Saturday, 1 January 2011

Warmonger by Terrance Dicks

Plot: We’re entering prequel and sequel territory when the Doctor becomes embroiled in the affairs of the planet Karn again. Before you know it he is the lead figure in an alliance of empires and Peri is a infamous rebel leader…engineering the downfall of galactic despot Morbius…considering the number of ‘parallel universe’ stories in the BBC line it still makes me heave that this is the one story that isn’t set in another reality!

Fair Fellow: That hardly describes the Doctor of this story. It is clear from his first appearance that this book was meant to feature the sixth Doctor and was changed to the fifth at the last minute. Unfortunately it would seem that Terrance Dicks did not see fit to change any of the characteristics of the Doctor he has written and as a result the Doctor comes across as impatient, threatening, angry, bitter, violent, arrogant, unsympathetic and bored. Having the Doctor skip forward an incarnation could solve 50% of this books problems. This feels like a horribly perverted version of the fifth Doctor but as the sixth it would work…just.

The Doctor becomes known as the Supremo, with a shaved head and a voice that orders with authority, he leads the alliance with an iron grip! The Doctor snaps the head of a giant bird and tosses it down a mountain…what would Paul Cornell say? The price of returning to Gallifrey would be high for the Doctor but he would risk it for Peri. He thinks of choking the truth out of Solon! ‘Who cares?’ is the Doctor’s bored reaction to Solon nearly getting away with killing Peri. The Doctor has unexpected resources according to Peri but no arrogance, strength and drive (is she featuring in the same book I am reading?). Page 211 pretty much sums up how the Doctor has gone temporarily insane in this book and just for a laugh I will recite it for you here…

’Do I like constant praise, adulation, almost worship? Absolute, unquestioned authority. Dozens of people breaking their necks to fulfil my every whim? People desperately trying to figure out what my next whim will be so I don’t even have to ask? As you Americans say, what’s not to like? There’s friendship Peri – the kind of friendship that closes the gap between species, friends who would be willing die for you and you for them. Above all there’s war! The greatest and most wonderful game of all, unbendingly complex and thrilling and unpredictable. Isn’t ours a good war? I do like being the Supremo – far too much!’

Busty Babe: Peri has also been changed beyond all recognition. How on Earth this Peri could go on to be the whinging, helpless companion of the sixth Doctor that we all know and love I have no idea! Can you imagine Ms Brown heading up a guerrilla unit, leading groups of people to their deaths? Even scarier is her instant arousal around the Doctor when he becomes the Supremo! This is the most arse achingly awful characterisation of either of them I have ever read and coming after their triumphant characterisation in Superior Beings that is something of a knock to both characters.

Peri is sick of killings, exhausted and sick of running and hiding. At the beginning of this adventure Peri is quite beautiful but lacking her warmth and vitality, restless and jangled after her recent adventure. Peri is a romantic and impressionable young girl. When kidnapped by Morbius and threatened with gang rape (!!) she briefly considers suicide.

Foreboding: ‘I met him once’ – the Doctor is talking about Napoleon, pre-empting Dick’s later (and far superior) World Game. Can’t I read that instead?

Twists: Morbius is deposed and exiled from Gallifrey – promising one day to return. Sontarans, Draconians, Cybermen and Ogrons all working together? The Doctor takes Peri to Solon on the planet Karn. The end of chapter six- Peri discovers Solon’s secret – dead body made up of butchers leftovers – and it springs to life! Peri is kidnapped by Morbius and he attacks the Sisterhood! The Doctor does return to Gallifrey to warn them and they elect him as their representative to unite the universe empires against Morbius. The Alliance, funded by the CIA and equipped with the latest design spaceships sets up a campaign of liberating planets Morbius has conquered hoping he will turn around and fight. Maren interferes with the battle on Karn and gives the Alliance the advantage.

Embarrassing Bits/Funny Bits (the two are not mutually exclusive in this novel):

· How to become a rebel leader in three easy steps. Step One: Overhear casual talk of attacking an arms convoy in a café. Stage Two: Suggest a better plan. Stage Three: Take over. Oh please!
· “Because I’ll wring your neck if you don’t you conceited little swine” is a thought of the fifth Doctor’s…before he has been corrupted by power!
· What is this? The Brain of Morbius II? The Doctor must retrieve the Elixir to save Peri’s life! Robin Bland should file for plagiarism!
· Is it the Doctor who has a sexist attitude towards women…or Terrance Dicks?
· You’ve gotta love Peri’s naive stupidity. The Doctor discovers Rombusi is assembling a council of war and warns her and she turns on him and tells him he is jealous of Rombusi’s feelings for her and that she is still going on a date with him.
· ‘Maybe he’ll pass her around when he’s done with her. He does that sometimes’ – one of many references to rape that lead you to believe this book was written by a pre-pubescent schoolboy. Well, wasn’t it?
· There’s nothing wrong with a bit of friendly rape! – There’s another!
· Rombusi turns out to be Morbius! Gosh what a shock! The fact that this was attempted to be hidden is shocking but even more hilarious is the fact that the Doctor is shocked when it is revealed! Has he forgotten his last adventure on Karn? And considering this is the Doctor who faced Sir Giles Estram and all those other anagrammically challenged villains you would have thought he would have his Scrabble Dictionary of Villainous Anagrams around!
· Morbius is supposedly an intellectual military genius and yet Peri manages to convince him that she is dying of some terrible disease by scraping her skin with some utensils. He cannot be that thick.
· He raised his goblet and drained the fiery contents. ‘Issalon Kwai!’ The Doctor did the same, echoing the toast. ‘Issalon Kwai!’ ‘A traditional Sontaran toast, Battle Marshall?” asked the Doctor politely. Skrug looked surprised. ‘No it is a war toast from old Earth. I thought you would know it.’ He raised his voice and croaked: ‘Issalon Kwai to Tipperary! Issalon Kwai to go!’ – when I read this I had to pause and read again, just in case I had imagined it. But no, it was there.
· The Cybermen join the cause! Oh come on!
· ‘There’s a saying on Earth Peri – try everything once except incest and pole dancing’ – Really? Can’t say I’ve ever heard that one before!
· ‘Bull¤¤¤¤!’ said Peri, ‘They used to call me the Scourge of Sylvanna! Somebody get me a hand blaster, a laser rifle…and a knife!’ – I can’t even type this without choking with laughter!
· Peri brushed against the Doctor and felt something hard and angular beneath the Doctor’s dusty tunic. “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just please to see me?” – Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
· Would anybody, anybody (!!) sit there eating roast boar when their planet is going to war???

And many, many more….but I can’t sit here all day and reprint the entire book.

Result: A great dumb cartoony cover for a great dumb cartoony book. The whole thing is utterly ridiculous from the word go and it just piles on more and more insults, characterisation, prose, plotting, dialogue. A mere mention of the name Terrance Dicks causes a warm glow in most of our hearts (only topped for me by Ready Brek and jam roly-poly) and I can only think that was what happened with Justin Richards when he commissioned this rubbish. When you were a spotty, horny teenager you might have written something like this with the Cybermen and Sontarans joining forces, lots of references to how shaggable Peri is and the Doctor turning into a violent raving nutter but coming from the Granddaddy of Doctor Who fiction it is simply unforgivable. After saying how great it was to see the PDAs trying again I have never been more prophetic, there are few books I have ever read that are as trying as this. So bad you could squeeze it into the opening volley of the New Adventures without anyone noticing. Abysmal: 0/10

1 comment:

  1. I have only just bought this book. Probably now just to help complete the series. I may never read it now. Just put it in the stack, because it doesn't appear to fit between any other stories.