Find Your Fate - Doctor Who

(Make Your Own Adventure with Doctor Who)

  This page is no longer being updated. For the new version, click here.

This six-book series was released more or less simultaneously in the U.S. and England in 1986. The American series was published by Ballantine Books under the Find Your Fate series label, while the British books were published by Severn House and labelled Make Your Own Adventure with Doctor Who. The books are fairly brief but are notable since most of them were written by established Doctor Who scriptwriters. They have no formal system of rules, but they do contain occasional dice rolls and brain-teaser-type puzzles.

The information on this page is as complete as my collection will allow. If you find any errors or have a copy of the single American edition that I'm missing, please send an e-mail to

1. Search for the Doctor
Author: David Martin
Illustrators: Gail Bennett (interior and British cover), Romas Kukalis (American cover)
First Published: 1986 (August for U.S. edition, possibly earlier for U.K. edition)
ISBN: 0-7278-2087-7 (British edition), 0-345-33224-5 (American edition)
Length: 33 sections
Number of Endings: 15 (not including death by bad dice roll)
Plot Summary: You've recently received a mysterious box from Sarah Jane Smith, and soon you're involved in an adventure to rescue the Doctor from Omega with the help of K-9 and Drax...
My Thoughts: This really should have been a lot better. It's written by David Martin, who helped to create such memorable Dr. Who episodes as The Three Doctors and The Armageddon Factor, and it features a plot more complex than what is normally found in a gamebook. Unfortunately, it falls apart in all important areas. As a gamebook, it fails due to its uncomfortable past-tense style, its overlong sections and its pointless gameplay which leads the reader by the hand, periodically inserting senseless (and largely irrelevant) puzzles and dice rolls for no apparent reason. As a Dr. Who story, it fails due to its surprisingly weak characterization, its excessive (almost fanfic-like) use of familiar elements from past episodes and its breaking with continuity. Fans could perhaps theorize that Omega's characterization here suggests that Mr. Martin was less than pleased with (or simply chose to ignore) the character's appearance in the episode Arc of Infinity.... Engaging in such speculation may in fact be more interesting than reading this book, which is a shame.
Errata: Due to unfortunate formatting, the last choice in section 24 is wrapped around to the next page and is easily missed. This problem exists in all editions of the book.

2. Crisis in Space
Author: Michael Holt
Illustrators: Gail Bennett (interior and British cover), Romas Kukalis (American cover)
First Published: 1986 (August for U.S. edition, possibly earlier for U.K. edition)
ISBN: 0-7278-2093-1 (British edition), 0-345-33225-3 (American edition)
Length: 70 sections
Number of Endings: 10 (not including death by bad dice roll)
Plot Summary: You must help the Doctor, Peri and Turlough defeat the evil Garth Hadeez, a maniac determined to destroy the solar system with the help of a black hole.
My Thoughts: This book is considerably shorter than the previous entry in the series thanks to its large print, and it's also considerably worse. Michael Holt, as far as I can tell, has never been involved with the show, and, from reading this book, it's questionable as to whether or not he ever even watched it. Not only did Peri and Turlough never travel together with the sixth Doctor, they also never acted anything like the way they behave in this book; there's just far too much use of communicators and laser guns... To make things worse, the dialog is consistently cringe-inducing, featuring a new terrible pun at nearly every turn of the page. The gameplay does nothing to help matters; as in the previous book, most choices are pretty much pointless, and rolling the die serves only to cause a random possibility of instant death at various points in the story. Avoid this like the plague, whether or not you're a Doctor Who fan!
Errata: Both the American and British back covers say that the cover painting "features Colin Baker as The Doctor, Nicola Bryant as Peri and Mark Strickson as Turlough." However, the hulking and evil-looking figure on the American cover doesn't appear to be Turlough, and that girl doesn't look very much like Peri...

