BOOK
Dalek Empire
The Scripts

Author: Nicholas Briggs
Big Finish
RRP 15.99
ISBN 1 84435 106 8
Available 08 July 2004


On planet Vega VI, Susan Mendes and Alby Brook take their first, tentative steps towards romance. She's a career geologist and he's just a drifter, but the attraction between them is undeniable. However, the Vega System is the first target of the largest Dalek invasion fleet ever assembled...

This hefty volume contains all eight of Nicholas Briggs' scripts for the Dalek Empire and Dalek War miniseries of audio dramas.

Before reading this, I had often wondered what the point of such script books was. Why would anyone be interested in reading printed versions of scripts to drama productions that are themselves already available commercially (indeed, productions that are only available commercially)? However, there's far more material in this 330-page tome than we ever heard on CD.

The scripts presented here are the versions taken into the studio for each play's recording session. Any and all changes that took place between this point and the final edit, including even the tiniest deletions, additions and rearrangements, are meticulously annotated in notes at the end of each chapter. I would say, though, that footnotes at the base of each page would have been more user-friendly than having to flip back and forth to and from the notes pages.

In between the chapters are "Q&A" segments in which Briggs answers questions on a variety of topics, including his approach to writing; the inspirations behind his characters and their names; casting; and the initially lukewarm responses of certain reviewers (hey, Nick, you forgot to mention Sci-fi Online's glowing praise!) Curiously, no one is credited for the questions in these Q&A segments, though Briggs is credited for the answers. I hope he wasn't "interviewing" himself.

I have occasionally criticised the writer's use of narration, tending to see this as a rather lazy way to tell a story on audio, considering the use of dialogue to be a preferable method of conveying information. However, his convincing arguments for the use of narration, especially in his over-arching framing sequences, have won me over. He made me laugh out loud with the basic example he gives on pages 184-5:

"[...] if you start a drama with someone walking down the road and going into a shop, it all seems a bit mundane and unimportant. However, if you [...] put in a narrator saying, 'It all started that day I walked down the road and went into the shop... and after that, things would never be the same' you suddenly invest it with all sorts of potential significance."

I was also amused to read about the development of Kalendorf's character, which was largely led by the conviction of the actor, Gareth Thomas, who believed his character, rather than Suz or Alby, should be the dominant driving force of the drama!

The book also includes a few excerpts from even earlier drafts of the scripts, which give a fascinating insight to the creative process and provide valuable guidance to budding writers, who need to learn not to be too precious about the first words they set down on the page.

There are a few typos in evidence, especially on the opening Editor's Note, which I suspect was probably one of the last things to be added. Never mind getting it proofread - I doubt this page was even spell-checked, not with its "SPOLIER" alert at the foot of the page.

That aside, if you're chomping at the bit waiting for the next instalment of Dalek Empire III, this volume is the perfect way to while away a few hours.

Richard McGinlay

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