‘Doctor Who And The Zarbi’ is not a story I am familiar with and I feel sure if I’d seen this as a child it would have haunted me forever.
The Doctor and his companions, Ian, Barbara and Vicki, are trapped when the TARDIS is compelled to land on a planet by a mysterious noise and force they cannot counteract. As the TARDIS, cannot move the Doctor and Ian decide to scout out the territory and the Doctor finds the landscape strangely familiar. While they are gone, Barbara is controlled by a hypnotic power that uses the gold in her bracelet to make her leave the TARDIS. Vicki has been sleeping but wakes to find herself alone with the TARDIS being moved by some external force.
This story has giant ants, butterflies and bugs that are used as guns to fire venom. What’s not to like? Good use is made of all four of the travellers with plenty of plot to keep everybody busy apart from the inordinate amount of time Barbara is under hypnosis. There is the odd reference to TARDIS rather than ‘the’ TARDIS and the use of the name ‘Doctor Who’ rather than the Doctor, this could be a modern adventure as the women get to do quite a lot without relying on the men to save the day. Here the First Doctor is his irascible self who sacrifices Ian’s Coal Hill tie which has survived many adventures just to prove a point.
If this was read by kids in the 60s and 70s, I can understand why so many of them grew up being able to plot a ‘Doctor Who’ series in their heads as this is a very good example of how to put a story together with a start, middle and end. Whether you think giant ants could ever really do anything in practical terms is beside the point. It manages to be fun, scary and quite empowering so just enjoy. I’m off behind the sofa.
(pub: BBC Books/Ebury. 224 page hardback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78594-035-4)
check out website: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/ebury/ebury-press/