Wednesday, 18 September 2019

The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

A band of friends meet at the Inn of the Last Home in the town of Solace. Five years ago they went their separate ways, searching for evidence of the lost gods. Their findings were inconclusive, but their reunion is interrupted by the news of vast armies allied with dragons on the march and the arrival of strangers bearing a crystal staff...and the long-lost power of healing. The continent of Ansalon is riven by war and it falls on this band of heroes to save it from destruction.



The Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy is one of the most famous works of epic fantasy of the 1980s. Published in 1984 and 1985, the trilogy and its immediate sequel series (The Dragonlance Legends) have together sold almost 30 million copies, making them one of the biggest-selling series of that decade. Millions of fantasy readers started out in the genre by reading these novels.

The question arises, then, is it a good idea to revisit these works as an adult and risk ruining nostalgic teenage memories in the process?

The answer is mixed. The paradox at the heart of enjoying the Dragonlance Chronicles is what age group it's actually aimed at. The generally jovial tone (even when quite dark things are happening), the casual dialogue (this is a trilogy where medieval fantasy characters say "Yeah!" a lot) and the extremely breezy pace make this feel like a series aimed at children. I don't mean YA, I mean 7-10 year olds. The prose is simple and easy to read, and it feels very much like a work aimed in writing style at the same kind of audience as The Hobbit. There's moments of whimsical humour, stirring action and intriguing worldbuilding which do withstand comparison with Tolkien's work, despite the less-accomplished writing.

However, there are moments when the series abruptly goes much more adult. There are several sex scenes (albeit mostly of the "fade to black" kind) and female characters are threatened with sexual assault on a fairly regular basis. Tanis Half-elven also can't even meet a stranger on the road without carefully explaining how his mother was assaulted by a human man, leading to his conception and outcast status from both communities. The trilogy is also painfully 1980s in how it tries to have both strong female characters (Laurana, Tika, Kitiara, Goldmoon) and then gets them into situations of undress, or wearing revealing armour or clothes (Tika, at least, gets to make some wry observations on this that makes me suspect Margaret Weis was rolling her eyes as she wrote to market requirements). There's also a quite spectacular amount of violence, including characters being beheaded, turned to stone or set on fire on a fairly regular basis, and some psychological horror in the form of Berem, who is cursed to die and live again so often that he is going insane.

If you can overcome the tonal dissonance - the gap between the lightweight, juvenile writing and sometimes darker, more adult content - then it's possible to enjoy the Dragonlance Chronicles as a fast-paced, popcorn read. The trilogy does have another key feature (or bug) which is that it is an attempt to adapt no less than twelve Dungeons & Dragons adventure modules into a coherent story. Several times the narrative cuts away from our heroes embarking on another side-quest only to come back to them after that quest is completed, leading to the heroes thinking wistfully back on adventures that the reader never experienced (such as the journey to Ice Wall Castle, or Raistlin's completely out-of-nowhere return to the main story in the closing pages of the third book). This does make the story feel somewhat incomplete. It also means that the stories are extremely fast-paced: the Chronicles trilogy features a bigger story and more characters and events than The Lord of the Rings in about 50,000 fewer words. Some will enjoy the breakneck pace, others may lament the lack of character and plot development this results in.

The Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy (***) is fast-paced, fun and easy to read. It's also simplistic, juvenile in tone and has not aged fantastically well. Truth be told, there's much better options available for both adult and children fans of fantasy these days. But if you can overlook the issues, there is still some fun to be had in revisiting Tanis, Raistlin, Caramon, Flint, Goldmoon, Riverwind, Tas, Kitiara, Sturm, Laurana, Gilthanas, Lord Soth and the rest of this memorable bunch of archetypes. The trilogy is available now in the UK and USA.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA reboot to be rebooted, for some reason

The Battlestar Galactica reboot is getting a reboot, because that's how things work now.


NBC has tapped Sam Esmail, the creative genius behind Mr. Robot, to take charge of a third iteration of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The series will spearhead NBC Universal's new streaming service, which has the decidedly underwhelming name of "Peacock."

Battlestar Galactica was created by Glen A. Larson and aired as a single season on ABC in 1978-79, followed by a half-season, mid-season replacement sequel series called Galactica 1980, which is best being never watched or remembered. The original Battlestar was quite popular, but the absolutely titanic budget for the series prevented it from continuing.

