Friday Reads: Remembrance of the Daleks

I bought all the fondly remembered Target novelisations of Doctor Who stories as an 80s kid. I couldn’t afford to buy the videos till much later so the books were cheap and cheerful reminders of stories I’d loved or not yet seen. I had a particular fondness for Dalek stories and while most Target adaptations were perfectly serviceable, one stood out as being so much more. Ben Aaronovitch’s Remembrance of the Daleks. It was the one and only time that McCoy’s Seventh Doctor tangled with his greatest foes on screen, it was the last time they’d face the Doctor before the classic series was cancelled and it’s probably the best Doctor Who novelisation ever.

This was no script simply padded out, this was a proper novel, I recall vividly. Wonderful descriptive prose, fascinating insights into characters that weren’t obvious on screen and even scenes we never saw on TV! In the story the Doctor returns to where his adventures all began in 1963, heading back to London to retrieve a powerful weapon that two factions of warring Daleks are both after. It’s action-packed, scary and for once there was no where left to hide – in this story, Daleks could climb stairs! Ben would go onto write original Doctor Who novels and of course now writes the much-loved and bestselling Rivers of London series for Gollancz but Remembrance is still brought along by fans to his book signings because its quality as a great Doctor Who adventure hasn’t dated.

It’s no coincidence I picked this novel for this Friday Reads. Doctor Who returns to our screens this weekend, Saturday September 1st, with an episode called Asylum of Daleks. The Doctor once again faces off against the maniacal pepper pots and the story features pretty much every type of Dalek ever seen on screen including, maybe, the Special Weapons Dalek. This mute, battle-scarred, grease-stained mobile cannon had one function: extermination. It’s never been featured in a TV story since and we’re all excited about seeing Ben’s creation in action again. Well, as much as we can possibly see from behind the sofa…