I have another Dream…

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    …to read all of the Novelizations of the original Doctor Who series.

    This is a project that is both easier and harder than watching all of the Dr. Who episodes. Easier because, thanks to an anonymous friend, I got all the books (minus the movie novelization) on my computer right now. Harder because it will take more time to read them all than it will to watch them. Well, maybe not much longer since the novels are, on average, about 120-160 pages long. That’s two to three hours of reading time which, sometimes, can be significantly shorter than TV time (especially that 12 part monstrosity involving the Daleks).

    Target did not publish the books in chronological order so the first order of business is renaming the files to match the order of the TV episodes. So far I only got the first 20 done but that’s enough to keep me busy for months.

    This isn’t be the first time I’ve read any of the Dr. Who Target books. I’ve read a bunch in the past twenty years. Thanks to my nerdy habits (making a list of what I read) , I know exactly how many: forty. Only a fraction of the 156 novels out there but still a healthy chunk. They spanned at least six doctors, maybe all seven, I don’t know. Many of he novels I read before the TV show. Some of the books I read include TV shows I have not seen yet (The one about the Abominable Snowmen and the one about Dinosaurs invading London, for example). I may eventually catch up with the TV shows and, if I do, I’ll put the reading to a halt until the TV show has been watched. Or maybe I should read the book first? I’m not sure now.

    I am hopeful that the books will fill in any missing info from the TV shows , or at least any missing subtext. It would certainly add life to the shows, I think.

    Sadly, there are no novelizations of the new TV series (yet). Hopefully, by the time I finished the first 156 books, there will be a couple out there. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    The format of this thread will be similar to that of the TV list I made except it will be much shorter since I won’t be giving a review of the story. Instead I’ll focus on the differences between the novel and the TV episodes.


    I can’t wait to hear your reaction to “Doctor Who In An Exciting Adventure With The Daleks.”

    The closest we’ve gotten to new series novelizations are not from Doctor Who itself, but from The Sarah Jane Adventures, for which a number of novelizations were published, up to and including The Death of the Doctor (the one with the eleventh Doctor), with the pilot novelization being written by Terrance Dicks himself for old times’ sake.

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    I finished “Doctor Who and the Unearthly Child” a couple days ago.

    Nothing really special to report. I don’t think I gleaned anything extra from the book that wasn’t already in the original TV show. Thankfully, in the book, the Caveman portions were relatively brief. That’s the part I hated in the TV show: a little amount of time was spent in the TARDIS and this agonizingly long amount of time was spent in the cave with the cave people. In fact, the caveman plot is basically a death march* with the cast stuck in the cave until they find a clever way to escape. That’s exactly what happened: they attempt a first escape but it wasn’t clever and so they get caught. The second attempt is successful because they cleverly set up a gimmick that scares the tribe and delays their chase of the cast.

    While in the cave, they missed a great opportunity to learn more about the characters. Instead we learn little and, despite the short time in the caves, I was growing weary of the story.

    Not a great introduction to the whole series methinks. It started out promising with the mystery about who Susan is. It got really cool when they entered the TARDIS and traveled back in time. It was even cool when the Doctor had to exit the TARDIS to prove to Ian that they aren’t in London anymore and, in fact, went back in time (I found it hilarious that Ian could accept that the TARDIS could materialize in a new location but couldn’t accept that they traveled in time. What? He could only accept one impossible thing before breakfast? I mean, disappearing from London and then suddenly appearing in the veldt is fine but time travel is not? Ian is an idiot.). However, once the cavemen entered the stage the dull-o-meter started pegging.

    This is not the first time I read this book: last time was in 1993 when my knowledge of Doctor Who was much less than it is now. I don’t recall if I saw the show before I read it or not – this was back when PBS was broadcasting old Dr. Who shows and I don’t remember when they stopped broadcasting Tom Baker and Peter Davison shows and started broadcasting Hartnell stories.

    Next up is Doctor Who and the Daleks. Will they stick with the TV version or use the Peter Cushing movie version instead? Or will they go in a completely different direction?