3. The Garden of Evil
Author: David Martin
Illustrators: Gail Bennett (interior and British cover)
First Published: 1986
ISBN: 0-7278-2113-X (British edition)
Length: 37 sections
Number of Endings: 17
Plot Summary: You're a refugee on Gallifrey in a time of crisis, and the Doctor needs your help due to your unusual telepathic powers.
My Thoughts: David Martin's second entry in the series is disappointingly similar to his first. The gameplay is nonexistent, consisting of make-the-right-choice-or-die decisions, gratuitous die rolls that either end the adventure or don't, and meaningless word jumble puzzles. The story is long and convoluted (once again due to the linearity of the gameplay), yet it's not very satisfying. It pays no attention to series continuity, for one thing; no matter what vision of Gallifrey you choose to accept, it is most definitely not an intergalactic aid agency making room for refugees and aiding the needy. It's also not patrolled by snake-like monster-guards to the best of my recollection. While this book mercifully lacks the excessive inclusion of classic characters found in the previous David Martin adventure, I would actually have liked to have seen at least a few more indications that this really was a Dr. Who adventure; as it is, the flavor and characterization are off somehow (though not as far off as in Michael Holt's abomination), and the book feels rather like a piece of goofy (yet not overly thrilling) space opera in the Star Wars mold. Less combat, less metaphysical gibberish, and more wit would have been most welcome. A final nail in the book's coffin is the artwork; the human characters are captured adequately, but the monstrous threats they face are profoundly unimpressive. It seems they didn't pick the right person to deal with the story's more fantastic elements. All in all, this is another in a line of disappointments; it's a shame my favorite TV show couldn't spawn a better line of gamebooks.
Errata: When section 16 gives you a second chance at your die roll after your unfortunate demise, it suggests that the target roll for success is a pair of sixes. This is completely insane, as the original target on page 11 was merely seven or more.

4. Mission to Venus
Author: William Emms
Illustrators: Gail Bennett (interior and British cover), Romas Kukalis (American cover)
First Published: 1986 (October for U.S. edition, possibly earlier for U.K. edition)
ISBN: 0-7278-2122-9 (British edition), 0-345-33229-6 (American edition)
Length: 28 sections
Number of Endings: 19
Plot Summary: The TARDIS materializes inside a spaceship, and you, Peri and the Doctor find yourselves surrounded by jars containing ominous and all-too-mobile plants....
My Thoughts: The author of this book only wrote one Dr. Who script, the early (and sadly mostly lost) Galaxy Four. I can only hope that his scriptwriting skills were better than those he applied in creating this odd beastie. I'm nearly speechless. Although things start promisingly, and the story and characters almost seem in keeping with the series, it all goes horribly wrong somewhere along the way. The story grows more and more incoherent, finally ending with a thud, and the prose becomes increasingly awful (or maybe I just became more aware of its awfulness), frequently going on pointless tangents filled with an almost 19th-century-style melodramatic verbosity. The author clearly hasn't a clue what to do with the gamebook medium. At first, there are a couple of actual choices, but then it descends into the senseless dice-rolling that permeates this series.... Then, for a change of pace, it's "write letters on pieces of paper and draw one out of a hat." Then it's "see which of these anagrams you can sort out the fastest." Then it's "which math problem do you solve first?" Unlucky options lead to bizarre and nonsensical ends, and, for that matter, the correct ones also lead to a bizarre and nonsensical end, albeit an upbeat one. The whole thing isn't as offensively bad as Crisis in Space, but it's still pretty horrific.
Errata: (thanks to Ed Jolley for noting this) It is not possible to reach two of the deaths. The very last decision should lead to them or success, but the directions lead to the deaths that went with the previous decision. The problem exists in both the British and American printings.

