Last week I read and reviewed Michael Moorcock’s Doctor Who novel The Coming of the Terraphiles. I wasn’t especially enamoured with this book and had to follow it up with some classic Doctor Who novelisations — The Dalek Invasion of Earth by Terrance Dicks and The Cave-monsters by Malcolm Hulke.
I read both these books as a teenager and I remember them as being two of my favourite Doctor Who books. They are quite a different kettle of fish from a novel like Moorcock’s, which is based on the series rather than an adaptation of a particular televised story. As novelisations, both these books had to follow the scripted stories. Despite this, the two authors have approached them quite differently.
Terrance Dicks adapted Terry Nation’s script, which featured the second ever appearance of the Daleks on television in 1964. The first Doctor and his companions land in a future London that is under Dalek control. In fact, the ominous metal pepper pots have taken over the entire world. They have enslaved the human race and have them digging a huge tunnel down into the Earth. Their intention is to remove the planet’s core and replaced it with a drive system, allowing them to steal the Earth and use it as a mobile base in their plans for universal domination. Of course, the Doctor throws a spanner into their works and sends them packing.
This novelisation is, to a large extent, a ‘paint-by-numbers’ book, transcribing the televised story, scene by scene. It follows the script quite faithfully most of the time, and yet the Doctor’s famous speech from the conclusion, as he farewells his granddaughter, is reworded. The action of the script, hampered by limited special effects, is given greater scope in the book. And Dicks does fill out a few things, such as the romance between freedom fighter David and the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan.
While the writing style is quite straightforward and often plain, Dicks does show the occasional bit of flair. The opening sentence of this book is particularly memorable, and is on my list of all-time favourite opening sentences.
“Through the ruin of a city stalked the ruin of a man.”
Malcolm Hulke had a huge advantage in that he wrote the original script which he than adapted into Doctor Who and the Cave-monsters. This story features the first appearance of the Silurians, a race of reptilian creatures who used to rule the planet Earth before humans came on the scene. When presented with global catastrophe they hid themselves in underground bases. Now, a new underground atomic research centre has woken them from their long sleep and they want their planet back. This story features the third Doctor during his days as scientific advisor to UNIT (the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), and was originally broadcast in 1970.
Although giving us the televised story, Hulke presents it quite differently. This is not a scene-by-scene adaptation. We are privy to the inner thoughts of many of the characters and we also get a fair bit of backstory for some of them… which goes a long way to explaining their actions. Hulke also tells us more about the Silurians than the scripted episodes. The Silurians of the novel are much more individual than those of the episodes. Scenes that are only alluded to in the episodes are expanded on in the novelisation, while other scenes are shortened. Hulke obviously knows the different requirements of a script and a novel, and uses that knowledge to good effect.
Where this book falls down is in the odd way Hulke presents the Doctor. Actually referring to the character as “Doctor Who” really doesn’t work, and there are several occasions where he refers to him as human. This is rather odd … having written numerous scripts for the series, I would have assumed that Hulke would know the details of the show well enough to avoid such problematic descriptions.
Doctor Who and the Cave-monsters also contains internal illustrations by Chris Achilleos, and a laughable error on the back cover blurb, referring to the Tyrannosaurus Rex as “the biggest, most savage mammal which ever trod the earth”. LOL!
All up, I rather enjoyed taking the stroll down memory lane to read these books. They are by no means great novels … but they are fun. And I enjoyed them more than I did Moorcock’s novel.
Has anyone else out there in the blogosphere read Moorcock’s novel? Or any of the old novelisations? Opinions? Leave a comment!
And tune in next time as mother/daughter authors Carole and Lili Wilkinson stop by for a chat.
Catch ya later, George
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