Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius by Terrance Dicks

Published: June 1977

Edition read: Target fifth reprint, 1984

Coolest Cover: Both the red and yellow versions of Mike Little’s cover are unspeakable so it has to be Alistair Pearson from the video cover.

Purple Prose: "The Doctor looked sympathetically at Maren’s wizened form. ‘You were old when the Elixir was discovered, Maren. How many centuries have passed while you lived in these caves unchanged? How long since anything here has changed?‘ His voice hardened. ‘You think you have eternal life? Look around you. You have condemned yourself to eternal death!’" (p.95)

The TARDIS materialises with..."a wheezing, groaning sound"

...and dematerialises with... "a wheezing, groaning sound"

Continuity Conundrums:

Childhood Recollections: My one memory is of not realising that Solon was dead when he was; re-reading the book, I was right- Dicks implies rather than states that Solon’s killed by the poison gas.

Ramblings: Given the circumstances of the original television story’s creation, it’s a little surprising that Terrance Dicks opted to adapt this story at a reasonably early stage. It is after all an adaptation of Robert Holmes’s rewrite, rather than Dicks’s original idea (the copyright page shows the script as copyright to Robin Bland). That said, it’s not a particularly mischievous or spiteful adaptation- it’s fairly straightforward, but the main problem is that the characters don’t really come to life. Solon’s motivation is ultimately seen as insanely egotistic, while Morbius doesn’t come across as a character at all- although somehow, shorn of the visuals of the televised episodes, there’s more of a sense of his sensory deprivation on the printed page. Similarly, there’s a sad little moment where Maren reflects that, as she joined the Sisterhood when she was already old, the Elixir gives her a life of eternal old age rather than eternal youth. It’s clear that at some stage the Sisters were conceived of as something slightly different- there’s more of a witchy vibe about them, and on the occasions when they’re described, they’re darker rather than in colour. The feel, then, is different from the televised story- it’s somehow less grand and more prosaic, but Dicks’s limited emotional investment in the characters does at least fill some of the gap left by the missing direction and performances.