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Classic Novels; Doctor Who and the War Games

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Author Topic: Classic Novels; Doctor Who and the War Games  (Read 271 times)
Vampyros Adric
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« on: March 09, 2012, 10:31:35 am »

It has been a while since time has afforded me the luxury of writing one of these reviews. However, I have been listening to an amazing classic novel and I thought I should flag it up as one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard. High praise you may think? Well, pray silence please for Mr Malcolm Hulke at his finest...


The blurb on the back of the box makes for an exciting little summary...

"Mud, barbed wire, the smell of death...The year is 1917 and the TARDIS has materialised on the Western Front during the First World War. Or has it? For very soon the Doctor finds himself pursued by the soldiers of Ancient Rome; and, then he and his companions are reliving the American Civil War of 1863. And is this really Earth, or just a mock-up created by the War Lords? As Doctor Who solves the mystery, he has to admit he is faced with an evil of such magnitude that he cannot combat it on his own - he has to call for the help of his own people, the Time Lords. So, for the first time, it is revealed who is Doctor Who - a maverick Time Lord who 'borrowed' the TARDIS without permission. By appealing to the Time Lords he gives away his position in Time and Space. Thus comes about the Trial of Doctor Who...David Troughton reads Malcolm Hulke's complete and unabridged novelisation, first published by Target Books in 1979."

I have a number of "..if I won the lottery" projects. Top of the list would be to spend a couple of years researching and writing the biography of Malcolm Hulke. He is one of the most interesting writers to grace our show and was a man with a definite agenda and something to say. The War Games has a wonderful science fiction element to it but (more so than the televised version of the story) this is an anti-war tract. Some of the descriptions of the horrors of The Great War are calculatingly brutal. More than anything else I take from this story is Mac Hulke's revulsion at human beings continual inhumanity towards each other.

That such a message could seep through this story is credit indeed to Hulke. We have - after all - one of the legendary stories of the entire classic show on our hands. A show so long it slipped into folklore. Yet the book doesn't seem at all ponderous or laboured like you might expect a 10 episode story to do. In fact, this is one of Hulke's faster moving novels, with action and developments in every chapter. Strangely, knowing the ultimate fate of the Doctor in this novel doesn't in anyway diminish from the tension of the ending, the final Trial of "Doctor Who" is a worthy pay off for the listener.

A word must go to David Troughton who helps make this audiobook such a success. He sounds so frighteningly like his father that, at times, you simply lose yourself and can hear Patrick's brilliant, whimsical, menacing tones rippling through the story. That David has been asked to play the second Doctor in some Big Finish audio stories is not in the least bit surprising - his reading here is wonderful and it really makes the story sound special.

An audiobook that improves upon the original story... Well, I will let you decide on that. But if you haven't dipped into the murky waters of Classic Novel Audiobooks, this is about as good as you can get and I would heartily recommend it.
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Scott
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 02:57:50 pm »

I've not read the book but I have heard the audio and it is brilliant. I don't know if I would go as far as to say it is better than the TV story but I think it's definately as good. It tightens up the plot in the middle where it slows down and drags out a bit, fleshes out the characters more and the whole thing just feels more, I dunno, sort of like your there, in amongst it. I usually prefer the full cast audio dramas over the audiobooks but I would definately tell people to give this one a listen.
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2012, 01:21:53 am »

Another amazing audio. Some of the novelisations weren't as good as the story and the audios are sometimes worse again, but this one takes the original story and builds upon it in a good way and David Troughton reads it brilliantly.
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2012, 12:05:06 am »

What I love about this (and the novel) is that it takes the weak points of the televised story and tightens it up. The dialogue is fast and the story moves along at a much stronger pace. I think sometimes the novels and the audios of the novels can take a good story and change it too much or not manage to capture just how good the televised story was, but this does neither. Just enhances it.
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2012, 08:53:56 pm »

What I love about this (and the novel) is that it takes the weak points of the televised story and tightens it up. The dialogue is fast and the story moves along at a much stronger pace.

This is exactly what is so good about this release. It takes an already great story and works with it to make it better rather than trying to change it.
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2012, 08:54:06 pm »

Great review btw Smiley
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