Everybody remembers the Doctor's most terrifying adversaries,
the metallic, murderous Daleks! Here they are again in a collection
of ripping yarns that draw upon the events and themes of Big
Finish's acclaimed series Dalek Empire. But never fear:
no prior knowledge is necessary. The good Doctor in his many
incarnations is on hand to guide us through the terrible events
before, after and during the Daleks' ruthless onslaught...
volume does away with Big Finish's recent practice of stating
at the beginning of each story which Doctor and companion(s)
feature in it. This is probably because not every tale in
this book actually includes the TARDIS crew.
of the stories - Kalendorf, by Nicholas Briggs; Alby
and Suz, by Sharon Gosling; and Mutually Assured
Survival, by Justin Richards - focus instead on main characters
from Big Finish's Dalek Empire audio series. These
narratives, particularly the first three, help to introduce
unfamiliar readers to the world of Dalek Empire. They
also act as handy aide-mémoires for those fans (like me) who
have heard the series but whose recollections of the earlier
episodes have become a little fuzzy. These tales also develop
a running theme of the power of hope.
A much older Kalendorf reappears in the final short story
proper, James Swallow's Museum Piece, which also features
the Eighth Doctor and drops hints that might refer to the
War. This is not the two heroes' first meeting,
however, as Kalendorf first encounters the Doctor, this time
in his seventh incarnation, in the subscribers-only audio
drama Return of the Daleks, the script for which is
presented towards the end of this book. Personally, I would
have placed the script earlier on in the book, certainly before
Museum Piece, which gives away plot elements of Return.
Some readers (myself included) will not have heard the audio
before reading this book.
other stories - Natalie's Diary, by Joseph Lidster;
Private Investigations and Hide and Seek, by
Ian Farrington; The Best Joke I Ever Told and The
Eighth Wonder of the World, by Simon Guerrier - feature
the Doctor and his fellow travellers. Interestingly, Natalie's
Diary and Private Investigations, both Seventh
Doctor adventures, both also convey the Time Lord's exploits
via accounts written down by other characters: the diary of
an escapee from the Daleks, now being read by a student, and
a lecture presented by a researcher who has amassed evidence
from such diverse sources as television news reports and minutes
from governmental meetings. The format of Natalie's Diary
provides particularly dramatic reading, especially since the
narrative is split into four separate instalments. The
Best Joke I Ever Told tackles the thorny moral issue of
whether it's ever acceptable to make jokes about those who
carry out genocidal atrocities.
development of the Daleks in the more recent television series
of Doctor Who is evoked in Alby, which makes
reference to the creatures' personal shields. This story,
as well as The Eighth Wonder of the World, Mutually
Assured Survival and Museum Piece, all deal with
lone Daleks cut off from their comrades. Like the lonely creature
depicted in the television episode Dalek, these warriors
crave orders or death, and their mindset makes for riveting
reading. I should point out, though, that Big Finish is not
merely copying the TV show, because the TV show itself emulated
Big Finish when it based the central plot of Dalek
upon that of Jubilee.
book also includes an afterword by Briggs, which addresses
the question, "Why Are Daleks Supreme?" With all these add-ons,
I am forced to wonder whether some commissioned stories didn't
make it into the final collection. Without Return of the
Daleks and "Why Are Daleks Supreme?", this volume would
have run to just 160 pages. Lending further weight to my theory,
four incarnations of the Doctor - the first, second, fourth
and fifth - are conspicuously absent, despite, rather misleadingly,
being depicted on the cover.
Dalek stories in any number are always welcome as far as I'm
concerned. This remains a very enjoyable anthology - it's
an empirical fact.
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