This week sees the publication of The Essential Terrance Dicks Volumes 1 & 2, two compilations featuring some of the best stories from the late author’s beloved catalogue of Doctor Who Target novels.
Every story in the collection – which arrives on the second anniversary of Dicks’ death – was chosen by fans, including The Five Doctors, which was voted the all-time favourite.
The volumes also include, among others, Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion, Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks, and Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars, while there are forewords by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Robert Webb.
Dicks was at the forefront of Doctor Who for more than 50 years, from his first shift as a Script Editor on 1968 serial The Invasion to the publication of his final short story in 2019.
Between 1973 and 1990, he wrote 64 Target novels, with former Who showrunners Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat among those to have been fans.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com ahead of the publication, Franks Cottrell-Boyce said: “Terrance Dicks was my favourite writer before I knew his name. His adaptations for the classic serial had opened the door to the world of great literature. His writing for Doctor Who had changed the way I understood time, space and Saturday evenings! But most of all he had filled my head with wonder.”
You can check out an exclusive extract from the book below – taken from the novel Doctor Who: The Five Doctors, found in The Essential Terrance Dicks Vol. 2.
It was a place of ancient evil.
Somehow the evil seemed to hang in the air, like smoke or fog that long centuries had been unable to disperse. Along the length of one wall ran a massive control console with a monitor screen at its centre. The console’s instrumentation was at once clumsy and complex. A scientist would have guessed it to be an early, primitive model of some highly sophisticated device. A huge Game Table dominated the centre of the room. It held a contoured model of a bleak and desolate landscape. In the centre, there was a Tower. Even in model form it looked sinister, threatening.
On a nearby table stood a carved, ivory box. Black-robed, blackgloved, the Player sat at the console operating controls untouched for many long years. The monitor screen lit up, filled only with the swirling mists of the temporal vortex. The black-robed Player worked with obsessive concentration, and at last his efforts met with some success. The swirling mists on the monitor screen resolved themselves into a blurred picture – a picture of a man. An old white-haired man in an old-fashioned frock-coat.
The Player leaned forward eagerly, tuning the controls, bringing the picture into clear focus.
It was time for the Game to begin.
The Doctor stepped back from the refurbished TARDIS console, surveying the results of his work with pride. Now in his fifth incarnation, he was a slender fair-haired young man, with a pleasant open face. As usual, he wore the costume of an Edwardian cricketer: striped trousers, fawn blazer with red piping, white cricketing sweater and an open-necked shirt. There was a fresh sprig of celery in his buttonhole.
One of the Doctor’s two companions stood watching him suspiciously. Her name was Tegan Jovanka and she was an Australian air hostess. Tegan’s experience of travelling with the Doctor had convinced her that (a) he didn’t know what was going on most of the time, and (b) when he did get things right it was more by luck than judgement.
The Doctor had been repairing the TARDIS console which had suffered badly in a recent Cybermen attack. He had assured Tegan that the TARDIS was now even better than new, a claim Tegan viewed with her usual scepticism.
Feeling Tegan’s eyes on the back of his neck, the Doctor turned.
‘There we are then!’
Proudly the Doctor patted the gleaming console. ‘Yes. Looks rather splendid, doesn’t it?’
Tegan had more practical concern. ‘Will the TARDIS work properly now?’
‘Of course,’ said the Doctor airily. Catching Tegan’s eye he added.
‘Once everything’s run in, that is . . .’
‘Did you repair the TARDIS or didn’t you?’
‘The TARDIS is more than just a machine, you know. It’s like a person. It needs coaxing, persuading, encouraging.’
‘In other words, the TARDIS is just as unreliable?’
‘You have so little faith, Tegan.’
‘Do you blame me?’ asked Tegan bitterly. ‘The amount of trouble you’ve landed me in, one way and another.’
Hurriedly the Doctor opened the main doors and slipped out of the TARDIS.
Extracted from The Essential Terrance Dicks Volume 2 by Terrance Dicks (BBC Books, £25).
The Essential Terrance Dicks Volumes 1 & 2 are published on Thursday 26th August 2021 via BBC Books (Penguin). Visit our Sci-fi hub for more news and features, or find something to watch with out TV Guide.