Doctor Who: The Edge of Destruction
By Nigel Robinson
Published by AudioGO Ltd.
Read by William Russell
This is the novelization of the third Doctor Who serial, directly following An Unearthly Child and The Dead Planet (which introduce the giant salt & pepper shaker monsters we know and love as the Daleks). Compared to the first two stories, this was only a two-parter and according to IMDB, is sometimes called “Inside the Spaceship.”
The story takes place entirely inside the Doctor’s TARDIS (a space and time traveling machine) which is behaving very strangely. Because the characters have only been together a fairly short time the story plays on the innate mutual distrust between the Doctor and his granddaughter, Susan and her Human teachers, Barbara and Ian. According to one article I have read, this was the only Doctor Who serial that featured only the regular cast without any guest actors. That might be correct; at least I cannot think of a story that does not have at least one guest actor since that time.
The story is nicely suspenseful, complete with the threat of utter disaster should the characters not resolve their predicament in time and yet it is all done internally. There are no monsters running around threatening them. The threat comes entirely from their unusual situation.
This is the story that first hinted that the TARDIS was more than just a vehicle for the Doctor and his companions. And although the Doctor repeatedly says that it is flat out impossible that the TARDIS can think like a living being, he does eventually admit that it must be able to think like a machine. The new series has taken that much farther and made the TARDIS sentient in its own way, but I will leave viewers to decide how they feel about that particular piece of retroactive continuity.
William Russel reads this entertaining tale very well and shows off his ability to mimic the characters that must have come from his time on the show, playing companion Ian Chesterton. His imitation of William Hartnell’s (the first Doctor) voice is spot on and he managed to hit key mannerisms of both Susan and Barbara as well, making the listening experience as entertaining as watching the show.
So, all told I would say this is a surprisingly sophisticated bit of writing considering this was intended as science fiction for children and it is read very well. If you are looking into some of the early adventures of the Doctor, this would not be a bad introduction to the series.