the Little Red Reviewer

Doctor Who and the Three Doctors, by Terrance Dicks

Posted on: January 23, 2013

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Guess what? the universe doesn’t implode if you are wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt while sipping coffee out of a Doctor-Who coffee mug while reading a Doctor Who novelization!

I’m a huge fan of the new-ish Doctor Who, but the old episodes (available on Netflix!) just aren’t that fun for me. It’s not their fault they haven’t aged well. Luckily, nearly all the story arcs were turned into novels, often by writers who were involved in the show. Terrance Dicks was a script editor on the show and also an editor at Target Books, who published the novelizations, and he would pen the book if the original script writer was unavailable. The Three Doctors was televised in December of 1972 and January of 1973, and the novelization was published in 1975.


SAM_2496Doctor Who and the Three Doctors by Terrance Dicks

published in 1975

where I got it: bought used












Like many Doctor Who stories, the opening is deceptively simple, but things get complicated fast. A scientist researching cosmic rays accidentally beams an unwitting observer to an antimatter universe.  The Doctor, his assistant Jo, and U.N.I.T. investigates, and are soon surrounded by humanoid shaped blobs of anti-matter.  Meanwhile, back on Gallifrey, the Time Lords are experiencing a massive loss of power in the universe. Their only hope is the exiled Doctor, but he too has been trapped by a force powered by antimatter.

The surviving Time Lords agree they must break the first law of time: they must allow the doctor to cross his own time stream.  The successfully bring back an earlier incarnation (referred to as Doctor Two), and are only semi-successful in bringing back a yet earlier version.  The banter between The Doctor and Doctor Two is hilarious.  Because of who they are, they are both completely weird, and there is much in the way of pot calling kettle black.

They soon learn that they’ve been captured by Omega, a legendary hero in Gallifreyan history. Omega had been a Time Lord solar engineer, and thanks to him, time travel became possible. It was believed that Omega had perished in a supernova, but instead of dying he was transported to an antimatter universe where he has slowly gone mad. Omega is slowly sucking energy out of our universe to power his world. His plans include escape for himself and permanent imprisonment for The Doctor.

Can the two Doctors get past their differences long enough to defeat Omega? And  will it be in time to save the people of Gallifrey and the citizens of the universe? The story focuses on the interactions between the two Doctors and the even earlier incarnation that we only see on a monitor, so other characters are pretty one dimensional. In some other novels I’ve read, the Doctor’s companion has a much bigger part, but in this one there really wasn’t much time for Jo to do very much.

Ok, so not the deepest story in the universe, but still a lot of fun.  These quick little novels are a blast, and the special effects  budget is limited only by your imagination.   The characterization and world building is pretty slim, but again, this is a novelization of 2 hours of tv.  If you’re a Doctor Who fan, I definitely suggest tracking down some of these older books.

6 Responses to "Doctor Who and the Three Doctors, by Terrance Dicks"

Well, we don’t always have to read deep and meaningful do we – fun is good. I haven’t read any Dr Who – seen a few of the series mind – but never read any! Bad me!
Lynn 😀


not “bad you” at all. These older novelizations are proving quite hard to find. for skinny little used books they are surprisingly expensive as well.


Ah, the memories of classic Who. As for you assertion they haven’t aged well, I’d disagree. I still love classic Who, but it’s what I grew up with.

As for the Three Doctors, it set the template for all other multi-Doctor stories to come — both good and bad. The printed page does well in giving the story a better budget and effects, but it loses the sheer delightful nature of Patrick Troughton’s performance as the second Doctor.

I had quite the collection of Target novel as a kid — in the days before VHS tapes, they were a way to collect classic serials and relive them again and again. The BBC is wisely putting these out now as audio books and I enjoy the trip down memory lane. They are great to listen to while working out since I know the details of the story already and am not worried about missing a pivotal plot point.


i think that’s exactly it – it depends on what we saw first, what gives us the warmest memories. My first Doctor was Eccleston, so I’m used to the more modern and edgier style. I hadn’t thought about that before, that the novels were the only way to “re-watch” a serial, as VHS didn’t exist yet and I’m sure the episodes weren’t reran.

so far I’m enjoying the Target books more than the 10th and 11th doctor novels that are floating around, you can give a couple brownie points for that at least. 😉


Oh NO…my To Be Read list is already too long and now you tell me there are good Doctor Who novelizations and…oh, things may implode…or explode, whichever is more applicable…

I keep meaning to watch old Who, and never getting around to it, and now I think I have to explore the novels…


I’m glad that you like the novels, but I felt a bit disappointed you don’t like the old TV series. Just like anything, you just have to find the right stories. As a fan that’s watched the show since the Tom Baker years (the fourth doctor – the “would you like a jelly baby?” one), there’s lots of stories that make me roll my eyes, but there’s ones that make me keep coming back for more. “Genesis of the Daleks”, “The Five Doctors” and the “Two Doctors”, with a character close to my heart: Shockeye of the Qwauncing Grigg and his desire to eat of human flesh. Hehhehe.

There are many classics, so I hope you don’t count them all out.

I’m on the other end of the stick – I haven’t read any of the novels. I’m not sure why, it just doesn’t seem to be the thing to do. Kinda like looking at a stick-figure doodle of the Mona Lisa. /tips hat


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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