Spore by Alex Scarrow

The Doctor lands in the US town of Fort Casey, where an alien presence has taken over, and the army have the place quarantined.

Steven Moffat once said something along the lines of ‘you know when you’ve got a good Doctor Who story because it’s an idea that could sustain a movie franchise.’ August’s entry into the Puffin eBook series feels a lot like a movie, if not a very original one. Strange alien goings-on in a small US town feels very familiar and reminds me of Slither or The Fog. The short story benefits from being set in an instantly recognisable scenario though, and the twin horrors of bodily infection and deadly alien monsters running amok are efficiently and effectively drawn.

Into this arena arrives the Eighth Doctor. His persona isn’t well-defined from the 1996 TV Movie, and Scarrow certainly doesn’t try to expand on that here. Companionless (Puffin don’t have the rights to BBC Books’ Sam Jones or Fitz Kreiner, or Big Finish’s Charley Pollard), he teams up with the US Army’s Captain Evelyn Chan. The Doctor is pretty business-like throughout, identifying the threat and defeating it. The best scene is where he encounters the Spore’s mind and has to use his superior intelligence. At one point he considers telling Chan is Time Lord origins, then rejects the idea; this could be seen as a rejection of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor habit of delivering his back story in a little monologue.

I was expecting the Doctor to invite Chan to travel with him at the end of the story, but he doesn’t. This and the distance between the touchy-feely TV Movie Eighth Doctor, reading people’s futures by talking to them and the colder, far less eccentric version made me think he was going to be revealed to be mid-Time War, or at least preparing to go off to fight in that conflict. But this is fan gap-filling, and ultimately I think Scarrow just hasn’t taken the opportunity to do something interesting with the least-defined Doctor.

Order Spore from Amazon:

Doctor Who: Spore: Eighth Doctor: 50th Anniversary (Doctor Who Digital)

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