Doctor Who: Ten Little Aliens : 50th Anniversary Edition, Paperback

Doctor Who: Ten Little Aliens : 50th Anniversary Edition Paperback

Part of the Doctor Who series

2.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Deep in the heart of a hollowed-out moon the First Doctor finds a chilling secret: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the moment of their death.

They are the empire's most wanted terrorists, and their discovery could end a war devastating the galaxy.

But is the same force that killed them still lurking in the dark? And what are its plans for the people of Earth? An adventure featuring the First Doctor as played by William Hartnell and his companions Ben and Polly.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9781849905169



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Stephen Cole's <i>Ten Little Aliens</i> is disappointing, not so much because of what it is but because of what it is <i>not</i>. That's a little bit unfair, of course, but you have to understand what the novel has been set up as - admittedly, more than 10 years after its original publication. <i>Ten Little Aliens</i> was selected as the entry for William Hartnell's Doctor in BBC Books' set of 50th anniversary reprints, with new covers, new introductions by the authors, and a sort of implication that these are "the best of the best" of <i>Doctor Who</i> in novel form. That last part is an assumption, but it's easy to make, and for many readers, <i>Ten Little Aliens</i> will be the first they read (seeing as Hartnell is the first Doctor of eleven). I was confused by the choice when it was announced. <i>Ten Little Aliens</i> as published in 2002, a little after I gave up my teenage obsession with <i>Doctor Who</i> fiction. I really didn't have an opinion one way or another. Throughout the '90s, however, there were a number of highly acclaimed novels starring William Hartnell's Doctor, both for the Virgin "Missing Adventures" line and later for the BBC. Sticking with the BBC's own line (since all 11 of these reprints are of earlier BBC publications), the obvious choice would have been Steve Lyons' <i>The Witch Hunters</i>, an <i>incredibly</i> popular book featuring the original TARDIS crew in the historical context of Salem, Massachusetts. Lyons' follow-up, <i>Salvation</i>, would have also been a suitable choice, as would Simon Guerrier's <i>The Time Travellers</i>, both of them set in the 1960s. There are other choices, too, but a title emphasizing either a purely historical adventure (which is almost entirely exclusive to Hartnell's era) or the "swinging 60s" (it's meant to be a 50th anniversary adventure, after all) would have made sense. Right?Choosing <i>Ten Little Aliens</i> - which features the first Doctor alongside Ben and Polly, who are <i>barely</i> seen together at the tail end of his era - just feels like a slightly odd move. So, too, is the decision to go with a heavy sci-fi/action novel, just because there have been <i>so many</i> throughout the range (with more to come just in this set of reprints). To anyone with a passing familiarity with original <i>Doctor Who</i> fiction, a novel that pays homage to either <i>Starship Troopers</i> or <i>Aliens</i> is not exactly an original contemplation. And then there's the much-cited Agatha Christie tribute. It's in the title, it's in the chapter headings...and that's pretty much it. Far from influencing the novel's direction, it feels mostly like a sort of odd publicity gimmick. Taking out the Christie references would not in any way change the fabric of this story.So with all of that...stuff...out of the way, what's left? Honestly, it's not a bad book. It's just not terribly special. It's the least likely Doctor (frail, end-of-his-life first Doctor) in the midst of a bunch of space marines, and I'll give Cole this: his Doctor, either in dialogue or action, never feels less than authentic. Ben and Polly both get some superior material, too, which is commendable because so many of their TV adventures are lost; they're easy to "forget," but Cole has captured them well. As for the other characters? They are primarily faceless, hardened marines, at least until about the halfway point of the novel, when a few of them have died and the others can be defined a little more clearly. The book, in general, is like that; if you can make it through the first half or so, the character confusion starts to clear up and it actually becomes entertaining. Grisly, but entertaining. And, of course, the longer it goes on, the more pivotal of a role the Doctor plays, which I always find enjoyable (especially when he is such a contrast to the rest of the cast). I can't shake the feeling that this title might have been selected for reprinting because of one - or both - of two odd points. The first is that there are monsters which take the form of (wait for it) stone angels. No, they're not the famed Weeping Angels, but they are described similarly enough that I found myself wondering if a commissioning editor thought, "New fans will think that's what they are and be very pleased." It's a possibility, anyway. The other point is a definite gimmick, which was notable even in 2002: a large chunk toward the end of the book, roughly fifty pages' worth, is told as a <i>Choose Your Own Adventure</i>-style narrative, requiring you to flip back and forth to follow different viewpoints. I know several readers found it irritating - I thought it was rather inventive, but I agree with them that, like the Christie titles, it does seem massively inconsequential to the overall story. And that's where I got to with <i>Ten Little Aliens</i>, in general - it wasn't awful, and I didn't regret the read. It's just that I know of a good half dozen first Doctor titles that would have been a lot more <i>special</i> for a celebratory 50th anniversary line, and I'm still a little bemused that this one was chosen.

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