Remembrance of the Daleks
Remembrance of the Daleks
|ISBN||0 426 20337 2|
|First Edition Cover||Alistair Pearson|
|Back cover blurb: Shoreditch, London, 1963. Two teachers follow an unnervingly knowledgeable schoolgirl to her home - a blue police telephone box in the middle of a scrapyard The old man whom the girl calls 'grandfather' is annoyed at the intrusion: there is something he has to do, and he has a premonition that he will be delayed for some time... Six regenerations later the Doctor returns; and Ace, his travelling companion, sees London as it was before the Sixties started swinging - and long before she was born. But a Grey Dalek is lurking in Foreman's Yard; Imperial Daleks are appearing in the basement of Coal Hill School; and both factions want the Hand of Omega, the Remote Stellar Manipulator that the Doctor has left behind. Has the Doctor arrived in time to deprive the Daleks of the secret of time travel?|
A Review by Finn Clark 29/3/02
I was really looking forward to this. I hadn't read a Target novelisation since the eighties, for God's sake, but they'd been a huge part of my childhood. These were our video recorders before we had video recorders. These slim children's books were the Doctor Who mythos, as far as I was concerned. The fact that they'd once been broadcast on television was a historical curiosity.
I don't know if this would extend to all the Target novelisations, but personally I've no problem accepting this as canon. It's like the Director's Cut of a movie, except this time it's the original writer getting to fine-tune and tweak to his heart's content without having to compromise for the sake of television production. Sometimes this resulted in massive changes from the original (Eric Saward's Twin Dilemma novelisation springs to mind, with its wholesale junking of Anthony Steven's electrifying dialogue) but here Ben's merely taking the opportunity to flesh out what we saw on screen.
He doesn't remove anything, or revert to unscreened ideas like the paintboxed Dalek flying weapons platform which eventually got junked in favour of the Special Weapons Dalek. He simply fills in the gaps, adding background, viewpoints and motivation. Much of it's wonderful. It's certainly as worth your time as any extended video edition.
(I wouldn't want to pretend that all the Target authors put in this much work, of course. Ben Aaronovitch was one of the very best, with the other end of the scale being the likes of late-seventies Terrance or Stephen Wyatt. But damn, I wish Stephen Gallagher's original version of the Warrior's Gate novelisation survived.)
All the characters get background, and I'm not just talking about the humans. Mike Smith was in Malaya and Rachel Jensen worked with Alan Turing (!), but we even get a glimpse of Davros's early days. Now there's something we haven't seen much of. And of course much of this background material would go on to be fundamental mythos-shaping stuff; this little Target novelisation was the Alien Bodies of its time. You've got scenes between Rassilon, Omega and the Other. You've got Ace's friend Manisha, who became part of TV lore. And you've got lots of Dalek culture, including the Ka Faraq Gatri.
Ben's Dalek culture has been largely overlooked in later years, for an obvious reason, but it's perhaps the most interesting bit of reimagining. There's all kinds of snippets of Dalek language, and even a wonderful glimpse of Skaro itself as the Hand of Omega vapourises it (pp151-152). Yup, that's right. It's definitely Skaro. If we decide we'll have to tweak our view of War of the Daleks because of a Target novelisation... well, personally I've no problem with this whatsoever. :-)
Also p151 gives us a date for Genesis of the Daleks! Apparently it's been twenty millennia since the final conflict ended between the Thals and the Kaleds. (Note: Kaleds, not Daleks.) Since I believe it's generally assumed these days that Remembrance's Daleks came from the year 4663 or thereabouts, that would place Genesis in 15,337 BC. It works for me. Honestly, this novelisation creates so much Whoniverse-shaping mythos that I think we should give its statements some weight.
