Paul Cornell is the acclaimed author of a number of Doctor Who novels.
His respect by fans of the show and its spin-offs into other media proven when his Human Nature novel from the Virgin New Adventures series was voted as best piece of Who fiction…Ever! This was in Doctor Who Magazine’s tribute special for the show’s 40th anniversary – We Love Doctor Who.
This is Paul’s novelization of the script he wrote for BBCi’s very own 40th anniversary tribute – Scream Of The Shalka, which went out as six internet episodes in 2003. It starred Richard E Grant as The Doctor – a Doctor with haughtiness and high brow instincts who only comes to earth for its wines and eclipses. He also seems to be a Doctor under a dark cloud due to some undisclosed recent events which are still quite obviously traumatic and full of tragedy for him. This initially makes him reluctant to get stuck in. Still, he finds himself having to help Earth out once more as he finds a town in Lancashire under alien siege and as the events unfold, the very earth itself.
This adaptation by Paul of his very own script not only shows his love for the show and its concepts, but is also written in a style as a tip of the hat to Terrance Dicks who wrote a hefty percentage of the Target Doctor Who novels so popular in the 70s and 80s when fans couldn’t get hold of video or DVD copies of their favourite show or indeed audios of the episodes carelessly discarded by a not very futuristic-thinking BBC in the 70s.
Paul captures the feel of the Target series as penned by Terrance very well and better still delivers a cracking traditional type of Doctor Who tale which cunningly evolves into something with grander ambitions once the extent of the Shalka’s plan is revealed.
Clever touches are the Doctor’s mobile phone which just like the Tardis itself, is more than it first appears, the Shalka – who use sound to engineer and vanquish and The Doctor’s travelling companion – an android version of his fellow Timelord nemesis, The Master.
An addendum after the story details how the web broadcast came into being and that is also of interest – not only for fans, but anyone wanting to possibly pursue story-telling in any media.
Cracking stuff in this eventful outing for this unique Doctor and I look forward to Paul’s episode of ‘real’ Doctor Who in the Russell T Davies desgined/Christopher Eccleston acted incarnation of the Doctor due 2005.