Who could ever forget the dynamic image of Ace, in her flight jacket, beating the ever-living tar out of a Dalek? We get that in Remembrance of the Daleks, of course. But we also get a lot of the inner thought processes of the episode's characters. For me, that is part of what really makes this book a treasure: those moments where we see what the television simply can't convey.
We learn, for example, just why a seemingly-nice guy like Mike would be in cahoots with the obviously odious Ratcliffe. We learn that group Capt. Gilmore and the scientist Rachel have a history with one another, and the tiniest fragment of what happens to them after the episode is over. We discover more details of why Mike really, really blew it with Ace when she found out about his-and his family's-casual racism. We even get inside the head of the Doctor a little bit. (I particularly love his casual reaction to the on-screen bombshell of the Dalek levitating.)
It is the Dalek perspective on the events, however, that really makes this book for me. We are lucky that the screenwriter is also the writer of the novelization. While I believe this to be the case for a large number of Doctor Who books, it isn't quite as common for novelizations of movies or television as a whole. It allows us to get a glimpse of what the screenwriter imagined while writing. Most writers will tell you that the worlds they imagine are much greater than what ends up showing up in the finished work, whether that is in text, film, or radio. To have the additional insight into the imagination is both fun and fantastic.
In Doctor Who, the Daleks are such an iconic enemy that it is difficult to get beyond the screens of "EXTERMINATE!" and their ridiculous appearance. As we near the end of 2011 it is almost impossible to realize just how much the events of this episode blew the doors open on the Daleks. Not only do they levitate but the Special Weapons Dalek was introduced. The highlight of the book for me is learning exactly how batshit crazy an individual can go in a society that actively tries-not just kinda wishes for, but actively tries-to make everyone the same. In the novelization we get that, and it is both awesome and sad at once.
Equally awesome and sad is the handiwork of the Hand of Omega. We are reminded that the planet Skaro has a whole ecosystem, and the Daleks are only one part of it even to this day. It makes what happens even sadder.
When reading this book, I am reminded that there are people we love and always will, but we may not like their actions. The Doctor in this novel is like that for me. I love the Doctor. I respect him. But boy, it is sometimes hard to like him. Ace, on the other hand, I continue to love and like all the way through-although sometimes peering out through my fingers hoping to high heaven that she doesn't find the right chemicals to make everything go explodey. She is at once a role model for girls and at the same time doing things so dangerous you don't want your kids anywhere near her. But then, you might not want them anywhere near the Doctor either.