This is another in the Monster Collection of stories, originally published in 1997 and now republished in 2014, with an Introduction by Mike Tucker. It was originally being written as a possible script for a 1990 season which never happened.
In this story, the Seventh Doctor and Ace are in London during the Blitz in WWII. The Doctor has brought Ace here at her request, and it becomes clear in the story that he hopes that a little reality as to the horror of war may help Ace find an adult response to situations that doesn't include Nitro-9. To put Ace's timeline in perspective in this story, it's set after Survival (the last episode of the tv series cancelled in 1989), so Ace is still a young woman who has had a troubled life. Her responses, as shown in the first part of the book still involve explosions and agression. It's really good to see in this book that she matures in her outlook somewhat, and I found myself liking her a lot more by the end of the book as she finds a new way to deal with some of the issues in the story.
This is a pretty dark story; set in and around London during the War, there is already death and violence from the nightly bombings by the Germans. Add to that a killer stalking the streets of London and some strange metallic rustlings coming from the sewers, and you have what the Doctor knows can only be something really really bad - and alien. It's no surprise (given the cover picture) that Cybermen are in this story, and they are out to cybernise as many humans as they can. But the Nazis want their technology as well, and they will stop at nothing to get what they want. Can the Doctor and Ace stop alien future technology falling into anybody's hands and stop the killing?
I really enjoyed this story; the writing is fast-paced, the characters alongside the Doctor and Ace are well realised, and the `bad' guys are nicely subtle. At the end, there's a really nice nod to the 1968 televised story with Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor, The Invasion. This is well done, as the Cybermen in this novel are clearly the older style of Cybermen (we know that from their description in the book and also their voice tones used) as depicted on the original novel's cover, and not the newer style of Cybermen depicted on the cover of the novel in the reissue.
on 15 April 2011
I had only read a few lines of chapter one before I was supplying the easy American drawl of a thousand private eye voice overs. A minute or so later I knew that the location was London during the blitz and that a serial killer, dubbed The Limehouse Lurker, was at work in the bomb damaged streets. "Put that damn light out," shouts a warden a few pages later in true Dad's Army fashion. By now the main supporting character is firmly established, the scene is set and I haven't yet resorted to flipping the pages to see how far I've got to read before the Doctor turns up.
The combination of the private eye and the sardonic Special Branch man Mullen are as familiar as the Tardis crew. The tv series often borrowed from other genres in order to create atmosphere in a short space of time. Mix in Nazi spies and "some very old enemies" as the cover summary hints (blowing the surprise completely with the front cover and the caption "Featuring the Seventh Doctor and Ace - plus the Cybermen") and you have a marvellous début for the Tucker/Perry partnership.
Whenever the cyber-mats turned up during the tv series when I was a kid it wasn't a case of hiding behind the sofa, it was more like out the door, so it astounded me when I read somewhere that the critters weren't used in Silver Nemesis because they weren't convincing or scary. I wasn't quite out the door when the things turned up here but they still seem pretty effective frighteners even in print.
Due to the long running New Adventures published by Virgin, the pairing of the Seventh Doctor and Ace is one of the most published Doctor Who double acts but I don't think I've ever read a more accurate and faithful portrayal of the two before reading this book. The NA's Ace never really seemed like the same character - even before she underwent her transformation into a battle hardened super soldier. The original character seemed to me to have been abandoned with only Ace as a visual template remaining.
The story is fast paced with many a twist and an about turn along the way. A very enjoyable read.
on 6 May 1999
I found this adventure incredible. I loved all the characterizations. Ace going off and developing relationships with numerous characters, which allows her to more fully understand and appreciate her bond with the Doctor. Usage of the historical London bombings during the Second World War only heightens the tensions. No one is ever completely safe for more than a moment. A page turner, and one where a great American character (a 40's private eye), a sinister, but grandfatherly eccentric, and the Nazi threat are all employed in a believable fashion. Bravo!
on 17 May 2009
I'd heard a lot about Mike Tucker and Robert Perry's writing so I was sort of expecting a nigh-on masterpiece, and by jove, for me, this book comes very close to it. Sure it had the Cybermen (old hat enemies of the Doctor) but the way they were incorporated into the story I thought was ingenious.
All of the characters were fully formed, three dimensional beings, not one of them a cardboard cut out and I even felt like Ace and had some sympathy for George Limb, especially at the beginning, because as the Doctor said, (something like) "He wasn't really an evil man", but boy did he cause so much havoc or what? Actually, to be honest, the Limb character reminded me of a somewhat diluted Master, if the Master was human of course. *shrug*
In all honesty, I'm not a fan of gratuitous violence where the only purpose it seems to serve is to end someone's life, so I was more than pleased to see that the violence in this book carried a rather stark and depressing message alongside of it.
All in all, this was indeed a fast paced, action packed book, but with its quieter moments you got to sink your teeth into a wonderful story, which included a slightly more than aesthetic look at what it might have been like in London during WWII and a theorising of a possible future when it comes to 'Cybertechnology'. Very nice indeed.
So, five stars from me and a very high recommendation. Now onto "Loving the Alien" - I can't wait :D
on 3 December 1999
Normally, with Doctor Who novels that reuse old monsters/friends, they are so filled with continuity, that they are quite difficult to follow. This is not the case with this book. It flows well from begining to end and the referances to other stories seem to fit so naturally that you don't even notice they're there. The Cybermen are ruthless and underestimated, Ace is spot on and the Doctor always seems to know what is going on. Everything a Doctor Who book should be.
on 21 December 2012
Illegal Alien is the first 7th Doctor PDA of the BBC Books range, the first book in Mike Tucker and Robert Perry's self styled "Series 27" and was infact based off an actual script in consideration for the run.
The premise of Illegal Alien is, well I don't actually know. The Doctor and Ace stumble upon Cybermen in the war torn streets of London 1940. The reasonings are still not clear, but it makes for a fairly entertaining read nonetheless. The book keeps your interest all the way through and the pages seem to fly by.
Character wise Mike Tucker and Robert Perry have got the 7th Doctor and Ace down to a tee. The supporting cast seem to be cliched, or two dimensional but it doesn't detract from the enjoyment. The only bad thing is the treatement of the Cybermen, for the most part they are pawns to other people and not at all terryfying. The Cybermats are scary, but there use seems to diwndle as the book goes on.
In short, Illegal Alien is a perfectly fine Doctor Who novel and one I heartily recommend to old and new fans alike.
After many years of the new adventures book range, which took the seventh doctor and ace to some very interesting places, in books that tried very hard at times to be novels in their own right, the eighth doctor became the doctor to get an ongoing series, and the seventh slipped into past doctor stories instead.
This being the first of those from a new publisher, it's like starting with him from scratch all over again. And thus we get a seventh doctor who is more like his tv portrayal than one who has been through a long series of novels.
This is not great literature but like the best in the range it's a decent read and it tells a decent doctor who story. You can probably guess who the enemy will turn out to be, and it's nice to see them again as well.
A really great read. Good stuff.
on 26 May 2001
This novel is an utter joy to behold from start to finish. It held my interest so furiously that every time I picked this book up to read it, it really was a struggle to put it down again. It is realistic, captivating, extremely well written and suitably sombre for the time that it is set in. The scene in which the cybermats attack the American bar is just one of the many highlights of this superb story. A must have for DW fans.