    *A death march – my own definition here – is when the characters know how the story is going to end but they keep on trudging down the road to the end of the story anyway. You, the viewer, also know how this story is going to end and yet, there you are, still watching the show. You might as well be on that road with the characters with the Japanese soldiers driving by randomly hitting people with their rifle butts and occasionally shooting people. Some people would defend the death march claiming that it’s not about the plot but the characterization: the plot is a framework to showcase the characters and how they would react to the situation. My response is yes, that’s great if it’s done well because then you don’t notice the death march plot. Sadly, 99 times out of a 100, it’s done poorly and the death march plot stares at you taunting you and daring you to stop the show and move on. But it knows you won’t because you’re a completest and you have to watch the end. The death march tortures those of us with OCD.

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    I finished reading “Doctor Who and the Daleks” a while back and wow, this is a much different novel than I expected. The story is told in first person narrative by Ian, who knows nothing about the Doctor or Susan, for that matter. In fact, he meets Barbara for the first time at the scene of an auto accident: they weren’t teachers together at Coal Hill school. In fact, I don’t Ian is a teacher in this book. Some kind of scientist, I think.

    Turns out this novel is the very first Doctor Story to reach print and it was printed in 1964 with the title “Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks” (the title of the Target version I’m reading is just “Doctor Who and the Daleks”). For more information about this book check out this link. It not only discusses the history of the book but also the differences between the book and the original TV serial. Not a huge list but most of the differences you see happen near the beginning of the book. Some minor ones occur later in the book.

    The book starts out from Ian’s perspective; an Ian who has not met the Doctor yet. Or any one else, for that matter. It starts with him pulling his car over to the side of the road since the fog is rolling in and (I guess) he doesn’t like driving in the fog (good thing, too, as it turns out). He then spends a couple paragraphs describing his day so far. Most of it is dull but, essentially he went on a road trip for a job interview (assistant research scientist at some rocket firm) that didn’t go well – job already filled by a relative of the director.

    While he’s waiting out the fog, Barbara stumbles by, injured from a car wreck. Good thing Ian stopped when he did or he would have crashed into the wreck. Ian tends her wounds and she mentions that there is another injured person at the scene of the accident – Susan, it so happens. So, with Ian supporting an injured Barbara, they stumble into the scene of the accident in search of Susan. They don’t find her right away. Instead, they find the body of a truck driver, a corporal in the Army, as a matter of fact. Only the overturned truck is mentioned at the scene so we have no real idea – at least initially – what caused the accident and who is all involved. So far I could only guess it was a single vehicle accident with Barbara and Susan as passengers.

    The mystery is resolved when Ian finds Barbara’s car buried in a tree. The truck skidded on the road and smacked into Barbara’s car with the result of the truck tipped over with a fatality and Barbara’s car totaled with it’s collision with the tree. I blame the truck driver. A drunk soldier, right? 😀 Who knows.

    Eventually Ian discovers that Barbara was Susan’s tutor and she was driving Susan home – much to Susan’s protests, it turns out. At some point Ian expresses his frustration at Barbara giving out information only a little bit at a time. A little frustrating to us readers too, frankly.

    They get to the car and Susan is not there. Barbara left her by the side of the car and now she is gone. However, they do find a key that was hanging from her neck. They search for Susan but find the Doctor instead. Turns out he’s looking for Susan’s key because, it turns out, it’s the key to the TARDIS. A bizarre discussion/argument ensues and Ian is convinced the Doctor has taken Susan somewhere for nefarious reasons.

    Ian decides to walk off with Barbara and they quickly find the TARDIS. There is more bickering amongst the three and some deception from the Doctor that is easily discovered. There’s a struggle and Ian finds himself inside the TARDIS. Lot’s of confusion results. Paragraphs of it, in fact. It goes on from there for several pages as Ian adjusts to the situation and Susan and the Doctor figure out what to do. Eventually Ian is anxious to get out and threatens to kick the doors open. Too late. The Doctor moved the TARDIS and they are no longer on Earth. Lots of arguing and Ian gets out and finds himself on the planet Skaro.

