Well hello my fellow Whovians out there. I thought that in lieu of the Doctor Who Christmas special up and coming next week I’d have a chat about Doctor Who books. I’m going to provide some excellent suggestions, debunk some myths about what the books actually are, and explain to you why you positively need to read them right now. Sound good? Excellent.
But first! I should probably introduce the show itself. There may be some of you who have decided to read this and don’t know much about the show – or perhaps you that funny looking person in the back row wearing a beanie who’s not even heard of the show. Shame on you, sir.
Pray tell, what is this magnificent show?
Doctor Who is a TV series that is sci-fi in genre and excellent in taste. It’s been running on TV for a long time (since 1963 to be exact) and whilst we have had a break this year (that being 2016) from the show it is returning with lights flashing and sirens blaring in 2017. And thank goodness for that. We’re about to start series 10.
The show follows a character called The Doctor, whose real name remains a mystery, and he flies through time and space in his spaceship called the T.A.R.D.I.S (time and relative dimension in space) and his “weapon” is his sonic screwdriver (think of a wand, but sci-fi?). He has travelling companions who help him save the universe and it’s all jolly good fun even though something always goes wrong.
Importantly, the Doctor is a Timelord and he can regenerate meaning the show can go on as long as it has because it goes through different actors. Ingenious idea on the creator’s behalf, no?
Also important: the show went off-air for a few years – the production office closed in 1990 and the official reboot with the 9th Doctor aired in 2005. It’s a continuation of the series, yes, and the plot continues, yes. So fear not about the gap, tis merely breathing space.
Important Characters You Should Know
There have so far been 12 (ish) Doctors. My favourite is the one and only David Tennant who played the tenth doctor. But the others are as follows:
William Hartnell (1st Doctor)
Patrick Troughton (2nd Doctor)
Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor)
Tom Baker (4th Doctor)
Peter Davison (5th Doctor)
Colin Baker (6th Doctor)
Sylvester McCoy (7th Doctor)
Paul McGann (8th Doctor)
John Hurt (War Doctor) 50th Anniversary Special
Christopher Eccleston (9th Doctor)
David Tennant (10th Doctor)
Matt Smith (11th Doctor)
Peter Capaldi (12th Doctor)
Depending on which Doctor Who books you choose to read, these will be the characters featured as played by these actors. So if you’re persnickety about details, click on the name above for the actor/character you wish to know more about. You might also like to take a moment that I didn’t have to Google any of those names, I’ve got it down pat. *takes bow*
Other characters that might be of interest for the re-boot (Doctors 9-12) might include:
Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman)
Rose Tyler [Nine & Ten’s companion] (Billie Piper)
Mickey Smith [Rose’s Boyfriend] (Noel Clarke)
Jackie Tyler [Rose’s Mum] (Camille Coduri)
Donna Noble [Ten’s companion] (Catherine Tate)
Martha Jones [Ten’s companion] (Freema Agyeman)
Amy Pond [Eleven’s companion] (Karen Gillan)
Rory Williams [Eleven’s companion] (Arthur Darvill)
River Song [Ten & Eleven’s companion] (Alex Kingston)
The Master (another Timelord who’s the Doctor archenemy)
Clara Oswald [Twelve’s companion] (Jenna Coleman)
Again, I’ll let you do your own research for those characters if you’re not familiar with them and wish to be.
Doctor Who books are not, as commonly is assumed, in canon with the TV show. They are extras. Let me repeat: the Doctor Who novels are independent, new stories. They will never be referenced within the TV show so you can read without watching and you can watch without reading. No-one misses out.
Many people think it’s just a novelised version of whatever episodes from the TV series. Wrong. So if you’ve been gasping for more Doctor Who seeing as it took a break this year – you can gorge yourself on the literal hundreds of Doctor Who books out there.
The books are written by a variety of different authors and come in a few different series featuring different Doctors and companions. Books exist for both the new and the old series. I highly recommend reading them or purchasing them as gifts for fellow Whovians because they’re quick and so much fun to read.
The most magical thing about them is getting more time with your beloved characters and imagining that maybe these stories could fill the gaps in the TV series of the adventures that we don’t see. It’s like the BBC is giving us that bonus content and it’s amazing! So don’t poo-poo these books until you’ve tried them.
