CITY OF DEATH
James Goss has picked up the mantle of adapting the Douglas Adams Fourth Doctor story City of Death from Gareth Roberts. While we will never know how this might have turned out, we can be very pleased with the results. To add to the confusion, the cover also tells us this is from a story by David Fisher – a book with much ancestry, it seems!
The original TV story, City of Death is easily brought to mind with a few prompts – Paris, Mona Lisas (plural), one-eyed alien, and a cameo by John Cleese. It is also one only two Adams-penned stories to make it to screen, the other being The Pirate Planet (of course the third project, Shada, never made it to screen, though has survived on audio/novel).
James Goss is no stranger to the work of Douglas Adams; he worked on a radio version of the aforementioned Shada and met Adams when adapting Dirk Gently for the stage. With City of Death, he takes a well-liked story and adds to it with some gorgeous prose, evoking the sense of both the city and the characters. He isn’t afraid to add depth to the interactions between the Doctor and Romana, and fills out various other characters. Whereas in the 1970s, some Target novelisations might have scarcely taken tens of minutes to read and barely stretched beyond the bare bones of the televised plot, with this novel James Goss takes the time to enjoy the writing, the setting and captures the essence of the city and evokes Adams without slavishly imitating. A first class job of work.
There is much to enjoy about James Goss’s adaptation, and little (if anything) to criticise.
INFO: AUTHOR: JAMES GOSS, DOUGLAS ADAMS / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: MAY 21ST