on 25 August 2011
I used to collect all the "Target" Doctor Who novels when I was a kid. Before video recorders the novelizations of the TV stories was all we had if we wanted to experience the stories again. I used to buy every copy. My books have not stood the test of time, having experienced several years in my parents garage when I left home so I'm more than pleased to see them start appearing in Kindle form. I'd love to read them all again and with my Kindle I can. I can also share them with my young son who I'm sure will love them as much as I did all those years ago.
In some ways, these books are better than the original TV stories on which they're based as there are no dodgy special effects to contend with. Your imagination can provide the best special effects ever.
This story of course is the first Dalek story and the second ever Doctor Who story and what a story it is. Suspense, tension, excitement, action. Has it all in spades. Do yourself a favour and buy this and any and every original series Target novelization that gets released on Kindle.
on 18 January 2014
Long before the influx of the Target novelisations the original publication of this story (formally titled `Doctor Who in an exciting adventure with the Daleks', which is thankfully reprinted on the first page of this edition) was the first ever Doctor Who novel. It is still one of the best.
Unlike the majority of the Target books this is not only a novelisation of the televised serial. It is more of a re-imagining of how the programme begins. As such it encapsulates the first two stories into one. Much is the same in attitude and outlook but the events of `An Unearthly Child' are reduced and re-jigged to form the start of the Dalek story. Ian doesn't previously know Barbara and neither work at Cole Hill School. Instead he meets her, Susan and the Doctor as a consequence of coming across the scene of a car crash. This may seem very different in terms of events but the story maintains the same essence (and indeed many of the same lines of the script from `An Unearthly Child'). All the cavemen/Tribe of Gum stuff is dropped. In this way the Doctor and the Daleks both come into Doctor Who's first ever story.
There are many other changes throughout the book but these generally lessen as the story progresses, usually coming more in line with the televised version of `The Daleks'. Many of the differences are outlined and considered in the appendices to this novelisation which is a worthwhile and useful addition to the book. Neil Gaiman's modern introduction, although at times heart-warming to read, isn't quite so informative.
The introduction of a Dalek leader is worth pointing out, however. The televised version of this story appeared to lack one but virtually every story since, including the AAru movie adaption of this story, gives the Daleks a leader in some form or another, whether Emperor, Supreme, Prime Minister, Davros or Time Controller. This novel, published before the `Dalek Chronicles' or the showing of `The Dalek Invasion of Earth', gives the Daleks a leader first.
The other major difference in this novelisation from the Target series is that it is written utterly from the viewpoint of Ian. Other Doctor Who novelisations often make use of showing things from the companion's perspective but this novel is written entirely in the first person so that the reader is always seeing things through Ian's eyes. Admittedly this means a certain amount of material is lost as it is difficult to include any scenes in which Ian didn't feature. But on the plus side it does offer an insight into the development of the romantic side to his and Barbara's relationship and provides a differing approach to getting to know the Doctor. Whether this first person perspective is a reflection of ideas of where the show might have gone, with the possibility of the character of Ian being more the leading role than that of the Doctor, makes this a very intriguing read. It is an example of what might have been.
Of course `An Unearthly Child' as per the televised version was eventually novelised. How the canonicity of that works I'm not sure, but it doesn't really matter. This book is its own take on the beginning of Doctor Who.
on 11 January 2005
A thick fog and a girl in distress are just the things that Ian Chesterton needs to escape from a life of dull routine. He has no idea that this is merely a prelude to an adventure quite beyond any normal conception of the word. Or that Barnes Common on a foggy autumn night is the last view of Earth he may ever have.
Both he and the girl he tries to help, Barbara Wright, are transported to a distant planet named Skaro by a mysterious old man known to them as the Doctor. With his granddaughter Susan, the Doctor sets them down in a world all but destroyed by atomic warfare, the only survivors being a peace-loving and cultured people called the Thals and their bitter enemies the Daleks, horribly mutated both in mind and body.
Thrust into constant danger, his courage and determination tested almost beyond endurance, Ian is forced to struggle against alien creatures and superior enemies with no other weapons than surprise and ingenuity.
The rewards of victory are life for Ian and his new friends... but life where? Can the Doctor return him and Barbara to Earth again?
So went the back blurb to the Frederick Muller Hardback edition of Doctor Who (in an exciting adventure with The Daleks)when first printed in 1964. This is truly a special MP-3 audiobook release. Doctor Who in an exciting adventure with the Daleks is probably the greatest novelisation of a Doctor Who TV story in part because it is not just a presentation of just what was onscreen.
