Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Cave Monsters

Now I was thinking about Silurians and decided it was time to listen the audio reading of the Target novelisation, as I have a couple of these but hadn't yet listened to any. In truth, I wanted to listen to the audio recording of the original TV soundtrack, with linking narration, as I really like these. But I don't have it (yes, I really must save up my pennies and get that monsters box set tin... it's on the list!). And I fancied re-visiting the novelisation but didn't feel like dedicating my time to such endeavours. I’m a slow reader. I also find the audios useful as I can fiddle around on my computer whilst listening along.

So off I set on a journey back in time. Now I always liked Malcolm Hulke's work. His novelisations were always full of detail and background. I also liked his stories, which often had an ecological theme which I felt a particular empathy to, such as The Green Death, and also with wider concepts.

The Cave Monsters is number nine in the Target range, although that does not necessarily make it the ninth story to be published... Target only introduced their numbering system half way through, and decided to number those already published in alphabetical order, thus making the Abominable Snowman number 1 and the Cave Monsters number 9. In fact, the first 'proper' Target novelisation was the Auton Invasion, followed by the Cave Monsters, in 1974. These are, in publication order, numbers 4 and 5, after Target reprinted the first 3 Doctor Who stories (The Daleks, Crusaders and Zarbi) to launch their range. So, depending on which way you look at it, it could be the second book in the Target range, the fifth, or the ninth. But it is definitely Malcolm Hulke's first of seven novelisations.

The original Target publication had a classic cover by Chris Achilloes, with a great portrait of Pertwee, and the first few printings had the black block ‘Doctor Who’ lettering before the arched logo was introduced. It also contained 11 internal black and white line illustrations by Achilleos (you can find these online here). The book was later republished under the original TV series title of The Silurians and with a new cover by Alister Pearson.

The book also starts with a prelude missing from the TV story, which was shown in 1970, creating a powerful and almost, possibly, just about believable tale of the capturing of the moon in the earth's gravitational orbit during the time of the dominance of Silurian civilisation, and the reason for their hibernation. Why not, it definitely worked for me when I was 8.

The thing I like about this story is the unique position it places the Doctor in relation to his normally non-swaying support for humanity. By creating an intelligent reptilian race which predates mans evolutionary ascent on earth, and hence have valid claims to 'invade', the issue becomes a little more complex for our moral Doctor. I must admit I always side with the Silurians and hope they'll look after the earth better than we do. I'd double-cross humanity in a second - but then any power-crazed megalomaniac worth his salt would do the same.

The Silurian's third eye is evidence of their higher evolutionary path compared to modern humans, an element missing in their return story, Warriors of the Deep (apparently a production mistake), and again sadly in their current new series reappearance. It acts as a means of dominance over humans, and non-living matter itself. They also appear at one point to be able to communicate telepathically. Together with their technological superiority, this creates a powerful threat.

Hulke also like to paint his human characters full of weakness and selfish motives. He appears to take great fun of making fools of establishment figures, of men in suits and their attempts to control each other, in this story highlighted by the importance of chairs within the politics of power and human relationships.

There's a good detailed review of the story on the Doctor Who Reference Guide here.

Now I'm so inspired by this story, I still want to listen to the audio recording, and watch the video or DVD (was the DVD remastered?). Or perhaps I'll learn Dutch and read Doctor Who en de Holenmonsters. More likely I'm going to revisit Bloodtide, the Big Finish Silurian story, maybe I should try Warriors of the Deep. Or perhaps even read Blood Heat, the seventh Doctor Virgin New Adventure, which I have discovered includes Jo, the Brigadier, Liz Shaw and a few others. But, it all appears within the concept of an alternative universe, so can easily be forgotten about as none of it actually happened. No, really. Or there’s the Missing Adventure book The Scales of Injustice, which is available online on the BBC classic series website (find it here).

But as it's Petwee's second story, it sort of makes sense to start with the Auton Invasion and see if I can work my way through Pertwee's stories one by one... or perhaps I'll just pick out Hulke's stories... or just stick with the Target audio recordings or...

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