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The Power of the Daleks

by John Peel

Book review by Paul Scoones

I've been waiting for this novelisation for over a decade. Perhaps that long delay has built up unrealistic expectations but whatever the reason, I was left feeling rather unsatisfied once I'd actually read the book.

It is unfortunate that the low point of the book comes right at the very start. On occasion, novelisation writers have incorporated the odd element of continuity from another story, but Peel practices this to excess, and has no qualms about bringing in things which really have no place in the story. The prologue is a case in point, featuring a UNIT team's discovery of Cybertechnology which speeds up Earth's space program. This is all apparently just to enable Peel to justify setting the Vulcan Colony in 2020 AD, but since that date was never given in the TV story, and indeed would appear to be absent from the novel as well, the prologue is not only excessively indulgent but also rather redundant.

Fortunately, the book settles down after this point as Peel applies himself to the real task of novelising the first Troughton adventure, beginning with a foray into the last few minutes of The Tenth Planet to 'correct' the re-worked ending of Gerry Davis's book.

The novelisation of the story itself is best described as competent. Peel tries valiantly to breathe life into the Vulcan colonists, but never quite manages to raise my sympathy for their plight. He appears to attempt to write the book in the 'adult style' of a New Adventure, which for Peel seems to mean sexuality. Sure enough, individuals lust after each other whenever Peel feels the need for a little 'character development'.

The writer's real talent seems to lie in writing for Daleks, and it is undoubtedly this trait which has endeared him to Terry Nation. Of all the protagonists in The Power of the Daleks, the titular creatures come off best.

Ultimately, many fans will want to get this book simply because it fills an important gap in the novelisation range. In this respect, it is a worthwhile purchase as it does retell a Doctor Who TV story about as accurately as any other novelisation. It's just a pity that the novel doesn't have a lot else going for it.

This item appeared in TSV 36 (November 1993).

Index nodes: The Power of the Daleks