Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Doctor Who: Shada

Douglas Adams & Gareth Roberts
BBC Books

Inside this book is another book - the strangest, most important and most dangerous book in the entire universe.
"The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey" is one of the Artefacts, dating from dark days of Rassilon. It wields enormous power, and it must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.
Skagra - who believes he should be God and permits himself only two smiles per day - most definitely has the wrong hands.
Beware Skagra. Beware the Sphere. Beware Shada.

Back in 1979/80 a strike at the BBC meant that the Douglas Adams penned Doctor Who story, Shada, never got completed.  A few scenes were shot but after the stoppage the team decided not to go back and finish it.  a small scene from it was used to cover Tom Baker's refusal to appear in the 5 Doctors and in 1992 it was released in a truly dreadful version with linking commentary from Baker.  Both BIg Finish and Ian Levine have made versions - audio (featuring the 8th Doctor) and animated - but both are really rather poor.

This one however is rather fantastic.  This is Gareth Roberts, a Who regular, novelising Adams' script for the episode, much of which Adams reworked into the first Dirk Gently novel.

Here Professor Chronotis is a retired Time Lord at the end of his regenerations who has opted to spend the remainder of his existence surrounded by his books in the anonymity of Cambridge academia.  Into this idyllic dotage comes the Doctor and Romana, answering a distress call that Chronotis doesn't remember sending, and also Skagra, a petulant young man with designs on godhood for which he needs one of Chronotis' books which will allow him access to the Time Lord prison of Shada and the key to success in his plan.

It is a rollicking good read.  Funny and pacey and typically Adams.  Kudos to Roberts as he kept himself as quiet as possible, which can't have been easy.  There's a joke in Gallifreyan and a frankly horrendous (and wonderful) Latin pun so tremendous that whoever thought of it ought to be both pilloried for it and fed cakes by the nubiles of their choice.

I absolutely loved this book.

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