We’ll Finally Have Paris
Douglas Adams Who story is novelised at last
Unless you’re well- versed in the minutiae of Doctor Who production, the release of City Of Death may leave you baffled. Why has it taken 36 years for this novelisation to come out and why are there three authors listed on the cover?
“I know,” says one of them, James Goss. “When they offered it to me I went, ‘ Is there enough space on the cover for the title?’”
The answer is explained by another of the listed authors – Douglas Adams. In the late ’ 70s Adams was script editor of Doctor Who. One of the scripts he worked on, “A Gamble With Time” by David Fisher, he rewrote in a weekend. The result was “City Of Death” a tale of a hoax Mona Lisa, a one- eyed alien and time travel set in Paris.
But Adams was too busy to novelise it, and never granted the rights for somebody else to adapt any of his Who stories. Such legal hurdles were finally overcome in 2012 when Gareth Roberts’s novelisation of Adams’s “Shada” was published. “City Of Death” was the next obvious step, but Roberts pulled an Adams and pleaded, “Too busy.”
In steps James Goss. “But if you’re third choice after Douglas Adams and Gareth Roberts, you’re not doing too badly,” he reasons pragmatically.
For research, he had access to David Fisher’s original “extensive” plot outline and Douglas Adams’s original rehearsal script: “Adams’s stage directions are great – I’ve tried to preserve as many of them as possible because they are very, very funny. You think, ‘ Why should I describe how the Countess falls to the floor when Douglas Adams has written an entire description of it? I’ll just steal that.’ That’s what people are really buying the book for – as much Douglas Adams and as little of me as possible.”
He has added a few embellishments of his own, such as an opening chapter that’s “more a pastiche of The Da Vinci Code” and a few Easter Eggs for New Who fans to pick up on.
“I hope people stop trying to work out what all the other different versions of it are and just go, ‘ This is a Doctor Who book with dialogue by Douglas Adams and not too much else in the way.’”
City Of Death is released by BBC Books on 21 May.
Nice cover art, but still not Chris Achilleos.