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Doctor Who Novellas: The Dalek Factor

by Simon Clark

(Telos Publishing, £25.00, 139 pages, deluxe signed, limited edition hardback, also available as standard edition hardback priced £10.00, published March 2004.)

Review by Russell Cook

We come to the final Doctor Who Telos novella, and the Doctor is pitted in a battle with those deadliest of enemies, the Daleks. Everything is not as it seems as the curtains on this story open on a Thal patrol on an unnamed planet which is lush in jungle and foliage ... as the pages turn one can hear the standard BBC jungle sound effects echoing in the background. As far as this group of Thals are concerned, the Daleks are long gone, mere legend; a Dalek force hasn't been encountered in two generations but the fear and sheer power that they represent, is ever present. Evil and terror hang in the air as the reputation of the accursed Daleks is very much in evidence in the minds of the seek and destroy force.

The story is told through the eyes of Joni, a young Thal probation ranger. As the tale unfolds Joni reflects on his life and battles his own inner demons.

Simon Clark plays out the suspense very well, focussing on the thoughts and feelings of the Thal patrol as it becomes clear that a hidden menace is slowly revealing itself, casting aside rusting Dalek casings and planetary terrors along the way.

With the introduction of the stranger aka the Professor, in reality the Doctor, events move on at a swift pace. The future unspecified incarnation of the Time Lord is apparently suffering from amnesia. He doesn't know why he is on the planet, but on recovering fragments of his memory, he becomes much more dynamic, taking charge of the group of beleaguered Thals in their quest to uncover the secrets of the jungle infested planet.

The more the Daleks remain in the background, the more frightening and sinister they appear. Simon Clark beautifully captures the malevolence of the creatures and his description of Dalek firepower has never been bettered, nor has the horror and fear the Thals feel whenever they encounter a Dalek, even if it is a rusted empty shell.

The narrative is skilfully woven to a satisfying open-ended conclusion. The Doctor encounters his arch enemies face to face, a real banqueting hall confrontation, a lone fighter in talks with the mighty army led by The Emperor Dalek in all of its "The Evil of the Daleks" glory.

This is Telos' goodbye to the world of Doctor Who fiction. It has been a fun journey accompanying the Doctor in these fifteen diverse and interesting stories. Here, in the last, the Doctor is left in a bit of a pickle as he and his memories are seemingly a prisoner for eternity at the hands of his oldest and deadliest of enemies. There is a sequel here awaiting a storyteller, sadly Telos have had their day.


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