Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: Shada

This is the novelization of a rushed script crafted by the late, great Douglas Adams. And this monumental task was given to a current Who writer, Gareth Roberts — not to be confused with Garathian Roberts: current ruler of Theta Gorb, in the Quarg cluster.

As both a fan of Doctor Who and Adams, I can tell you without question that I was excited for this book. Although, and to be quite honest, I kept my reservations fairly grounded, to my surprise, he really hit the nail on the head. And having never read the script for Shada, I can't even tell where Adams stops and Roberts begins; this is all a fan could really hope for.

From a Doctor Who perspective, we are treated with a tale of my favorite, and arguably the best, incarnation of the doctor, the fourth: famously portrayed by Tom Baker. And I feel that his character was represented and translated very well, except the lack of jelly baby offerings! And as much of a cliche that became, it still made me laugh, every time.

The story itself is nicely intertwined following multiple perspectives and subplots. Aside from the obvious characters, we follow Chris and Clare: two undergraduates studying to be scientists, an absent minded professor, and a very evil, megalomaniacal alien hell bent on doing something very, very bad to the entirety of reality.

And on that note, Skarga isn't your typical generic villain  His extreme tunnel vision and Vogonian seriousness allow him to be both credible as a threat to the doctor and funny, in that completely out of place way. And the contrast between the serious elements and the humorous ones are perfectly balanced. Simply put, Shada is a really good Doctor Who story. I found myself laughing out loud at times and feeling a real sense of urgency / panic, at others.

So if you're a fan, I recommend picking up a copy. It also would make a great Christmas gift for any Whovian. Again, you have nothing to worry about here. Gareth Roberts did Douglas Adams more than enough justice by actually completing a story that is probably far closer to the one Adams actually wanted to tell, than the original script he submitted to the studio.