Ben takes a few chapters to learn how to write, some early sections being dotted with reported incident rather than direct narrative when describing what's happening in action scenes! One can understand how that might happen, the process of novelisation being a slightly unnatural one. However it's the little additions that make this book magical; there's a funny bit on p12 and a lovely little scene on p46. And if you'll forgive a quote... "He stayed where he was, his eyes focused on the dirt in front of his face: there he noticed two ants fighting for possession of a tiny fragment of leaf." This is just after he's blown up the Dalek in Totters Lane, by the way.
The Doctor is even more radically reinvented than he was in the TV story, which doesn't seem so remarkable these days but was groundbreaking back in the eighties. Even by the standards of today's original novels, this is a powerful depiction of the Seventh Doctor. Rachel Jensen and Gilmore get a romance, but thankfully it's done with the lightest of touches and left for the reader to infer rather than being hammered into our faces.
You'll also see the original story afresh. I was struck how clever it was to make Ratcliffe and his Association the Renegade Daleks' human allies, for instance. Normally such people would be dumb stooges who've been promised money (ho ho) or simply mind-controlled, but it's far more chilling to make an explicit alliance between the Daleks and the fascists for which they're a metaphor.
At the end of the day, this is merely a novelisation. You'll read it with the video playing in your head, which detracts from the point of the exercise. However it's also a well-written work that easily stands up to today's novel both in literary level and in quality of imagination. In fact, its Whoniverse-reshaping in some ways raises it above today's books. This is history in the making, and even more awesome as such on the page than it is on-screen with Sylvester and Sophie.
Remembrance of the Novelisation by Robert Smith? 11/9/04
"What will I remember in twenty years' time? As I watch the world rush headlong into the future, the world of the young, Ace's world. A silver sea in 1940, the Dalek at Totter's Lane, the spaceship landing in the playground perhaps? Or will it be Turing stammering out his theories or Ian's warm hand on mine while we watched the Doctor engineer an act of genocide?" (Remembrance of the Daleks, page 160)Fully a third of the back cover blurb of the novelisation of Remembrance of the Daleks is devoted to describing the events of An Unearthly Child. The back cover also assures us that the Canadian retail price is $6.25, despite the fact that it was never released there. Those were the days. Or would have been, at any rate.
"'You can't do that,' said Ace, 'you mashed up the transmat.'Remembrance of the Daleks is arguably the most important novelisation ever published, with the possible exception of The Auton Invasion. It's the only novelisation which had a major plot point subsequently taken up by the TV show, in the form of Manisha's backstory. While it's true that the words "chameleon circuit" appeared in novelisations long before their first onscreen appearance in Logopolis, previously the novelisations' major contributions had been the occasional naming of concepts that the series already had.
'I,' said the Doctor, 'can do anything I like.'" (page 131)
"For one vertiginous moment, the Dalek Supreme wanted to skip." (page 123)But Remembrance's legacy goes much further. It's the cornerstone on which the NAs were built, even more than the televised story itself. Reading it now, it has far more in common with its thematic descendents than it does with Terrance's month-o-rama transcripts. Not only does it introduce the other (merely an uncapitalised description here, although the graphic novel mentality of the NAs would soon make this a capitalised title, along with powers bordering on the supernatural), it also gives us our first glimpse at Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart (or the grandmother she's named after, at any rate) and writes the Doctor, suddenly and shockingly, just as the NAs did - distant, aloof and powerful.
"It was called the Eret-mensaiki Ska, Destiny of Stars. The flagship of the Imperial Fleet, it was constructed in orbit around Skaro. Elegant in conception and execution it typified the Dalek renaissance." (page 82)The novelisations had been steadily improving, at least in contrast to their televised counterparts. The novelisations of Season 22 are actually pretty good and Dragonfire turns a messy and unfocussed television story back into the classic it always wanted to be. But, like the difference in tone the televised story gave us, there's simply nothing that went before that prepared us for just how good the novelisation of Remembrance is.
