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Pages 143
ISBN  0-426-19768-1
Publication Date 10 December 1984


The TARDIS has drifted far into the future and comes to rest hovering over Frontios, refuge of one group of survivors from Earth who have escaped the disintegration of their home planet.

The Doctor is reluctant to land on Frontios, as he does not wish to intervene in a moment of historical crisis – the colonists are still struggling to establish themselves and their continued existence hangs in the balance.

But the TARDIS is forced down by what appears to be a meteorite storm, and crash-lands, leaving The Doctor and his companions marooned on the hope-forsaken planet…



  1. Refugees of Mankind
  2. The Unknown Invaders
  3. The Deadly Hail
  4. The Power of the Hat-Stand
  5. Downwardness
  6. Beneath the Rocks
  7. The Force Takes Hold
  8. Eaten by the Earth
  9. The Excavating Machine
  10. Prisoners of the Gravis
  11. The Price of Rescue
  12. Greed sets the Trap


  • Rather than having the excavating machine made of metal as in the televised version, with an enslaved human pilot, the machine is a nightmarish vision composed of corpses of the colonists the Tractators had pulled down to their domain:

“It was a repellent sight – a huge and hideous assembly of parts of human bodies, shaped something in the form of a giant Tractator. White bones tipped with metal cutters scraped against the rock, while rotting hands polished the surface smooth. Through illuminated windows in the body Tegan glimpsed more mechanically gesticulating human arms and legs in an advanced state of decay. It was a machine built from the dead.”

— Frontios p107

  • A human pilot is still required to drive the machine. This scenario does lend a little more credited scene as to why Turlough had envisioned the Tractators as “Evil”
  • Gravis is incapable of speaking directly, and instead utilises”A tall narrow trolley” on which is mounted”The head and one arm of a dead Colonist, connected by improvised metalwork to a swinging pendulum”. This machine is used to translate his thoughts.
  • Two of the colonists are called Kernighan and Ritchie. They are named for Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, well known in the computer world for writing the definitive guide to the C programming language
  • Turlough is tying knots in The Doctor’s scarf at the beginning.
  • Plantagenet is described as having white hair, rather than being dark haired as on screen.
  • Cockerill is eating his lunch secretly in the state room and allows Tegan, Turlough and Norna to pass through unmolested.
  • It is The Doctor who distracts the Tractators attacking Norna, rather than being captured himself and needing Tegan to rescue him.
  • The Deputy is introduced earlier, accompanying Brazen on anearly tourof the colony.
  • The Retrogrades are portrayed as more of a chorus rather than all the dialogue being given to one individual.
  • The Gravis assumes The Doctor was sent by the Time Lords.
  • There is an extra sequence of the Doctorpretending to need his spectacles in order to slip away and explain his plan to Tegan.
  • Range’s brief encounter with a Tractator is omitted.
  • Rather than disappearing from the narrative, Cockerill helps keep the colonists calm during the Gravis’ defeat and is shown helping Plantagenet get things organised again at the climax, with Retrogrades re-integrated back into the colony, being added to the group farewelling The Doctor.
  • The cliffhanger ending is omitted, with the novelisation ending on the final Frontios scene.

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