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The Invasion

Novelization of the Doctor Who serial
Douglas Westwood

I'll kill the bastard this time.' Ian Marter's Dr Who novels always had a nice, adulty feel to my adolescent mind: the descriptions of buildings, places etc were more detailed than in a Mr T Dicks book, many long words were used, the monsters were very intimidating and all breathed oily, vapourous fumes,bad language was occasionally used and all the characters murmured quite a lot, with many dots left after their speech.....all this plus a quite unprecedented level of gore left one always looking forward to a new book by this author.

The Invasion then was a much looked forward to DW book, especially as it had Cybermen in it although Ian Marter's cybermen, both here and in Earthshock, are very much mechanical creatures. Okay, he acknowledges that they are 'far,far worse' than just robots and we know all about conversion to cybermen, but for a man who puts blood and gore into many of his books, his cybermen when destroyed by the cerebration machine, just collapse into a heap of metal parts. This is a failing I think; Eric Saward's cybermen each had a human brain and, in one instance, actually bled when attacked. This makes the creatures more creepier in my opinion.

Still, in the Invasion the cybermen are effective if a tad underused; all we see are the 'tinpot soldier' ones on earth which are all under Tobias Vaughn's control for much of the story, and we don't see much of them - the more interesting cybermen on the main spaceship, who are very much not controlled by anyone and prepared to drop megetron bombs on earth - well, we never see those ones! As many a fan has pointed out, this is not really a cyberman story as such but more a battle of wills between the Doctor and Vaughn; but as Ian Marter portrays the characters of Vaughn and the sadistic Packer so skilfully, I would cheerfully have read this book if there had been no cybermen in it at all. These two 'human' baddies were sinister enough to carry off the story on their own.

The supporting cast are all good. I liked the cowardly Gregory; though I found the bad guys rather more interesting than the good ones. Benton's shooting somone in the head comes across a tad more graphically then, say, if he'd done it in a Terrence Dicks novel, and as for the lorry driver: 'most of his head was splattered all over the driving compartment of the cab...brilliant! And years before Pulp Fiction!

All in all an excellant read, most atmospheric, delivered by an author who's writing style may have been a hundred times removed from his Harry Sullivan character but still packed a hell of a punch. We are living in a fantasy world......(fume, vapour).