Retro Reads: Doctor Who – The Macra Terror3 min read

Back in 1989 I was just nine-years-old and fascinated by Doctor Who. I absolutely loved the show and at that time Sylvester McCoy was wrapping up his tenure as the Doctor.

Nothing would excite me more than coming home after school, flipping on the TV to ABC and watching The Doctor saunter around the screen, dealing with evil aliens, strange creatures and more.

My favourite Doctor would have to be Sylvester McCoy and his adventures with Mel and more frequently Ace. Often it was through the lens of Ace that we get to learn some of the dark secrets that The Doctor contains.

Nothing will ever replace my memories of the terrifying, yet entertaining classic episode series like Paradise Towers, The Happiness Patrol , and of course The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.

So as a young fan of Doctor Who, I managed to pick up (read: beg my parents to buy me) a copy of The Macra Terror by Ian Stuart Black, first published on the 1st of December, 1987.

Ian Stuart Black was also the author of the original four television episodes first aired in 1967 on which this novelisation is based.

At that stage I was unfamiliar with Patrick Troughton’s depiction of The Doctor (I still really haven’t seen much) and little did I know that The Macra Terror was one of the most popular stories from his series.

I really can’t remember my first reading of The Macra Terror but I do remember the descriptions of the huge, crab-like creatures that inhabit the sub-terrain and emerge at night.

I’d been meaning to re-read The Macra Terror for a long time, today I had the chance (ie. I finally remembered) to do exactly that.

For those unaware of the story, here is a quick synopsis:

The Doctor and companions Ben, Polly, and Jamie glimpse something frightening on the TARDIS’ scope for a second while traversing time and space, soon after then land on a world The Doctor determines as being in the future where upon early investigation they find what appears to be a typical British-style holiday camp.

When they encounter a member of the camp attempting to escape from the local police-force, the foursome travel to the camp and are welcomed with open arms and relaxing spa treatments.

But not all is what it seems behind the thin veil of happiness…

Not having watched the original series episodes, I don’t really have any direct comparison for the novelisation, however I found it particularly easy to read. Being one-hundred-and-thirty pages long, this slim tome doesn’t take a lot of time to read, which I easily knocked over about an hour and a half.

That said, I found the story quite enjoyable, and quite typical of the standard Doctor Who fare. Ian Stuart Black has written quite a readable short story, with great visual descriptions of the setting, antagonists, and alien creatures alike.

One thing I did notice, especially toward the final crescendo of the story, was the continual head-hopping. Chapters often started with a singular character perspective and shifted to include other perspectives. While this is a little off-putting it’s not enough to break the stories rhythm.

If you’re a Doctor Who fan looking to experience the story of The Macra Terror, and/or haven’t seen the original series episodes, then I’d suggest pick up a copy if you can through Book Depository or Amazon Books

Also published on Medium.

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