DOCTOR WHO AND THE KRIKKITMEN by James Goss and Douglas Adams
BBC Books, s/b, £8.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
This superb romp through time and space is based on a long-lost treatment for a Doctor Who film from 1976 by Douglas Adams that sadly was never made but did eventually morph into the (also superb) third book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series.
Those that have read Life, the Universe and Everything will be more than familiar with the Krikkitmen – an army of killer robot cricketers with deadly bats and exploding cricket balls that laid waste to the universe on the orders of the xenophobic inhabitants of the planet Krikkit once they discovered that there was a universe beyond their own small planet. They were stopped in the nick of time by the timelords many years ago and existed since then as bedtime stories to scare young Gallifreyans.
The Doctor (third incarnation – aka Tom Baker) and Romana are at Lord’s Cricket Ground with K-9 in tow for the last day of the ashes. The Doctor is in a dark mood, expecting something to happen, and unsurprisingly it does (it would have been quite the boring book, otherwise). A cricket pavilion appears out of thin air, and eleven robots in immaculate cricket whites stroll out, make a lot of a mess and steal the Ashes before disappearing back in their pavilion and vanishing.
The Ashes is one part of the key that can release the planet Krikkit from the slow time envelope that the Time Lords locked them into centuries ago, saving the universe. Naturally, the Krikkitmen are after all of the other parts, so there follows a superbly written chase through time and space as the Doctor and Romana try to get to the key components before the Krikkitmen do. James Goss seems to channel the spirit of Douglas Adams as he writes, bringing one of the most legendary of the Doctors to life on the pages, and throwing you into an adventure that will have you laughing out loud and wanting to go back and re-read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy again (what do you mean you haven’t read it, you heathen? Get yourself to the library and educate yourself!).
One of my favourite parts is where the Doctor and Romana end up living in a cramped apartment working at a fish canning factory to try to get close enough to one of the parts of the key – it’s filled with puns, groaners and action. And of course, there is a chapter 42, fittingly titled “The Meaning of Life”. This is described on the front cover as “A perfect testament to Douglas Adams”, and it is indeed – whether you’re a Doctor Who fan, a Hitchhiker’s fan, or have never read either, this thrilling book is guaranteed to make you laugh and cheer as the Doctor and Romana race to save the universe (again).