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The Evil of the Daleks

Novelization of the Doctor Who serial
Kevin McNair

I am not a student of human nature. I'm a professor of a far wider academy, of which human nature is merely a part.

At last, a classic Doctor Who serial has been returned to us. Unfortunately not in video form, but at least in novel form, The Evil of the Daleks has survived a purge unequaled since the sacking of the Library of Alexandria.

At the end of their encounter with the aliens known as the Faceless Ones (hmmm, sounds like a L.A.-based Doctor Who fan club), the Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon part company with their fellow travelers Ben and Polly. However, their departure is interrupted by the fact that the TARDIS has been stolen by persons unknown. The Doctor and Jamie pick up the trail, not realizing until it is too late that they were meant to...

It seems that the Daleks, the Doctor's most formidable and evil enemies, have come to the conclusion that their grotesque and monomaniacal psyches are lacking a key ingredient -- something they call the 'Human Factor.' To this end, they have coerced a pair of Victorian scientists, Maxtible and Waterfield, by kidnapping the latter's daughter, Victoria. The scientists invent (with the Daleks' help) a time machine with which to set the trap for the Doctor and Jamie.

Naturally, the two fall into the trap like a ton of bricks. Jamie is manipulated into trying to rescue Victoria, while he is surreptitiously observed and his reactions recorded by the Doctor under the supervision of the Daleks. The Daleks want such qualities as bravery, instinct, self-sacrifice and intuition that Jamie possesses incorporated into their mental structure, and they want the Doctor to do it. Reluctantly, he agrees.

John Peel manages to inject something rather unusual into this story -- genuine suspense. Trapped in time, surrounded by evil and low on jellybabies, the Doctor seems to have no choice and no way out. Even if he manages to escape from their clutches, the TARDIS is missing; the Daleks have managed to exploit the Doctor's weakness, to wit his aversion to staying in one time period. Despite their obvious physical and mental shortcoming, the old pepperpots seem to have all the cards this time around.

What is also very interesting is Jamie's suspicion of the Doctor during this crisis. Those who thought that the New Adventures invented the concept of friction between the Doctor and his companion(s) are dead wrong. Jamie, at this point, hasn't been with the Doctor very long and is still unsure as to his "mentor's" motivations. Too often in the later years of the series did we see a companion almost immediately trust the Doctor blindly, a not-too-realistic circumstance. I mean, if you met a guy who claims to travel through time in a old-fashioned phone booth, would you trust him?

This book is a fascinating document of days gone by, an era of Doctor Who that we had thought lost forever. While the actual video recording may be destroyed, this book might serve us better, as the best adventures are those in the imagination.