However, there is a series of DW novels called “Quick Reads” and they’re usually 100 pages or less. I have only read one but the short time you spend with the characters isn’t enough and I recommend sticking with the full length novels.
Are they any good? Absolutely. I love these books and have collected quite a lot from the New Adventures as this is the series that features the new Doctors with whom I’m more familiar. That being said, I do have some for the old Doctors. Nonetheless, my recommendations today will be only for the reboot Doctors.
A side note: none of the books are too scary but I would say that if you find the TV episodes scary then you may find some elements of the books scary depending on your imagination. Doctor is not meant to be horror or anything close: it’s adventure in a sci-fi setting.
Your Starter Pack
The Eccleston Enthusiasts
If you’re looking to burst into the action and dive right in with a spine-tingling thriller of a story then I have just the thing for you. The Clockwise Man is set in a yesteryear in London and is a bit of a murder mystery. It features Eccleston alongside Rose Tyler and also a gorgeous young boy.
In 1920s London the Doctor and Rose find themselves caught up in the hunt for a mysterious murderer. But not everyone or everything is what they seem. Secrets lie behind locked doors and inhuman killers roam the streets.
Who is the Painted Lady and why is she so interested in the Doctor? How can a cat return from the dead? Can anyone be trusted to tell or even to know the truth?
With the faceless killers closing in, the Doctor and Rose must solve the mystery of the Clockwise Man before London itself is destroyed…
Or, leaning away from the historic elements and towards the future, you could try The Stealers of Dreams in which Eccleston is accompanied by Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness in a world with an intriguing asylum and some clandestine plans regarding dreams.
In the far future, the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack find a world on which fiction has been outlawed. A world where it’s a crime to tell stories, a crime to lie, a crime to hope, and a crime to dream. But now somebody is challenging the status quo. A pirate TV station urges people to fight back, and the Doctor wants to help – until he sees how easily dreams can turn into nightmares. With one of his companions stalked by shadows and the other committed to an asylum, the Doctor is forced to admit that fiction can be dangerous after all. Though perhaps it is not as deadly as the truth…
The Tennant Teasers
Tennant is a real favourite amongst the reboots and I have fallen victim to his charm. I love that this show works in a way that let’s everyone have their own Doctor depending on when they started watching. I tend to drift towards books featuring Ten and boy do I have some favourites. A real cracker that has more sizzling romance between Tennant and Rose than you’ll ever get in the TV series is The Stone Rose – it’s an absolute must if you’re going to read some DW novels!
Mickey is startled to find a statue of Rose in a museum a statue that is 2,000 years old. The Doctor realises that this means the TARDIS will shortly take them to Ancient Rome, but when it does, he and Rose soon have more on their minds than sculpture.
While the Doctor searches for a missing boy, Rose befriends a girl who claims to know the future a girl whose predictions are surprisingly accurate. But then the Doctor stumbles on the hideous truth behind the statue of Rose and Rose herself learns that you have to be very careful what you wish for.
But if you want more sci-fi and less romance then definitely jump into The Resurrection Casket where this story will sweep you up in a tale of intrigue that’s irresistible.
Starfall – a world on the edge, where crooks and smugglers hide in the gloomy shadows and modern technology refuses to work. And that includes the TARDIS. The pioneers who used to be drawn by the hope of making a fortune from the mines can find easier picking elsewhere. But they still come for the romance of it, or old-fashioned organic mining. Or in the hope of finding the lost treasure of Hamlek Glint – scourge of the spaceways, privateer, adventurer, bandit.
Will the TARDIS ever work again? Is Glint’s lost treasure waiting to be found? And does the fabled Resurrection Casket, the key to eternal life, really exist? With the help of new friends, and to the horror of new enemies, the Doctor and Rose aim to find out.
The Smith Sailors
And then this ball of fun really rocked the boat when he took over! I personally prefer Smith’s Doctor at the beginning of his stint and many of the books reflect this more playful demeanour that he had then, rather than the old, cranky man sort of attitude that he adopted later on. If you want a good story involving the trio: Smith, Amy and Rory then head right over to Touched by an Angel (I think you Whovians can see where that’s going).
