which sees the beginning of the Dalek civil war that was later picked up in the brilliant 'Remembrance of the Daleks' (novelised by Ben Aaronovitch).  With this concept at its heart and with the Sixth Doctor finally beginning to find his feet as a distinct character (even if he was unceremoniously put on hiatus after this), there's just enough to like here to keep you reading.

3 out of 5

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