In 2003 the Sci-Fi Channel, as it was then called, rebooted the show with Ronald D. Moore as executive producer and showrunner. The rebooted Galactica was a darker, moodier affair, much-informed by 9/11 and the War on Terror. With its low-fi aesthetics (no lasers, cute kids or robot dogs) and gritty attitude, the show won a whole new legion of fans as well as widespread critical acclaim, including Hugo and Peabody awards and multiple Emmy Awards in technical categories. The New York Times declared it one of the twenty best shows of the 21st century so far - a peer of The Wire, The Americans and Breaking Bad - just a few months ago.

Battlestar Galactica 2.0 concluded in 2009 with a highly divisive finale - one arguably even more polarising than Game of Thrones' or Lost's - before following it up with an unsuccessful spin-off show, Caprica, and a one-off TV movie, Blood and Chrome, in 2013. This iteration of the franchise has continued to be developed in video games, such as the excellent Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock, and a well-received board game and new miniatures game.

News that a third version of the show is in development has already been met with scepticism. The original 1978 version of the show was promising but cheesy, so the idea of rebooting it was quite valid and Moore more than delivered on the promise inherent in the premise, even if he didn't quite stick the landing. The question arises what a third version of the same idea could deliver.

The one interesting thing about the idea is the creative talent involved. Previously, X-Men director Bryan Singer had been attached to a film reboot (for the second time, having previously worked on a TV version in the late 1990s and early 2000s that was superseded by Moore's), which would have been the wrong medium. Sam Esmail is also a genuinely provocative and talented writer and director, whose Mr. Robot (which concludes with its fourth season early next year) is one of the best shows currently airing. Esmail's take on BSG could be very interesting, although it remains to be seen what he could bring to the table that is genuinely different. Certainly Ronald D. Moore seems intrigued by the idea, and has given Esmail his blessing to develop a fresh take on the franchise.

Battlestar Galactica 3.0 remains in development, but if NBC pull the trigger it will likely be fast-tracked to debut next year.

UPDATE: Sam Esmail has taken to Twitter to confirm that the new show will not be a reboot of Moore's version of the show, but will instead "explore a new story in the mythology whilst remaining true to the spirit of Battlestar. What this means precisely remains to be seen, but it may be an indication that the new show could be set within the Moore continuity but in a previously unseen time frame, such as the original exodus from Kobol to the Twelve Colonies, or the settling of the Thirteenth Colony. More information as we get it.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Showtime passes on THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE prequel series

In a somewhat surprising move, Showtime has halted development of the Kingkiller Chronicle prequel TV series and returned the rights to Lionsgate Television.


The news comes as a surprise after a period in which a confident Showtime seemed eager to take the fight to old rivals HBO and newcomers Netflix and Amazon, all of them have big-budget fantasy shows in development, shooting or getting ready to air. With HBO prepping two Game of Thrones spin-offs and getting ready to air a Watchmen sequel show and a new version of His Dark Materials, Netflix preparing to launch The Witcher and Amazon beginning filming on both The Wheel of Time and Lord of the Rings: The Second Age this month (albeit only preliminary shooting in the latter case), Showtime seemed well-placed with their new TV project.

However, reports suggest that Showtime may have over-committed to its ambitious, top-dollar TV version of the Halo video game franchise (which recently began shooting) and no longer have the financial bandwidth to commit to Kingkiller at the same time. Releasing the rights voluntarily, especially after the significant amount they paid for them at auction in 2017, suggests that the network may have been at fault in the issue. Lionsgate are now shopping the rights around, but are finding the market glutted with high-budget fantasy projects, with no room at the inns of Netflix, Amazon or HBO.

Lionsgate now seem to be targeting Apple TV, which is still on the lookout for high-profile projects to bolster its launch lineup (which includes a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation saga and a new project from Battlestar Galactica and Outlander showrunner Ronald D. Moore). Apple have not committed to the project so far.

The Kingkiller Chronicle TV series is set some decades before the books and explores the lives of two characters, widely believed to be Kvothe's parents, on the world of Temerant. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, His Dark Materials) is set to executive produce, create music and possibly act, whilst John Rogers (Leverage, The Librarians, The Player) is writing and showrunning.

