Doctor Who Novellas: The Dalek Factor
(Telos Publishing, £25.00, 139 pages, deluxe signed, limited
edition hardback, also available as standard edition hardback priced
£10.00, published March 2004.)
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.