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"...audiobook is irresistibly fluid...trapping you in Nicholas Brigg's authentic reading..."
on 29 July 2013
Like the iconic sound effect (created by Dick Mills of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) of the Dalek Control Room, low-toned rhythmic almost mesmeric drone that drills beneath your skin, clawing at your soul, instilling fear & apprehension, Nick Briggs' latest DOCTOR WHO tie-in novel, THE DALEK GENERATION is remorselessly hypnotic in its intent that skilfully weaves itself in to a character-led adventure that echoes the `Dalek Master' himself, Terry Nation, their true creator. And with such `Nationian' names & titles as Gethria, Terran & Alyst, Carthedia, Hogoostra, Briggs' novel is, at times, almost an appreciative and unabashed love-letter to the author himself.
Released in two formats, a hardback novel from BBC BOOKS and a six-disc audiobook from AUDIOGO, THE DALEK GENERATION may disappoint some reviewers as, like the televised story REVELATION OF THE DALEKS (1985), Nation's creations are noticeable by their absence throughout the narrative with Briggs concentrating on delivering a character-led piece consumed in a mystery within a conundrum for the Time Lord to solve.
And the biggest, most extreme, mystery to solve is why were the Daleks being hailed as heroes in having created `...paradise..." within the galaxy?
For me, this conceit is most interesting and aims develops the battle-armoured travel machines machinations from one of pure energy weapon dispatching to a diligent, covert manipulation through strategic entrepreneurial enterprise and, yes, kindness that is far more intelligible for a `hive' (read: Dalek PathNet - semi-telepathic connection ) driven alien race. Kindness of the Daleks but, here, is more substantial that having a Dalek serve Tea or Coffee beverage (see VICTORY OF THE DALEKS). And as Briggs' story unfurls, not overly quickly but steadily, page-after-page (or disc-after-disc) the true nature of the Doctor's oldest enemy is revealed; a crusade to locate an archaic device with which... well, spoilers..!
"I did a wee in my pants."
And we are introduced to several new Dalek formats: Dalek Litigator and the Dalek Time Controller. The latter is chillingly defective with a clinical edge of logic that would not be out of place in the televised series if Davros was not to return it in the future. In many ways, Brigg's storyline & plotting echoes the (excellent) BIG FINISH Doctor-free spin-off audioplay series, DALEK EMPIRE, focussing upon the extent of the Dalek's exposure throughout a galaxy not so far away as they subjugate humanity and the resistance they encounter. Sometimes, less of the Doctor (and the baggage that the character brings with it) is more DOCTOR WHO. Emulating the CLASSIC SERIES' episode, MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN, I wonder if the NEW SERIES would ever have the confidence to broadcast an episode sans Time Lord with only the Dalek (or another alien race) as a prelude to future encounter.
Devoid of a regular companion, the Eleventh Doctor is - thankfully - given space to explore his own relationship with how he regards himself within the universe and with the Dalek race itself. Was he mistaken for once? Were the Daleks true saviours, creating `sun-made worlds' for humanity to thrive upon? Were they created `humanity farms' to be harvested from? However, he is given a handful of child orphans that ensure we see the plot from the innocent point-of-view but it is not overly sentimental, sickly or naïve, and under another author you'd might wish that the rapscallions would choke on their `Jelly-blobs' confectionery.
However, Brigg's characterisation of the Time Lord is a mildly irritating as it feels as if it's been written for Tennant's Tenth as opposed for Smith's Eleventh (and, for the audiobook, the author's `performance' is definitely more Tenth than Eleventh, though his could be something down to Brigg's own maturity).
Like Quicksand, THE DALEK GENERATION audiobook is irresistibly fluid, irrevocably trapping you in Nicholas Brigg's authentic reading, assiduously delineating each character in a seemingly effortless tour de force. With relish, and with the aid of an `electronic voice modulator', Briggs' owns each Dalek tonal screech that aurally penetrates like a feral cat attempting to claw itself across a classroom's Blackboard. Basically, unpleasant.
Overall, whilst the novel marginally waivers in its third quarter, DOCTOR WHO - THE DALEK GENERATION is pure escapism that is easily accessible for readers (and listeners) for all ages (and understanding for the DOCTOR WHO canon and backstory) that could be the plotting genesis for transfer to the BBC ONE drama series.