remembrance of the daleks 1 remembrance of the daleks 2

Ben Aaronovitch
Target Books / BBC Books
1990 / 2013

With unfinished business to attend to, the Seventh Doctor returns to where it all began: Coal Hill School in London in 1963. Last time he was here, the Doctor left something behind—a powerful Time Lord artefact that could unlock the secrets of time travel. Can the Doctor retrieve it before two rival factions of Daleks track it down? And even if he can, how will the Doctor prevent the whole of London becoming a war zone as the Daleks meet in explosive confrontation?

The seventh book in the 50th Anniversary series of novel reprints features, curiously enough, not an original Seventh Doctor adventure, but the novelization of one of the classic Doctor Who episodes to feature the Doctor and his greatest enemies—the Daleks.

Remembrance of the Daleks is one of the better remembered Doctor Who serials appearing in many Top 10 Favorite lists I’ve come across on the web. It’s for good reason, too; not only is it one of the better Dalek stories, but it features quite a bit of references to the show’s past—Coal Hill School, the Hand of Omega, references to the Doctor’s previous incarnation, that junkyard at 76 Totter’s Lane, to say nothing of the fact that the year is 1963, the same year Doctor Who premiered. You might say “Remembrance of the Daleks” is an unofficial 25th anniversary episode. It also features a bit part by Joseph Marcell—the butler Geoffrey on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air—as a guy named John who serves the Doctor a mug of tea. That’s really unimportant to this review. I digress.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Remembrance of the Daleks, it is thus: The Doctor and Ace arrive in 1963 London, not too long after his initial departure in “An Unearthly Child”, to discover two rival factions of Daleks trying to find the Hand of Omega, which was hidden on Earth by the Doctor in a previous incarnation. The army gets involved, who suddenly find themselves in way over their head; fortunately, Ace has brought along her stash of Nitro-9. So then, the Doctor goes and retrieves the Hand of Omega, a few Daleks blow up real good, treachery is revealed in the ranks, and then the Doctor defeats the two factions of Daleks by…giving them the Hand of Omega. It all works out in the end, trust me.

Those familiar with the original television serial, you know what the story and big twists are. It’s a fine Dalek story, yes. The big reason to get this novelization of the serial, though, would be the added depth to the narrative. For instance, there’s an extended bit involving Davros’ childhood and subsequent transformation into the mad scientist who created the Daleks that gives a bit of insight into the character. A novelization of a television show should go beyond just copying the script and adding “he said” and such. Remembrance of the Daleks succeeds in making this a fleshed-out yarn, instead of a cheep knock-off. Not the best one in the eleven book series, but very far from unreadable.