Fiction Reviews

Doctor Who
The Zygon Invasion

(2023) Peter Harkness, BBC Books, £9.99, pbk, 192pp, ISBN 978-1-785-94791-9


“We will die in the fire instead of living in chains!”

For years, 20 million shape-changing Zygons have lived among us in secret. They wear human form, hiding in plain sight. Now a fanatical Zygon splinter group seek to expose their own kind and provoke a conflict that will force both sides to the brink of Armageddon to ensure their own survival.

It took three Doctors to broker a fragile peace between Zygons and Humans. Now the 12th must face the fallout alone. With his allies compromised and his companion believed dead, can he stop the world from plunging into war?

Double-whammy! Here we have two Doctor Who stories for the price of one as Peter Harness adapts his own script for 'The Zygon Invasion', and also 'The Zygon Inversion' which was penned by himself and show-runner Steven Moffat, both starring Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor and Gemma Coleman as Clara Oswald, and some familiar UNIT faces such as Kate Stewart and Osgood. But before proceedings can really start we get to see even more familiar faces in the prologue featuring the War Doctor and Doctors 10 and 11 as they try to broker a peace treaty between humanity and invading Zygon forces with the help of two Kate Stewarts and two Osgoods, one of which is human and one of which is a Zygon. Except, thanks to the introduction of a mind-altering gas they don’t know if they are human or Zygon, which seems a fair way to negotiate a peace treaty to allow both races to live together, at least for a little while.

But that time has passed and a rebel faction of Zygons want to reveal themselves and take over the earth. In addition to the plot Harness gives us the back story and motivation for Bonnie the leader of the Zygon rebels who had a partner called Clyde, but Clyde is dead, killed by an angry mob of humans who had started to kill the Zygons in their midst as the Zygons struggled to fit into human society because they were not used to maintaining the same form for so long to the detriment of their physical and mental health. Peace might have been made, but no-one saw the consequences of trying to maintain it and the Zygons were more or less left to get on with it. Bonnie intends to make sure those who abandoned them pay, starting by using her abilities to turn herself into Clara Oswald, placing the real Clara in a pod. Holy Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Batman, as the story gives a knowing nod to classic science fiction films, along with a little bit of politics, paranoia, and pyrotechnics, not to mention Clara becoming creepy with Bonnie inside her so to speak.

No spoilers here, but the ending is very clever and allows Capaldi to deliver one of his best speeches, and in all the compressing of the story and the action over two 45-minute episodes into 180-odd pages, Harness manages to capture Doctor Grumpy perfectly in another BBC/Target book that is a must-read for Whovians everywhere.

Ian Hunter


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