    After that the story follows the action from the TV show, more or less. Some minor differences but nothing worth noting. In fact the reading gets a little dull as I already know what’s going to happen.

    In summary I liked reading this book because it was worlds different than all the other Doctor Who books I have read. I wish other books were like this because the third person narrative can get so tedious after a while. Now I don’t recommend that they radically change the beginning of every work – like they did here – as that would be unnecessary and, after a while, quite annoying. Just a change of narrative or even a slightly different style of writing would help out.

    I am a little disturbed that they left that accident scene there like they did. Now some stranger will arrive, possibly crashing into the truck and resulting in further injuries. The police show up, they find Ian’s and Barbara’s abandoned cars and wonder what happened. They conduct a search through the woods and, other than a police box footprint in the dirt – find nothing. Once Ian and Barbara get back home they will have lots of ‘splaining to do! 🙂

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    Finished the “Edge of Destruction” a while ago. IIRC it pretty much follows the story from the show. Somewhat of a dull read since they used the same technobabble to explain what happened. Star Trek TNG handles the technobabble far better than this Dr. Who episode and that’s saying a LOT!

    I think the only time “Edge of Destruction” works is if you read – or watched – the episode for the first time ever. Especially if you haven’t many Dr. Who episodes under your belt.

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    I finished “Marco Polo” a couple days ago.

    Fairly routine stuff but, since all of the episodes are missing and I could only watch a slide show of the original show, the book version is much more interesting than the show. First of all the descriptions of the floating gardens, Kubla Khan’s castle, and so on were useful as I was denied a decent description in the show. The one or two photos in the slideshow did not do the description justice and my imagination took over as I read the descriptions in the book.

    I was also better able to keep track of the action and motivations in the book than in the show, which – again – made the book more interesting. It pretty much highlights the major drawback of the missing episodes and their slideshow replacements: the text scrawl on the bottom of the screen does not do the action any justice at all and I only get a piecemeal idea of what’s going on instead of an overall picture.

    One really interesting bit in the book worth mentioning is a tiny bit of dialog on page 99 between the Doctor and Marco Polo:

    Marco explained that the tradition of protecting
    the ruler of Cathay with imitation warriors had been
    started centuries ago by the Emperor Qin Shi Huang who
    had six thousand made to protect his tomb, but no one now
    knew where he was buried.
    ‘Dig around Xian, which was the capital,’ the Doctor
    suggested, ‘you might find something there.’

    See, the thing here is those clay warriors were not discovered by archaeologists until 1974 so this dialog was obviously added later by John Lucarotti, the author of the novelization (which was published in 1984). Or was it? Hmmm? (/me does a little first Doctor laugh). This bit caught my attention mostly because I had recently watched a documentary about these Terracotta warriors and learned of their (relatively) recent discovery. Interesting stuff. Check out this website for a description along with this website for completeness. Here’s a link to the video I watched.

    So, of the four books I’ve read so far, this one easily fits in the number 2 spot (after the Dalek one).

    Next up: The Keys of Marinus


    Between the book, the slideshows, the audio recordings… obviously there’s a lot going on in Marco Polo. It seems like there’s more than enough incident to justify the 7 episode running length.

    That’s why I’m really hoping that the rumors are true and it has been found in some form that can be released.

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    Here’s my thoughts on “the Keys of Marinus”:

    The pacing of “Keys” was off. The ending was rushed because the author was running out of pages. The good part of that is the courtroom drama – which seemed long on TV – was very short in the book. Something that took a page or two of the script was dispatched in less than a sentence or two in the book. I dislike courtroom drama in general so I was fine with that. The bad news is that the finale of the novel was too brief. Anti-climatic, in fact as they rushed to give the keys to the bad guys and the whole thing blew up (oops – SPOILERS!). I seem to recall that, in the show, there was some tension with the doctor and his companions getting to the TARDIS before they were enveloped in the conflagration of the device/weapon/McGuffin/whatever. In the book they were at the TARDIS within an instant of leaving the room where the bad guys were. Whoosh! THE END. That was abrupt. I guess I should get used to it.

