I just finished reading the Target novelization of The Aztecs and will be writing about that story at length soon. My project is to read these novelizations in order since one of ideas behind this blog is to examine Doctor Who as an unfolding, developing (self-editing) text. However, I see some merit in jumping around, of dipping in and out of the Doctor Who storyline at places which interest me. Actually, this is what I’m doing as a viewer. I jump around. Last week, I watched “The Trial of a Time Lord” and then after that I watched “The Face of Evil” because I felt like it. Watching the series this way is pure pleasure.
Reading the novelizations in order is also a pleasure, but I am tempted to jump ahead and read the way I watch. For example, I’ve never read the novelization of “Ghost Light.” I ordered the paperback and it’s sitting on my “to read” pile. Will I have to wait until I’ve read the 160+ stories that came before it? No one is forcing me to read these texts in order after all.
Another project which (in a way) inspired my own is The Black Archive series. I ordered the first five volumes of that series and read the first one, Rose by Jon Arnold, while I was reading the novelization of “An Unearthly Child.” The Black Archive is not following the order in which the TV series presented the stories. The editor of the series has another agenda for making his commissions. I don’t know what that agenda is, but it’s not a compulsion to slavishly follow the show’s broadcast order.
My decision to read the novelizations in order seemed like a good idea at first. Reading from the beginning has led to my wanting to rush through these first few stories so that I can get to ones which are less familiar. (I’ve watched “The Daleks” and “The Aztecs” so many times now that reading the novelizations feels a little like ticking the box. Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading them. What excited me most about these novelizations of the early stories was how they differed from the TV version.) Now, I’m ready to start reading The Sensorites. I’ve only ever seen that serial once, and that was more than ten years ago. So getting to The Sensorites is like arriving at the border of a New World. I’m looking forward to rediscovering these less familiar episodes in the narrative history of Doctor Who and especially reading the novelizations of the missing stories.