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Saturday, 22 June 2013

A novelist has an unlimited budget ('Doctor Who', the novels)


Yes, this was genuinely released


When the new series started, Russell T Davies decided he was going to collect one each of all the items of merchandise released in connection with the show. He quickly realised that this was an impossible task.


Hundreds of books, both fact and fiction, have been released looking at and expanding upon the adventures of the twelve (so far)[1] incarnations of the Time Lord known as “The Doctor” among many other titles. Some of these are blessed by the BBC, others just accepted.


In this section, we will be looking at some of the former – the officially authorised novelizations, single-narrator audiobooks and original works of prose fiction set in the Whoniverse.

The Frederick Muller novelizations (3 novels, 1964-1965)


The first tie-in fiction for the show came from three novelizations of First Doctor stories:

·         Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks (“The Daleks”) – which completely ignores “An Unearthly Child” and has the first meeting of the Doctor with Ian and Barbara occur at the beginning of this one, with them arriving at the junkyard after witnessing a fatal traffic accident. In addition, it is in first person from Ian’s Perspective.

·         Doctor Who and the Zarbi (“The Web Planet”)

·         Doctor Who and the Crusaders (“The Crusade”) – which renames Susan’s husband as David Cameron!


A big hit at the time (the first printing of the first novel quickly ran out), they were republished in 1973 by Target Books, an imprint of a number of publishing houses, becoming the de facto first novelizations in that series. Their success led to Target doing some more of their own. A lot more of their own.


Doctor Who and the Invasion from Space (novella, 1966)


A 46-page novella featuring the First Doctor, this is the first time that the Time Lord turned up at the Great Fire of London.


Target Books novelizations (156 novels, 1973-1994)


Adaptations of nearly all the TV stories, a few radio works and three of the unmade original Season 23 stories, these short affairs (about 144 pages) were aimed at children. In many cases, the TV writers themselves adapted their tales, but when they couldn’t or wouldn’t, other authors, most notably the prolific former script editor Terrance Dicks (but also Ian Marter aka Harry Sullivan) did the work.


The Target novels  were by no means slavish adaptations of the TV scripts. Writers frequently expanded plots and back stories of minor characters, improved the special effects and in some cases upped the horror level[2]. In some cases, continuity went for a trip to Trenzalore; Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon, the adaptation of “Colony in Space”, has Jo meeting the Doctor for the first time there.


Their significance to fandom cannot be underestimated – in a time when there were very few repeats and no video releases, they were the only way to relive older tales. Many of the core, now clichéd, descriptions of the Whoniverse in fan fiction come from here – the “young old face” of the Fifth Doctor, the first use of “chameleon circuit” and possibly “the grinding of ancient engines” (the last of which I’ve used).  They also played a key role in helping many Brits learn to read; they’re punchy enjoyable affairs that you can get through quickly. Recently a skip collection firm in Essex found 11,000 Targets in one of their skips – instead of pulping them, they put the lot on eBay and Doctor Who fans are now giving them away free to schools.


Only five serials were missed out – all of Douglas Adams’ stories (including the unaired “Shada”) and both of Eric Saward’s Dalek stories, as agreements could not be reached with the authors. These got fan novelizations and “Shada” later got an official one by the BBC.


New editions followed in the 1990s and since 2011, further new editions have followed with new forewords and afterwords, being also available in e-reader format. Audiobook versions have been released on an on-going basis since 2007.


Daleks: The Secret Invasion (1979)


A short story by Terry Nation included in the Target published non-fiction work Terry Nation’s Dalek Special, a look back at the Daleks up to that point. This was Nation’s only contribution to anything Target related.


The Adventures of K9 (4 novels, 1980)


Four illustrated paperback novels featuring the first version of robot dog, published by Sparrow Books and aimed at children. These were aimed to coincide with an animated series, but that wasn’t made.


The Companions of Doctor Who (3 novels, 1986-7)


Target also published two original novels in 1986 starring companions from the show:

·         Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma by Tony Attwood – featuring Turlough after he returns home to Trion and a villain called Rehctaht. Read that last one backwards…

·         Harry Sullivan’s War by Ian Marter – set ten years after Harry leaves UNIT, this also features Sarah Jane and the Brigadier, as Harry investigates a terrorist plot. Entirely from Harry’s POV, this was Marter’s final prose contribution before his death in October that year – this was published in the same month as his passing.