The original plan was for the TV series to launch alongside a big-budget, direct movie adaptation of the first novel in the series, The Name of the Wind. However, progress on getting the movie made stalled earlier this year after would-be director Sam Raimi passed on the project.

Some fans have speculated that studios may be sceptical of the project given that the source material remains incomplete, with the third book remaining incomplete after at least nine years of work. However, the prequel series is not dependent on source material and seems to be a work of passion for the in-demand Miranda, increasing the likelihood it will find a new home elsewhere.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

HBO to order second GAME OF THRONES pilot about the Dance of Dragons

According to an exclusive story from Entertainment Weekly, HBO are close to ordering a second Game of Thrones spin-off pilot. This second pilot would be based on the Dance of Dragons, the devastating civil war that almost wiped out the Targaryens and did kill most of their dragons about 170 years before the events of the main series.


Ryan Condal, who was recently developing Amazon's Conan the Barbarian TV series before they passed on it, is developing the pilot. According to some rumours, he may have taken over development of this project from Bryan Cogman, who was working on a Game of Thrones project before being poached by Amazon to work on their Lord of the Rings: The Second Age series. This remains unconfirmed.

HBO is currently assessing the completed pilot for the first spin-off, with the working title Bloodmoon, before deciding to move forwards with a series order. It is unclear if this second show means that the first is dead, or they will consider having two spin-off series on air at the same time.

HIS DARK MATERIALS TV series to debut on 2 November

His Dark Materials will premiere in the UK on BBC-1 on Saturday 2 November, this year. HBO will premiere the show in the United States the following evening, Sunday 3 November.


The first season of His Dark Materials will comprise eight episodes and will adapt the first book in the series, Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass in some territories). The second season, in pre-production at the moment, will adapt The Subtle Knife, with a to-be-confirmed third and final season to adapt The Amber Spyglass.

Meanwhile, the second volume in Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust, a sequel trilogy to His Dark Materials, will be published on 3 October under the title The Secret Commonwealth.

First cast picture of the WHEEL OF TIME TV series released

Showrunner Rafe Judkins has shared the first cast picture from The Wheel of Time TV series, which is due to start shooting in the next week or two.


From left to right: Barney Harris (Mat), Madeleine Madden (Egwene), Zoe Robbins (Nynaeve), Marcus Rutherford (Perrin), Rosamund Pike (Moiraine), Josha Stradowski (Rand) and Daniel Henney (Lan).

The cast of the show are currently in Prague undergoing costume-fitting, read-throughs and rehearsals ahead of the start of principle shooting.

The Wheel of Time series is expected to shoot through spring 2020 for airing in late 2020 or early 2021 on Amazon Prime Video.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Alexander Skarsgård cast as Randall Flagg in Stephen King's THE STAND

CBS All Access has cast Alexander Skarsgård in the villainous role of Randall Flagg in Stephen King's The Stand.


One of the most iconic villains in all of horror, the supernatural Flagg arises from the chaos of the apocalypse to unleash a time of evil, savagery and darkness upon the world. He is opposed by the virtuous Mother Abigail, who assembles a band of mild-mannered heroes to fight him. Flagg is defeated in The Stand but not destroyed, and goes on to appear in several of King's other novels, including The Eyes of the Dragon and, as the "the man in black," the seven-volume Dark Tower series, where he serves as the primary antagonist.

Flagg was previously played by Jamey Sheridan in the 1994 TV mini-series version of The Stand and by Matthew McConaughey in the unsuccessful 2017 movie version of The Dark Tower.

Skarsgård is best-known for playing the role of morally ambiguous vampire Eric Northman on HBO's True Blood. He has also starred in HBO's Generation Kill and Big Little Lies, for which he won an Emmy Award.

The new version of The Stand will adapt the book across 10 episodes. It also stars James Marsden as Stu Redman, Amber Heard as Nadine Cross, Odessa Young as Frannie Goldsmith, Henry Zaga as Nick Andros, Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abigail, Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood, Owen Teague as Harold Lauder, Brad William Henke as Tom Cullen and Daniel Sunjata as Cobb. It starts shooting imminently and will air in late 2020.

