There is something about the Target novelisations that, for Who fans of a certain age, sum up the Doctor Who experience more than anything else. My early teenage years saw me try and assimilate as many of these as I could lay my hands on. There was no DVD and VHS releases were limited to Revenge of the Cybermen and The Seeds of Doom (not bad options but when watched 83 times over school holidays the lustre does fade a little). So Target Novels became the only real access to Doctor Who episodes that were readily available.
Logopolis was my favourite of all of these for a number of reasons. First, it was my first regeneration and there was lots in it about computers (which to a 10 year old was little short of perfection). Secondly, Christopher H. Bidmead went on for pages about Block Transfer Computation, Entropy and the Causal Nexus. It was hardcore technobable which verged on the obscure and I LOVED IT! Finally, the idea of the story as being part of a trilogy (Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva) and having lots of time lord mythology - I gotta tell you this was the gold standard for me and very little in my life has matched the pleasure of the first time I read Logopolis.
So it was with some excitement that I ordered my copy of the unabridged audio read by my erstwhile hero, Chris Bidmead. Global recession, rioting on the streets of London, A conservative prime minister and rubbish music - it was like being back in the 1980s and I couldn't wait to strap on my Gordon Gecko braces and live it all again.
Whether it was Bidmead's reading style (which sounds not unlike a University lecture), or my own overhyped expectations, I can't really say but I must confess to being a little underwhelmed on first listening. It was a little.. *whispers*...dull! The writing style is a little smug in places and overly verbose in others. Yet my disappointment didn't stretch to turning off. Instead I ploughed on and it did improve somewhat when the travellers arrived in Logopolis. Characterisation was never Bidmead's strong suite and never is this more glaring when introducing new characters such as Tegan. On the plus side, the science geek in me was thoroughly satisfied and the idea behind the central story thread (a universe held together by mathematics) is a wonderful one. The novel gives you time to explore these issues and in that respect it is wonderful.
I love audiobooks for long train journeys and commuting. I like them when I can't sleep. So I get the point behind these series of releases. But in the case of Logopolis an objective review - from this reviewer - is almost impossible. I guess it is like having someone that you really fancied as a teenager (with all the attendant hormonal attachments) and bumping into them in Tesco 20 years later. In a way there is only going to be anti climax. But it still doesn't stop you wanting to go back for a coffee and a bit of slap and tickle just to try and recapture those teenage memories.