doctor who last of the gaderene1 doctor who last of the Gaderene2

Mark Gatiss
BBC Worldwide / BBC Books
2000 / 2013

The aerodrome in Culverton has new owners, and they promise an era of prosperity for the idylic village. But former Spitfire pilot Alex Whistler is suspicious–when black-shirted troops appear on the streets, he contacts his old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at U.N.I.T. The Third Doctor is sent to investigate–and soon uncovers a sinister plot to colonize the Earth. The Gaderene are on their way…

Third book re-released in the eleven-book 50th Anniversary series, and naturally this is a Third Doctor adventure, with Jo as his long-suffering companion. Originally released in 2000, Last of the Gaderene takes place soon after the events in “The Three Doctors”, which resulted in the Doctor being released from his exile on Earth by the Time Lords. To give you an idea of the timeline, here. No pun intended. Anyway…

Last of the Gaderene has a nifty Invasion of the Body Snatchers vibe going on, with a story about a village beset upon by a mysterious group who turn up out of nowhere to build an airport terminal where the old aerodrome is. They have an eerie Nazi vibe to their look and mannerisms, so World War II vet Alex “Mother” Whistler (don’t ask) contacts his war buddy the Brigadier to send U. N. I. T. to investigate. They send The Doctor–who just got back from helping start a revolutionary revolt against a despot dictator on a distant planet–and Jo, where they discover the new management of the aerodrome and their goings-on to be a bit odd. And not just because they’ve always smiling and have a Mogwai-level aversion to bright lights. What are all of those coffin-like canisters for? Why are more and more members of the community suddenly acting oddly? How does a smallish glowing artefact found by Whistler during World War II tie in? And then the Master shows up. You kind of had to have seen that one coming.

I do believe this is the first full-length Third Doctor story I’ve read. No surprise, really considering how late in the game it was when I began reading the novels. Given what I’ve seen of the shows that feature the Third Doctor, I think that Mark Gatiss really captured the essence and mannerisms convincingly in prose form. Of course, it’s not just the Doctor that is brought to life–the Brigadier, Jo and the villagers that assist The Doctor with the adventure all are given depth, and even the story’s main villains–the titular Gaderene–have moments of sympathetic depth. But only a moment. They’re malevolent, no doubt about that.

Overall, Last of the Gaderene was good, spine-tingling sci-fi thriller, very well written, and featuring classic Doctor Who favorites and a rather explosive climax. Very good pick for the 50th Anniversary re-releases. Recommended.