Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

April Books 27-31) Five Jamie and Victoria novelisations

These five Who books are all from 1967-68 stories, but from different ends of the chronology of publication. The first of these was in fact the very last of the official novelisations produced by Target/Virgin, in 1993; the other four were among the first five Second Doctor books, published between 1974 and 1978 by Target. Having been underwhelmed by my last clutch of Who books reviewed, I'm happy to report that all of these are good stuff.

27) Doctor Who - The Evil of the Daleks, by John Peel

This was the last official Target/Virgin adaptatation (a few remaining stories were produced in book form by fans subsequently) and therefore also the last Second Doctor novelisation and the last in the impressive series of five Dalek novelisation by John Peel. I have to say that I am among that heretical minority who regard the original story here as of less than top quality: the plot is absurdly convoluted, requiring both the Doctor and the Daleks to behave out of character, and Victoria as a new companion is awfully wet. But having said that, Peel improves on the original in a number of ways, giving the characters more comprehensible motivations, and embedding the narrative in the Dalek continuity he has been developing. I still preferred his others, but this is a good effort.

28) Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen, by Gerry Davis

I have been unimpressed by Davis' previous Cyberman books, which were nothing like as good as my fond memories of them. But in this case, writing up what is certainly the best Cyberman story, Davis rose to the occasion and produced what is probably the best Cyberman book. He even succeeds in injecting Victoria with some gravitas, making her both courageous and assertive in total contrast to her screen character (he makes her blonde as well for some reason). It is not bad at all.

29) Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen, by Terrance Dicks

This was the very first Second Doctor book, followed over the next few years by Doctor Who and the Cybermen, then Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors, Doctor Who and the Web of Fear and Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen. Dicks was still taking it seriously at this stage, and nicely fills out the four-part story into a good read. The interplay of motivations among the monks is very good, and Dicks was still in the habit of writing in tight third rather than TV viewer perpective. Victoria, alas, is very wet indeed, but there are a couple of amusing double entendres, eg "Thonmi woke up with a jerk" - hmm, yes....

30) Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors, by Brian Hayles

Hayles wrote up his own story here, and did a good job. It may be yet another base under siege, but the people on and off the base all have understandable motivations and reasons for doing what they do. In particular, one feels much more sympathetic to the novel's version of the aggressive Leader Clent than to the original broadcast character. The Ice Warriors are suitably villainous, the Doctor's techno-babble entirely convincing, and the computer itself ends up an interesting character.

31) Doctor Who and the Web of Fear, by Terrance Dicks

I had already read Ian Marter's novelisation of The Enemy of the World and also Victor Pemberton's of Fury From The Deep, so this is my last Jamie/Victoria novel. And it's another good one, again from the time when Terrance Dicks was still taking it seriously. He wisely strips out a lot of the chasing up and down bits of the Underground, but actually puts in a couple of crucial scenes that weren't in the original story - most importantly, the first meeting between the Doctor and the future Brigadier, but also the sinister initial encroachment of the Web on central London. It's rare that I will say this, but Dicks has actually improved a good original story here.

So that's it for the Jamie/Victoria combination. While Victoria, apart from in Doctor Who and the Tomb of the Cybermen, is the screamiest girl companion since Susan, the affectionate interactions between the Tardis crew are almost (but not quite) as entertaining on the page as on the screen.

All five of these books are medium good, and four of them are important as the perspective through which fans of my age first encountered the Second Doctor. The best of them is certainly Doctor Who and the Web of Fear, which wraps up one line of continuity (the Yeti and Travers) while setting up another (the Brigadier and UNIT). But all are worth adding to the serious Who fan's library. (The same can't be said for the other two novels of this run, alas.)
Tags: bookblog 2008, doctor who, doctor who: 02, doctor who: novelisations, writer: brian hayles, writer: gerry davis, writer: john peel, writer: terrance dicks

  • December 2010 books, and 2010 books roundup

    This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging which will fall in 2023. Every…

  • November 2010 Books

    This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging which will fall in 2023. Every…

  • October 2010 books

    This is the latest post in a series I started in late 2019, anticipating the twentieth anniversary of my bookblogging which will fall in 2023. Every…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.