Novelising Resurrection of the Daleks

By Paul Scoones

In December 1988 Jon Preddle and I were talking about our next book project. We were pleased with how the novelisation of Shada had turned out, and although this was still several months in advance of that book's first printing, we both were keen to move on with the next book. As soon as Jon had read the completed manuscript of Shada he phoned me and said, “Let's do Resurrection.” Soon after this we decided that I would write Resurrection of the Daleks (Jon had by this time already transcribed Resurrection of the Daleks in anticipation of this being our next book) and Jon would novelise Revelation of the Daleks.

Of the available ‘missing Target’ stories, I was most keen to novelise Resurrection of the Daleks. Although I wasn't overly fond of the story itself, it featured my favourite Doctor and companion team and I relished the challenge of untangling and making sense of what I thought was a rather convoluted storyline.

Around April 1989 I started work on the prologue. On television Frontios has one last scene aboard the TARDIS that sets up the opening of Resurrection of the Daleks. Christopher H. Bidmead's novelisation of Frontios omits this linking scene; which was retrospectively a wise move given the omission of Resurrection from the Target range. Since I was closing this gap in the series, I not only wanted to reinstate this last scene but also decided to delve back further into the closing minutes of Frontios. My first version of the prologue had the Doctor and Tegan depositing the Gravis on the planet Kolkokron and also involved Kamelion (a character that had been unsatisfactorily lurking off-screen somewhere in the TARDIS since his introduction in The King's Demons). I later trimmed this down so that the prologue opened on Frontios, with Turlough watching a sunrise with Range's daughter Norna, implying that the pair had spent the night in each other's company; prompting David Bishop to offer the joke title “Turlough gets his end away” for this section!

The prologue and the epilogue contain similar elements. The book begins with a sunrise and ends with a sunset, and Turlough considers staying behind with Norna in the prologue that foreshadows Tegan's decision to leave at the end. To ensure this all tied together I wrote the epilogue straight after the prologue. My epilogue has Tegan walking across Tower Bridge, reflecting on her past and future as the sun goes down. I was particularly inspired by the very moving final lines of Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness (which I had recently studied at university), and wanted to convey this sense of darkness closing in across the river Thames in the closing lines of the book.

Work on the rest of the novelisation progressed very slowly. I wrote the book out of sequence, beginning with sections that appealed to me the most and then filling in the gaps between these. Rather ambitiously, I aimed to produce something a bit deeper than a straight adaptation and also provide solutions to the many questions thrown up by the plot (Did Stien know he was a Dalek agent all along? How did Davros learn about the Time Lords? Why did the Daleks want to assassinate the Time Lord High Council?). Having set myself these goals I soon found myself struggling to do the story justice. I resolved to put the book aside and come back to it at a later date. This postponement proved fortuitous as further material became available which aided in the writing of the book.

Jon and I briefly played with the idea of simply calling the books ‘Resurrection’ and ‘Revelation’, dropping ‘of the Daleks’ from both book titles, however common-sense prevailed when we realised that readers would most likely prefer the names to match the on-screen story titles. We also looked at ways of closely linking the two books and discussed matching cover designs.

TSV 26, published in December 1991, announced that the following year would see the release of Resurrection of the Daleks, but my adaptation was still only partially written by early 1992. Jon Preddle had by this time obtained an incomplete rehearsal script for the story, including the sequences from the first recording block in studio. This covered all of the scenes set in the TARDIS and on the space station, and contained a number of segments cut from the completed story. In addition to the scripts, Jon had also obtained an extended version of episode two on video. All of this deleted material ended up in the novelisation.

Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation of Remembrance of the Daleks made a huge impression on me and stands as one of the best in the Target range. Aaronovitch demonstrated how the Daleks could be intelligently and convincingly depicted in prose. In homage to Aaronovitch's book I incorporated an additional section from his fictitious Dalek history, ‘The Children of Davros’, into my own novelisation. I wrote a number of sections from the point of view of the Daleks and Davros, and even assigned each of the Daleks a numerical designation. I also extensively rearranged scenes - entire chapters focused on events in a single location, rather than the fast-paced chopping and changing of the television version.

By the end of 1992 four out of the five ‘missing Targets‘ were available, but I still had not finished Resurrection of the Daleks. I managed to complete a first draft of the novelisation in the first half of 1993. I wasn't entirely happy with the finished result as I had not been able to fix all of the plot holes, which had always been my intention, but at least the book was complete and could now be published.

