Doctor Who - The Invasion
|ISBN||0 491 03324 9|
|First Edition Cover||Andrew Skilleter|
|Back cover blurb: Materialising in outer space, the TARDIS is attacked by a missile fired from the dark side of the moon. Back on Earth, the newly-formed United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, led by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, is disturbed by a series of UFO sightings over Southern England. Meanwhile, a large consignment of mysterious crates is delivered to the headquarters of International Electromatix, the largest computer and electronics firm in the world. Three seemingly unconnected events - but in reality the preparations for a massive Cyberman invasion of Earth with one aim - the total annihilation of the human race.|
UNIT vs. The Cybermen! by Andrew Feryok 2/8/05
Doctor: Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart! What a lovely surprise.Without even realizing it, I started reading this book right after I had read The Green Death. When the Brigadier started showing up around Chapter 2, I suddenly reminded myself that this was another UNIT story! And not just any UNIT story, but the first one! Oh well. I think I can stand them for one more adventure, especially one as good as this which features my favorite Doctor and companion team.
Lethbridge-Stewart: Well, Brigadier actually, Doctor. I've gone up in the world since we last met.
(The Invasion, Episode 3)
This is the first Ian Marter book I have read. I loved him as Harry and I am beginning to like him as an author as well. He reminds me of Malcolm Hulke, except he gives more detail to the setting and loves describing the gore and violence of particular scenes. He describes Cybermen dying horribly with black goo spilling out of their chests as they die. When people are destroyed by Cyberweapons, they don't just get zapped and die, they burst into flame and burn alive! Tobias Vaughn's death is particularly graphic in the last chapter of the book. But surprisingly, most of the violent descriptions come once the Cybermen are introduced. Prior to this, you could not distinguish his work from some of the other authors in the Target line. I would be greatly interested to see his take on The Ark in Space now!
Also, having just read The Green Death, I was surprised to see how many parallels there were between the stories. We have an evil corporation being investigated by UNIT and the Doctor, an evil director masterminding a 'better world' and consorting with an evil computer. Vaughn has a sadistic henchman named Packer just like Dr. Stevens had Hinks. But there are also great differences. This story has a distinctly mechanical feel to it with an electronics company and Cybermen, while The Green Death had a more organic feel to it with the pollution, maggots, and underground mines. Also, Vaughn makes a much stronger villain than Stevens. Stevens was a misguided corporate leader under the mind control of an evil computer, whereas Vaughn knows exactly what he is doing. He is out for world domination and is using his alien allies as stepping stones to that victory.
Vaughn comes across as a very strong character in the story, just as he did in the original television episode. I particularly liked how Marter described him as having silver hair, rather than white hair, to play up his cybernization. Marter also writes Vaughn as much more unhinged at the end of the story as his plans crumble around him. Actor Kevin Stoney played him as a straight ally for the Doctor in the original television story. But in the book, Vaughn is on the verge of insanity as he has a single-minded goal to destroy the Cybermen, and the Doctor must gingerly guide him along.
Other memorable characters include Packer, the Brigadier, and Isobel. I was actually laughing to myself as Ian Marter kept describing the Brigadier as booming all his lines to everyone. He is definitely a skilled military operator in this story, and not the buffoon written by Malcolm Hulke in The Green Death. Packer is played up much more in the book than he is in the actual television episode so that we see him as not only a sadistic henchman being skillfully controlled by Vaugh, but also a voice of reason for Vaughn, particularly towards the end of the story as his plans begin to fall apart. Isobel also comes across strongly and although her romance with Captain Turner is rather sudden, once it is introduced, it is handled well and flows with the rest of the story.
The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe are written decently, although Ian Marter seems to have trouble capturing Troughton's physical humor. In many instances, he simply leaves it out, such as the Doctor hopping and yelling "oh dear" as cyberweapons explode on the ground behind him. One bit of physical humor which I think worked well in Marter's writings was when he had the Doctor escape a Cyberman by running between its legs. However, compared to Jamie and Zoe, the Doctor is very well written. Jamie is rather generic except for his distinctive speech style, while Zoe comes across as extremely generic, only getting to show her true genius when she calculates the trajectory for the missiles in 30 seconds for UNIT to fire at the cyberships.
One thing which I really enjoyed about reading this story is that I could finally find out what happened in the missing episodes! The Mind Robber was the first Doctor Who story I ever owned on VHS and I was disappointed to learn, shortly after, that the first episode of The Invasion no longer survived and that I would never find out how that story ends! This finally filled in the gaps for me and I could read the story as it originally flowed. To tell you the truth, after reading the missing episode parts of this book, I discovered I actually didn't miss all that much. The only things of importance in episode 1 was the TARDIS being fired at by a missile from the moon, the TARDIS having a circuit fault which renders it invisible, and their going to visit Prof. Travers, only to find his apartment is being rented to Prof. Watkins and Isobel. Episode 4 has even less. All that is missed out is that the Doctor and friends are rescued by a UNIT helicopter and the Doctor and Jamie sneak into Vaughn's warehouse complex by canoe. It would have been interesting to see how they pulled off the helicopter sequence in the TV episode, but I doubt we will ever recover these two missing episodes since no Troughton episodes have been recovered in over 15 years.
In the end, I rather enjoyed this story. The book gets off to a somewhat slow start as there is a lot of running around, getting captured, and escaping in Vaughn's Electromatix complex. But once the Cybermen show up, the story is a non-stop thrill ride, culminating in a wonderfully graphic and tense confrontation between UNIT and the Cybermen! 9/10
PS: Ian Marter seems to have cut out a great deal of the classic scene of the Cybermen emerging from sewers as the invasion begins. Instead, we only have Isobel look out the window and see one small group of Cybermen emerge from a sewer.