Dr. Who City of Death by Douglas Adams

Publication Date: May 21, 2015


The Doctor takes Romana to Paris for a vacation and instead of landing them in the intended time period, the TARDIS takes them to 1979. There the Doctor finds rogue time travelers, art theft and the resurrection of a dangerous alien race thought extinct. Joined by the rough British P.I. Duggan, they must do what the Doctor does best … save the human race.




Back in the late 1970s or early 1980s, the local PBS station played episodes of Doctor Who featuring Tom Baker. The fourth Doctor is the first and one of the favorite Doctors for this stalwart Whovian. The four-episode story arch was written by “David Agnew” which is a pseudonym for Douglas Adams, David Fischer and Graham Williams. The story was novelized by James Goss.

I never had the pleasure of seeing the screenplay on which this novel is based, so cannot attest to the truth of its translation. Some reviewers say that that Goss rounded out the stories of the characters we see on screen. Certainly, to translate a Doctor Who story arc into a 360-page novelization and make it readable for people without the prior Doctor Who context—let’s face it, the Whovians among us would have been happy with the script—there are things that need to be framed that may be difficult to convey without the narrative.

The idea of the last of a race fractured in time is an interesting one. The fragments of the one being have managed to stay in contact through time, but to reconnect, they have to execute a detailed plan and they’ll allow nothing to stand in their way. The last of the species is a concept always close to home for the Doctor, but his understanding of the need to survive can’t stand in the way of his oath to protect the human race. The goofiness of Tom Baker’s Doctor is a perfect match for the off-beat humor of Adams and the spirit of Douglas Adams rises from the page of [easyazon_link identifier=”0425283909″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]City of Death[/easyazon_link]. The dialogue and plotting are very much Adams’ style of dark humor and sly wit leading this reader to believe that most of the dialogue is original to the televised work.

The result of James Goss’ novelization of the Douglas Adams scripts is a perfectly polished and entertaining story. There is nothing that is not in keeping with the Doctor Who world.[easyazon_link identifier=”0425283909″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]City of Death[/easyazon_link] fits perfectly in the Doctor Who universe. I found the book in a little used bookstore in Chattanooga, Tennessee while on vacation and cannot understand why someone would not keep this book and cherish it. Perhaps build a special shelf.

If you’re a Doctor Who fan,[easyazon_link identifier=”0425283909″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]City of Death[/easyazon_link] is required reading but what if you’ve never seen Doctor Who? My first question would be “Where have you been?” quickly followed by “What are you waiting for?” If you want to dip you toe in the world of Doctor Who, this novel is a good place to start.

Read an excerpt and buy Dr. Who City of Death by Douglas Adams on

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For more information about Douglas Adams, visit his website and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition.

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