Reluctantly cancelling his well-earned holiday, the Doctor sets off in the TARDIS to trace and re-assemble the six segments of the Key to Time on which the stability of the entire Universe depends. Assisted by the argumentative Romanadvoratrelundar and K9, he lands on the planet Ribos in search of the first segment and finds himself entangled in the machinations of two sinister strangers, Garron and the Graff Vynda Ka. Who are they? Is Garron simply a shady confidence-trickster dealing in interplanetary real estate? Is the Graff Vynda Ka just a power-crazed exile bent on revenge? Or are they both really agents of the Black Guardian, intent upon seizing the precious Key in order to throw the Universe into eternal chaos? Risking his life within the monster-infested catacombs of Ribos, the Doctor has to use all his wit and ingenuity to find out...
An exciting unabridged reading, with music and sound effects, and this novelisation of a classic Doctor Who adventure, first published by Target Books in 1979.
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- S. Morris
Not Marter's Best WOrk
Having been thoroughly impressed with Ian Marter's adaptation of the Ark In Space and The Sontaran Experiment as well as the well written Earth Shock, I had high expectations for The Ribos Operation. I really liked Marter's writing style in those other books, especially his brilliant additions and expansions to the Sontaran Experiment. Further, his writing abilities came to fore for the Ark In Space too, where he recreated the tense foreboding atmosphere aboard the Ark and enhanced it. So, although the Ribos Operation isn't one of those outstanding classic era stories, I rather hoped Marter would work his magic and really make an average story a good one.
As much as I admire Marter as a writer, I was rather disappointed with his efforts here. He sticks very closely to the original television story and delivers a perfectly competent novelisation. In essence, Marter has done his job here, but not really any more. Perhaps he didn't have as much latitude to enhance this story, I don't know, but it felt rather workman like to me without the flare that Marter is capable of.
There may have been one or two additions or expansions to the original televised story, I can't tell for sure as it's been a while. I don't , for example, remember the demise of the aged female sooth sayer occurring on screen as it did in this novel, but that just might be my poor memory.
To be fair to Marter, The Ribos Operation wasn't the best classic Tom Baker era story. Having said that, the very short two part Sontaran Experiment was massively expanded by Marter, so Marter was certainly capable of polishing the story.
The sense I get from the writing here is that Marter agreed to do the book, but wasn't that enthusiastic about it so delivered nothing more than a straight retelling of the original story.
I must stress that this is not a bad story, nor is it written badly by Marter. it's just not his best work.
John Leeson does a good job of delivering the narration and is able to do other voices and accents as well as portray the character for which he is best known for, K-9, perfectly. The years have not changed his voice at all and he brings our favourite metal dog to life just as we remembered him all those years ago.
All in all, this is a decent enough adaptation, but rather disappointing as Marter's work goes.
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