Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What is best in life? The Dalek Invasion of Earth!

Everything I ever needed to know about plotting and storytelling structure I learned from Terrance Dicks' 1977 novelisation of Doctor Who And The Dalek Invasion Of Earth, based on Terry Nation's scripts.

I still have the copy I got when I was six years old, and I burned through it the other day - it's only 142 pages long, so it takes less time to read than it takes to watch an episode of the new series - and there isn't an ounce of fat on the whole thing. It barrels along between a vast cast of characters, and is exciting and tragic and apocalyptic and wonderful.

I only saw the TV version years after I first read the book, and there was no was it could ever live up to the version in my imagination, but it was a little heart-breaking to see the flying saucer wobble across the screen. (Although the bit with Barbara's desperate race across London was one part that was actually better in the show).

But behind that difference between my fantasy and the actual reality, the story was as sharp and propulsive as ever. It's pure plot gold, served up in 142 pages that are thick with ideas.

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