It starts with a totally new meeting between the Doctor (already accompanied by grand-daughter Susan as on TV) and his first TV companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. Instead on meeting in a junkyard in Totter's lane and going back to 100,000 B.C. they meet on a foggy night on Barnes Common and go to Skaro - The Planet of the Daleks!
From the first Target Novelisation backblurb:
This is Doctor Who's first exciting adventure - with the Daleks! Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright travel with the mysterious Doctor Who and his grand-daughter, Susan, to the planet of Skaro in the space-time machine, Tardis. There they strive to save the peace-loving Thals from the evil intentions of the hideous Daleks. Can they succeed? And what is more important, will they ever again see their native Earth?
It's fascinating to see a version of Doctor Who's beginnings that is at once different but so familiar. If this was the beginning on TV Doctor Who still would have run 26 years regardless.
The major attraction of this release besides the story itself being complete and unabridged on MP-3 CD is to actually hear William Russell (who played Ian Chesterton on the series) read the story which is doubly satisfying because the story itself is written in the first-person as narrated by Ian. At first this would seem to be a severe restriction to be able to tell the story but Whitaker masterfully is able to make it the book's greatest strength.
If I had to recommend to someone unfamiliar with Doctor Who one book to read to get the flavour of the series this would be the one.
Kudos to BBC Audio for making this release, which had been suggested for years, finally happen.
This is the novelisation of the very first Dalek story and was the first such book, being published in November 1964 just under a year after its original broadcast. It differs considerably from the TV version, being intended as a self standing novel, so Ian and Barbara join at the beginning of this story (no An Unearthly Child story), and don't know each other beforehand, Barbara being Susan's private tutor and Ian an unemployed scientist. The story is told in the first person from Ian's point of view, so the narrative is correspondingly restructured around his actions, with other plot strands (e.g. the fact of the Doctor using mirrors to blind the city's detectors being told to Ian after the event). David Whitaker spends a lot of time exploring the Thals' pacifism, with Ian trying at great lengths to persuade them to fight for their own survival. The Daleks are quite uncharacteristically expansive in explaining their motives to the travellers. The story also contains a (short-lived) glass Dalek as their overall leader. Overall, while different in many details, this is essentially the same story and a good piece of writing.
on 20 December 2009
I really enjoyed reading this book. I think that this book is worth reading if you have already watched the TV episode because of the way the story is told differently. At first I was put off by the fact it was in first person but when I came to reading it I found it made a wonderful effect. As a massive Dr. Who fan the Daleks being introduced for the first time is very exciting. Although it is different to that of the episode, the beginning is better, more fast moving than the episode. I am looking foreward to The End of Time...
I was too young to remember most of the early Doctor Who stories on television with companions Ian, Barbara and the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan. I do remember in the sixties the first Doctor being played by William Hartnell and even the Daleks. This was in what I now know was the "Dalek Masterplan" Serial which was for the most part wiped by the BBC, a loss because some say it was the greatest ever Dalek serial. Though my memories of Hartnell in the role are less specific than mine of say Tom Baker (who I also loved in it), it was the first Doctor Who that set the benchmark for me.
With the reissue of the BBC series on DVD (Doctor Who - The Beginning (An Unearthly Child  / The Daleks  / The Edge of Destruction ) [DVD]), I have been able to watch some of the serials I missed. Before the days or reissues on video and then DVD, the way I caught up with the Doctor Who saga was via a series of "novelizations" via Target paperbacks in the nineteen seventies and eighties. My initial experience of the first Dalek serial was through this book which was the first of the Target series. This reissue therefore has nostalgia value for me in more ways than one.
The book's author, David Whittaker, was Script Editor on the first series, and hence also has a direct connection to the serial. In this novel, the first Dalek adventure is told in first person by Ian as if it were the first ever Doctor Who adventure. In the series on television it was, in fact, the second. There are also other details in which the book deviates from the series e.g. no visible romance between Ian and Barbara in the TV series until they left, which is set up from the start here. There are also details where the television series moved on from Whittaker's writing, notably the interior design of the Tardis has expanded, and we also now know the Doctor belongs to a race called the Time Lords. Some of this is is discussed in Neil Gaiman's Introduction, and additional notes provided by the publishers. That said, the story itself is probably ninety per cent plus faithful to the TV serial, though there have been a few liberties taken with the script which was written by Terry Nation.
