Doctor Who ‘City of Death’ finally novelized

DrWho_TomBaker_CityofDeathFor a television program spanning over 50 years in various mediums, Doctor Who’s legacy is a long and thorny one. Changes in leading men production teams, clashes behind the camera, legal wranglings and outright destruction of film cans have caused some problems for fans.

DoctorWhoTargetAd_1981-12-12Before the advent of DVDs, streaming media and such things, fans of Doctor Who read novelized versions of the adventures on screen. From the 1960’s through 1989, the TV episodes were released in bookshops. While some were adapted by the actual screenwriters, many were written by others such as Ian Marter and Terrance Dicks. Despite the popularity and success of Doctor Who, there remain gaps in this endeavor (most notably Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks by Eric Saward and City of Death by Douglas Adams).

After taking over the role of script editor from Anthony Read in the 16th season of Doctor Who during the Key to Time saga, Adams later rose to popularity for his radio comedy Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. During his time on Who, Adams contributed to three key stories, The Pirate Planet, City of Death and the never finished Shada.

City of Death has become a kind of touchstone for introducing fans of the new series to the classic program as it has many of the key elements that can be found in the BBC Wales program such as high wit and a brazen sense of drama and high concept science fiction mixed with contemporary settings. Adams was never happy with the finished results and to be honest, it doesn’t really hold up to its reputation in my opinion. Nevertheless, it is a well-loved story and one that is still looked upon with reverence.

Tragically, City of Death was never novelized… until now.

DrWho_CityofDeathFeaturing Tom Baker, City Of Death, is a novel by James Goss based on the 1979 Doctor Who episode written by The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author, Douglas Adams. City Of Death is one of the best-loved serials in the show’s history and was watched by over 16 million viewers when first broadcast. Synopsis below:

The Doctor takes Romana for a holiday in Paris – a city which, like a fine wine, has a bouquet all its own. Especially if you visit during one of the vintage years. But the TARDIS takes them to 1979, a table-wine year, a year whose vintage is soured by cracks – not in their wine glasses but in the very fabric of time itself

Soon the Time Lords are embroiled in an audacious alien scheme which encompasses home-made time machines, the theft of the Mona Lisa, the resurrection of the much-feared Jagaroth race, and the beginning (and quite possibly the end) of all life on Earth.

Aided by British private detective Duggan, whose speciality is thumping people, the Doctor and Romana must thwart the machinations of the suave, mysterious Count Scarlioni – all twelve of him – if the human race has any chance of survival.

But then, the Doctor’s holidays tend to turn out a bit like this

City Of Death is published May 21 – priced £16.99

About the author:
James Goss is the author of two Doctor Who novels: The Blood Cell and Dead of Winter, as well as Summer Falls (on behalf of Amy Pond). He is also the co-author, with Steve Tribe, of The Doctor: His Lives and Times, The Dalek Handbook and Doctor Who: A History of the Universe in 100 Objects. While at the BBC James produced an adaptation of Shada, an unfinished Douglas Adams Doctor Who story and his Doctor Who audiobook Dead Air won Best Audiobook 2010.

While Doctor Who may be a worldwide cultural success today, this kind of announcement appeals mainly to a select group of fans who are nonetheless exuberant. It is disappointing that Gareth Roberts (author of several great novels such as The English Way of Death, The Well-Mannered War and an adaptation of Adams’ Shada) is no longer writing this book Jams Goss is a good fit. His excellently absurd audio adventure The Scorchies is proof positive there.

For some fans of Doctor Who, this is a ‘so what’ moment while for others it fills a long empty gap in their collection.


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