In 1993 I asked Neil Lambess to produce a cover illustration for Resurrection of the Daleks. Neil was at the time a regular TSV front cover artist, illustrating four of the five 1993 issues. Neil delivered an eye-catching cover illustration in early 1994 featuring a montage of Tegan, Lytton, Davros and a Dalek against a background of chemical diagrams representing the Movellan virus.

By this time however, I'd made the hard decision to abandon the novelisation indefinitely. A change in TSV's editorial team meant that I no longer had the facilities to get the book edited and printed from computer as I'd hoped. Also, around this same time Virgin Publishing announced that they would be publishing Eric Saward's two Dalek stories, which effectively removed any need to publish the TSV Books version of Resurrection of the Daleks at all. I filed my manuscript away, awaiting the opportunity to compare my version with Eric Saward's when the official novelisation arrived.

By the middle of 1995 it was becoming apparent that Virgin were not about to publish the two Saward Dalek books anytime soon - and in fact in the event, they never came out at all. I decided to re-issue the entire range TSV Books novelisations with new cover designs, and this set of books would include the first publication of Resurrection of the Daleks. I asked TSV artist Peter Adamson to come up with cover artwork to fit the required proportions of the new cover design, and my partner Rochelle also designed a cover illustration. This novelisation set was never released.

A couple of years later, in response to numerous queries from TSV readers asking what had happened to my Resurrection novelisation, I dug out the manuscript. With the time that had passed since I'd last read the book I was able to see how it could be improved. I revised a lot of the prose and removed a few short superfluous sections. I also took out the number designations for each of the Daleks, which had gone from appearing clever to looking quite clumsy in the intervening time. After these revisions I was fairly satisfied that I'd done the best I could with the book. I asked Phillip J Gray - a copywriter and editor by profession - to proofread the manuscript for me, and Philip suggested a large number of minor changes, all of which were improvements on what I had written.

Once again seeking out a cover illustration for Resurrection, I approached regular TSV cover artist, Alistair Hughes. Alistair agreed to illustrate the cover in March 1997 and I asked him to design the whole front cover, including logo, title and author, to match as closely as possible the style and format of the other Season 21 Target novels, notably Warriors of the Deep.

The Season 21 Target covers were distinguished by cover art depicting monsters and villains but not the Doctor. Alistair says: “I chose the unique-to-this-story Dalek Supreme over Davros as I felt that the features of the post-‘Destiny’ Davros looked too ‘pulp sci-fi’-ish, and Paul was eager that we include Lytton because of that characters importance in the book's narrative. I noted that the Season 21 covers usually featured a sometimes abstracted hint of set design or landscape from the relevant story as a background, so I selected the louver-like slats of the prison station walls, and now had all the necessary elements for the illustration.

“For the composition, I thought it would be fun if we had Lytton and the Dalek Supreme mirroring one another as much as possible in appearance (Lytton's ‘Dalek-helmet’ and dark costume) and stance (note the positioning of eye-stalks and weapons). Limited to black and white, I used an intensive crosshatch technique to try and suggest the fine detail and variety of tones that the Target covers are notable for. I was happy with the result, particularly Lytton who was actually drawn from several different sources, including my own hands!”

I looked at the possibility of the book printed at the same size as the Target novels. This is something that has frequently been requested by readers, pointing out that the A5-sized TSV Books don't sit well on their shelves alongside the Target novels. This option however turned out to be significantly more expensive. I was also wary that publishing a book which too closely resembled a Target novelisation rather than a fanzine - and charging a lot of money for it - might be construed as a breach of copyright too far. After much deliberation and experimentation, I decided to keep the book at A5 size - though not before Alistair had delivered his cover matching the dimensions of a Target book. Fortunately the design could be adapted to the required shape. The cover was printed on blue card.

Resurrection of the Daleks was finally published in January 2000. The 84-page novelisation ran to 35,047 words. The book was reprinted numerous times between 2000 and 2005 (reprints were not recorded on the publication page after 2002). Later reprints differed slightly in that a few minor corrections were made to the text. An estimated 500 copies of this edition were printed in total. The last reprinting, a batch of 50 copies, occurred in May 2005 and the book was announced as out of print, along with the rest of the TSV novelisations, in November 2005.

A page from Jon Preddle’s handwritten transcript of Resurrection of the Daleks Part One
[Camera script]
The same segment from the BBC camera script for Resurrection of the Daleks Part One
[rough visual]
Alistair Hughes’ “rough visual for cover”, dated 21 March 1997.