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Doctor Who-The Power of the Daleks by John…
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1003177,919 (3.9)1
Title:Doctor Who-The Power of the Daleks
Authors:John Peel
Other authors:Alister Pearson (Cover artist)
Info:Dr Who (1993), Edition: TV-Tie-in, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:doctor who, second doctor, regeneration, ben, polly, daleks, earth colony, tv episode novelisation

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Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks by John Peel



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Power of the Daleks feels like it shouldn't be a great story. It is stretched beyond breaking point in places, and dawdles in jail cells that are escaped from and promptly returned to. You get corridor walking images galore, and the entire colony is represented by about a half dozen rooms and fewer characters. However - these limitations are nothing new to Doctor Who, and this episode has something that was about as new as you could get at the time: the first regeneration.

The book also has one of the Target collection's best authors, who cared enough to seek out the original screenplay changes (hastily adapted to Troughton having been cast) and incorporate material beyond what made it to the screen. Another huge point in its favor is that it was virtually the last Target adaptation - and amazing fan Easter eggs are placed throughout.

We start with a nice lengthy scene from the end of The Tenth Planet. Hartnell's Doctor is dying. There are corpses of cybermen everywhere, and their organic components are starting to stink. I can't remember any other references to the stink of dead cybermen, in my 35-odd years as a Doctor Who fan, and it makes perfect sense and is a great atmospheric bit of horror. Later on you get a whiff of dead daleks, too - Peel apparently believes in engaging your senses.

Ben is pretty great throughout the book. His mistrust that the Troughton Doctor is actually The Doctor is a plot element that never got old, for me. It's played with all the way to the last pages, and it was a great way to make the phenomenon of the regeneration last throughout the whole story.

I am still in search of Polly's character or identity... so far, we know she's pretty (this forms the basis of most of her interactions, sadly), and that she seems to have a social acuity that allows her to identify who is trustworthy (which is something, at least).

I love the references to UNIT personnel, and the reporting of Sarah Jane Smith, following the Tenth Planet conclusion - and the fact that the remaining cyber-technology is credited with humanity's biggest leaps toward colonizing other worlds.

The dalek story itself strikes me as having inspired the 2005 new series episode "Dalek" very strongly. Not bad for a story televised in 1966. While a good deal of the story was predictable, and the initial red herring designed to frame Quinn was, unless I'm wrong, never explained. How the Doctor managed to grab his button, w/o it being his button... surely I couldn't have overlooked that resolution, could I? I must have. Anyway - the first third of the book hinged on it.

While ID badges have been, and would continue to be, plot devices - the use of the badge in this story loong predates the new series "psychic paper", but feels very much like a prediction of its future incorporation. I think Power may have been one of the touchstone stories that new series writers returned to in order to define elements that are "pure Doctor Who" that they wanted to carry forward.

Peel also constructs a scene with a shadowy figure who leads "the rebels" who are in control of the daleks. He lets us sit across the room from the mystery figure for a page or so - the figure is in the dark, seated, with only his right arm shown. The teasing reference to Davros rang loud and clear, though we knew it couldn't be him. Belief was suspended for a moment of confusion or two.

I rated Power of the Daleks 4 (of 5) stars, for how good it is as a Doctor Who novel (Target or otherwise). If you broaden the scope - the book may only be a 2 or 3... but the scope is right where it belongs, with the long-time fans of Doctor Who. A fantastic first outing for the second Doctor. The book even made me a fan of his recorder, a prop I had little interest or understanding of in the past. ( )
  Ron18 | Feb 17, 2019 |
The novelisation of Patrick Troughton’s first story is a longer affair than usual, as it came out in the era where Virgin were only publishing full length novels and were therefore willing to allow the story more space. As such it’s a period piece, with Peel adding continuity flourishes to retroactively fit the story into the Doctor Who universe. Sometimes this works, such as having the Vulcan colony become an IMC one (explaining the mixture of high and ultra low tech). Often it doesn’t, such as in the continuity heavy prologue which simply sets up a few later lines about space travel being founded on Cyberman technology. The extra space does allow the characters to be more fully realised and allows the appropriate slow burn to the story with tension gradually rising until the situation explodes. It’s probably the best of Peel’s Dalek novelisations, but that might be as much to do with the strength of the original story as much as his talents. ( )
  JonArnold | Mar 4, 2014 |

John Peel continues his run of excellent Who books with this, the. first story of Patrick Troughton's incarnation of Doctor Who. It is a favourite of mine anyway - I cannot understand why fannish opinion generally prefers the later Evil of the Daleks - but Peel, equipped with David Whitaker's original scripts (retrieved, apparently, from his ex-wife's attic) and benefiting from some editorial decision to give him 250 rather than 125 pages to tell the story, has done an excellent job.

On reflection, it's also because this is a relatively unusual Dalek story, presenting them not as a rival galactic empire to us humans but as in some way a dark reflection of our own desires about ourselves. The only other televised story that comes close to doing that is Robert Shearman's Ninth Doctor story.

Anyway, Peel turns a good TV story (as far as we can judge, since it is one of the lost ones) into a good novel. ( )
  nwhyte | Apr 19, 2008 |
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