The third book in this was a novelisation of K9 and Company.


Make Your Own Adventure with Doctor Who (6 gamebooks, 1986)


Readers are probably familiar with Choose Your Own Adventure and books of that ilk, second-person adventures where a reader chooses what action to take, goes to a designated page and sees what the result will be – frequently painful death. It will therefore be of no surprise that Doctor Who has produced these sorts of books, although not under that specific title – that is currently trademarked by Chooseco – with added dice-rolling features.


These six books featured the Sixth Doctor and ‘you’, sometimes joined by Peri and (bizarrely) Turlough; they are considered non-canon by the TARDIS Data Core. The title above is the UK title for the range – they were called Find Your Fate in the United States.


Virgin New Adventures (61 novels, 1991-97)


After the show’s cancellation in 1989, Virgin Books was granted a licence to publish original Doctor Who novels, all but one of which featured the Seventh Doctor – the last one featuring the Eighth[3]. They held this licence until 1997, when the BBC took it back after the TVM. A number since then have been released on the official website as e-books.


These books were aimed at an adult audience and as such contain more violence, sex etc. than the original show. The Seventh Doctor has a particularly rough time of it…


The most notable books in the series are:

·         The four-parter Timewyrm series that opened the run.

·         Love and War (1992) by Paul Cornell, introducing the highly popular Bernice Summerfield.

·         Blood Harvest (1994) by Terrance Dicks, a sequel to “State of Decay” that ultimately returns Romana to Gallifrey.

·         Human Nature (1995) also by Paul Cornell, in which the Doctor takes on the guise of a human teacher in 1914. Best known of the lot – Cornell adapted it for the Tenth Doctor story “Human Nature/The Family of Blood” in 2007, which got a Hugo nomination – losing to Steven Moffat’s “Blink”.

·         Damaged Goods (1996) by Russell T Davies, his first professional contribution to the Whoniverse. It features a family called Tyler and a council estate; things that turn up a lot in his work.

·         Lungbarrow (1997) by Marc Platt, the ‘final’ Seventh Doctor story that sets him up to collect the Master’s remains from Skaro and thus go into the TV Movie – although due to a delay with So Vile a Sin, the novel due to come before it, this tale actually was published 59th and that 60th – resulting in the latter being spoilt by this one. Set on Gallifrey, this tale reveals a great deal about the Doctor’s background and his home world (although not his true name) – but also has Time Lords being born fully grown in ‘Looms’, meaning Susan is not the Doctor’s granddaughter in the biological sense. That last bit has been rejected by the BBC Wales production team pretty comprehensively – we have seen the Master as a child.


As you can see, a number of Virgin writers later wrote for the new run of the TV series.


Virgin Missing Adventures (33 novels, 1994-97)


Virgin’s version of the New Adventures for One through Six (Seven turned up in one novel), covering ‘missing’ adventures from the older show and with the same adult orientation. Notable novels include:


·          Goth Opera (1994) by Paul Cornell, the first in the run. A sequel-prequel (that is a sequel from the non-time traveller POV, but a prequel from that of the Doctor’s) featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa[4], the cover features a vampire Nyssa. There was a lot more blood on her shirt in the original version, but WH Smith (the UK’s largest book retailer) refused to stock it and the cover was toned down.

·         The Ghosts of N-Space (1995) by Barry Letts, an adaptation of the BBC radio play.

·         Downtime (1996) by Marc Platt, which did the same for the independent film of that name – and is the only work in this series not to feature the Doctor.


This run also gave the Sixth Doctor a new companion, Grant Markham – who never got written out.


Virgin Decalogs (5 compilations, 1994-7)


A series of short story collections. The first three feature the then seven Doctors, but Virgin had lost its licence by the time Decalog 4: Re:Generations came out and that run looks at the backstory of original companion Roz Forester. Number 5, Wonders, has one Bernice Summerfield story, but the rest of the ten stories have no real Whoniverse connections.


Who Killed Kennedy (1996)


Considered a Missing Adventures novel as it was published by Virgin at the same time, but actually a stand-alone work, this faux-journalistic “investigation” of the Doctor and UNIT contains the highly controversial rape and murder of Dodo.