"'It's Susan,' said the woman. The old man's face creased with irritation as he sensed that he was about to be delayed for a long time. But then time was relative, especially to someone such as himself." (page 9)The prologue consists entirely of the first Doctor's POV as he returns to the junkyard in the very first episode. This ties into the nature of the series as mythic icon, in a way that looks old hat now, but simply hadn't been done before. The show had fed upon its past in the Davison and Colin Baker eras, but here that past is actually used for a reason.
"It was dawn on the Vekis Nar-Kangji, the Plain of Swords - a wasteland of dust and bones bisected by a range of mountains. Here, twenty millennia ago, the final conflict between the Thals and the Kaleds had ended." (page 151)The televised Remembrance deconstructs the series as a whole, showing us a version of Doctor Who that's at once familiar and radically different. We've got a Doctor who won't pick up a gun, yet who engineers a premeditated act of genocide. We've got faux-UNIT, complete with scientific advisor. We've got the Doctor expending massive energy just to keep the humans out of the crossfire. We've got Daleks as Nazis being contrasted with actual Nazi sympathisers. The Doctor has to abandon his intricate plan and improvise wildly when more than one Dalek faction shows up. The societal racism seen through Ace's eyes finally brings the series into the eighties, as well as tying into the theme. When the Doctor uses Davros to destroy an entire planet, we feel it and we know the true depths of what he's done.
"One thousand million Daleks cried out in defiance. Then the seas boiled, the metal cities of the Daleks ran like wax, and the atmosphere was blown away into space. Skaro died." (page 152)The Doctor's ultimate reliance upon a weapon of mass destruction is shown to be an act so un-Doctor Whoish that it reaffirms the character of the Doctor through its omission. Suddenly, the Doctor is not only powerful, he's terrifying. This is the force-of-nature Doctor whose journey continues through the descent and redemption of the NAs.
"She stared at Manisha's face, noticing the way the skin had bubbled on her cheeks and the raw meat under dressings on her scalp." (page 48)Compare this to The Seeds of Death, where the Doctor callously sends the Ice Warriors into the sun, or Horns of Nimon, where he commits an act of genocide and then makes jokes afterwards. Or Resurrection, where he doesn't have the backbone to kill Davros, yet he uses a biological weapon to kill thousands of Daleks without a second thought. Remembrance took the series apart to see how it worked, but also to put it back together in a brand new way. And that new way changed Doctor Who forever, allowing it to survive beyond its television death. Oh, and it also has the best title of a story, ever, bar none.
"This planet. Its children will be flung out into the stars, to conquer, to fight and die on alien planets. Indomitable, fantastic, brilliant and yet so cruel, petty and selfish. And it is always here that the final choices are made." (page 46)The novelisation's additions are uniformly fabulous. We get monologues from Daleks' POV, which are just fabulous, written in that machinepunk way that Aaronovitch excels at. There are historical documents, such as Kadiatu Lethbridge Stewart's "The Zen Military - A History of UNIT" and Njeri Ngugi's "The Children of Davros, a Short History of the Dalek Race, Vol XX". Rachel is explicitly Jewish here, in contrast with Ratcliffe's hate. Ace dreams of Manisha's flat being fire-bombed and her transformation from impotent Dorothy to powerful Ace who fought fire with fire, destroying a wall of racist graffiti with nito-nine. And the Doctor's internal thoughts wondering if the Earth could get along without him, just for a little while, before he heads to Harry's cafe, are fantastic.
"The Dalek was insane. Radiation had altered the structure of its mind and made it mad. The mark of its insanity was, that of all Daleks in the great race of Daleks, it had a name. It was called the Abomination." (page 128)Then there's the special weapons Dalek, the only Dalek who ever had a name. We've got Dalek language, the Hand's POV, Davros recalling his accident and subsequent rise to power (as well as a delicious quote from Richard III at the start), and Rachel and Gilmore being lovers, who marry shortly afterwards.
