24 August, 2008

Missing Targets

My obsession with Doctor Who grew out of a love for the highly collectable Target novelisations of the Doctor's television adventures. When I was a boy I used to seize any opportunity to nip into a bookshop and peruse the shelves for the highly distinctive slim paperback books. I arranged these carefully in series order and accorded them pride of place on my bookshelves. Once I'd caught up with all of the books already available it became a matter of tracking down each new monthly release. Because each novelisation was based on a television story I always knew exactly how many gaps there were in the book series and how many titles there should be in total when the range was complete (this latter figure was of course adjusted annually to keep up with each new season of television stories).

The Target range finally ended in the early 1990s, following on the heels of the cancellation of the television series itself. The 154 novelisations covered almost but not quite all of the television stories as there were at that time. There were, frustratingly, just five gaps remaining on the bookshelf. The missing Targets were three Fourth Doctor stories, all scripted by the late Douglas Adams, and two Dalek stories scripted by Eric Saward. Due to unsuccessful negotiations with these writers, the publishers were prevented from completing the set. So close, and yet so far.

It was a desire to fill these niggling gaps that inspired me to produce my own versions of the missing novelisations. I novelised two of the five stories myself, and three other writers adapted one story each. When the books were offered as a set of five they proved extremely popular with fans worldwide (whom no doubt like me had those niggling gaps on their bookshelves). I found myself struggling to keep up with demand and had to keep reprinting in ever greater numbers. Although these books were always strictly amateur non-profit publications, this unfortunately didn't prevent buyers from onselling these with a markup. I decided to let the books go out of print and instead issue them completely free of charge as online ebooks. It has taken a couple of years to get all five books online, but I'm delighted to announce that the last of these, Doctor Who and the City of Death, went up yesterday.

The set of five novelisations can be read online (and downloaded) here.

1 comment:

Zokko said...

Having read four ( I am going to tackle 'City Of Death' later today ), I think these books are better than any official novelisations would have been. The affection the writers have for the material is unmistakable. As someone who remembers the early Targets such as 'The Zarbi' and 'The Crusaders', let me just say thank you.