Doctor Who: War of the Daleks (1997) by John Peel

This is a very strange novel. I’ve complained about how so many novels in this range have focused too much on looking at old characters and stories, plumbing the depths of Doctor Who’s continuity, instead of trying to forge a new identity and era for Doctor Who, with the Eighth Doctor. This book absolutely is another continuity tour, but it’s so dedicated to such bizarrely specific, labyrinthine retcons, stringing together past televised Dalek stories into some semblance of a continuing narrative, that it feels sort of unique. Just not really in a good way. No matter how many times it quotes Thomas Paine.

War_of_the_daleks_cover

It’s a solution in search of a problem, and so consistently convoluted that it would be fascinating if it wasn’t such a workmanlike novel so dully written. Too often it’s just plain incomprehensible. The reframing of Remembrance of the Daleks is so silly, so ridiculous, that the book finally does become entertaining at that point. I can’t even get mad like I did with The Eight Doctors undercutting what made actual stories and character and thematic work in the stories it revisted, because the reframing of Remembrance of the Daleks here is just so at odds with the story, and so bizarre and so petty, that it just becomes ludicrously entertaining in its own right. Not enough so to raise the book to any heights, but enough to make it memorable at least. One marine Dalek, and a secret planet.

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