Forty-one years ago, arguably the greatest Doctor Who story to have ever been produced hit television screens across the nation – and now, thanks to Target Books, you can experience it all over again in the form of this re-release of the original novelisation. On screen, it’s one of the all time classics and rightfully heralded as one of the definitive Tom Baker adventures – but how well does it translate to the written word on the page?
About as well as you’d hope as it happens. Every bit of Genesis of the Daleks successfully makes the jump in genre, as we find The Doctor on the battlefield of a war-torn Skaro, tasked by the Time Lords to interfere with the creation of his oldest enemy, if not destroy them entirely. Joined by his companions Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan – quite possibly the best TARDIS team we’ve had to date – The Doctor sets off to complete his mission, overcome by opportunity despite initial hesitations. After narrowly escaping danger on the minefields, the trio find themselves in a tangled web of terror between the Kaleds and the Thals, hell bent on wiping the other out in a conflict that has raged for an unprecedented number of years. As the group become separated and captured by different camps, the race is on to undo the Daleks and stop their maniacal inventor before it is too late.
Writing duties are handled here by acclaimed Doctor Who writer and script editor Terrance Dicks as opposed to the story’s original author, Dalek creator Terry Nation, but it’s not an issue in the slightest. Dicks has done a tremendous job of encapsulating the look and feel of the story in his prose, and it’s very easy to conjure up memories of the TV episodes when reading the descriptions on the page. In fact, some of the original elements actually work better in black and white text than they do in full-on visuals – the infamous clam creatures, for instance, are not restrained by silly low-budget aesthetics, allowing your imagination to think up something a little more intimidating. In addition, all of the well-known dialogue is intact just as you remember it (including, of course, the iconic “do I have the right?”), and the characterisation of The Fourth Doctor is as spot-on as ever, full of wit and determination in the face of his darkest hour.
As for the story itself, well, it’s Genesis of the Daleks – it’s just as solid now as it was over four decades ago. The parallels to World War Two are unmistakable, and it’s a dark shadow that powerfully looms over proceedings, subtly comparing the threat of the rising Dalek army to the Nazis and Davros himself to Hitler. The battle-scarred Dalek creator remains the ominous, manipulative, and downright despicable creature that he has always been – he sneakily plays with his adversaries as if they were mere chess pieces, forever pushing them exactly where he wants them to be in order to achieve his evil ends. He’s the villain that you love to hate – at one point even betraying his own people to forward the Dalek advance – proving once and for all that he is the Doctor Who baddie to top all others. His slithering sidekick Nyder also deserves a mention, a similarly slimy and detestable character whose low-life loyalty only adds to the harrowing despair of the situation at hand. Come the end, you’ll be glad to see them finally get their just desserts, in an ironic twist of fate no less.
While this Target Book may not be the definitive way to enjoy the Genesis of the Daleks, it’s a mighty fine substitute – or indeed a supplement, for those who are fond fans of the TV serial and want to experience it again via another medium. Without a doubt, this will stand the test of time as one of the best Doctor Who stories to date, and you owe it to yourself to indulge in one way or another – and for that purpose, this novel is as good an option as any.