Going through the entirety of (classic) Doctor Who by reading the Target (plus) novelizations might seem a peculiar ambition, even quixotic. After all, Doctor Who is a television show and so what is shown on the screen is the definitive version of the text, or is it?
In a recent episode of Radio Free Skaro (I believe) there was some discussion of how Doctor Who is edited for various broadcast outlets. Of course, the most obvious editing of episodes comes when commercial breaks are inserted, but the editing goes beyond that. But in some places and in some outlets whole scenes are deleted. One of the ladies on Verity noted that the broadcast version of one episode of Doctor Who was different than the one she viewed on iTunes. (I’m sorry, I don’t remember which specific episode it was.) The point here is that even the version of Doctor Who that appears on screen is subject to variations.
However, when it comes to the novelizations, we will encounter some versions of stories which differ so much from their broadcast version that they might as well be considered a different story altogether. The Massacre by John Lucarotti is one such example.
The interest for me in reading Doctor Who (here I’m just speaking as a fan and not as a writer) is the chance of encountering alternate or expanded versions of the stories I know from television. Some fans might feel that the version in the novelization is somehow inferior to the televised (privileged or authorized) version. I’m not interested in debates on which text is the authoritative text. For the purposes of this reading I’ll treat all alternate versions (even fan-created versions) of these stories on an equal footing.
When I initially conceived of this project, I was just thinking of reading the Target novelizations of the televised stories. However, now that I’ve spent more time thinking about Doctor Who as an unfolding text, I don’t see why the scope of the project shouldn’t include the New Adventures (Virgin), the Missing Adventures, and the Eighth Doctor Adventures. In fact, why not include all the comic strips and the Big Finish audios? Practicality intervenes here. I don’t think that I’ll be able to read my way through fifty-plus years of generated texts — the universe of Doctor Who has grown too large.
So for now, I’ll begin with the novelizations of the classic Doctor Who stories and then when that’s done, we’ll see whether I’m up for tackling the New Adventures.