Novelising Revelation of the Daleks

By Paul Scoones

In December 1988, after completing work on our novelisation of Shada, Jon Preddle and I made plans to adapt further ‘missing Targets’. We decided we would each novelise one Dalek story; I opted to do Resurrection of the Daleks which left Jon with Revelation of the Daleks.

From beginning work on the transcript to completion of the typed manuscript Jon completed his adaptation of Revelation of the Daleks in less than six months. He had transcribed the story in early 1989 and wrote the first, handwritten draft during April and May 1989. Jon took the opportunity to add extra scenes in order to explain some of the plot holes, such as how the Daleks recognised the Sixth Doctor, and where the statue had come from. Jon finished the book whilst was suffering from a viral infection that kept him bed-ridden for two weeks. “Revelation is a dark story, full of death and misery, and the fact that I hand-wrote my adaptation with a red biro, and filled the descriptions with lots of blood and guts, was probably a reflection of my state of mind at the time!” he revealed.

[Transcript] [Manuscript]
Jon's handwritten transcript (left) and manuscript (right)

Jon also devised his own cover artwork: “The idea behind this was to have a three-dimensional effect with the lightning bolts shooting out, dividing the cover up into four quarters, with Davros in the centre. It was a cut and paste effort, with all the separate elements glued onto the page. I played around with various layouts, spending a long afternoon at my father's office one weekend, photocopying variations of design and colours for the cover.” We briefly considered calling the book just Doctor Who - Revelation (and my own, Resurrection to match), 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 our two Dalek books and discussed matching cover designs.

In June 1989 Jon typed up the novelisation from his handwritten first draft, completing the task in early July. He delivered the 50-page typed manuscript later that month to then-TSV editor Andrew Poulsen at the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club convention, Trakon. Jon wasn't completely satisfied with the work he'd done on the typed pages for the book and wanted to make revisions. He asked Andrew to text scan the manuscript for him so that Jon could make changes before it was published, however due to a number of technical reasons Andrew was unable to scan the pages and returned the typed pages to Jon in April 1990. Just three copies of this ‘dummy edition’ with Jon's cover artwork were ever printed; one each for myself and Jon, and a third copy (duplicated from my own copy) that was bought by David Lawrence in an auction at the NZDWFC convention, WhoCon in September 1990. “These ‘dummy edition’ copies of Revelation are the only are the only ones in existence,” Jon points out. “They are very rare collector's items!”

[Typed manuscript] [Proposed cover]
Jon's typed transcript (left) and proposed cover (right)

In March 1992 Jon finally got his typed pages text-scanned so that he could produce a revised version on his recently-purchased computer. During April and May 1992 he undertook an extensive rewrite. Jon recalls being hampered by a blackout: “I was living in Thames [on the Coromandel peninsula] at the time, and the district was prone to power cuts on Sundays while they repaired faulty lines. I recall one Sunday afternoon I spent an hour writing a really exciting portion of the book (I was new to computers and the important lesson ‘save as you go’ didn't really mean much to me then) and suddenly the power went out and I hadn't saved anything! It pissed me off, I can tell you!“

Despite such setbacks, Jon once again speedily delivered the completed book, bearing little resemblance to the one written in 1989. “I took the opportunity to completely rewrite the thing from scratch. Only the dialogue, which is practically verbatim from the TV episodes, remains unchanged. The book is full of anagrams - some are obvious, like Wardas (Saward) and Pherra (Harper), and events that I can personally relate to. For instance the flashback with the Second Doctor stuck up a fig tree is based directly on something that actually happened to me during a wild party, except in my case I'm pretty sure I didn't see any Krynoids!”

Jon finished editing his book in May. “While everyone was enjoying a screening of the newly-released The Tomb of the Cybermen at the Auckland Black Hole mini-con on 23 May 1992, I was sitting on my lonesome in a corner scribbling away on a print-out of my manuscript!”

