I can’t be the only one who got into Doctor Who after the 2005 series reboot and is now completely overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to get into the original series. I know some of the basics of course, but where (and how) to start watching the original stories?? Well, there are some DVDs available, BUT I found another loophole / fun avenue to explore: Doctor Who novelizations. Here’s two I’ve read recently to get started with:
The Dinosaur Invasion, published 1976, stars the Third Doctor (think gentleman scientist) and superstar companion Sarah Jane Smith (journalist, legend, icon) attempting to unravel a mysterious plot to bring live dinosaurs across time into modern-day London, assisted of course by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and UNIT. I adore Sarah Jane (pro tip for parents: The Sarah Jane Adventures is a fun and kid-friendly introduction into the Doctor Who universe) and I love that this book showed her off in all her determination and resourcefulness. I also enjoyed the informative, no-nonsense writing style because it felt like a good immersion into 1970s sci-fi / spy culture.
Shada, by comparison, is much more tongue-in-cheek because it was developed from a script written by Douglas Adams (definite sci-fi icon, humorist extraordinaire and one of my all-time favorite authors). Here, the Fourth Doctor (Mr. Being Eccentric is my Job and I’m Good At It) and Romana (Paragon of Dignity) travel with K-9 (Surprisingly Sassy Robot Dog) to Cambridge to meet up with an old friend, Professor Chronotis. Once there, they get entangled with a mysterious Gallifreyan relic, a megalomaniac with a mind-stealing orb, and a pair of hapless almost-romantically-involved scientists. The humorous tone is absolutely perfect, the stakes are high, the action is well-paced, and most importantly the characters are sympathetic and well-made. This one was published later, so it captures the spirit of the character while fleshing out some underdeveloped elements.
If you like Doctor Who, 60s and 70s sci-fi, Douglas Adams, or novelizations of famous TV series, you may enjoy one or the other of these books.