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July Books 6) [Doctor Who] Timewyrm: Exodus

6) [Doctor Who] Timewyrm: Exodus, by Terrance Dicks

Gosh, Terrance Dicks can actually come close to writing tolerably well. Here we have the Seventh Doctor and Ace pursuing the Timewyrm (last seen in ancient Babylon) to Nazi Germany - or rather, first to a 1951 Festival of Britain celebrated after a German victory; then following Adolf Hitler from the Munich putsch to 1940. It would be easy to do this very crassly, but Dicks manages to stay (for my money) the right side of the line. Still a slight feeling that he wished he was writing a TV series rather than a novel, but satisfying enough. Also brought back a villain from one of the series I have not yet seen...


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 12th, 2006 06:53 am (UTC)
I got cornered at a Con chatting to Terrance. One of hose odd meetings - I'd seem Jeremy Bentham and a whole load of the old DWAS crowd I hadn't seen for 20 years standing in a group chatting, so I bounced over and said hello, only to discover that I'd just supplanted Terrance as the object of interest. Terrance looked rather bemused as it was explained that the sudden change of focus and ooing and cooing was due to the 20 year absence - so he enquired what I did 'Oh I'm a writer'. 'Oh really! Says Terrance, eyes lighting up as he starts to chat away about scripts and publishers' . 'Oh I don't mean your tupe of writing Terrance, I don't do originality - I write software manauls, everything is written to a strictly prescribed formula where you success is measured in just how bland and predictable your text is.'

Behind me I could hear someone mutter darkly the words 'a strange wheezing and groaning sound..... 126 pages, *every* time' and my mind flicked back to an old fanzine joke many years ago with an automatic 'write your own Dr Who story' where you just chose the appropriate stock phrase from the Dicks canon at key points in the narrative. I desperately tried not to giggle and continue to take Terrance's book writing skills seriously - he is a very nice man. I suppose Terrance can occassionally write tolerably well (he gets enough practice), but overall his scripts are better than his books.
Jul. 12th, 2006 10:34 am (UTC)

I have met Terrance, and he really is a nice guy; as is Barry Letts. ISTR, though, that Barry made a better fist of novelising a Who story (“The Dæmons”, I think) than Terrance did; but, of course, Terrance did so many and I think his apporach was to try to get across the feel of the story as a viewer would have got it.

There are plenty of authors whose text is bland and predictable without the excuse of their having to adapt a visual work (or being the authors of technical manuals). (John Gardner comes to mind.) Reading Timewyrm: Exodus did make me wish Terrance had the chance to write more original material.
Jul. 25th, 2006 11:23 am (UTC)
Some of those early Targets he novelised are pretty good (given the constraints of the format). Day of the Daleks seems stronger than the episodes, and when not churning them out he didn't do too badly with the later Pertwees he novelised (Inferno, Mind of Evil). I agree though with The Daemons. It was the second Target I bought (couldn't resist Azal on the cover) and it and Gerry Davis's The Cybermen travelled with me everywhere for a while.

Even when he's really bad (Warmonger - can't be certain I remember the name correctly?) he keeps the pages turning.
Jul. 25th, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)
Yes, some of the time he did a decent job, and they were never boring. Well, the odd strange wheezing and grinding sound apart. ;o)

I can't remember too many details of most of the novelisations now. The ones that stuck in my mind were David Whitaker's ones (which were ones I read in hardback, from the library!), The Daemons because it seemed to be approached as a book rather than just a transcription, and The Zarbi because it was so boring, it had none of the magic of The Web Planet. Of Terrance Dicks's novelisations, I always thought he was best with Pertwee's stories, presumably because he knew them and that Doctor better than the others.

The Cybermen: that was based on The Moonbase, wasn't it? ISTR it had an Invasion Cyberman on the cover, which annoyed me at the time. I found it disappointing (The Moonbase was one of my favourite stories).

Warmonger does not ring a bell (which does not mean you are wrong!).
Jul. 25th, 2006 01:25 pm (UTC)
The one I'm thinking of was a BBC PDA where Doc 5 challenged an evil Time Lord by getting an alliance of Sontarans, Cybermen, Draconians &c. Very odd. Atrocious but compelling.

The Cybermen was adapted from The Moonbase. The cover when I bought it had two Moonbase Cybermen standing pointing. The copy of Tomb I have has a picture of an Invasion Cyberman.
Jul. 25th, 2006 04:01 pm (UTC)
Ah, haven't encountered that one. Could be lucky, in some ways, by the sound of it.

The cover I was thinking of was the original one ('cause I got it as soon as it was published)!, I know they did change it later. It had, IIRC, an Invasion Cyberman with a looming Moon behind him.

There was a tendency at one point to use Invasion Cybermen a lot for illustrations, even when it was not appropriate. It was like when the first Who video was released: Revenge of the Cybermen, with an Earthshock Cyberman on the cover.
Jul. 12th, 2006 10:28 am (UTC)
Gosh, Terrance Dicks can actually come close to writing tolerably well.

I read the book when it was first published, and that is pretty much what I thought at the time!
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