Friday, December 22, 2017

Review: Dalek - The Astounding Untold History of the Greatest Enemies of the Universe

2017's BIG Doctor Who book event was a large hardback all about the Daleks. It's similar in size and scope to last year's THE WHONIVERSE book, but this time we're just looking at the Daleks. The book has a sort of textured cover in that the Dalek 'bumps' are slightly raised, and comes with a hefty price tag of £35!  So it's really not for the faint-hearted.

The main text is by George Mann, Justin Richards and Cavan Scott, and original illustrations are by Alex Fort.  In common with THE WHONIVERSE, it presents a fictionalised account of the Daleks, illustrated with all manner of sketches and drawings illustrating the various campaigns and battles and situations that the text describes.

For me, as a seasoned Doctor Who aficionado, the main text is of the least interest, though it is well written and paints an effective history of the Pepperpots. I'm just not that 'in' to fictionalised retellings of Doctor Who stories and monsters, and while the art illustrating this element is all very nice, there is a side of me that prefers photographs and behind the scenes research.

Of far more interest are the little sections which pepper the book almost as an afterthought. These kick off with 'Ambush', an original comic strip by George Mann and illustrated by Mike Collins ... this is a lovely two page story where the Doctor and companion Petrella encounter the Daleks....

There's a nice 'inside the Dalek' schematic on pages 20 and 21, and on page 42 the first of many pieces taking tangental looks at the Daleks. The first is on how the Daleks were created for TV ... lovely stuff! And then we have an original story: 'Davros Genesis' by Terrance Dicks!  Superb!

The book continues in this vein, with retellings of Dalek history and art, interspersed with fascinating little snippets and elements, including: 'Changing Dalek Designs'; a second comic strip by Mann called 'Safe Haven'; 'The Voice of the Daleks' by Nicholas Briggs;  a comic by Mark Wright 'Empire of the Daleks'; my own 'The Dalek Invasion of Toyshops' looking at the merchandise; a story by Paul Magrs 'Abduction'; 'Print of the Daleks' again by Wright looking at the comic strips; Cavan Scott's comic strip 'Cyber Crisis'; a look at Daleks in other media: stage and film; a story by Mike Tucker 'Infection of the Daleks'; 'Daleks in Other Media: Audio and Exhibitions'; a story by George Mann 'Lost Patrol'; and finally 'The Dalek Invasion of Pop Culture' and a story by Eric Saward 'War & Peace'.

One minor observation on the text ... just something I noticed as I went through ... in the piece about Arthur Terrall from Evil of the Daleks, it doesn't mention that Arthur seems to be magnetising the sword he's holding, suggesting that he is some sort of a robot or facsimile - perhaps in the same mold as Bracewell?

What's most impressive is the pulling together of all the televised Dalek adventures into a single timeline, and placing that within the context of the show itself ... thus the book ends with the death of the Doctor in the town of Christmas on Trenzalore.

What I like about these books is the scope - the ability to draw all the threads together into a single timeline and story, and I'm sure there are many out there who will really appreciate the narrative here, leading them to seek out the television stories which make it up ... and also to explore the wider worlds of Doctor Who through the audios, comic strips and everything else too.

As I say, for full disclosure, I have a small piece in here too ... and it's nice to be a part of such a huge undertaking, and to be able to explain a little about how important the merchandise has been over the years, albeit within the slightly arch context of it all being part of the Daleks' plans for the domination of Earth.

No comments: