Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Terrance Dicks

One of the cheap DVDs I picked up over Xmas was Dr Who and the Horror of Fang Rock. I remember being absolutely terrified of the monster in this story when I saw it as a kid. I was pretty sure I wouldn't have the same reaction to it now but my curiosity got the better of me. So I bought the DVD, stuck it in the player and waited to have the bejeesus scared out of me.

Of course the monster turned out to as scary as a little kitten. A cute fluffy little kitten. A cute fluffy little kitten staring up at you lovingly with its big wide eyes.

In my defence when I first saw the story I would have only been four. I know kids who are older than that who are scared of Father Christmas for God's sake.

Anyway, the DVD wasn't a complete loss. The story wasn't actually that bad although funnily enough I couldn't help thinking that it would've been better if it had been played as a straight horror story without the Dr Who touches. (And with a decent monster.)

The DVD also had a feature on the story's writer, Terrance Dicks. Most of my memories of Dr Who come from reading his novelizations of the stories. In book form the dodgy acting and shoddy SFX of the TV programme disappear and you're left with tight plots, sharp dialogue, scary monsters and cosmic chills. I used to love them.

And that led me to read the other children's novels Dicks wrote. His Star Quest trilogy of SF novels. His Baker Street Irregulars series about a gang of crime solving kids. His horror novels including Cry Vampire! (Pretty much the only horror I read as a kid.)

He was a huge influence on my writing as a kid. Without him I might not be the writer I am today.

So now you know who to blame.


Steve said...

tI've never read a Dr Who novel. I realize that you will have been a lot younger when you read them, but are they a read that any aged reader might enjoy?

Stuart Young said...

The last time I tried re-reading a Terrance Dicks novel I couldn't get into it because to felt too much like a children's novel. Although that was a few years ago, I'd probably enjoy them now if only from a nostalgia point of view.

But different writers aimed for different age groups. I don't remember all the different authors but I think Ian Marter (who played Harry Sullivan in the TV series trivia fans) was aiming at slightly older readers. And The Myth Makers might have been slightly more mature.

As for the new Dr Who novels I've never read them so I can't pass judgement.

Steve said...

Thanks for the info. I might try reading one sometime. I have always been a fan of Dr Who. Never seem to have time to watch the newer ones. I grew up with the John Pertwee, Tom Baker & Peter Davison incarnations, and these three will always be my favourite Drs.