"Of these three Gallifreyans who would reshape their world, two would become great legends; the other would vanish from history." (page 44)There are scenes set in ancient Gallifrey, featuring Rassilon, Omega and the other, although they total less than five pages. The other is simply the third member of the triumverate whose name vanishes from history. Rassilon forbids superstition and Omega refers to Rassilon as "cousin", which has a lot more resonance at the end of the NAs than it did at the beginning.
"Nothing was left of the Dalek Supreme but ashes. Efficient to the last, thought the Doctor as he looked down on the remains. From nothing you came, to nothing you aspired, to nothing you went." (page 158)While confronting the Black Dalek, the Doctor muses about the impulse of organic intelligence to turn themselves into machines and ape the form and mannerisms of machines. Just before telling the Dalek that he has no inferiors, no reinforcements and no hope of rescue, there's a line saying "If you are going to lie, thought the Doctor, make it a big one." And he's given a further line of dialogue we didn't get in the televised version, where he steps right up to the Black Dalek and says "I have annihilated the entire Dalek species". This is powerful stuff, even more powerful than the televised story.
"In the end that's all we have: our memories - electrochemical impulses stored in eight pounds of tissue the consistency of cold porridge. In the end they define our lives." (page 160)Remembrance led the way for the next season's novelisations, which bridged the gap between transcripts of a televised script and the full novels that the NAs became. It fed the TV series itself, via Ghost Light's backstory. It created two of the most important characters in the NAs. Three, if you count the NA Doctor himself. But more than anything, it's gloriously written and remains one of the best Doctor Who books in existence. It doesn't get much better than this.
A Review by Terrence Keenan 26/6/07
It is a book that fans have said was the forerunners of the Virgin NA line. That concepts mentioned in this little novelization of a four-episode serial from 1988 would have an impact on book Who for a good amount of the 1990s.
And, that is true. But the big question is: Is Remembrance of the Daleks any good as a novelization?
Absolutely. It's written by Ben Aaronovitch, who wrote two of the best (and my favorite) NAs ever: Transit and The Also People. I knew I was going to enjoy it, once I found a copy at a reasonable price and read the damn thing.
The most interesting thing about RotDN is that it is still a novelization in the traditions of Uncle Terrance Dicks -- well, more Ian Marter in style -- in that it mostly follows the serial and encapsulates it in prose form.
What sets it above your average Target is the author. Aaronovitch is Who's best worldbuilder since Bob Holmes. So, the Daleks end up with a culture, a language and a mindset missing from most Dalek stories. Case in point is the story of the Abomination, which is perhaps my favorite part of RotDN. It turns what is essentially a big laser cannon (albeit a very cool one) on a Dalek base into an actual character. Daleks have a language, which just sounds cool.
The bits about ancient Gallifrey were just a far more entertaining info dump. Other writers would run with these concepts (Dark Time, the other), but it give a little pizazz to what would be a scene between the Doc and Ace.
At other times, you get the sense that Aaronovitch is putting in the explicit things that had to be cut from the serial: Rachel Jensen being Jewish; her relationship with Gilmour; Ace and Manisha. In a TV episode they would have slowed things down. Here, they just make the world just a little deeper.
RotDN is brilliant. It does the job as a print version of a very cool serial and by also expanding the world it is set in for added depth.
The final showdown by Andrew Feryok 10/8/07
GROUP CAPTAIN: "Shouldn't we bring in reinforcements? Armoured units..."
DOCTOR: "Haven't you listened to me, Group Captain? The ship up there has surveillance equipment that can spot a sparrow fall fifteen thousand kilometres away. Any sign of a military build up and they may decide to sterilize the area."
GROUP CAPTAIN: "And we have no defence."
DOCTOR: "Frightening, isn't it to find that there are others better versed in death than human beings."
