Monday, February 18, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: "Doctor Who and the Android Invasion" by Terrance Dicks

Not too long ago, I became a fan of Doctor Who, the British sci-fi television series broadcast by the BBC. If you're unfamiliar, the show follows the adventures of Doctor Who (also referred to as "the Doctor"), a centuries-old Time Lord alien from the planet Gallifrey who travels through time in his TARDIS (an awesome old-fashioned blue police call box), frequently joined by various companions. When the Doctor is critically injured, he can regenerate his body; in doing so, his physical appearance and personality change (for further info, check out Wikipedia).

I wasn't aware that Doctor Who had been immortalized in books until I came upon two small novels in the used book section of my local Barnes & Noble. I chose to buy just one - Doctor Who and the Android Invasion by Terrence Dicks - because it included Sarah Jane Smith (played on the series by the late Elisabeth Sladen), whom I had come to love from seeing her guest appearances in several more recent episodes of the show.

The book Doctor Who and the Android Invasion is the 1978 novelization of a series of Doctor Who episodes under the same title that were originally broadcast in 1975. The adventure features the Fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker in the series) and his companion, Sarah Jane Smith. When the TARDIS lands in the small English village of Devesham, The Doctor and Sarah Jane think that they've returned to Earth at last, but unfortunately it's immediately evident to the both of them that wherever they are, something is very, very wrong. At first glance, the village appears deserted, but then zombie-like inhabitants begin roaming around and refuse to answer any of the Doctor's questions. He and Sarah also bear witness to a number of small oddities, as well as a mysterious soldier who marches over a cliff but escapes without a scratch and discover unusual coffin-like meteorites that open up and contain human-like creatures. And then, the TARDIS disappears. What could possibly be going on?

What the Doctor and Sarah Jane discover is that this isn't Earth at all, but rather a replica of Earth set up on the radiation-infested planet Oseidon, home of an alien race known as the Kraals. The few Kraals that remain must find themselves a new home and so they've sent androids to Earth to take it over as their own. But the Kraal leader, Styggron, is in for the fight of his life when he comes against the likes of Doctor Who and companion Sarah Jane, who are willing to do anything to save the world. What they go through to do just that will have you on the edge of your seat unable to put this book down until the very last page.

As a relatively new Doctor Who fan and someone who isn't very familiar with the series prior to the last few years, I found myself pleasantly surprised by this novel. Terrance Dicks did a great job taking the storyline from screen to page - from the very first sentence I could picture everything unfolding in my mind as I read. I found the story moved along at a decent pace, and although I'm not really a science fiction fan I found the plot and storyline easy to understand without getting confused. And when it came to the Doctor and Sarah Jane's characters, I came to admire Sarah Jane's strength and willingness to assist the Doctor in defeating the Kraals' intended invasion, and could appreciate her and the Doctor's relationship with each other (which often left me smiling, if not giggling).

So whether you're a sci-fi nerd, Doctor Who nut, or a newbie to the whole thing like myself, I highly recommend checking out Doctor Who and the Android Invasion by Terrence Dicks. The book can be found on Amazon, Abe Books, and on eBay.

And when you're done reading the book, check out the adventure in its original format on the Doctor Who television show on YouTube.

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