This week, we celebrate audio. I love a good audiobook and have listened to a fair number of them while commuting, working out and doing things around the house.
Right now, some of my favorite are the audiobooks of the Target Doctor Who adaptations. The Target book range adapted just about all of the classic Doctor Who serials to the printed page in the days before VHS, DVD or streaming. I read a lot of these multiple times growing up and fondly remember some of them. The audiobooks have allowed me to enjoy them again as a “big kid.” Here are a few of my favorites.
- Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric by Ian Briggs, read by Terry Molloy. My favorite classic Who serial got a slam-dunk adaptation. The novel developed the characters a bit, gave some background and made my favorite story even better. I was over the moon when I saw it was finally get an audio release earlier this year and I loved every second of it.
- Doctor Who and the Daleks by David Whitacker, read by William Russell. The second serial produced and the one that put Doctor Who on the map. Told from the first-person perspective of Ian Chesterton, this audiobook is read by the man who played him, William Russell. That alone makes it worth the price of admission. Honestly, you could put just about any serial from the first Doctor’s era read by Russell on here. He’s fantastic.
- Doctor Who and the Doomsday Machine by Malcolm Hulke, read by Geoffrey Beavers. The Target novels started off with a bang with some great adaptations from Hulke and Terrance Dicks. This is one that stands out from the pack. Hulke told the same story we got on TV but he added in some character work and background as well as putting scenes together to flow better on the printed page. Again, the reader is what makes this one a hit for this fan. Beavers played the Master in the classic run in a memorable story and his reading of this novel makes it a delight to hear.
- Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovich, read by Terry Molloy. I have to admit I was nervous about listening to this one because I loved the adaptation. I scoured bookstores to find it back in the day and consumed it in the course of an afternoon. I needn’t have worried. It holds up and I enjoyed it as much this time as I did the first time around.
- Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion by Terrance Dicks, read by Caroline John. Terrance Dicks wrote a bulk of the Target novels and this is one of his best. Given time to expand the story a bit, he does so admirably. I have to admit that John isn’t my favorite reader of Target novels but she does a good job here.
- Doctor Who and the Ark in Space by Ian Marter, read by Jon Culshaw. Marter, who starred as Harry Sullivan on the series, was one of the best early Target novelists. He adapted a lot of great serials and it’s hard to choose the best one. I think this one edges out the rest because it’s got a superb script by Robert Holmes that Marter really enhances. One scene with Sarah Jane crawling through the space station’s duct work has me on the edge of my seat every time. The audiobook gets Jon Culshaw to read it. Culshaw imitates Tom Baker so well that I swear there were times when the fourth Doctor is talking that it’s Baker reading the lines.
- Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood by David Fisher, read by Susan Engal with John Leeson. Originally adapted for the printed page by Terrance Dicks, Fisher created an entirely new novelization for the audiobook. It’s got some further character development and some nice additions that make this one a lot of fun to hear.
- Doctor Who: Black Orchid by Terrance Dudley, read by Michael Cochrane. This two-part fifth Doctor story gets a bit of time to breath and some character development by Dudley. And the audio reading is one of the best. It’s one I may need to listen to again.
- Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks by Terrance Dicks, read by Richard Franklin. This one isn’t due out for another month or so but I’m looking forward to it that I can’t help but include it. One of the first Target novels I read, I’ve been hoping for this one since the audiobook line made its debut. And while I wasn’t certain about Franklin when the news was first announced, I’ve come around a bit hearing his reading of Claws of Axos.