- Remembrance of the Daleks, chapter 7, page 68
Before I get started reviewing Ben Aaronovitch's wonderful adaptation of this classic Dalek story, I just have to analyze this whole issue of the "final end" of the Daleks. Just how many times have the Daleks met their end demise? Obviously at the end of every Dalek story they are usually killed off, but there are a select few stories that kill them off with the intention of really killing them off. In the Daleks' very first story they were destroyed in a cataclysmic battle with the Thals, but this was glazed over when it was realized the public wanted more of the tin pots! After a spate of stories, they were given their "final end" by Troughton's Doctor in The Evil of the Daleks. But even that didn't hold them back for very long for they were back battling Pertwee a short while later! And finally they met McCoy's Doctor in this story which pits the Doctor, Davros and the Dalek Supreme in a titanic battle to the death in which only the Doctor walks away alive. But even the destruction of their planet in this story could not hold them down and they were back in the new series! Heck, they even survived being wiped from the time/space continuum by Rose! Just what does it take to kill these evil blobs for good? No wonder the Doctor considers them his number one nemesis!
All right, ranting aside, I must say I really enjoyed this book. Ben Aaronovitch has done more than simply write an adaptation of his television script, he has written a full blown book to be appreciated on a totally new level from the other novelisations. I would rank this even alongside Doctor Who and the Daleks as one of the best Doctor Who novels I have read so far for Target. Like Doctor Who and the Daleks it feels like an "extended edition" of the story. In fact, many of the deleted scenes, which I recognized from the DVD extras, have been included (although the infamous "more than just a Time Lord" sequence is still excised). What is especially likeable is the the fact that Aaronovitch goes into enormous detail on the background of each character and really brings out their individual characters more than was done on the screen. Some of my favorites include flashbacks from Gilmore and Rachel from the Blitz in which we see the horrors their generation faced as well as the relationship which grew between them. Mike is also well done. We learn a bit about his background and his racism is emphasized even more. We also learn that Ratcliffe was a Nazi sympathizer who was jailed during the war and has resented England ever since. Mike is a honest young man who has been brainwashed by Ratcliffe's propoganda and really has some difficulties struggling with his loyalties, especially when he finds himself falling in love with Ace!
The Doctor and Ace are very well portrayed in the story. The Doctor in particular shows his "Time's Champion" persona for the first time. While I like McCoy's Doctor when he is darker, I've never really liked the "Time's Champion" stuff, feeling it took the Doctor a little too far away from the character I've known and loved over many different regenerations. I especially don't buy the whole Doctor as being part of a powerful pantheon with Rassilon and Omega. If the Doctor really was this important to Time Lord history, why has he always been treated so horribly by his people in the past? Despite this, his Time's Champion persona really plays well in this story since the Doctor is using his titanic powers of planning and manipulation to lead his greatest enemies into a deadly trap. His darkness and brooding does not stem from his responsibilities as a galactic hero, but instead comes from the responsiblity of committing genocide on his enemies.
Ace also comes across well and we begin to see our first shades of the Ace who would come in the New Adventures. There is a little bit of sexual tension for the first time in the book and television series, particularly in a sequence when Mike comes into Ace's room when she's only wearing a towel and they "admire" each other. Aaronovitch writes Ace marvelously as a character. On the surface, she sounds and acts just like any angry teenager, but as we get to know her, we begin to see that there something more deeply wrong with her. She is definitely troubled by something and has a a lot of anger and aggression inside of her. It is also implied that her use of explosives is one means by which she vents some of this aggression.
In the Daleks' last story, they are also portrayed magnificently. Although I did have worries that I wouldn't be able to tell the two Dalek factions apart in the book, I was actually able to distinguish them much better in the books than I was on television! The Skarosian Daleks are much more experienced in battle than the Imperials and have adapted unorthodox methods into their battle plans, such as using a human girl as part of their battle computers. The Imperial Daleks are more logical and they also weild better weaponry, especially in the form of the Special Weapons Dalek or "The Abomination" as the Daleks call it. The Abomination is given a character all its own since it is one of the few Daleks that has been given permission to act as a an individual, hence the perception that it is insane. The book has a great deal of the story from the perspective of the Daleks which gives us some insight into their culture and language that we have never seen before. Although we only meet Davros for a short time in the novel he is very well depicted in the story as a pathetic but dangerous individual. It is a shame that no adaptation of Resurrection or Revelation of the Daleks was officially made, since I would like to read more of this Davros (Revelation of the Daleks would have been an excellent opportunity).