Virgin Bernice Summerfield New Adventures (23 novels, 1997-1999)


After losing their licence, Virgin continued using their own character Bernice Summerfield for a series of spin-off novels, further cementing her popularity in the fandom.


BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures (73 novels, 1997-2005)


After the 1996 TV movie (which was novelised, but not in this range, in a Gary Russell book only released in the UK) failed to lead to a hoped-for series, BBC Books instead continued the adventures of the Eighth Doctor in a series of adult-aimed novels. Arc-heavy with one revolving around a time war (although not the Time War), they also added a batch of companions, including one humanoid who was actually a TARDIS and the first Asian companion.


Notable books include:

·         The Eight Doctors (1997) by Terrance Dicks, which opened the run.

·         Legacy of the Daleks (1998) by John Peel, a sequel-prequel that features the Roger Delgado version of the Master.

·         The Ancestor Cell (2000) in which Gallifrey gets destroyed for the first time.

·         Mad Dogs and Englishmen (2002) by Paul Magrs, an utterly bizarre affair featuring a race of poodles, who at one point force the Doctor and his two companions to strip naked and crawl around wearing dog collars[5].


BBC Past Doctor Adventures (75 novels and a novelisation of “Scream of the Shalka”, 1997-2005)


BBC Books also published original, again adult-oriented, prose works featuring Doctors 1 to 7, but the last one featured the Eighth Doctor, as it was released after the show returned to TV. Both this and the Eighth Doctor Adventures were brought to an end shortly after that – as the BBC wanted to focus on tie-ins to their big hit.


Both runs are notable for Black Sheep’s covers – criticised for a lack of attention to detail and quality.


Some of these have recently been re-released for the 50th anniversary with new forewords etc.


Books of interest include:

·         The Infinity Doctors (1998) by Lance Parkin, which notably does not specifically which Doctor it features

·         Festival of Death (2000) by Jonathan Morris – reviewed on this blog, this is a seriously timey-wimey tale.

·         Synthespians™ (2004) by Craig Hinton, perhaps best known for the fiasco with the cover. Featuring Autons, Hinton did a mock cover with the cast of the ABC soap opera Dynasty as said automatons… only for Black Sheep to take him literally and use copyrighted images from that show, changed to make them look like Autons – resulting in the pulping of the first run before it hit shelves. Attempt two saw the cover art mirrored and more pulping before things were got ‘right’ with the fourth cover.


BBC New Series Adventures (2005-present)


Featuring Nine, Ten, Eleven and almost certainly Twelve, these paperback size hardcover novels are aimed at a young audience and have some links to the TV continuity – with references to them in the show if you know where to look. These get released in batches of three at a time, usually featuring the incumbent Time Lord and his companions. The range also includes The Story of Martha, a collection of short stories with a linking plot of what Martha got up to during the Year That Never Was i.e. the time between “The Sound of Drums” and “The Last of the Time Lords” when the Master ruled the Earth (subsequently wiped from history at the end of the latter).


Some of these have been audio-only releases, while most of the print novels have been given audio releases, narrated by a variety of actors from the TV show, including Tennant[6] and Smith.


The Darksmith Legacy (10 novellas, 2009)


Released during the ‘specials’ year, this series of ten short books starring the Tenth Doctor was linked together in one plot with a tie-in website.


Quick Reads (2006-present, 7 so far)


These novellas featuring the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors are part of a wider series of releases aimed at boosting literacy and reading in the UK, especially among adults, but the range is aimed at a broad audience. Due to this initiative, they are on prominent display in local libraries.


Decide Your Destiny (16 gamebooks, 2007-2010)


Make Your Own Adventure With Doctor Who for the modern show, sometimes with returning monsters like the Macra and also featuring additional Internet material. Considered non-canon by the TARDIS Data Core.


Post 2005 classic novels and novellas


For understandable reasons, the BBC has not released a good deal of ‘classic’-related work since 2005. The count stands at:

·         The Wheel of Ice (2012) by Stephen Baxter, featuring the Second Doctor, Zoe and Jamie – the first ‘classic Doctor’ tale by the BBC in almost seven years[7].

·         An official novelisation of “Shada” by Gareth Roberts

·         An audiobook series for the 50th, being released monthly.