The striking cover illustration was by Warwick Gray, a Dunedin-based artist who was at the time a frequent contributor of artwork for TSV, including many front covers (these days Warwick lives in London, and edits Doctor Who Magazine's comic strip under the name ‘Scott Gray’). Warwick's Revelation of the Daleks artwork first appeared on the cover of TSV 26 (December 1991) as part of a set of covers depicting a story from each of the seven Doctors' eras. Recycling the artwork seemed the obvious solution when deciding on a cover for the novelisation several months later. The illustration depicted the heads of the Sixth Doctor and Davros looming large over both the white and grey Dalek factions, with Orcini in the foreground. Warwick says, “I think the Davros picture is just invention on my part, but the picture of Colin [Baker] was taken from a Two Doctors photo that appeared on the cover of a Doctor Who Magazine issue [No 98, March 1985]. I think Revelation of the Daleks was the first time I'd tried dot shading (or pointillism if you want to get fancy) on any of the TSV covers. I think it worked okay, although I've always preferred crosshatching for texturing on black and white pictures - I think that approach usually gives more energy to an illustration.”

[TSV 26] [First edition cover]
Warwick Gray's artwork originally appeared on the cover of TSV issue 26 (December 1991) and later on the first edition of the Revelation of the Daleks novelisation.

The completed book was laid up and printed on a computer by assistant TSV editor Chris Mander. The 52-page book was ready by July and was published in August 1992. The book's title was overlaid on the artwork using a strip of thin clear plastic, resulting in unexpected pale marks on the artwork's plain black background when the cover was printed. These marks were removed by hand on each individual copy using a black marker pen. The cover was printed on a dark blue card (chosen to match the official colour of mourning on Necros).

In 1994 it was announced that Eric Saward was working on a novelisation of Revelation of the Daleks (along with another for Resurrection of the Daleks) that would be published in 1995. In reaction to this news, I let Jon's book go out of print (rather than arrange a top-up printing) around September 1994, having by that time sold around 70 copies.

Midway through 1995 it seemed Virgin was not about to publish Eric Saward's two Dalek books. By this time stock of the three remaining TSV Books novelisations had sold out so I made plans to relaunch the range and designed a new-look cover format, based on Virgin Publishing's new novelisation covers, but these editions were never published.

In 1996 Virgin Publishing appeared to be once again making headway with getting the official novelisatons of Eric Saward's Dalek stories published. Gareth Roberts was approached to novelise Revelation of the Daleks, scheduled for publication in November 1996, but Eric Saward then changed his mind about allowing other writers to novelise his scripts and Roberts was instead commissioned to write another Doctor Who novel (The Plotters).

In response to the popularity of my novelisation of Resurrection of the Daleks, published for the first time in January 2000, I suggested to Jon Preddle that we should produce a revised reprint of Revelation of the Daleks as a companion volume. Jon agreed, and made a small number of revisions to the text, including inserting names for each chapter in line with the aim to closely follow the style of the Target novels of the right period.

As he had done for Resurrection of the Daleks, Alistair Hughes again provided the cover artwork, which was deliberately designed to complement the Resurrection cover. As Alistair explains, “The ‘Saward-created’ mercenary is, of course, Orcini this time and the Dalek unique to this story becomes the ‘glass’ incubation Dalek. Once again, they mirror each other's stance, but the human and Dalek are swapped around from the Resurrection positions. The appearance of the glass Dalek meant that I would need to find a dark background to highlight it against, so I chose the black marble walls from Tranquil Repose.

“Once again, as per the other Season 22 book covers, the Doctor is not featured, and I've incorporated the Tranquil Repose logo in a similar way to Alister Pearson's use of the Varos emblem on the Vengeance on Varos Target cover. Everything else follows the conventions set up on the first cover, from positioning of text to the illustration technique used. I was concerned that the illustration might turn out to be a little too dark, but on reflection it suits the tone of this story rather well. Reference for Orcini proved to be every bit as difficult to find as Lytton had been, so the figure reference this time was my wife Rose, who made her distaste at having to pose in a leather jacket with a plastic gun very clear!”

[Cover artwork] [Second edition cover]
Alistair Hughes' Revelation of the Daleks cover artwork in progress and the finished version as it appeared on the cover of the second edition.

Alistair Hughes delivered the cover artwork in August 2000. The cover was printed on pale blue card. Doctor Who - Revelation of the Daleks - the second edition - was published in September 2000 as a 72 page book, running to 33,082 words. The book was reprinted numerous times between 2001 and 2005 (reprints were not recorded on the publication page after 2002). All of the reprints differ slightly from the 2000 edition in that the text of Chapter 4 was reset to accommodate an extra line at the end of the chapter. Due to a layout problem the line had been accidentally omitted from the first printing.

An estimated 490 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.