Ian Potter wrote the third of the first series of The Early Adventures, a tale for the First Doctor, Steven and Vicki entitled Bounty of Ceres. This is set on a large asteroid and is one of those stories that grew on me as I listened to it.
I previously reviewed it for Starburst, but this post is aimed at more serious fans. I hope you enjoy it, please feel free to let me know what you think. There are spoilers.
First the product page synopsis:
Ceres. A tiny, unforgiving ball of ice and rock hanging between Mars and Jupiter. It’s no place to live, and it takes a special kind of person to work there.
The crew of the Cobalt Corporation mining base know exactly how deadly the world outside their complex is, but the danger isn’t just outside anymore. The systems they rely on to keep them safe are failing and the planet is breaking in.
When the TARDIS strands Steven, Vicki and the Doctor on the base, they have to fight a foe they can barely comprehend to survive.
Central to this story is the relationship between three people who are on Ceres for a multi-year contract – Moreland (Richard Hope), Qureshi (Julia Hills) and Thorn (Peter Forbes). All three are excellent and really help tell a dark story about the human condition. Tensions are high, various systems are failing and the TARDIS crew are seen as saboteurs.
So far, so unexceptional. Where this story works is in how it treats the subject at hand. The Doctor is injured and put into cryo; this allows the action to continue without too much of Purves / o’Brien doing their Hartnell impressions. Peter Purves is now so familiar it works well, even so it is simpler to take the Doctor off-stage.
As the mystery unfolds we are led to believe that Ceres is somehow sentient in its own right and responsible for all the systems failures occurring. It is near the end when we realise it is much more mundane and the threat of Ceres has been a red herring.
I loved the way this built and was a better story than it seemed to be. The actual threat was well disguised and was revealed just as I was getting annoyed at the sentient planet idea. I also liked the idea of a well contained story that didn’t need to worry about the web of time, nor was the future of humanity at stake. What we had was a small group of people under stress and an explosive personality crash.
[pullquote]this adds to the sense of completeness[/pullquote]
Finally Ian Potter painted a life on Earth in the background with a few simple strokes of the writer’s brush – Qureshi was a mother who served on Ceres as she needed a job and income, leaving her child behind. There is a bleak society in the distance and this adds to the sense of completeness.
So, the more I think about / write about this story the more I find to admire. What did you think of it? Let me know!