·         One series of ‘novellas’, one for each Doctor, for the 50th, aimed at children and being released monthly.


The Annuals (1965-85, 1992-96 as Yearbooks), 2005-present)


There have been a large array of annuals published over the years, including some spinoff Dalek ones, one with K9 in 1983 (in anticipation of K9 and Company getting a series order) and a mail order only book from Ty·phoo Tea that reprinted much of the 1976 annual, although did have two original Four and SJS stories. Most of these have the year after their release on the cover, intended as Christmas purchases.


These annuals have contained quizzes, comics and short stories aplenty, along with filler that is little to with the show. However, by far the most influential was the 2006 edition’s Steven Moffat-penned What I Did on My Christmas Holidays by Sally Sparrow, the only bit of Ninth Doctor work without Rose… and later adapted by him as part of “Blink”, although he did age the character up for the TV episode.


Short Trips (29 compilations, 1999-2009)


BBC Books carried on the Decalog tradition with a series of short story anthologies covering the then eight Doctors. The licence passed to Big Finish in 2002 and in total covered hundreds of original tales until they lost their rights to print Doctor Who fiction, although the name was reused for audio. There were 28 original volumes – the last release, Re:Collections, was a “best of” with one tale from each previous book,

Telos Publishing Novellas (2001-7)


Telos Publishing published a series of 16 classic era novellas from 2001-4 when they lost their licence due to the new run and also a 11-book spinoff series called Time Hunter (2003-7), which featured characters from The Cabinet of Light. The former features all eight classic Doctors, although two novels don’t specify the incarnation.


The Cabinet of Light and eight of the latter got audiobook versions.


Spinoff novels and novelizations


·         Torchwood has seen 15 novels and 10 audiobook releases, three of the former acting as a prequel to season 4 (Miracle Day). One of these, 2012’s Exodus Code, was written by John Barrowman and his sister Carole.

·         The Sarah Jane Adventures had a number of novelizations of TV stories, but no original works.


Other post-2005 releases


The BBC website has a large number of short stories, typically released during Advent each year. In addition, BBC Books also released in e-book format three tie-in novels connected with or even featured in a TV episode:

·          The Angel's Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery (2012), a prequel to “The Angels Take Manhattan” written by Justin Richards.

·         Devil in the Smoke (2012), a prequel to “The Snowmen” also by Richards.

·         Summer Falls (2013), the book supposedly written by Amelia Williams (nee Pond) in “The Bells of Saint John”, actual author James Goss[8]

Now I’ve done the novels, things get a bit more graphic, as in our next three posts, we enter the world of the comics, the stage shows and later the games…

[1]I am counting the John Hurt ‘Doctor’ in this, but not the Twelfth Doctor who will be arriving at Christmas.

[2]Most notably in Frontios, where we get this description of what was a metal machine on TV:

"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."

That disturbs full-grown adults!

[3]Being unable to use the TVM logo and not wanting to use the Seventh Doctor one, the DW  logo is omitted entirely from The Dying Days.

[4]A popular combo for Fifth Doctor works; the gap between “Time-Flight” and “Arc of Infinity” allows it, while Davison has stated that Nyssa was his favourite companion.

[5]And only one of the three, Anji, is at all put out by it!

[6]Tennant is particularly interesting here. His Tenth Doctor used an Estuary English accent (i.e. one found in the Thames Estuary area, an unused line being that it was an ‘imprint’ from Rose), while David Tennant’s natural accent is a light Scottish one – the line “Judoon platoon on the Moon” was put into “Smith and Jones” as a joke against him, because he’d have trouble saying it. For the audiobooks, Tennant read the stories in his Scottish accent, but the Tenth Doctor’s dialogue in that accent.

[7]Although not the first tale featuring a ‘past Doctor’, as a number of Tenth Doctor works came out between “The End of Time” and “The Eleventh Hour”.

[8]Few other shows do this sort of thing at all. A notable current example is Castle, the ABC dramedy starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic (yes, that one), which has so far released the four Nikki Heat novels, a Derrick Storm graphic novel and one other thing IIRC. For those of you not familiar with the show, Nikki Heat is the fictionalised expy of Detective Kate Beckett (the research is the ostensible reason that Richard Castle hangs round with her in the first place) and there are other expies of the show’s regulars.

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