This novel is something of an historic milestone, because it’s the first ever unique Doctor Who novel. There had been novelisations, comics, and short stories, but this was the first novel – and the first of many too, as there have been literally hundreds of them since. Fans of Doctor Who novels will know that they are often very strange (in the very best of ways) and aren’t the kind of stories you’d see on television. Doctor Who and The Invasion from Space is no exception.
At the start of the novel, the First Doctor is adjusting to life with several new companions: a family of peasants (the Mortimers) that he unwittingly rescued from the Great Fire of London. He’s endlessly bitter about it, and throughout the novel makes it clear that he thinks he’s superior to them, that they, as mere peasants, didn’t ever really matter anyway, and that their lives are insignificant. He’s so awful about it, that I can only imagine that this is set before An Unearthly Child, because after the first few TV stories, he’s never an meanspirited as he is here and there’s no room for this to be set then.
Together they encounter a sort of god-like alien who sees other life forms at inferior, which causes the Doctor to reflect on his actions when he sees that this being looking down on others isn’t too different to he himself looking down on the Mortimers. Although, his revelation comes down to “Maybe I should care if they die” which is pretty mild, really. Quite interestingly, the story very strongly suggests that the Doctor is a human being, which makes this story even more interesting. Back then, I guess so little of Doctor Who was yet fully established, and it’s cool to see the different ways in which the character and the universe were interpreted. As was common for expanded universe stuff at the time, he’s called Dr. Who throughout too.
If you’re a fan of the modern era, it’ll feel like this novel bears almost no resemblance to show that you know and love. However, if you’re a fan of classic Doctor Who, and the First Doctor in particular, this will be a real treat. I’d love to see the Mortimer family revisited some how in future, whether that’s in another book, a comic, audio drama, or whatever else. It’s a delightful curiosity, and not very long either, so give it a go.