Doctor Who and the Mutants by Terrance Dicks

Published: September 1977

Edition read: Target fourth reprint, 1984

Coolest Cover: The start of a long run of excellence from Jeff Cummins- the Mutant is perfect down to the eyes.

The BBC Budget Wouldn’t Run To: "Hot, dense, steamy tropical jungles, filled with a thin, choking mist that drifted eerily between knotted tree-trunks, festooned with dangling vines".

Crimes Against Literature: "His spinal vertebrae were distorted, almost reptilian, running in a row of enormous knobs down his back" (p.7) Firstly, like there’s another kind of vertebrae, and secondly, that has to be one of the cheesiest double-entendres ever perpetrated.

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

Childhood Recollections: Like Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks, my first copy was bought from the long-gone Phillip, Son and Nephew in Liverpool.

Ramblings: In a sentence, this is another example- if not the perfect example- of a sluggish six-part Pertwee story cut down, tightened up and turned into a tight 126-page adventure. We’re in the hands of Dicks the revisionist again, glossing over the inadequacies of 1972 production and the need to keep the story going for six weeks and doing justice to what is after all one of the more thoughtful and ideas-based adventures of the era, both on the political side and the concept of Solos’s unique ecosystem. Again, description suffers a little, although we’re given basic physical outlines of the main characters- by now we’re expected to know what the Doctor and Jo look like, but the sparse description does mean that we lose one of the televised story’s trump cards: the way that the Marshal is initially made to look like a pompous buffoon but ultimately revealed as an unscrupulous genocidal maniac. Similarly, the visuals of Ky’s final transformation are lost and not really given an adequate substitute in prose. But some of the rough edges are smoothed out; Jaeger is given a bit of backstory and motivation and the story is more coherent with a stronger central thrust. There’s next to nothing here which isn’t in the TV episodes, but as adaptations go it’s faithful, focused and a quicker read than actually watching the story.