THE WATCH TV series casts Vimes and other castmembers, confirms it will only be a "loose" adaptation

BBC America's City Watch TV series, based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, has added several major new roles to its cast.



Richard Dormer, best-known to fantasy fans for playing the role of Lord Beric Dondarrion in HBO's Game of Thrones, has been cast as Sam Vimes, the commanding officer of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. One of Pratchett's most iconic characters, Vimes is the alcoholic, cynical commanding officer with a hint of a conscience who finds himself drawn back into real police work. The previously-announced Adam Hugill is playing Carrot and Jo Eaton-Kent (The Romanoffs, Don't Forget the Driver) is playing Constable Cheery Littlebottom, a dwarfish member of the Watch.


Maltese actress Marama Corlett (Guardians of the Galaxy, Blood Drive, The City and The City) is playing Angua, a werewolf member of the Watch. Lara Rossi (Crossing Lines, Iron Sky 2) has been cast as Lady Sybil Ramkin, whilst Sam Adewunmi (Luck Man, Doctor Who) has been cast as villain Carcer Dun.

The casting seems promising, although the formal BBC press release seems to drive a stake through the heart of those hoping for a faithful adaptation of the novels. It confirms a number of major changes to both the worldbuilding (crime has been formally "legalised" in Ankh-Morpork, apparently) and to characters, with Lady Sybil now apparently being a vigilante, which is presumably why they cast her considerably younger than in the novels.

It appears that this will be following in the footsteps of BBC America's Dirk Gently TV series in being more "inspired loosely by the books" then actually adapting them, which is a bold and possibly controversial choice (moreso with the considerably better-known and better-selling Discworld series).

The Watch starts shooting on location in South Africa on 30 September 2019 and will air in late 2020.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Blogging Roundup: 11 July to 9 September 2019



The Wertzone
News
LORD OF THE RINGS: THE SECOND AGE adds a new castmember
WHEEL OF TIME TV series casts Lan Mandragoran
EARTHSEA books heading back to the screen
HOMEWORLD 3 formally announced
New CYBERPUNK 2077 gameplay video shows contrasting playstyles
HIS DARK MATERIALS confirms actors for Iorek and the daemons
Live-action DISCWORLD TV series casts Captain Carrot
Netflix's AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER reboot beings pre-production
WITCHER TV series targeting October/November release date
New GORMENGHAST TV series greenlit at Showtime
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer to be renamed
Developers tease new HOMEWORLD project
Off to WorldCon & EuroCon
WHEEL OF TIME TV show confirms main castmembers
STAR TREK franchise reunited for the first time in fifteen years
BROKEN EARTH RPG in the works
Stephen King writing a new ending for TV version of THE STAND
J. Michael Straczynski & Brandon Sanderson developing a new urban fantasy TV show
Tom Shippey interview sheds more light on LORD OF THE RINGS: THE SECOND AGE
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS movie gets yet another creative shake-up
Joss Whedon's THE NEVERS announces cast
1981 version of STAR WARS gets a very limited re-release
LORD OF THE RINGS: THE SECOND AGE confirms full creative line-up
THE EXPANSE renewed for fifth season at Amazon
Producers confirm three-season run for HIS DARK MATERIALS
George Miller back at work on MAD MAX: FURY ROAD follow-up
DUNE wraps shooting, SISTERHOOD spin-off show gets writing team
Hulu developing new HITCH-HIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY TV series
First castmember confirmed for LORD OF THE RINGS: THE SECOND AGE
DUNE board game due in September
CBS reveals first details about STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS
Marvel reveal their movie and TV line-up for the next two years
AVENGERS: ENDGAME becomes the highest-grossing film of all time
THE ORVILLE moves from Fox to Hulu for Season 3
WATCHMEN TV series gets new trailer
THE EXPANSE Season 4 gets trailer, clip and airdate
Familiar faces join the crew in first STAR TREK: PICARD trailer
Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko Productions reach major new ROBOTECH deal
Netflix drops first trailer for THE WITCHER
STRANGER THINGS low-key renewed for a fourth season
The BBC unveils a new trailer for HIS DARK MATERIALS
Live-action WARHAMMER 40,000 TV series in development
TRANSFORMERS finally gets a movie-accurate Unicron toy
Taika Waititi to direct Thor 4, Akira put on hold
Amazon LORD OF THE RINGS presentation confirms Rings of Power focus



