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You Call This A Literature Industry?

By Alden Bates

I'm going to have a gripe here. It's partly caused by walking into Whitcoulls and seeing two New Adventures books in with the kiddies' books, partly caused by walking into the library and finding one of the Terrance Dicks level James Blish Star Trek novelizations in the adult's section.

Actually, the library hasn't added much to the collection of Doctor Who books in the children's' section, mainly because the existing ones are rarely taken out. To think that, years ago we weren't allowed to reserve Doctor Who books because they were so popular... The problem is that the literary revolution came too late. By the time Doctor Who: The Sixties came out, the National Library had ceased stocking Doctor Who non-fiction, and by the time Remembrance of the Daleks was novelised, the Upper Hutt public library had thrown out half its collection.

The legacy of endless Terrance Dicks novelisations is that everyone now treats Doctor Who books as strictly children's stuff. Can you blame them?

I recently laid my hands on a copy of the Star Trek Technical Manual. It made the Doctor Who Technical Manual look like a kiddies colouring-in book. Something's not right. A show which ran for three years in the sixties has a technical manual of hundreds of pages of fine detail, and a show which ran for 26 years has a technical manual of a scant hundred or so and with writing you could read at a hundred metres.

So what is Virgin doing these days? Well, the New Adventures and the latest bunch of non-fiction books are a step in the right direction, but it's beyond me why they are re-releasing all of the series with new format covers. Sheesh, virtually the only reasons anyone would buy them are to complete a set or to have a shelf full of books of even height and colour. (I pause at this point to glance up at my shelf. All different heights and colours. Looks like a badly cut cross section of a rainbow.)

At this point Virgin should be thinking of re-novelising some of the stories which were written with children in mind, and preferably with more accuracy with regards to what was on screen. I'm sure that they would sell a lot better than reprints of old stock with a new cover. And will someone please redo the Technical Manual?

This item appeared in TSV 37 (January 1994).