Doctor Who and the Ark in Space by Ian Marter

Published: May 1977

Edition read: Target third reprint, 1984

Coolest Cover: Achilleos- weird but good- he’s picked up the colour of the Wirrrn eyes from the book but I’d love to hear his explanation of why the Wirrn appears to be carrying Tom’s disembodied head, which is in itself apparently attached to some kind of dish.

The BBC Budget Wouldn’t Run To: Wirrrn which can flick their tails up over their heads to attack people with their pincers.

Purple Prose: "His eyes bulging with terror, he brought the injured arm in front of his face; the deep tear in the sleeve was filled with a greenish bubbling pus which, as he watched, seemed to be absorbed into his arm so that only the blackened gash in the sleeve remained." (p.63)

The TARDIS dematerialises with... "an extraordinary groaning sound"

Continuity Conundrums: Wirrrn.

Childhood Recollections: I memory...of Doctor Who and the Ark in Space.

Ramblings: In practically any other franchise, a tie-in novel written by one of the lead actors is an event. It doesn’t happen that often, of course, and usually for very good reasons, but that Ian Marter should have been prevailed upon to write for the range and then make his debut so strikingly really invigorated a range starting to show signs of slipping into predictability. Just the three-page prologue is enough to demonstrate a new and very different approach; it feels like somebody trying to write serious science-fiction rather than adapting a Saturday afternoon serial. Marter’s style is, of course, famously uncompromising; coming across the description of Libri’s smouldering body welded to the panelling, or Noah’s head cracking open like a bursting seed pod, we’re clearly no longer in Terrance Dicks territory, but it’s a question of a different style rather than a better or worse one. In fact, it’s absolutely perfect for the subject matter; at the time of production, the Hinchcliffe/Holmes production style was still in its embryonic (larval?) stage, and Marter corrects the overlighting and inflexible monsters, emphasising the physical pain and torment of Noah’s transformation and creating something which could never have been put on television. The only loss is Rogin’s fatalistic humour, which only serves to underline that this isn’t Terrance Dicks doing justice to a Robert Holmes script let down on screen; it’s Ian Marter seeing something in the story and creating something new- in fact, something so completely his own that it’s one of the first ones I’ve read where I wasn’t mentally nipping back to the televised episodes every five minutes to compare.