The Invisible Enemy
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and the Invisible Enemy

Author Terrance Dicks Cover image
Published 1979
ISBN 0 426 20054 3
First Edition Cover Roy Knipe

Back cover blurb: A mysterious cloud drifts menacingly through space... A sudden energy flash and the Doctor is infected with the Nucleus of a malignant Virus that threatens to destroy his mind. Meanwhile, on Titan, human slaves prepare the Hive from which the Virus will swarm out and infect the universe. In search of a cure, Leela takes the Doctor to the Foundation where they make an incredible journey into the Doctor's brain in an attempt to destroy the Nucleus. But can the Doctor free himself from the Nucleus in time to reach Titan and destroy the Hive? Luckily he has help - in the strangely dog-like shape of a mobile computer called K9...


A quick rush job by Tim Roll-Pickering 12/4/04

It surprises me that K9 is absent from the cover of this book, given his supposed popularity in the late 1970s. Instead we get a good image of Tom Baker and a rather too accurate depiction of the Nucleus of the Swarm. Yet the blurb on the back of the book does attempt to capitalise on this story being K9's first appearance. It exposes a rather disjointed effort by Target and strongly suggests that in several sections of the company at the time sales of Doctor Who novelisations were taken for granted and that little overall care was put into them other than by individual contributors.

Unfortunately this book suggests that Terrance Dicks was one such. In recent years he has come in for criticism for at times often reproducing the camera scripts in a prose form without devoting much work to really bringing the story to life, and this book could form a key piece of evidence for the prosecution. Producing so many novelisations can at times produce inertia and this is one of the less fortunate products.

On screen the story is notable for its use of "fonetick" spelling and its extremely pessimistic prediction of Earth's future progress, with humanity still confined to the Solar System in the year 5000, in spite of almost every other future based story. Much of this is lost in the book, with no attempt at all being made to reconcile such inconsistencies as the year or Leela's ability to pilot the TARDIS accurately in spite of its eraticism and her unfamiliarity with technology whilst the spelling used throughout is standard. The opportunity to show more of the story in the miniture world of the Doctor's innards is not taken up, so we are left with a tale of running round corridors and trying to avoid possessed zombies which is never a good formula for a printed adventure. Dicks himself seems aware of the weaknesses and even sends up the Nucleus with phrases like "long, ranting speech of self-justification" (page 83).

This story introduces K9 but the character doesn't really get much of a background beyond Marius' comment that he missed his dog and so created a computer one. There are attempts to show the robot's character slipping through his computerised exterior but nothing on the scale of explaining how he choses to leave his master and creator so easily. And I still don't understand how an organic virus can take over a computer.

The rest of the book is very pedestrian in the story telling. Some attempt is made to give a sense of urgency as the clones of the Doctor and Leela seek to confront the Nucleus but otherwise there is little significant tension. The resolution of the tale comes through the Doctor simply rigging up an explosion rather than anything more dramatic, leaving the reader feeling let down at the end. The book contains only 104 pages of prose and just feels like a simple rush job to churn out a novelisation. This represents neither Dicks nor Target at their best. 3/10