Archive for the ‘Dalek Books’ Tag

Dr Who’s Space Adventure Book & Dalek Cards   Leave a comment

There have been several series of picture cards devoted to Doctor Who over the years. These include a set of 36 cards given away in 1967 with Walls ‘Sky Ray’ ice lollys.

The cards featured a somewhat long-haired doctor based on Patrick Troughton joining forces with the ‘Sky Ray Space Raiders’ to battle the Daleks.

Judging from the artwork on the cards it seems likely that they might originally have intended to use William Hartnell’s Doctor in the story, and may have redrawn Troughton over some earlier work…

The cards were collected in an album, Dr Who’s Space Adventure Book, which also included games and other features.

You can read the whole of the story, complete with all the cards, here

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The Chase   Leave a comment

From the back cover of the novelisation of “The Chase” by John Peel :

1989 Edition

Through a Space-Time Visualiser the Doctor and his companions are horrified to see an execution squad of Daleks about to leave Skaro on a mission to find the TARDIS and exterminate the time travellers. Eluding the Daleks on the barren planet Aridius the Doctor and his friends escape in the TARDIS. But this is only the beginning of an epic journey. As they travel through space and time, they try to shake off their pursuers by making a series of random landings—but the Daleks don’t give up easily. This is a chase to the death…

1991 edition

“Those who control the TARDIS have interfered with too many of our plans. They are to be destroyed. If necessary, the assassination group will pursue them through all eternity. Exterminate them!”

The Doctor, Barbara and Ian had faced – and narrowly defeated – the Daleks twice before. They had known that there was always the possibility that the Daleks would win. But the reaches of time and space had always seemed so safe – there was always the chance that if they were being overwhelmed, they could flee.

But now, the Daleks can track them through all of time and space. They try to shake off their attackers by making a series of random landings, but this is a chase to the death …

Doctor Who – The Chase, written by Terry Nation, the creator of the Daleks, was first broadcast in 1965, with William Hartnell playing the role of the Doctor. This adaptation is by John Peel, who is also the author of The Gallifrey Chronicles, the definitive history of the Doctor’s home planet and its people.

You can read the novelisation of The Chase here

In these days of hard drive recorders, DVD releases of TV series appearing rapidly after airing, repeats on multiple channels in standard and HD broadcasts, the BBC’s iPlayer service, youtube – and so on – it is sometimes easy to forget just how little information on past television stories was available to Doctor Who fans back in the 60s, 70s and early 80s.

Quite apart from the BBC junking many of the black and white episodes (and in the process probably loosing themselves millions of pounds of future revenue), the Doctor Who shows that did exist remained locked in an archive, seemingly never to be repeated on TV and thus totally inaccessible to millions of fans. Back before even video cassettes were available, all a Doctor Who fan had in the way of past stories was the range of novelisations produced by Target books. And frankly, speaking as someone who grew up reading them, they were pretty damned good at the time.

While several of the Dalek stories were novelised by Target authors, disputes between the BBC, Target and Terry Nation (and after his death, the executors of his estate) delayed further novelisations of Dalek stories for many years. Target had been trying to acquire the rights to adapt The Chase, along with the epic The Daleks’ Master Plan and the two Second Doctor Dalek stories, The Power of the Daleks and The Evil of the Daleks. For a time it seemed as if these stories (of which only The Chase still existed in complete form in the BBC Archives) would remain unnovelised along with the three Fourth Doctor stories by Douglas Adams and the two Eric Saward Daleks stories from the Fifth and Sixth Doctor eras. A surprise resolution regarding the rights to the early Dalek tales opened the door for Target to novelise them, and John Peel was assigned the task of adapting these stories. The Chase was chosen to be the first of these books published, as it was the first to be broadcast.

John Peel said of his novelisation –

“Overall, writing The Chase has been perhaps the most enjoyable task
I’ve done to date. Apart from the fact that Terry’s scripts were sheer joy to read, finally having written a novel about the Daleks has been something
of a wish-fulfillment for me.”

John Peel, ‘The Frame’ (number 8), November 1988

When Target stopped publishing and the Dr Who franchise was picked up by Virgin books, there was a bit of a trend to dismiss the Target novels as being rather weak and childish, presenting Doctor Who in a “comfortable” format and shying away from the more “adult” issues which the Virgin series was keen to embrace (probably rather too whole heartedly in my opinion). Some such criticisms may be justified, at least in part. On the whole the prose style of most of the Target range was fairly undemanding and wouldn’t stretch the reading ability of a literate child let alone a well read adult. But in fairness, they were published primarily as children’s books, appealing to adult fans only as a secondary concern but, like the TV show, still perfectly accessible to adults. As such, they did a really excellent job of inspiring a generation or two of Doctor Who fans many of which encountered past Doctors for the first time through the pages of the novels, growing to love bygone eras of the show in the process.

