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Out Now: The Essential Terrance Dicks Volume 1 — Penguin Classics Paperback

The two-volume books, The Essential Terrance Dicks, reprinting some of the late writer’s Target novelisations of Doctor Who stories, are being reprinted as part of the paperback Penguin Classics range.

Here’s the blurb for both:

“I think if you can get a kid reading for pleasure, not because it’s work, but actually reading for pleasure, it’s a great step forward. It can start with me, you know, start with Dicks and work its way up to Dickens – as long as you get them reading.” – Terrance Dicks

For over 50 years, Terrance Dicks was the secret beating heart(s) of Doctor Who – from joining production of The Invasion in 1968 to his final short story in 2019. As the undisputed master of Doctor Who fiction, Terrance wrote 64 Target novels from his first commission in 1973 to his last, published in 1990. He helped introduce an entire generation to the pleasures of reading and writing, and his fans include Neil Gaiman, Sarah Waters, Mark Gatiss, Alastair Reynolds, Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, Frank-Cottrell Boyce, and Robert Webb, among many others.

This two-volume collection, features the very best of his Doctor Who novels as chosen by fans – from his first book, The Auton Invasion, to his masterwork, the 20th anniversary celebration story The Five Doctors, voted all-time favourite.

Volume 1, out now, contains:


We’ve reviewed all these books, so here are some excerpts from the DWC archive to give you a teaser for what’s inside…

Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth

“And what a page turner! Resistance fighters operating out of the London underground; a crazed crone and her daughter, living in medieval squalor in a tumbledown cottage, betray Jenny and Barbara to the Daleks for a few tins of food; Ian is sealed inside the Dalek bomb; alligators rush to attack Susan and David in the sewers… This is Doctor Who at its best and Doctor Who as it should be.”

Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen

“Terrance really gets the Second Doctor, a seemingly bumbling middle-aged man that everyone (even his own companions) underrates. They mistake his bluster, only seeing the acute intellect underneath when the Doctor is faced with a world- and potentially universe-threatening emergency. But the Doctor is always grounded and vulnerable, never a super-being, or assuming the god-like status of later Doctors.”

Doctor Who and the Wheel in Space

“Having established that this is a fairly literal rendering to page – is it worth reading? If this were like Dicks’ later novelisation of an existing (and not terribly good) story like Planet of the Giants, I’d say it absolutely isn’t. The Wheel in Space is missing, however. Despite its borderline incoherent plot, it still has a good atmosphere, especially in Episode One, before we reach the Wheel. In many ways, it feels like this story heralds later (and rather better) stories like The Ark in Space.”

Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion

“I can jump from Ian Fleming to Terrance Dicks, then to Carlos Ruiz Zafón and back to Terrance again, via perhaps Abir Mukherjee and Empar Moliner. But whoever I want to read, lurking there in the background are the hordes of evil kept at bay by Terrance himself, by his flair at getting everything we need to know, to feel, to understand, by holding our hand as he guides us with apparent ease through a turbulent universe of Autons, Yetis, Daleks, Sontarans, and faceless ones and more.”

Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks

“The novel is very, very well written. The prose is sparse and taught; the narrative moves at a cracking pace. It’s not faultless: occasionally, Terrance’s prose goes “clunk” and you wince. Never mind. While the book follows the script closely, the overall shape of the story feels different; the genre is more that of a long short story rather than a novel. The adaptation’s very skilfully done.”

The Essential Terrance Dicks Volume 1 PB is out now.

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

Out Now: The Essential Terrance Dicks Volume 1 — Penguin Classics Paperback

by Philip Bates time to read: 3 min
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