Pages 143
ISBN  0-426-19780-1
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 credence 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
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