22) Doctor Who and An Unearthly Child, by Terrance Dicks
Why yes, I am planning to (re-)read all the Doctor Who novelisations. They are mostly such a quick read that they just about fill a leg of my daily commute.
This is the novel version of the very first Doctor Who story, as broadcast in 1963. But the novel was not published until shortly before the story was shown again as part of the 1981 repeat season of the Five Faces of Doctor Who, so it ties much more into the continuity of the publication of dozens of Target novelisations of Who stories by the early 80s than into the TV programme’s internal chronology starting on 23 November 1963. In fact, we already had a hard-copy version of the origins of Who in the form of David Whitaker’s Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure With the Daleks, so Dicks was in the peculiar position of writing the story over again, of making the weirdness and newness of the 1963 story both accessible and intriguing to the 1981 fan.
Anyway, he largely succeeds. We have a bit more background to fill out both the first quarter of the book, set in a contemporary London school, and the rest, set in a stone age environment; indeed, Dicks fills out both settings perfectly satisfactorily. If you are looking for a good entry point to the Doctor Who novelisations, this is entirely characteristic and appropriate. (Fans of Barbara will rightly assert that their heroine comes over rather girly, but this is a common Terrance Dicks problem with assertive female characters.)
Of course, the story’s main importance is as a gateway for things to come, and Dicks does really well in his last couple of paragraphs, when the travellers have once again landed on an unfamiliar planet:
The Doctor was about to meet the creatures who were destined to become his greatest enemies.
Out there on Skaro, the Daleks were waiting for him.
That, if nothing else, would make you want to read the next books in the sequence.