5. Invasion of the Ormazoids
Author: Philip Martin
Illustrators: Gail Bennett (interior and British cover), Romas Kukalis (American cover)
First Published: 1986 (November for U.S. edition, possibly earlier for U.K. edition)
ISBN: 0-7278-2100-8 (British edition), 0-345-33231-8 (American edition)
Length: 66 sections
Number of Endings: 17
Plot Summary: A dimensional accident lands you in the TARDIS, where you end up helping the Doctor foil yet another invasion of Earth.
My Thoughts: This adventure, courtesy of Vengeance on Varos and Mindwarp scriptwriter Philip Martin, is probably the best entry in the series, though Search for the Doctor comes pretty close; in any case, this isn't really saying too much. Anyway, the book's sections aren't as dreadfully long and tedious as those in most of its predecessors, and while its storyline is pretty generic, it is at least somewhat more in keeping with the spirit of the show than the competition. Unfortunately, the writing is a bit on the condescending side, the portrayal of the Doctor is surprisingly off, and the gameplay is typically meaningless, with the now-expected obvious choices and pointless dice-rolling featuring prominently. The artwork suffers from the same flaws I complained about in book three, and the British cover is about the lamest piece of artwork I've ever seen on the cover of any professionally-published book. The American cover looks nicer, but why is K-9 there, and what's with the cherubs?! I just keep getting the feeling that nobody particularly cared about making this series worthwhile....
Errata: (thanks to Ed Jolley for noting this) The transition from section 6 to section 13 doesn't make any sense and suggests that some sections are missing. The problem exists in both the British and American printings.

6. Race Against Time
Authors: Pip Baker and Jane Baker
Illustrators: Gail Bennett (interior and British cover), Romas Kukalis (American cover)
First Published: 1986 (December for U.S. edition, possibly earlier for U.K. edition)
ISBN: 0-7278-2116-4 (British edition), 0-345-33228-8 (American edition)
Length: 160 sections
Number of Endings: 31 (not including conditional failure)
Plot Summary: The Doctor recruits you to help him defeat the Rani's latest evil scheme, which involves a dangerous device known as the Time Destabilizer.
My Thoughts: Although I'm no great fan of Pip and Jane Baker's work, I approached this book with some optimism simply because of its high section count relative to its predecessors. Alas, my optimism was misplaced. The book is just as linear and poorly designed as the other books in the series; it simply breaks its linear passages up into smaller chunks and has a larger number of completely gratuitous puzzles and meaningless die rolls. The book also has the irritating habit of periodically asking you things like "do you have an idea how to get out of this dangerous situation?" These questions are often accompanied by hints, like "remember what you saw in section 104!" If you answer yes, it tells you the solution, then asks if that's what you were thinking. If you were right, you go on, if not, bad stuff happens (or, if you're lucky, the Doctor bails you out). This sort of pop quiz approach to adventuring is a whole lot less interesting than a meaningful choice that allows you to apply your knowledge and strategies, and it really increases the feeling of linearity. Besides problems of gameplay, the book is doomed due to the fact that its plot is nonexistent, its characterization poor, the transitions between sections frequently jarring and its writing style condescending and awkward. In short, it displays nearly all of the undesirable characteristics I've previously complained about, making it a disappointing end to a disappointing series. It's not the worst of the bunch, but even if it were the best of the bunch (which it is not), that would be saying very little.

The End:
Final Comments on the Series

This series could only be described as a misfire. It was a great idea to make some Doctor Who gamebooks, and it might even have been a great idea to get some original scriptwriters on board to write them. The problem is that the writers obviously had no idea what to do with the gamebook form. Either they did no real research into the genre or they didn't feel like applying what they learned. Flaws of gameplay were compounded by the fact that the writers were awfully self-conscious about the fact that they were writing for children; the books have a strangely irritating tone that, oddly enough, isn't shared by the classic Target novelizations (which were also aimed at children and some of which were written by the same authors as these books). If these books had been given real interactivity and had shared more of the feel of the Target novelizations, this would have been a great series. Too bad. I also cringe to think about how many American kids must have had their first (and probably only) Doctor Who experience through these things....

Demian's Gamebook Web Page (c) 1998-2003 Demian Katz