May 1997 saw the release of Virgin Publishing’s final Doctor Who novel — Lance Parkin’s eighth Doctor novel The Dying Days. Admittedly I don’t have much to go by way of comparison with the New Adventures as I’ve read only about a dozen or so of the sixty published, but it’s one of the best by all indications. And it’s damn sight better than many of BBC Books’ Eighth Doctor Adventures as well. Out of print for the past five years, BBCi recently serialized the novel on their website, complete with authorial commentary on each chapter, explaining obscure continuity references or authorial intent. Of particular interest is Parkin’s mention of a cut passage from the novel’s epilogue:
There was originally a middle section to this chapter, that went through four versions, three of which are available elsewhere online, if you look hard enough, the fourth of which was so awful I deleted it, and I don’t have a copy of. The basic plot was ‘the last Dalek story’ – a future Doctor giving a eulogy for the Daleks, who he’d just utterly defeated. The idea was to produce a real capstone for the Doctor Who legend – once the Daleks were beaten, the Doctor announced his retirement.
While Parkin states that three versions of the epilogue exist online, after careful searching I have only been able to locate one, “Valeyard of the Daleks.” In the story, Jason Kane meets the 42nd Doctor, cast by Parkin in the role as Ian Richardson, and his companion (and wife) Iffy. While I’m not familiar with Parkin’s 42nd Doctor (though this incarnation appears in Beige Planet Mars, Parkin’s Benny Summerfield novel cowritten with Mark Clapham), the idea of a Doctor marrying his companion has floated around fanfic for years.
As for “Valeyard of the Daleks,” I found it interesting on its own, but if it had been part of The Dying Days proper I probably wouldn’t have liked it because it didn’t connect with anything that had happened previously in the novel. Jason Kane hadn’t been a factor in the book at all, barely even getting a mention. The 42nd Doctor’s battle with the Daleks and their WARDIS, while dramatic, has no bearing on the eighth Doctor’s battle with the Ice Warriors. The scene served essentially to move Jason Kane into the timeframe of the Benny Summerfield novels, so as an indepedant piece of fiction it suffices but as part of the larger whole of The Dying Days it doesn’t. Even Parkin admits as much in his commentary for BBCi:
[Virgin Books editor] Rebecca Levene didn’t like any of the versions, and insisted the scene got cut, leading to the only real argument we ever had in the five books and two years on Emmerdale we’ve worked together. Five years on, the most annoying thing is admitting that Bex was right.
“Valeyard of the Daleks” is still worth reading as an piece of fiction separate from The Dying Days. Read the story and decide for yourself.