Journalist Sarah Jane Smith probes a strange New Age cult
that worships a hideous deity called the Skang. The cult has
inducted her colleague Jeremy Fitzoliver into its ranks. Is
there a connection with a mysterious corpse found on Hampstead
Heath? Sarah enlists the aid of the Doctor and UNIT, whose
investigations lead them to a remote island halfway around
book is clearly intended as a follow-up to former director
and producer Barry Letts' own Doctor Who radio serials
of the 1990s, The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts
again Sarah, still in journalistic mode at this stage of her
association with the Doctor, is at the forefront of the story,
and she and the Third Doctor are joined by the Brigadier and
the irritating posh twit Jeremy Fitzoliver. On this occasion,
however, Jeremy is sidelined for much of the action, as he
is involved with the sinister cult - a plot development akin
to the treatment of Mike Yates in Invasion
of the Dinosaurs and Planet of the Spiders.
As in The Paradise of Death, there's some tedious mucking
about on board the misbehaving TARDIS. This includes technobabble
such as "temporal governor", a component that is somehow influenced
by the Greenwich Meridian. Hmmm... straying into Dimensions
in Time territory a bit there.
in The Ghosts of N-Space, this is a globetrotting adventure,
this time involving a trip across the Indian Ocean, courtesy
of the Royal Navy, with some crude racial stereotypes. In
common with most Indian characters portrayed in the British
media during the 1970s, those featured here repeatedly use
the progressive tense for stative verbs, such as: "I am understanding
the urgency of the matter." Ah well, the book is supposed
to be set in the mid-'70s after all, so in a sense it is "of
The author knows his characters well and, for the most part,
he gets them spot on, so the narrative feels as much a part
of the 1974 television season as it does an extension of the
1993-1996 "mini-era" of radio adventures. There is the occasional
lapse, however, such as the Brigadier addressing Sarah as
"Sarah", rather than the more formal "Miss Smith". Letts states
that the Brigadier does this because he is not on duty at
the time, yet the Brig calls her "Miss Smith" in The Five
Doctors, even though he's off duty then.
takes several ocean-bound chapters to actually get to the
island mentioned in the title, which is not reached until
halfway into the book. However, these chapters successfully
tap into the actor Jon Pertwee's nautical associations. The
Third Doctor clearly enjoys the navy lark, just as he did
during The Sea Devils.
when our heroes finally arrive at their destination, the story
proceeds sluggishly, with lots of tiresome introspection diluting
the dialogue and action. Then, suddenly, the Skang situation
is resolved in a scant few paragraphs, in a conclusion that
borrows heavily from those of The
Claws of Axos and The Daemons. It is
almost as if the author is spinning out his story to the required
word count and then swiftly finishes it off as soon as he
reaches his goal.
the aforementioned weaknesses in the narrative and the serials
it seeks to emulate, I still rather enjoyed this book, in
a comfortable, unchallenging sort of way. I found myself feeling
oddly nostalgic for the 1990s mini-era, when the Third Doctor's
two audio adventures were virtually the only new broadcast
Who we could get our hands on.
times have changed. But then that's what nostalgia is all
this item online
compare prices online so you get the cheapest
deal! Click on the logo of the desired store
below to purchase this item.
All prices correct at time of going to press.