THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO "THE
SENTINELS OF THE NEW
DAWN" AND THE TV
STORY "TERROR OF
OFFICIAL BBC 'PAST
RELEASED IN JUNE 1997.
a spate of deaths
follows the break-up
of an alien mass in
the atmosphere. But
this is merely the
latest incident in a
that threatens the
entire planet, and the
Doctor SOON FINDS
himself embroiled in
the plans of all the
players. As the lines
between allies and
enemies begin to blur,
the Doctor fiGHTS to
save the Earth once
again. But who will
he be saving it for?
The Devil Goblins
Fortunately I was infinitely more impressed with BBC Books’ first past Doctor novel than I was with their start to the eighth Doctor’s adventures in print. Keith Topping and Martin
Day’s UNIT thriller “The Devil Goblins From Neptune” was just crying out to be called
“Doctor Who and the Devil Goblins From Neptune,” but other than that it is a novel that is hard to fault.
Admittedly though, I do have a weakness for UNIT stories – particularly ones like this, full of twists and turns and intercontinental intrigue. Indeed, in terms of both pace and tone “The Devil Goblins From Neptune” is indistinct from those early Jon Pertwee six and seven-parters, save for its ever so slightly more grown-up content.
UNIT are facing a war on two fronts – the CIA (and I do, for once, mean the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, as opposed to Gallifrey’s Celestial Intervention Agency) is looking to undermine UNIT, infiltrating their supreme command in Geneva. Meanwhile, two utterly conflicting alien races from one of Neptune’s moons are beating the crap out of one another.
The Waro, the eponymous ‘Devil Goblins’, truly are the stuff of nightmares. More a force of nature than a scheming adversary, even the Doctor finds himself rather stumped when trying to combat them. Their opponents, the Nedenah, are your more conventional Roswell Greys, held captive in Area 51. Of course, in true serialised fashion it takes a long while before the above becomes apparent. Topping and Day draw us into their plot slowly by virtue of the Russian branch of UNIT’s repeat attempts to capture the Doctor…
However, as enthralling as the plot is, what made this novel stand out for me was how it developed some of the regular characters – specifically the Brigadier, Yates, and Benton. The latter gets to have great fun casting his revolver into the fire and going undercover with a gang of Pink Floyd-loving hippy ‘saucer people’, whilst the Brigadier is haunted by the ghosts of his past as he seeks to uncover the moles in UNIT’s supreme command. In my opinion, this is the Brigadier’s strongest outing in print since “The Scales of Injustice,” which
I presume follows on from the events of this story. Even so, in my opinion it is ‘Michael Alexander Raymond Yates’ who steals the show - “The Devil Goblins From Neptune” is his story; he is practically the principal character. Left in command of UNIT in the Brigadier’s absence, Yates struggles with the pressures of command; socio-political ethics; as well as his own casual disregard for his various sleeping partners. Brilliant stuff.
Sadly the Doctor and Liz fare less well. Fair dues, the authors do try and develop the returning Liz here a little bit, but I was hardly captivated by the whole Mark / Cambridge sub-plot. I guess I am just not a huge fan of the character. As for the Doctor, “The Devil Goblins From Neptune” shows exactly why I am not a huge fan of the third Doctor – he is as a straight-laced and haughty here as ever he was.
Of course, there were other things that I did not like about this book. The ending is a bit rushed and very deus ex machina, something very odd has happened to the Beatles, and the Doctor Who universe seems to have made room for yet another race of ‘greys’. But
even so, “The Devil Goblins From Neptune” has to be regarded as something of a success and, as I have intimated above, it makes for a much more promising start to this past Doctor range than “The Eight Doctors” did for its sister series.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
The blurb places this novel between Inferno and Terror of the Autons. As Mike Yates is a Captain here, this
story must take place after The Scales of Injustice. However, that novel saw Liz Shaw leave the UNIT setup, and she is clearly part of the team again in this novel. We therefore surmise that Liz was called back to help with the Waro here, and this would appear to be supported by the Doctor’s line to her “I’ve missed you, Liz.”
Thanks to Chris McKeon and Jason Robbins
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