Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit by David Fisher

Published: January 1981

Edition read: Target first, 1981

Coolest Cover: Brian Dennington by default, although it looks as if he did at least have some decent reference material.

The BBC Budget Wouldn’t Run To: The book Erato can hang from the side of its cavern with tentacles hanging down like stalactites.

Purple Prose: "Through the opening stepped the Doctor.

‘Hello,’ he said cheerfully.

There are moments, thought Romana, when I positively loathe that man. How dare he look so cheerful when he’s been trapped in the far side of that shell with a huge ravening whatever-it-is? How dare he appear as if he’s just returned from a five-mile hike, when, by the rules that govern the Universe, he should have been torn limb from limb or squashed flatter than a crepe suzette by a million tons of green blob?" (p.78)

The TARDIS dematerialises with..."the familiar sound of the TARDIS dematerialising". Makes sense.

Childhood Recollections: I’m honestly not sure if this isn’t the first time I’ve read this book.

Ramblings: While Terrance Dicks’s adaptations of stories from the, shall we say distinctive, Season 17 are faithful, workmanlike and perfectly adequate, to obtain any real sense in print of the feel of that particular season it was clearly going to be necessary to persuade one of the original writers to adapt one of their scripts, and thankfully David Fisher was duly persuaded. Thankfully, because whereas Dicks’s adaptations bring out the traditional Doctor Who elements in each script, Fisher’s prose rendering of his own story emphasises some of the more unusual aspects of that season and in particular the creative melee from which the Season 17 ethos (or bouquet) grew. Because in the range so far, Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit is unique in its approach to the story and its take on the regulars. Rather than simply reporting the action, Fisher takes a further step back and layers his account with irony and telling descriptions, so while Madam Karela is a ruthless and power-hungry assassin, she’s also described as being of the age where in any other society she’d be spoiling her grandchildren. There’s a refreshingly domestic feel to the relationship between the Doctor and Romana, the latter being constantly on the verge of exasperation at the Doctor’s madcap schemes, but the real genius of the book comes in the obscure details which Fisher chooses to give us- footnotes aplenty on the flora and fauna of Chloris, mating habits of the tri-sexual Tythonians (although I could name some members of a certain message board who’ll try anything sexual) and so on, making it impossible to forget that the original story was written under the watchful eye of Douglas Adams. Fun, refreshing and an enjoyable attempt to do something more sophisticated and multi-layered while masquerading as an ordinary everyday Doctor Who novel, Fisher’s addition to the range is the nearest you’ll ever get to Season 17 on the printed page and all the more rewarding for it.