    5 books down, 151 to go. AUGH!

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    Just finished “Doctor Who – the Aztecs”

    Some thoughts:

    I’m actually really liking the short length of the novel because it quickens the pace considerably. One of the problems with the early Doctor Who – especially the historical pieces – is that the pacing of the shows were intolerably slow. There would be times where I would know what would happen next and then spend the next 10 minutes in agony for the show to finally get there (that whole “death march” thing I go on about). In the book, however, that action comes and goes within a chapter. “Oh! That’s cool!” is my usual reaction. Makes the reading easier, that’s for sure.

    The Doctor’s romance with the middle-aged Aztec woman is more involved in the book than the show. There appeared to be more moments between them and – even though it is clear he was manipulating her for his own purposes – his regret of their parting seemed more pronounced. It’s clear he would have taken her with him to the TARDIS but he also knew that would be impossible. Nice touch, I think.

    The technical problems with the OCR scanning of the book is obvious in some places (I’m reading a PDF of the book and not the book itself). In the beginning of the novel the Doctor was fiddling with the console and Ian decided to help. He leans over and says “May 17”. That confused me for a good minute until I realized what Ian actually said was “May I?”. There were other such errors scattered throughout the book. A little annoying but not a major distraction. Obviously they did not proof read the book.

    Throughout the book the Doctor kept saying Ian’s name correctly. None of the mispronunciation – with the humorous consequences – that we saw weekly on the Telly. Either the novelist wrote the book straight from the script and never saw the actual shows or he is doing that deliberately. I think it’s the former. To some extent, the Doctor saying Ian’s name correctly is a little distracting. While watching the show I got used to that bit and I miss it a little in the books. This correct pronunciation of Ian’s name is not limited to this book, of course. I remember (dimly, because it’s been a while) the Doctor correctly saying Ian’s name in the previous books.

    So my goal here is to catch up with the TV shows. I am currently stuck at “The Macra Terror” which is about 27-28 episodes away from the Aztecs. My reading is cut out for me.

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    Finished the Sensorites and I am now reading the Reign of terror.

    I did find it odd that, at the beginning of the book there was a lot of emphasis on how powerful the Sensorites were and their ability to trap spaceships millions – if not billions – of miles from their home world but they were incapable of tracing an epidemic to the poisoning of their water supply. Chemistry and deductive reasoning must not get taught at their schools. Also, I guess the leaders didn’t put much priority into the matter since their own private water source was unaffected. Out of touch with the people is the key word here. I would think the Sensorites are primed for a major change of government (other than the palace intrigue that went on in the book).

    No doubt this show/book was written for children since the political intrigue was clumsy, at best.

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    I just realized that the “Reading Doctor Who” thread and “I have Another Dream” thread were duplicates. I just now merged them and moved the merged mess into the Books sub-forum. Hopefully that will cause less confusion.

    I realized the duplication only when I decided to post my impressions of the “Reign of Terror”, went to the “I have another dream” thread and noticed that my comments about “The Aztecs” and other books were missing. What happened? Did they get deleted. And then, I noticed the other thread. D’oh! Only took me a year to figure out the mistake.

    The only thing is, I did the merge slightly wrong. I wanted to retain the “I Have Another dream” title but it kept the other title instead. I didn’t see any way to rename the thread so I’m stuck with what I got. Meh. Oh well, I’ll live with it.

    Anyway, I’ve read a bunch of books since my last post and I’ll be posting my impressions of them shortly.

    Sorry for the confusion.


    It still works in a wibbly wobbly, timey wimey sort of way.

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    Aha! I figured out how to rename the thread. I knew the thread title was based on the title of the first post of the thread but the first post already had “I have another Dream…” in it but the title of the thread was “Reading Doctor Who”. What? I was confused.

    So, as an experiment, I edited the first post, typed a space at the end of the title, typed the backspace key to erase the space and then clicked “Submit”. It worked! this thread now has the title I want it to have.

    Sorry for the rambling here but it’s the little things in life that keep me going.

    …and some day…soon…I’ll be on topic. This weekend, I think.

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