Before I began running, I used to joke that running couldn’t be as much fun as they say it is because you never see anyone running with a big grin on their face. And while I may not have a big smile planted on my face most days while out pounding the pavement, I can’t help but think I had a big smile planted on it for much of the time I was working out while listening to Remembrance of the Daleks.
Based on one of my favorite seventh Doctor stories (and one of my favorite stories from the entire run of Doctor Who), this novel was one that I spent months looking for in book stores when it was first published (back in the days before Amazon and other on-line sellers) and then eagerly consumed once I’d found it. It was one of my favorite entries from the Target novels lines — taking a great story and making it even better with some world building, character development and hints about the past of the our hero, the Doctor that, at the time, I lapped up with a spoon.
I’ve still got my original copy of the book, sitting proudly on my bookshelf with all my seventh Doctor Target novels. And I was fascinated to see that this novel was chosen to represent the seventh Doctor’s era for the fiftieth anniversary books that came out a couple of years ago. And yet for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to re-read the book. Part of me was worried that my memory would cheat and the re-read couldn’t live to the memories I had of reading it. And then there was part of me that said — man, if there was ever a novel I’d love to see become part of the audio range, it would be that one.
And so it was that when the Target audio range finally got rolling again this year, I was took great delight to see that Remembrance of the Daleks was headed to audiobook. I ordered it the audiobook, quickly converted it to .mp3 for my iPod and was ready to start listening.
It took about five minutes for my apprehension to fade and turn to delight as I experienced this one again.
Remembrance of the Daleks is a pure nostalgia fest from beginning to end. But one with a damn good story put on top it. The nostalgia rewards long time viewers of the show with Easter Egg after Easter Egg but it somehow manages to tell an entertaining, straight-forward Doctor vs the Daleks story that translates very well to the printed page. In his introduction to the anniversary edition, writer Ben Aaronovich say he was worried it might not hold up since it was his first published novel. I’m here to assure Aaronovich that not only does it hold up, it’s every bit as entertaining today as it was twenty-five or more years ago.
Aaronovich re-tells the story from the television screen but he inserts character development and some side tangents that you couldn’t, quite frankly, cram into the 90 minute version of this story. The story throws in a few red herrings for long-time Dalek story fans, including hiding a certain genius creator of the pepper-potted monsters very well. At one point, Aaronovich takes us inside the mind of the Special Weapons Daleks and even gives us a backstory on how that particular Dalek came to be.
I could gush on and on for days on this one. It was simply that good and that much fun.
This audio version, read by the man who played Davros, Terry Molloy, sparkles. Part of this is that Aaronovich understood that reading Daleks having long conversations on the printed page can get tedious and he kept it to a minimum. It makes it feel a bit more special when Nicholas Briggs does his usual cameo to re-create the Dalek voices from the story. As with other entries in the audio line, there are the usual sound effects and dramatic music to heighten everything.
But make no mistake — the real selling point here is the story itself. It still holds up and while I know it isn’t great literature, I still hold it up as one of the more enjoyable books I’ve read — then or now. In fact, I got to the end of disc five and found myself ready to listen to the whole thing all over again. And while I didn’t I can see myself visiting this one again — and this time I won’t wait twenty-five years!