THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE TV
STORIES "TERROR OF
THE AUTONS" AND "THE
MIND OF EVIL."
OFFICIAL BBC 'PAST
RELEASED IN NOVEMBER
UNIT investigate a
spate of unexplained
deaths and murders.
Meanwhile, the Third
Doctor and Jo are
caught up in strange
events in the small
English Village of
underway for a
massive pop concert,
a sinister cult
prepares for a day of
reckoning - business
as usual for UNIT. But
can the Brigadier
help prevent the end
of the world? His
colleagues are not so
sure, because this
time, the Brigadier
has fallen in love...
“Deadly Reunion” is, in many ways, the antithesis of “Zagreus”. Whilst both stories were conceived with a view to celebrating Doctor Who’s fortieth birthday, they are poles apart in terms of their direction. Big Finish’s lavish production has all the trimmings and all the stars, and ultimately sees the eighth Doctor embark on a whole new set of adventures in a divergent universe, whilst “Deadly Reunion”, on the other hand, is a good old fashioned trip down memory lane.
My interest was really piqued when I saw both Terrance Dicks’ and Barry Letts’ names on the cover of this one – after all, who better to pen a celebratory adventure for the third Doctor and UNIT than the script editor and producer of the series during that era?
Dicks and Letts seem to have written a distinct chunk of this book each, rather than the whole thing together. “Deadly Reunion” roughly adheres to the style of televised six-parters such as “The Time Monster” and “Planet of the Spiders” in that around one third of the action is set in one time and place, and two thirds or so set in another.
The first third of the book is set in the 1940s and is clearly the work of Barry Letts – there is not a whimsically-titled chapter to be found therein, for one thing! These first one hundred and sixteen pages will certainly be, for many, the story’s highlight as they tell of Second Lieutenant Lethbridge-Stewart, a young man stuck in the post-war tedium of island-mapping who gets his first taste of love… with a (literal) goddess.
“You may have fallen in love with an immortal, Alistair. Always a tricky business, look at the old legends.”
The youthful Second Lieutenant is certainly a far cry from the much more austere Brigadier that we all know and love; he is all headstrong and hormonal. But it is fascinating to read about how the character took not only those first pivotal steps into manhood, but also those first tentative steps into a world so much larger than the one that he had previously known. A world of gods and goddesses; a world of magic and mystery.
Letts’ part of the story also has a distinct sense of realism about it; the writer evidently drawing on his own military experiences to imbue his work with a tremendous level of detail. This is particularly effective in marking the contrast between the ‘real’ world as Lethbridge-Stewart knows it, and the world of Hades.
Similarly, Dicks’ two-thirds of the book has his own indelible stamp all over it. There is nothing in this part of the novel that really takes us anywhere new though – indeed, save for the Brigadier being reunited with his lost love, the plot is essentially “The Dæmons” rehashed, with just a sprinkle of Sarg (another Whoniverse narcotic!) thrown in for good measure.
“My dear Doctor, if everyone in the world was evil,
I should scarcely stand out in the crowd!”
It is great fun nevertheless; I particularly enjoyed the Yates and Benton double-act stuff (bar fights, et al), and seeing the toffee-nosed Master being reduced to a lowly drug dealer. Indeed, Dicks’ exquisite portrayal of the Master really makes the last few chapters of the book something very special. I am not so sure about the Doctor and Master having been in
a band called the Gallifrey Academy Hot Five in their youth, mind, but it did make me chuckle!
All in all, “Deadly Reunion” is a delightful romp that does precisely what it says on the tin,
and I cannot really pick any fault with it whatsoever. The perfect complement to “Zagreus”, this is one trip down memory lane that I must heartily recommend.
A must for anyone who is feeling even remotely nostalgic.
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.
This novel’s blurb offers no clues as to its placement, however the text makes it clear that its principal events take place shortly after the television story Terror of the Autons.
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