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The Space Pirates was a novelisation based on the 1969 television story The Space Pirates. This was the last Target novelisation to be published under the ownership of W.H. Allen; henceforth, Virgin Publishing published the range. It was also the last novelisation to be written by Terrance Dicks.

Publisher's summary[]

The charges detonate in a series of silent explosions, and space beacon Alpha One disintegrates into lumps of metal. The space pirates have discovered a new source of precious argonite...

General Hermack of the Space Corps diverts his V-ship to investigate - and arrives in the Pliny system in time to witness the destruction of another beacon. Determined to trap the pirates, he leaves a squad of guards on beacon Alpha Four - and shortly afterwards, in the beacon's computer bay, the incongruous shape of a blue police box materialises.

Suspected by the Space Corps of being pirates, and then pursued as spies by the pirates themselves, the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie risk asphyxiation in the vacuum of space, execution and explosion in their attempts to unmask the mastermind behind the thefts of argonite.

Chapter titles[]

  1. Spacejack
  2. The Intruders
  3. Trapped
  4. The Renegade
  5. The Survivors
  6. Pursuit
  7. Missile Attack
  8. The Fugitives
  9. The Prisoners
  10. Escape
  11. Betrayed
  12. Rocket Blast
  13. A Coffin in Space
  14. Countdown to Doom

Deviations from televised story[]

  • The closing chapter features Milo Clancy gives an obscene answering machine message to Hermack.

Writing and publishing notes[]

  • Cover artist Tony Clark first knew that he was expected to do the cover at a convention in the USA. His first submission was rejected as it featured the likeness of the Second Doctor. Jamie McCrimmon's was not considered a well enough known face to be used on the cover. Clark then produced another cover featuring Caven, which was initially accepted, but later dropped after actor Dudley Foster's widow refused Target permission to use Foster's likeness on the cover. As a result, the final cover featured an unidentifiable pirate, whose upper face is covered by a visor. The pose used by the pirate is inspired by the 1984 film Runaway.
  • This was Terrance Dicks' last Doctor Who novelisation for the Target range of Doctor Who novelisations. He would later adapt the independent film Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans as the Virgin New Adventures novel, Shakedown. His next TV adaptation would not be published until 2007 when he adapted Invasion of the Bane, the first episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
  • Back pages include; full page advert for Doctor Who Magazine and

Target Books advert for Doctor Who 1963-1989 THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES-IN PRINT!

  • The first edition cover was the last Target Books edition to not feature an image of the Doctor.

British publication history[]

One single paperback edition, priced £2.50 (UK), estimated print run: 24,000 copies.


This Target Book was released as an audiobook on 1 December 2016 complete and unabridged by BBC Physical Audio and read by Terry Molloy.

The cover blurb and thumbnail illustrations were retained in the accompanying booklet with sleevenotes by David J. Howe. Music and sound effects by Simon Power.

External links[]

to be added