Home : Archive : TSV 41-50 : TSV 45 : Review

Invasion of the Cat-People

By Gary Russell

Book review by Paul Scoones

Like many other New Zealand Doctor Who fans, my first impressions about this book were formed from listening to the author speak at a convention in Wellington a year ago. Then I did not find the concept of a race of anthropomorphised felines as the potential destroyers of Earth very appealing, but the sheer charm of Gary's novel has won me over. The Cat-People are deserving of a place on the very short list of alien races, created within the New/Missing Adventures canon, who are worthy of a follow-up encounter.

The best parts of this book are those which involve Polly and Ben's attempts to come to terms with the unfamiliarity of their surroundings. The Earth of 1994 is a strange and foreign place to the Doctor's two companions from 1966. Home computers, CDs, and VCRs are completely new to them. The irony is of course that when Ben and Polly were first introduced to the programme they were intended to provide the viewers with a contemporary perspective on the various places the Doctor landed them in. Like System Shock, this is a 'near-future' Missing Adventure written with the benefit of hindsight.

It is fair to say that Polly is one of the forgotten Doctor Who companions. Gary has done much to redress the balance. He provides her with a past life, hopes, dreams and a surname. The Doctor is without a doubt the same character played by Patrick Thoughton, and it is interesting to have Ben alongside him to do the physical work in a role that would soon be usurped by Jamie. I would very much like to see more Troughton Missing Adventures set prior to Jamie's arrival.

The novel treads a fine line between science and mysticism. Ghosts, Tarot readings, ley lines and Aboriginal ancestral legends are all significant plot components, but in the best tradition of Doctor Who such things are given a rational basis. The story is tightly and economically written with a bare minimum of padding, whilst at the same time anything but straight-forward as often several equally important plot strands vie for equal importance.

Perhaps the greatest recommendation I can give this book is that I read it over one evening and the following morning, quite unable to break off reading it except to sleep. To those seeking to read only the best of the Missing Adventures, this novel is certainly one to add to your list.

This item appeared in TSV 45 (September 1995).

Index nodes: Invasion of the Cat-People