Overall, this is clearly a special book which is setting the tone for the New Adventures to come, as many have pointed out before. I have to admit that, like The Caves of Androzani, this story has never been one of my favorities. Over time I have come to appreciate these two stories for their special qualities that sets them as classics of the series and I would even go so far as to say this novel has helped to push this story up in my appreciation of the McCoy years. It may now become my new favorite story! At the very least, it is one of my favorite novels. 10/10
Is It The Best? by Jason A. Miller 12/7/13
Remembrance of the Daleks is arguably the most important novelisation ever published, with the possible exception of The Auton Invasion.Remembrance of the Daleks was the final story novelized from Doctor Who's reinvigorating Season 25. When it came out in June 1990, six months into what we now think of as The Wilderness Years, it was directly behind adaptations of Planet of Giants, The Happiness Patrol and The Space Pirates -- two standard-issue Terrance Dicks pamphlets, and Graeme Curry's expanded but terribly traditional and faithful adaptation of his own Season 25 story. Much like the TV Remembrance did to Season 24, this novelization hit the landscape like a thermonuclear detonation.
- Robert Smith?
But Remembrance's legacy goes much further. It's the cornerstone on which the NAs were built, even more than the televised story itself.Remembrance the TV story was an incredible breath of fresh air. It had a pre-credits sequence, a brutally realized Dalek civil war, lots of interesting secondary and tertiary characters circling the action, a full-sized Dalek shuttlecraft on screen, and a radically different interpretation of the Seventh Doctor compared to the wise clown of the previous season.
- Robert Smith?
And that's nothing, compared to what Aaronovitch's novelization did to the book line. Previous adaptations, excepting Donald Cotton's books and David Whitaker's pre-Target 1960s novels, were largely traditional script transfers with some nice bits of explanatory prose. Dicks would paper over plot holes, raise an eyebrow at logical flaws, and restore a sense of scale and spectacle to poor-realized TV effects. Ian Marter would impose violence, gore and graphic realism over even the most frivolous of TV stories (The Rescue, The Dominators). John Lucarotti would rewrite his TV scripts pretty thoroughly; Nigel Robinson would show an uncanny ability to miss the point entirely even while adapting the scripts faithfully. Anything by Gerry Davis, Christopher H. Bidmead or Malcolm Hulke was and still is wonderful, Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters in particular being a pretty radical bit of reinvention.
But none of them combined the literary, cyberpunk and military techno-thriller genres the way Aaronovitch did. And Aaronovitch was only 25 when he wrote this book.
The novelisations had been steadily improving, at least in contrast to their televised counterparts. But, like the difference in tone the televised story gave us, there's simply nothing that went before that prepared us for just how good the novelisation of Remembrance is.Count the different points of view from which Aaronovitch tells his story. It's almost the entire TV cast list - and that's a pretty long list - excepting maybe Michael Sheard's Dalek-puppet headmaster (who is amusingly described as "old, maybe in his fifties"). We get POV shots from: the Doctor, Ace, Nazi-sympathizer Ratcliffe, turncoat Sergeant Mike Smith, proto-UNIT scientific advisers Rachel and Allison, Peter Halliday's clergyman (who views life as a divine gift in exchange "for having his sight taken away in the mud at Verdun"), several soldiers, Davros ("He remembered being a man..."), and several Daleks. We also get the POV of the Hand of Omega, the Dalek shuttlecraft (yes, the POV of a spaceship), Omega (don't forget Omega), the planet Skaro (yes, the POV of a planet) and, for one giddy moment, William Hartnell's Doctor (the original, you might say).
- Robert Smith?