The Target books have been out of print for many years now, though such was their popularity that they can still be found fairly easily second-hand. The BBC have started producing some of the Target novels as audio books but it is anyone’s guess whether they will ever release the entire range. Probably not. In many cases it is simpler to produce an audio recording from the original story with linking narration – as they have done on many occasions. While understandable, this is sometimes rather a shame, as the Target novels have a certain something of their own.

One of the criticisms often levelled at book adaptations is that sometimes they don’t stick to the story exactly as it was televised. Often this criticism is made by the same people who criticise the uninventive prose style of novelisations that simply take the original script and add in some description (come on guys, you can’t have it both ways).  Certainly some of the Target range of stories included characters, scenes and other changes that were not as-seen-on-TV. For the most part, I don’t have a problem with this. Often in makes for a better novel. Doctor Who in the 60s and 70s operated on a shoe-string budget, had to use endless deserted quarries as alien planets, had tight recording schedules (etc) and therefore couldn’t always display the kinds of scenes and scenery on TV that an author can furnish in a book. In addition, Doctor Who on TV doesn’t for the most part lend itself to detailed asides concerning a character’s background or thought processes – all of which are far easier to convey in a text. The Target novelisations may not always have stuck exactly to the stories as shown on TV, but they extended the stories in many ways, often for the better.

In addition to the personal whims of an author, another aspect to the novelisation process was that it sometimes allowed the (re)inclusion of material originally planned for a TV show but for one reason or another cut from the televised story. John Peel’s novelisation of “The Chase” is a case in point. The author writes in his forward :

“This book is not strictly an adaptation of the televised
version of The Chase. It follows, for the most part, the original
scripts for the show, as written by Terry Nation. As is the case
with most series, the original scripts were rewritten for various
reasons—to make scenes less expensive, to perform the
actions in a simpler way, or to add character touches to the
story. In the case of The Chase, the changes made from Terry’s
original scripts were sometimes quite extensive.
Faced with the task of novelizing either Terry’s scripts or
the televised ones (presumably the changes having been made
by then-story editor Dennis Spooner), I have in most cases
opted to stay with Terry’s versions. There are two main
reasons for this. Firstly, the original scripts delve more deeply
into the alienness of the creatures that the Doctor and his
companions meet. On the television, a lot of this was cut
simply because it would have been too expensive to film. In a
book, I am under no such constraints. Secondly, the television
version of The Chase exists in its entirety, and may some day be
seen again by British audiences. (American viewers are better
off, since they have the story in their syndication package.)
Thus, it seemed to me to be more interesting to novelize the
scripts that cannot be seen.
However, I did elect to retain certain sequences that
exist in the filmed version of the tale and not in Terry’s
scripts. I also made a number of changes in the Mary Celeste
sequence, to fit the final novel into the known facts about that
most mysterious of ships. Readers with enquiring natures can
find an excellent account of the facts in Mystery Ship, written
by George S. Bryan, and published by Lippincott in 1942.
Finally, this note would not be complete without
mention of Kate Nation—Terry’s wife—who unearthed the
original scripts for us; and of Nan—my wife—who read and
made relevant comments and suggestions throughout the
work. Accordingly, it is to these two ladies that this book is
dedicated. Without their help and encouragement, life would
be considerably more complex and less enjoyable.”

John Peel was later interviewed about writing Dalek material and commented –

“One of the great things about working with Terry Nation is that Terry saves everything relating to his stories. As a result of this, he was able to loan me both his original story submission and his completed scripts to work from… The final scene on the Visualiser was to be of the Beatles fifty years in the future, at a reununion concert… It would have been difficult to get four actors in Beatle outfits to play the Beatles together as old men. Instead a publicity clip sent to the BBC for the latest Beatles’ hit, Ticket to Ride, was substituted. (In my novelisation, I generally retain Terry’s version of events, but here I was forced to use the televized version – not because of the costs, but because, sadly, Beatle John Lennon is no longer alive to perform at the hypothetical concert.)… Most of the changes were made for reasons of cost, so when I came to novelizing the scripts, I could replace the ‘missing’ sections of Terry’s original. In some ways, the printed word can still win out over video tape!”

“Production Notes: The Chase”, ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ (number 144), January 1989

John Peel’s comments express things admirably. After his adaptation was published in 1989, the BBC released The Chase on video / DVD and the televised story is now readily available. Perhaps ironically, John Peel’s book, now out of print, is not – and with the availability of the original TV show will most likely never again be republished.

You can read the novelisation of The Chase here

The Dalek Factor by Simon Clark (Telos Novella)   Leave a comment

THE DALEK FACTOR

by Simon Clark

First published in England in 2004 by Telos Publishing Ltd


Now out of print

Introduction


A force of Thals arrive on an unnamed jungle planet
in the four-world Quadrille system to investigate reports of  Dalek artifacts – They are not prepared for what they find…


This story features an unspecified incarnation of the Doctor.

The full text of the novella can be read here