Back in “the day,” many classic Doctor Who TV stories were novelized in paperback form by Target Books, a youth publishing imprint.
Now, that tradition is being revived to bring stories from the post-2005 TV revival of the sci-fi series into the hands of readers.
Appropriately, one of the first titles is “Rose,” the 2005 pilot that introduced the Ninth Doctor and the titular companion. Russell T. Davis, the showrunner at the time who first brought Doctor Who back to television after its original 1963-89 run, is himself authoring this Target adaptation.
Davies’ successor as showrunner, Steven Moffat, is writing the adaptation for Doctor Who’s 2013 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” which sees the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors teaming up with their previously hidden “War Doctor” incarnation, among others, to right a cosmic wrong and possibly save his own soul.
“The Christmas Invasion,” David Tennant’s first proper episode as the Tenth Doctor and the show’s inaugural Christmas special, gets adapted by bestselling novelist Jenny T. Colgan (who, at age 11, reportedly won a contest to meet the Doctor and was mistaken for a boy by Peter Davison, then playing the Fifth Doctor).
(Colgan becomes only the fourth woman, by my count, to write a Target Doctor Who adaptation; the others were Jane Baker, part of a husband-and-wife writing team who created the evil Time Lady known as the Rani; Alison Bingeman, who adapted “The Celestial Toymaker” but is one of the few Target authors not on the TV production team for their adaptations; and Rona Munro, who wrote the 1989 series finale “Survival” and recently returned for 2017’s “Eaters of Light.”)
Prolific Doctor Who novelist and screenwriter Paul Cornell adapts the most recent Christmas special, “Twice Upon a Time,” which saw Peter Capaldi bow out of the role as the Twelfth Doctor and hand the TARDIS over to incoming Thirteenth Doctor performer Jodie Whittaker.
With one additional release, Target is dipping back to the era of classic Doctor Who with “City of Death,” James Goss’ new adapation of one of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author Douglas Adams’ most popular episodes as script editor for Doctor Who in the 1970s. He previously penned adaptations of “City of Death” and “The Pirate Planet” for BBC Books as well as several original novels based on Doctor Who and its TV spinoff Torchwood.
According to the unofficial but most authoritative Doctor Who Online, “City of Death” is one of only five 1963-89 stories that were never novelized by Target.
The new book covers by Anthony Dry mimic the original Target books’ look by Chris Achilleos, but the principal characters’ faces seem to be digitally rendered here while villains and monsters and other elements have a more artistic, hand-drawn appearance. It’s a great throwback effect, all the same.
The new Target Doctor Who books launch April 5.