Coming back after some years to the novel, the thing I most noted, is how well the story is written. In some ways it has echoes of HG Wells' classic book The Time Machine (Penguin Classics), or a boy's own adventure where someone is taken out of their natural environment to find internal resources they never knew were there. Of course, Doctor Who stories are now told both on the television and in and New Adventures in different ways. But this novel withstands the test of time. I rate it above Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles, Michael Moorcock's recent effort in the genre, which was a disappointment to me despite its author having a greater literary pedigree. This book is essential for any Doctor Who lover's collection. If you buy no other Doctor Who novel, buy this one.
on 7 July 2011
This was the first ever novelisation of a Doctor Who tv story, first published in the mid 60s. To most fans of the show this book is all kinds of wonderful, being hugely nostalgic and a crackingly well written novel in its own right. Back then this was the only way to relive an episode. VCRs or DVDs were more far-fetched science fiction ideas than some ones in the show. David Whitaker was Story Editor on the original serial and here he takes Terry Nation's script and really adds life and depth. Told in the first person from the point of view of Ian Chesterton the story kicks off by choosing to replace the whole school scenario of the first episode of an Unearthly Child with characters meeting each other for the first time after a traffic accident on Barnes Common. It's a pretty atmospheric opening. The Doctor is hostile and sly, playing his mindgames with Ian. The psychology of walking through those police box doors is explored quite comprehensively by Whitaker. Due to the limited point of view some characters don't get as much of the limelight as they might have done, notably Susan. Her alien qualities get lost in retelling and her early baptism of fire, having to retrieve the radiation drugs alone through the petrified forest, is only briefly mentioned as she recounts the episode to her friends. It's also fun to learn a bit more about the Tardis facilities and I would like to know what Venusian Night Fish or Martian Summer berries taste like. Other additions to the script are a full description of a Dalek mutant, a Glass Dalek, Everlasting Matches, an amusing boxing match that Ian arranges to try to get the Thalls to regard fighting in the same way as other physical sports, the seeds of a romance between Ian and Barbara, an un-sonic buttonhook and Ian's smoking habit. Whitaker writes well and has a nice line in poetic phrasing but he also knows how to colour a story with little character points and humour. I have only fond memories of reading this book back in the 1970s and I greatly enjoyed the recent reread. I'd like to think that the new reprints of these books will inspire a new generation of children in the same way as they did me when I was a little boy wandering about that big building filled with books with orders from my mum to 'choose one'.
This new edition has an introduction by Neil Gaiman, an about the authors spotlight of David Whitaker and Terry Nation, original illustrations and a between the lines feature about the script to novelisation process.
on 31 July 2011
It's wonderful to see David Whitaker's 'Doctor Who and the Daleks' (aka 'Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks' for readers of a certain age who remember its original publication in the 1960s) back in print after so long. It is, after all, the book that started a long and successful history of 'Doctor Who' in print form, and this new edition, whilst not an exact facsimile of the 1973 Target Books version, gets all the important bits right. The distinctive original Chris Achilleos artwork graces the cover, for instance, and the intention seems to be to present something which remains true to the spirit of the Target version, whilst offering new material to coax readers old and new into picking up this new version. These include some fascinating notes on the text and characters, and a heartfelt introduction from fantasy writer (and the man behind 2011 TV episode 'The Doctor's Wife') Neil Gaiman. These are all worthwhile additions which should help to put the novel in its original context, and provide a handy entry point for younger readers who may be less familiar with the early years of 'Doctor Who'.
The novel itself is an adaptation of Terry Nation's scripts for the very first Dalek serial, with a few notable alterations to smooth over the transition into printed form. Author David Whitaker memorably re-tells and condenses the events of the very first episode of 'Doctor Who', 1963's 'An Unearthly Child', as a way of introducing readers to our central characters - and none more central than Ian Chesterton. In the TV series, he was a school science teacher who accompanied fellow teacher Barbara Wright to investigate their mysterious pupil Susan Foreman, whom they discovered lived in a blue box in a junkyard with her grandfather, the mysterious Doctor. Here, he is a research scientist trying - and failing - to get a break in the aeronautical industry, who stumbles across a horrific car crash on Barnes Common one foggy night, and finds himself stumbling into a remarkable adventure with three complete strangers. Uniquely for the novelisations, Ian is also our narrator, and it's a hugely effective way of making all the things he sees - from the Doctor and his TARDIS to the planet Skaro, home of the Daleks - even more strange and alien. The story of the travellers' escapades battling the Daleks is not one of my favourites in all honesty, but David Whitaker's adaptation does bring out the strengths in the narrative, as well as banishing memories of the good, but sadly somewhat budget-starved, television production.
'Doctor Who and the Daleks' is great fun, be it as a nostalgic reminder of a childhood in the 1970s reading Target novelisations, or as an introduction to the world of the original Doctor for a generation of young fans familiar with David Tennant or Matt Smith. And it's great to see this volume, which so many fans remember so fondly from their childhoods, being given such treatment on its republication after many years out of print.
... there was no junkyard in Totters' Lane, no Coal Hill School, no pair of teachers secure in their established friendship, no journey to the Stone Age.