Reviews
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Community: Season 5
Empire of Grass by Tad Williams
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Leftovers: Season 1
Battles of Westeros
Dying Light: The Following



Articles
RIP Terrance Dicks
A Bit Closer to Heaven: A Max Payne Retrospective
George R.R. Martin in London
RIP Rutger Hauer
SF&F Questions: Which is the longest-running SF or Fantasy TV series?
Happy 50th anniversary to "Space Oddity"


Atlas of Ice and Fire
The Noble Housesof Westeros
Dragonlance: A Map of Ansalon
Stellar Cartography: Bajor
Dragonlance: A Map of Krynn
A Map of Osten Ard
A Map of Shadows of the Apt
The Wheel of Time Atlas: The Free Years



Patreon
A Bit Closer to Heaven: A Max Payne Retrospective
SF&F Questions: Does human religion still exist at the time of STAR TREK?
Sequence Complete: The Empire Trilogy by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts



Dragonmount
Adam's Wheel of Television: On Casting the Man Alone


Thank you for reading The Wertzone. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs. The Cities of Fantasy series is debuting on my Patreon feed and you can read it there one month before being published on the Wertzone.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

LORD OF THE RINGS: THE SECOND AGE adds a new castmember

Amazon's Lord of the Rings: The Second Age (working title) TV series has cast another character, although they have not identified who it is.


Actor Will Poulter is playing "one of the lead roles" on the series, alongside Markella Kavenagh who has already been cast in the role of "Tyra" (possibly a code name for another character).

Poulter has had a successful year, particularly for playing Colin in the Black Mirror interactive episode Bandersnatch. He also played the lead role of Mark in the movie Midsommar. He also has a recurring role on the Maze Runner film series and earlier in his career played Eustance on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third Chronicles of Narnia movie.

The Lord of the Rings: The Second Age is expected to start preliminary shooting this month ahead of entering full-time production in the spring for an early 2021 debut.

WHEEL OF TIME TV series casts Lan Mandragoran

Amazon’s Wheel of Time TV series has found it’s Lan


39-year old Daniel Henney is playing the role of al’Lan Mandragoran, the Uncrowned King of Malkier. In The Wheel of Time books Lan is a proud warrior who serves as Warder to Moiraine Damodred (to be played in the TV show by Rosamund Pike). He also helps train Rand, Mat and Perrin in the art of fighting and develops a close relationship with Nynaeve. Lan is a fan-favourite character and news of his casting has been eagerly awaited.

Henney is best-known for starring in Criminal Minds and Hawaii Five-0, as well as appearing in movies including X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Last Stand, as well as providing voice-over work for Big Hero Six.

Speculation was rife earlier this week that Korean actor Choi Si-won had been cast in the role, attracting some criticism that at 33 he was too young for the role. The reason why Si-won was thought to have been cast is unclear, leading to speculation he may be up for another role.

EARTHSEA books heading back to the screen

A fresh attempt to adapt Ursula K. Le Guin's classic Earthsea fantasy saga to the screen is underway.


A24 Studios have joined forces with producer Jennifer Fox (Michael Clayton, Nightcrawler) and Le Guin's son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, to bring the project to the screen. They are developing a television series which will faithfully adapt the books to the screen.

A previous attempt to adapt the books for television was made in 2004 by SyFy. Starring Shawn Ashmore and Kristin Kreuk, the mini-series was criticised for its huge deviations from the source material, in particular "whitewashing" the characters of Earthsea (most of whom are explicitly dark-skinned) with Caucasian actors.

In 2006 Studio Ghibli produced Tales from Earthsea, an animated film which is set in the Earthsea world but uses an original story. Le Guin was lukewarm on the results, and it is generally regarded as one of the weaker entries in the Studio Ghibli canon.

Le Guin passed away in January 2018 at the age of 88, but there has been a huge resurgence in interest in her work recently. The Books of Earthsea (2018), which collects all six Earthsea books and several novellas and short stories, has been a major success and has won its illustrator, Charles Vess, two Hugo Awards. A documentary film on Le Guin's career, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, has also won significant critical acclaim.