“The past is like a foreign country. Nice to visit, but you really wouldn’t want to live there.”
In 2003, Rebecca Whitaker died in a road accident. Her husband Mark is still grieving. He receives a battered envelope, posted eight years ago, containing a set of instructions with a simple message: “You can save her.”
As Mark is given the chance to save Rebecca, it’s up to the Doctor, Amy and Rory to save the whole world. Because this time the Weeping Angels are using Mark himself as a weapon to change history. Will the doctor stop mark or will the angels feast?
But if that doesn’t do it for you and you want less Weeping Angels and more oops-Amy-made-a-mistake-again then doddle over to Borrowed Time which is a glorious novel that’ll leave you feeling sorry for Rory indeed.
‘You want more time Mr Brown, of course you do. We all want more time. Let me make you an offer…’
Andrew Brown never has enough time. No time to call his sister, or to prepare for that important presentation at the bank where he works. The train’s late, the lift jams. If only he’d had just a little more time. And time is the business of Mr Symington and Mr Blenkinsop. They’ll lend him some – at a very reasonable rate of interest.
Detecting a problem, the Doctor, Amy and Rory go undercover at the bank. But they have to move fast to stop Symington and Blenkinsop before they cash in their investments.
The Capaldi Crazies
Capaldi is a real firecracker and an excellent Doctor. I’ve yet to read any DW novels featuring him but if I had to recommend some I would definitely show you the way to Blood Cell which places Capaldi in the familiar setting of a notorious prison with the most dangerous inmates – and something going wrong.
“Release the Doctor — or the killing will start.”
An asteroid in the furthest reaches of space – the most secure prison for the most dangerous of criminals. The Governor is responsible for the worst fraudsters and the cruellest murderers. So he’s certainly not impressed by the arrival of the man they’re calling the most dangerous criminal in the quadrant. Or, as he prefers to be known, the Doctor.
What does impress the Governor is the way the new prisoner immediately sets about trying to escape. And keeps trying. Finally, he sends for the Doctor and asks him why? But the answer surprises even the Governor. And then there’s the threat — unless the Governor listens to the Doctor, a lot of people will die.
Who is the Doctor and what’s he really doing here? Why does he want to help the Governor? And who is the young woman who comes every day to visit him, only to be turned away by the guards?
When the killing finally starts, the Governor begins to get his answers…
Or, perhaps you’d like to take a trip to Australia? In which case hop on board and head over to Big Bang Generation where a portal suddenly opens up in Sydney and an Egyptian pyramid gets involved.
“I’m an archaeologist, but probably not the one you were expecting.”
Christmas 2015, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Imagine everyone’s surprise when a time portal opens up in Sydney Cove. Imagine their shock as a massive pyramid now sits beside the Harbour Bridge, inconveniently blocking Port Jackson and glowing with energy. Imagine their fear as Cyrrus “the mobster” Globb, Professor Horace Jaanson and an alien assassin called Kik arrive to claim the glowing pyramid. Finally imagine everyone’s dismay when they are followed by a bunch of con artists out to spring their greatest grift yet.
This gang consists of Legs (the sexy comedian), Dog Boy (providing protection and firepower), Shortie (handling logistics), Da Trowel (in charge of excavation and history) and their leader, Doc (busy making sure the universe isn’t destroyed in an explosion that makes the Big Bang look like a damp squib).
And when someone accidentally reawakens The Ancients of the Universe – which, Doc reckons, wasn’t the wisest or best-judged of actions – things get a whole lot more complicated…
Whovians Go Forth!
I hope I have been of assistance for you today and I hope that your eyes have been opened to these goodies that are on offer for the Whovians out there. The books really are a good laugh and worth the read – so if you’re ever sick of your mainstream TBR for a bit, have a quick dalliance with some of your favourite characters and whet your appetite with some more Doctor Who stories.
Let me know below what your favourite Doctor Who book or episode is!
My favourite episode is The Girl in the Fireplace!
If you want any other DW novel recommendations then ask! I’m happy to oblige.