13 September 2016

Review: Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovitch

The past day or so has seen three Doctor Who: Short Trips reviews by me appear on USF: Lucie Miller and the Eighth Doctor in "The Curse of the Fugue"; Steven Taylor, Dodo, and the First Doctor in "This Sporting Life"; and the Meddling Monk, Liz Shaw, and the Third Doctor in "The Blame Game."

Trade paperback, 211 pages
Published 2013 (originally 1990)
Acquired February 2016
Read March 2016

Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks
by Ben Aaronovitch

Remembrance of the Daleks is often held up as one of the best Target novelizations, and a forerunner of the broader and deeper style of The New Doctor Who Adventures, so I decided to read it before plunging into The New Adventures properly. But, alas, I didn't find this book to be all that. It's a perfectly competent novelization-- Ben Aaronovitch does a better job with his own scripts than I suspect Terrance Dicks would have-- but it doesn't really capture what I love about Remembrance, which is the television story that pushed me from "maybe this television program has something going for it..." to "I'm going to buy this on DVD and watch it forever." On screen with Andrew Morgan's direction, Remembrance is full of energy and verve; in Aaronovitch's prose, it feels much more normal than it did on screen. There are some neat details added here and there, but I was surprised to realize how much the characters of the Intrusion Counter Measures Group owe to the performances, as there's not much to them on the page. And that's just one example.

Here's a bit of trivia for you: the infamous (and awesome) Special Weapons Dalek gets a scene from its own perspective, where it reflects on its status in the Dalek hierarchy, where it, alone among Daleks, has a name, "the Abomination." This is actually a pretty great scene, as we learn it has a sense of selfhood no other Dalek posseses, for which its fellows want it exterminated. Only the will of the Emperor (i.e., Davros) permits its continued existence. Its exploits are recounted: "Pa Jass-Gutrik, the war of vengeance against the Movellans; Pa Jaski-Thal, the liquidation war against the Thals; and Pa-Jass Vortan, the time campaign -- the war to end all wars." A veteran of the Time War!? If I ever get to write for a Doctor Who tie-in, I'll have to slip in a reference to the Daleks calling the Time War the "Pa-Jass Vortan."

In Two Weeks: The New Adventures finally begin properly, when the Doctor and Ace meet the Timewyrm for the first time in Genesys!

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