I’m very excited to announce that BBC Books are going to re-release more of the old Target novelisations in May 2012. The titles were chosen after a poll on the Doctor Who Facebook page, and consist of Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet, Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors, Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks, Doctor Who: The Three Doctors, Doctor Who and the Ark in Space, and Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster.

I probably would have gone for some more of the illustrated books myself. I think the only real classic novelisation amongst these is Ian Marter’s Doctor Who and the Ark in Space, as he pulled off the exemplary job of adding extra sheen to an already masterful Robert Holmes script (as well as starring in the actual story as Harry Sullivan).

A few years ago, I was perplexed to have come across someone who was a fan of these Target Doctor Who novelisations, but who hated the TV programme. However, I can understand why, as these novelisations have all the power of the imaginative stories generated by the Classic Series Doctor Who production team, without any of the shoddiness of the poor visual effects that were a result of the TV show’s low budget.

Although Terrance Dicks’ novelisations varied considerably in quality (because sometimes he was literally churning them out), he did also add a great deal of new material to his books, just like Ian Marter. (Well, at least he did with the early ones). Indeed, Dicks did provide a bit of background material in Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks, which added more grittiness to the cruel world that the Daleks created in the future. However, the original scriptwriters also did a very good job (mostly) of adapting their scripts into novels, so Brian Hayles’ Doctor Who and the Ice Warriors is very worthwhile checking out on this basis.

Of course, BBC Books have included introductions from some current well renowned authors, as they did last time. I’m particularly looking forward to Tom MacRae’s on Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet (the first Cyberman story), since MacRae did a sort of ‘Genesis of the Cybermen’ with Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel a few years ago in the revived series. Another current series stalwart, Mark Gatiss, will no doubt be producing a suitably macabre and humorous introduction to The Ice Warriors. It’s also appropriate that Steven Moffat, the current showrunner, introduces The Ark in Space, since the writer of that story, Robert Holmes, was the script editor of Doctor Who‘s Golden Age, and thus his work provides the summit that the current production team should always strive to reach. There are also a couple of SF legends providing introductions, in the form of Michael Moorcock and Alastair Reynolds, who are no strangers themselves to the BBC Books Doctor Who range.

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