All of this is experimental and radical, but it gives the story a focus that the TV product, a rushed and jumpy product of the late '80s, lacked. Aaronovitch leaves it for the book to have Mike figure out why Ace hates his racist, Nazi/Dalek-sympathizing self... and to turn on his ally, Ratcliffe, and express the desire to kill him. In Part Four on TV, Mike is a bit of a cartoonish villain. In the corresponding material in the novelization, Mike is a three-dimensional, realistic and sympathetic Nazi/Dalek sympathizer, whose death scene is told from his own POV. Similarly, Rachel is given two separate intuitive flashes of the coming fiber-optics revolution... but then we're also told that she retires from science shortly after the events of this story, so those brilliant discoveries will have to wait. In Rachel's flashback to being a child in synagogue, the Doctor appears as a Talmudic figure.
Remembrance took the series apart to see how it worked, but also to put it back together in a brand new way. And that new way changed Doctor Who forever, allowing it to survive beyond its television death.Before this came out, people didn't realize that you could do this with a novelization. Dicks' adaptations are critically important literature; they inspired every Who author that came after him. Terrance is a master wordsmith who combines efficient use of language with sardonic humor and vivid turns of phrase. Marter, Whitaker, and John Peel (yes, even John Peel) took good stories and made them classics, using the printed page to eliminate anything faintly cheesy from the television production. Chris Bidmead and Gerry Davis had their own magical way with prose; I try to read the Logopolis novelization once a year and you should do the same with The Highlanders book.
- Robert Smith?
But Aaronovitch rethinks things in a way no one had ever done before. Up until 1990, the Daleks behaved in the way that Terry Nation envisioned them, rotely and without joy. David Whitaker made them more cunning and conniving and gave us some key contributions to Dalek lore, but even he didn't crawl inside the Dalek armor and ask why. Aaronovitch is the first (and, to date, only) writer to envision the indoctrination programs of the Dalek embryo; show the Kaled mutant in its shell, surrounded by nutrition and waste tanks; give the Daleks a language and a sense of art (they call the Kaled/Thal battlefield from Genesis of the Daleks the Plain of Swords); and formulate battle strategies. He adds a back-story to the Special Weapons Dalek and even gives it a name. The Daleks are said to have a caste system, which was somewhat implied in The Chase, as was the Daleks' ability to climb stairs... but The Chase buried those relevations in comedy and lousy production values, while Aaronovitch elevates them. The year before the Remembrance novelization came out, John Peel had written a two-book adaptation of The Daleks' Master Plan that was, up to that point, the best Dalek novel since 1965. But Aaronovitch makes Peel's earnest adaptation seem frivolous and flimsy. He even casually refers to the final extermination of the Thal race in a sentence fragment. Wait, you ask -- can he do that? Well... we know what Peel's response looked like, and he should have kept it to himself...
But more than anything, it's gloriously written and remains one of the best Doctor Who books in existence. It doesn't get much better than this.Is Remembrance the greatest novelization of all time? It's not playing by the same rules as the others. It uses epigraphs before chapters, weaves in bits of Gallifrey mythology, and writes a chapter from the point of view of a planet. I'll say that again, it bears repeating: it writes a chapter from the point of view of a planet.
- Robert Smith?
It took me years to appreciate this brilliance. In 1990, I didn't know Robert Smith?, whose review, one of the best this website will ever house, was still 14 years in the future, nor had the New Adventures come out; both of those profoundly influenced my belated admiration for this book. I've even overcome my annoyance at the book misplacing the Kennedy assassination on a Friday. Emotionally, it is never going to hold the same place for me as Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters, or the novelizations of The Invasion of Time, Logopolis/Castrovalva and Tomb of the Cybermen, all of which I read first as an impressionable pre-teen.
Is it my favorite novelization? Top ten, definitely. Is it the most influential? Probably right up there with Malcolm Hulke, the other reference point for the New Adventures. Is it the best? Not only by being the best book ever to contain multiple references to Planet of the Daleks, but by almost every other objective measure, too.