"I suppose that was one of the Doctor's most endearing qualities:
the ability to make the bizarre and the terrifying seem utterly
normal." When did Liz Shaw decide to leave the Doctor...?
When Liz's friend Jean goes missing, UNIT and its scientific
advisor are drawn to the scene to investigate. Soon Liz discovers
a potential alien invasion that will have far-reaching effects
upon her own life. Meanwhile, the Doctor finds himself pitted
against the deadly Cybermen once again...
about time too! The Third Doctor never faced the Cybermen
(once again voiced by the dependable Nicholas Briggs) during
his television adventures - unless you count The Five Doctors,
which I don't. In that anniversary special he only saw the
cyborgs from a distance. He never truly confronted them or
sparred with them verbally, as he does here. Incredibly, none
of the writers of Virgin's Missing
or of the BBC's "Past Doctor Adventures" pitted this incarnation
against the Cybermen either, which is a pity, especially since
Jon Pertwee detested the Daleks, whom ironically he encountered
numerous times! Now at last author Nigel Fairs (a childhood
fan of Pertwee's Doctor) has redressed the balance with this
Fairs also strives to bridge some of the narrative gaps that
exist between the television stories Inferno,
which marked narrator Caroline John's last regular appearance
as Liz Shaw, and Terror of the Autons, by which time
she had been replaced by Katy Manning's Jo Grant. Liz never
got a proper departure scene on television, so here the author
implies that this adventure contributes towards her decision
to leave the Doctor and UNIT.
However, Fairs is walking through a continuity minefield!
Gary Russell had previously depicted the scientist's departure
in his 1996 Missing
novel The Scales of Injustice (which also saw Mike
Yates being promoted from sergeant to captain). Then, a year
later, Martin Day and Keith Topping's The Devil Goblins
from Neptune, the first BBC Books "Past Doctor Adventure"
(set several months later and also featuring Captain Yates)
showed that Liz was still around, so evidently she came back
(numerous times, in fact, as David A. McIntee's The Wages
of Sin eventually revealed). "When did I first decide
to leave UNIT?" asks Liz at the start of this talking book.
"Now there's a question - with no easy answer, I'm afraid."
Never was a truer word spoken!
She also refers to Captain Yates as the "new boy", which is
slightly problematic, since he was in The Scales of Injustice
prior to his promotion. Furthermore, Terror of the Autons
clearly states that he was present during the aftermath of
From Space. One must assume that Liz means
"newly promoted" or that her use of "new boy" is a relative
term, since Yates was not around as far back as The Invasion
(unlike Benton and the Brigadier).
Far less contentious are the author's references to the Doctor
donning a more colourful outfit during the course of this
The ending owes rather a lot to Doctor
Who and the Silurians,
but otherwise this is an excellent (no Cyber-pun intended)
story, one that is augmented (still no Cyber-pun intended)
by an emotive reading courtesy of Caroline John.
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