Instead there is a fatal car crash one foggy night on Barnes Common, a chance encounter between an out-of-work scientist named Ian, and Barbara, a young secretary turned personal tutor. A tutor with one rather strange student, a brilliant girl called Susan who apparently lives with her grandfather in the middle of nowhere, far from any house. But there is a solitary Police Box ...
This was the first ever `Doctor Who' novel (1964) and in modern terms it's almost like a reboot of the series, erasing the first story from history and going straight for the Dalek story that made the show famous. David Whitaker's approach is very effective but quite unlike the later style of the `Target' range. The story is told as a first-person narrative from the viewpoint of Ian Chesterton, giving us access to the thoughts of this at first unwilling adventurer as he is forced to adapt to a new life with the Doctor, leading the too-peaceful Thals in a fight for survival against the Daleks and stumbling into an edgy romance with Barbara.
Ian's prominence does mean the other characters are reduced somewhat, Susan, Barbara and even the Doctor tending to fade into the background for much of the story. But the adventure is well told with the dead forest, the huge, metal Dalek city, the noble Thals, fights with terrifying mutated swamp creatures and the final showdown with the hideous Glass Dalek. The story greatly expands beyond the practical and budget restrictions of a small, studio-bound television show into a well-told epic.
Republished in 1974 in the classic `Target' range, it was one of the first I read and I still have it today, with its purple spine and back cover slightly worn and the pages yellowing, but the story remains fresh and if you don't have the original then the new edition is an essential buy. Although it was presumably aimed at a young readership, the writing style and hearing the thoughts of Ian as narrator give this book a feeling of maturity that makes it enjoyable to read at any age.
If you are as unfamiliar with the First Doctor as I was in 1974, the character revealed here is truly surprising. He is devious, manipulative, abducts Ian and Barbara simply because they happen upon his TARDIS, is willing to sacrifice the Thals to make his own escape and altogether seems more like a villain than the hero we know. As the story develops, so too does the Doctor, revealing more of the familiar desire for justice and peace and the willingness to help fight for both.
Try to read this book as if, like Ian and Barbara, you have never met the Doctor or seen the TARDIS before, as if, like even the Doctor, you have never heard of a Dalek. We know "you cannot rewrite history" but this book comes very close, giving us an alternative origin for the legend of the Doctor and his greatest enemies. 5*
on 7 July 2011
This is a mainly-technical review of version 1.0 for the Kindle.
Firstly, it is great to see what I hope is a long line of reprints of the classic Doctor Who target novels. I never read many of them when I was young so what better way to do it now in electronic format. So, onto the important stuff:
The formatting is generally good. It replicates the print-edition nicely, including all the illustrations. Thankfully (and this is a big "thankfully"!) the book includes navigation points along the progress bar, something which is often missed even by mainstream publishers. There is a linked Table of Contents; it's a bit spaced out and runs across two pages, but that's incidental.
The title page takes the form of an image rather than sizeable text, which is a little puzzling when you consider that it's actually very easy to replicate that page's layout on the Kindle, right down to the iconic horizontal lines that encase the author and TV serial credits. In fact, the Kindle version of Doctor Who and the Crusaders does just this.
Now onto some gripes:
*UPDATED* - "Page Numbers" are now set for this book on my Kindle a couple of days after downloading. This is probably because this feature is not built into the actual book files but relies on communicating with the ISBN number of the print edition.
There is a misplacement of the "Beginning" (#start) tag which knocks out the heading formatting of Neil Gaiman's introduction. If selected though normal navigation or the TOC, it's fine. It's a basic error which a lot of publishers make and is easy to fix (are you reading this, BBC Books?).
For some reason, the book's default font has been forced-down by one size so that the font size on screen does not match the size-options on the Kindle's font menu. The standard font size of any book released on the Kindle should match the default size, which is the third option of nine. The font size in this book (and the others it seems) matches the second-smallest option. This means that, in most cases, the sizes that appear on the font menu will always be one size higher than what you see on-screen. This is a sloppy oversight; the Kindle is designed for users to select the most comfortable font-size themselves.
Even sloppier is that someone has made the decision to reformat the cover image to fit the dimensions of the Kindle screen exactly. What we are left with is a distorted image of the classic cover we all know and love. Kindles are designed to manualy zoom images to a "best fit", either horizontally or vertically. It's clear that this is a conscious decision rather than a mistake because the Kindle simply does not automatically resize/skew images. Ultimately, this was the wrong decision to make.
Overall, Doctor Who and the Daleks is one of the better-formatted books for your Kindle, but there are some wildly glaring errors and poor decisions that deserve to be addressed for an updated version.