Reading Dr Who

Dr Who booksPhil: To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the BBC’s DrWho, a range of books have been packaged up in new covers, a bit of text from the author has been added to the start and then they were thrust out into the world. Whether sales were rubbish or the plan was that they would be distributed this way, the books ended up in a “3 for a fiver” offer in my local remaindered bookshop.

How could I resist?

Reading a book based on a TV show is an interesting experience. None of them are great tomes and one was even joyously knocked off in a single day. I love being able to wallow for a day just reading and eating chocolate. That’s what Christmas is all about.

Anyway, what are they like?

Festival of Death is a Tom Baker (the best Doctor) story involving some complicated time travel stuff with 3 versions of the same Doctor in the same space. This was the one I read in a day and I’m glad I did as the plot is reasonably complicated. The author mentions some serious planning in the new introductory text. For most of us, our characters bumble along on a single timeline, perhaps we get occasional flashback but the subject of our interest generally stays firmly rooted in time and can’t meet another version of his or her self. Stick with the story and it’s good fun.

Earthworld occupies a very special place in Who history. It dates from the era when the show had been cancelled, living only in the minds and literature of the die-hard fan base. The BBC maintained a Who desk which had responsibility for keeping the show alive with novels and it was from here that this book was commissioned. Ostensibly a Paul McGann style Doctor story, it includes companions who were never part of the TV version, something that confused me to start with. A quick look on the Interweb filled in the background and after a while I wasn’t worried.

The story takes place on an Earth theme park of a type that will be familiar to anyone who saw the film Westworld. There’s a lot of philosophical stuff about what it means to be human and some very poignant parts as one companion is recovering from seeing her boyfriend killed in the previous story.

Remembrance of the Daleks is the only book here that is a novelisation of a TV story. Easily the best from the underrated Sylvester McCoy era, it appealed to me as the only decent story he got during his tenure. What’s interesting is that the book version allows the characters to develop depth and a proper back story. The companion “Ace” always struck me as one of the most annoying people allowed in the Tardis but here we get character development and an explanation where she came from, something the TV version omitted. Maybe my memories from 1988 (I looked it up) aren’t great but the books takes a good story and makes it a much richer experience and an awful lot better for it.

Worth a fiver? Certainly. Apparently 12 books were released, I might go back and see if they have the rest.


Filed under Books, Phil

3 responses to “Reading Dr Who

  1. Christian

    Hi Phil

    I follow both your modelling blog and this one, so I’m not turning up just to cause trouble, but I’ve wanted to ask this for a while.

    You often mention buying second hand books in charity shops – do you see any ethical issues with this considering you’re hoping to become a published author?

    I appreciate not everyone can afford to buy lots of books brand new, but as an aspiring author I personally always buy books new as I want the publisher who’s made a punt on an author to earn some money – the hope being they may one day do the same for me. I do the same with video games – there is a HUGE second hand market, but all it does is profit video game shops and hurt games developers (games are an interesting subject because in theory they aren’t significantly worn when second-hand and are effectively brand new…but that’s another story).

    One slight niggle for my own ethics is that I often take my old books to charity shops. I’m not sure where that falls in my own ethical boundaries, but as it’s usually to make space for new books I’ve bought I think that’s generally a positive move. The only alternative would be throwing them away or giving them away.

    I’m not having a go – but as a wannabe author myself I’d be interested in your thoughts.


  2. Christian

    By the way I realise you didn’t buy these Dr Who books in a charity shop! I dropped some books of at a charity shop recently so it’s been on my mind, and I didn’t want to comment on an older post.

  3. Christian – Very interesting point. I’ll sleep on it and perhaps turn my reply into a blog post for Thursday. Hmmm……

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