Review: Doctor Who: Six Classic Novels

The Daleks  / The Crusaders by David Whitaker

The Cybermen by Gerry Davis

The Abominable Snowmen / The Auton Invasion by Terrance Dicks

The Cave Monsters by Malcolm Hulke

BBC Books, out July 7

The first Doctor faces The Daleks for the first time and lands at the time of The Crusaders; the second meets The Cybermen on the Moon and encounters The Abominable Snowmen; while the third battles an Auton Invasion and assists UNIT against The Cave Monsters

When these novelisations were first released as part of the Target range in 1973/74, the thought that one day you could just reach up onto a shelf and watch the DVD of (the majority of) these stories was more science fiction than the most outlandish tale that the Doctor Who production team could imagine. Children of that generation (mine) would read and re-read these books, haunting W.H. Smiths every Saturday and checking whether the latest release was in.

And these early books stand up nearly 40 years later. David Whitaker’s two novels and Mac Hulke’s adaptation of his own screenplay, Doctor Who and the Silurians, treat the televised stories as simply a springboard for telling the story in a new format, with Whitaker’s book creating a whole new origin story for Ian. Gerry Davis’s Cybermen (based on The Moonbase) and Terrance Dicks’ two novels are much more faithful, though they add a lot of texture to the scripts.

There’s value added material: the introductions by various Who-connected luminaries evoke that pre-DVD period (Russell T Davies’s anecdote recounts something that happened to so many of us!), while Steve Tribe presents a combination of explanation of some of the more obstruse elements of the books which might confuse a modern reader, as well as comparing them with the televised versions. The odd error creeps in (my copy of Doctor Who and the Cybermen was bought in December 1974, two months before he says it was available) but this adds a useful context.

Verdict: While the original first editions will remain treasured possessions, these new editions will hopefully bring this aspect of Doctor Who fandom to life for a new generation. 

The Daleks:  8/10

The Crusaders: 8/10

The Cybermen: 7/10

The Abominable Snowmen: 8/10

The Auton Invasion: 9/10

The Cave Monsters: 8/10

Paul SImpson

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