The Android Invasion
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and the Android Invasion

Author Terrance Dicks Cover image
Published 1978
ISBN 0 426 20037 3
First Edition Cover Roy Knipe

Back cover blurb: The Doctor and Sarah arrive safely back on Earth - or do they? Why does the mysterious soldier march straight over a cliff - and then reappear unharmed? Why are they attacked by the sinister mechanics with built-in guns for hands? Why is a picturesque country village at first deserted - then filled with mindless zombies? And why are their best friends suddenly trying to kill them? The Doctor has stumbled on a cunning alien plan to take over the Earth. Will he be in time to defeat the deadly Kraals and their terrifying android invasion?


So that's what happened to the fleet by Tim Roll-Pickering 9/3/04

On screen The Android Invasion is widely considered weak, containing many of the traditional downsides in a Terry Nation story whilst lacking either several of the upsides or the presence of Daleks to make the story sparkle. It also suffers from some dodgy logic such as an invasion of Earth being centred on one installation, the unresolved fate of Cheadki's fleet or Crayford being completely unaware that his eye is intact. This novelisation sets out to be a straightforward retelling of the story and so from the outset it is in the near impossible situation of trying to deal with such a weak story. Furthermore the nature of the mystery of the first three episodes of the story makes it impossible to show events through the eyes of any character other than the Doctor or Sarah, or to provide any significant sequences detailing what motivates any of the other characters since they are merely androids. It is a difficult task indeed.

Dicks tries to enhance the story through recourse to the scripts so we get to see scenes such as the one where the android of Grierson reports detecting the TARDIS that was deleted from the television story (incidentally the reason for the character being credited on the first episode) or the Doctor noticing differences such as the android Sarah having her jacket buttoned the wrong way round (a spillover from plans to have the androids as mirror images which was dropped in the planning stages). However despite this and an attempt to add to the Doctor's problems by having him not immediately being able to influence Colonel Faraday, and for once wishing the Brigadier were there, there is very little that can be done to enhance this story for the book since the plot is fundamentally flawed and only a serious restructuring could bring it close to sense. But Dicks has always believed that the novelisations should resemble the television stories (which made sense when the television stories were not easily accessible on video) and it may well have been the case that Target's policies and/ or the agreement with Terry Nation precluded such a restructuring.

What we're left with is a runaround and not the best one at that. There is an effort made to show Crayford slowly turning against the Kraals, whilst the last paragraph explains that Chedaki's fleet will never receive the signal they are waiting for and so will not invade, thus resolving one of the loose ends from the television story that is often comented upon. But otherwise this is not an especially great novelisation, and Roy Knipe breaks off from the good form of his first two covers (Doctor Who and the Time Warrior and Doctor Who - Death to the Daleks) to produce a mediocre piece. It's perhaps a fitting metaphor for this story, with neither Dicks nor Knipe living up to their best but instead turning in a risable effort on a very poor story for novelising. 4/10

Duplication! by Andrew Feryok 8/8/05

"But keep your wits about you, Benton. Nobody knows who's who around here."
- The Doctor to the android Benton, The Android Invasion (Episode 4)
Having just read The Green Death and The Invasion, I was determined to read something that didn't have UNIT. Surely the Tom Baker years would be the perfect period to get away from them. Why don't I read The Android Invasion. The Doctor thwarting an invasion plot on an alien planet made to look like Earth. No worry of... oh drat! Harry, Benton, and several mentions of the Brigadier! Oh well. At least they are only guest characters and not the stars of the novel.

One problem with the Target novel adaptations is that no matter how good the author writes them, they are only as good as the story they are adapting. Unfortunately, The Android Invasion is not one of the better stories from the Hinchcliffe-Holmes period. Surrounded by such classics as Pyramids of Mars, The Brain of Morbius, Planet of Evil and The Seeds of Doom, this story represented a low point in the season. To Terrance Dicks' credit, he does a relatively good of translating Terry Nation's original script into a novel. The opening and closing to the book are the best parts as the Doctor and Sarah arrive in a familiar English village, only to find various bizarre occurances: freshly minted money, white-suited guards who shoot bullets from their fingers, large pods which look like meteorites, a soldier who walks off a cliff and then returns back from the dead! These are all intriguing mysteries that draw both the reader and the viewer into the story. The closing to the story is also tense as the Doctor and Sarah arrive back on the real Earth and try to avert the invasion, only to discover that the androids have taken over before they realized it and then it's a tense, madcap race to the finish as the Doctor improvises a solution that finally brings down the invasion.

What really hurts this story is the lack of showing rather than telling. Dicks relies too much on the omniscient narrator to explain background information in the story which could easily have been revealed much more dramatically through character dialogue. But then, this is a children's novel after all and I shouldn't expect Virgin- or BBC Book-level descriptions and authorial flairs. One thing which is not Terrance Dicks' fault is the story itself, which sags considerably in the middle, only brightened by the Doctor's cheerful dialogue with villains and his being tied up in the town square midway through. With these exceptions, the middle part of the story is nothing more than a lengthy series of captures and escapes which may entertain on screen, but are not made tense at all in the novel and merely come across as wasting time until the end of the story.

One of my favorite aspects of this adventure, however, are Terrance Dick's portrayal of the Doctor and Sarah. They leap off the page and Dicks gets their characterization perfectly. Their banter is well paced and I could easily recreate them in my mind and hear them speaking the dialogue. The Doctor is utterly hysterical in this story, particularly when he confronts villains like Crayford, Styggron, and his own android duplicate. Sarah is equally strong in this story. In fact, she is one of the most heroic characters in the story! She rescues the Doctor twice, escapes from the Kraal prison, and rescues Harry at the end!

Terrance Dicks also gives us a small detailed glimpse at Kraal society and history. It is revealed that Kraal scientists are the most highly ranked citizens in their society, even greater than the military officers, represented by Chedaki. We also learn a bit more about the series of nuclear wars which destroyed the Kraals' homeworld, leaving them very few and totally dependent on androids. If only Dicks had taken more time to elaborate on this, but I suspect that he had so many other novels to write that he could not embellish further (either that or the Kraals weren't all that interesting to him). Terrance Dicks also pulls an Ian Marter by giving Styggron a particularly graphic and gruesome death at the hands of the virus at the end.

On the whole, I'm rather divided by this story. It moved along at a brisk pace, had a great characterisation of the Doctor and Sarah, had a good opening and good closing. It was the middle part that was a slog and the story in general had a mediocre feel to it. I would give this a 6/10. Definitely one of the better Terrance Dicks adaptations I've read, but not necessarily the best Doctor Who novel I've read.

PS: I actually read the Pinnacle version of this story, and not the Target novel version, but they are practically the same thing except for the cover and a foreward written by Harlan Ellison in which he attempts to explain the phenomena and appeal of Doctor Who as well as its basic premise.