Monday, 2 September 2019

RIP Terrance Dicks

Terrence Dicks, the most prolific and arguably the most important writer of Doctor Who in its history, has sadly passed away at the age of 84.


Dicks was born in 1935 in East Ham, Essex, and studied English at college. He did a stint in the British Army on National Service, and then worked as an advertising copywriter. The need to produce a large amount of written material to strict deadlines later served him in good stead as a scriptwriter and novelist. He started writing radio plays for the BBC in the late 1950s and in 1962 was recruited by his good friend Malcolm Hulke to co-write episodes of the drama series The Avengers.

His association with Doctor Who began in 1968 when he was recruited to serve as script editor during the third and final season featuring the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. Dicks and Hulke re-teamed to co-write the epic ten-episode saga that concluded Troughton's run, The War Games. Dicks and incoming producer Barry Letts also masterminded the first major shift in Doctor Who's format, which saw the show switch to colour production and introduced UNIT.

Dicks and Letts formed a highly successful "dream team" which oversaw all five seasons of the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, and introduced the Fourth, Tom Baker. This period is one of the most critically acclaimed of the show's run. Dicks didn't accept any writing credits during this period, despite sometimes heavily rewriting scripts from other writers. Dicks also became something of an expert on the show's history and canon, writing the 1972 non-fiction book The Making of Doctor Who.

He stepped down as script editor during the Fourth Doctor's first season and resumed writing scripts as a writer on the show, turning in Robot (Tom Baker's first story), The Brain of Morbius, Horror of Fang Rock and State of Decay. In 1983 Dicks' knowledge of the history of the show led him to be invited to write The Five Doctors, the Doctor Who 20th anniversary special. This was Dicks' last on-screen contribution to the Doctor Who mythos, having penned 35 episodes in total.


However, Dicks' primary contribution to the Doctor Who mythos was arguably in a different format altogether. In 1973 Target Books had reprinted three Doctor Who novelisations from the mid-1960s and these had been hugely successful. In 1974 they decided to launch an ambitious plan to adapt every single Doctor Who story to print. In the pre-video era, this would allow fans to experience the stories and especially enjoy stories that could not be aired again due to having missing episodes. Dicks was asked to act as the range editor. He agreed, with the plan being that the original scriptwriter should write the novel, ensuring they would get paid again for their stories. Where this proved impossible or impractical, Dicks would step in and write the novel himself.

The net result was that between 1974 and 1990 Dicks would write 64 novels. His most productive year was 1980, when he published no less than nine novelisations. This novels were short by modern standards - typically 120-124 pages - and of course were based on pre-existing scripts, but this was still a hugely impressive feat.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Dicks taught an entire generation of British children to read: the Target Doctor Who range sold enormously well for over twenty years and Dicks was by far its most productive author.

In the 1990s Dicks switched to the Doctor Who: The New Adventures line which told new and original stories. Dicks' first novel for the line (and the second in its run), Timewyrm: Exodus, was also one of the most critically-acclaimed, a dark and edgy story set in an alternate timeline where 1950s Britain has lost WWII and is under Nazi rule. The brutal and adult story set the tone for the line (especially after the disappointing opening book). Dicks contributed several further, well-received books including Blood Harvest (a sequel to his TV script State of Decay). He switched to the BBC Books range when they reacquired the licence in 1996 and he wrote The Eight Doctors (1997), the biggest-selling Doctor Who novel of all time. His last contribution to the novel range was Revenge of the Judoon (2008), featuring the Tenth Doctor.

On top of all of that, Dicks also wrote the two official Doctor Who stage plays (Seven Days to Doomsday and The Ultimate Adventure) and two fan movies (Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans and Mindgame).

Outside of Doctor Who, Dicks wrote scripts for Moonbase 3 and Space: 1999, produced the mini-series David Copperfield and The Diary of Ann Frank and wrote no less than 143 other children's books and YA novels.

Terrance Dicks was the most prolific writer of Doctor Who, but also a generous writer known for bringing other talented writers onto the franchise. He will be hugely missed, especially by those of us who still have a box of his Doctor Who novels under the bed.