Goth Opera
by Peter Darvill-Evans

Welcome to the first of a new series of Doctor Who novels.

I'm sorry. You've probably heard all this before, several times. But for the benefit of those of you who have been in suspended animation for the past five years, here it is again. The last new Doctor Who television story was broadcast in Britain at the end of 1989. A little less than two years later, having published novelizations of just about every one of the stories shown on television since the series started in 1963, we launched the New Adventures: original, full-length Doctor Who novels that related the Doctor's continuing exploits, picking up the trail where television had abandoned it.

Indulge me for a moment: let me tell you about a publishing success story. Yes, the series has become established, extending across ever-wider stretches of bookshops' shelves. But that's not the point. As a Doctor Who fan, I find the most satisfying aspect of the New Adventures is that they have helped to keep Doctor Who alive (and kicking, sometimes) — and not in a nostalgic, introspective way, but by setting the Doctor in stories that are, I hope, interesting and challenging for the mature and sophisticated audience that Doctor Who fandom has developed into.

And as a publisher, I find the New Adventures exciting because they have provided a showcase for a gang of talented young authors who deserve to be in print. Our policy has always been to encourage book proposals from anyone — absolutely anyone — who's prepared to follow our guidelines. In these straitened times the New Adventures constitute one of the few places where new SF writers can work, experiment, show off — and get published.

And now: here we go again.

Except that the Missing Adventures are not the New Adventures all over again. Yes, they will be full-length original novels, written for a readership that is older than you and I were when we started to watch Doctor Who on television. And — of course — we will continue to encourage new talent.

But these are new stories with old Doctors. Each Missing Adventures will slot seamlessly into a gap between television stories, and we will attempt to ensure that the Missing Adventures have the flavour of the television stories in which they are embedded.

This book, Goth Opera, the first of the Missing Adventures, demonstrates the principles of the series. It is written by Paul Cornell, one of the brightest stars of the New Adventures galaxy (his first published novel was the fourth New Adventure). But he hasn't written just another New Adventure. In Goth Opera you will find a complex story beautifully told — but you won't find experimental techniques, ultra-fast cutting between scenes, enigmatic dialogue, and the other modern styles featured in some of the New Adventures. The Doctor Who television stores weren't like that, and neither will the Missing Adventures be.

As an added bonus, this first Missing Adventure and the simultaneously published New Adventure share a storyline. Goth Opera is, in a way, the sequel to Blood Harvest by Terrance Dicks, although they can be read and understood separately. Except that Goth Opera features the fifth Doctor, while Blood Harvest has the seventh Doctor, so in a sense Blood Harvest is the sequel to Goth Opera. It certainly confuses me.

There'll be a month without a Missing Adventures after this one, and after that there will be one Missing Adventure a month, all being well. Look out for the distinctive blue diamond logo and more stunning Alister Pearson artwork.

Finally — yes, really, we're getting near the end — I must stress that when I say ‘we’ I sometimes mean Virgin Publishing as a whole, and even its predecessor companies. But usually I mean myself, Rebecca Levene who edits, and Andy Bodle who assists. And these days, of that triumvirate, I play the smallest part.

Peter Darvill-Evans

Fiction Publisher, Virgin Publishing Ltd.