The Zygon Invasion
By Peter Harness
Doctor Who has saved the solar system on countless occasions and planet Earth even more than this, but some of these saves felt a little.... minor. Alien races trying their arm at taking over Earth with nary a plan worth writing on the back of a psychic beermat. Sometimes though the stakes are big, huge, massive. The Zygon Invasion by Peter Harness is one of those days. The fragile peace between the humans and the zygons looks like it is about to break, and it may just take the Earth with it.
The human and zygon race had been living in harmony for some time due to a peace process overseen by The Doctor and the Osgoods. The zygons took human form and live unknown among us, but when a rebel faction starts to reveal itself, will the two races pull each other apart?
Zygon is based on a bumper arc in the Doctor Who series but keeps the pacy and short style of the other Target novels. This means that a lot had to be condensed into under 200 pages. I do not think that this is a bad thing as this is a story that flies throughout. You do bounce from one location to another, but it is thrilling. The concluding section is given more time to breath as this is important to the fate of Earth and has the most challenging character development for The Doctor and Clara.
One of the joys of the Target books is that you can pick many of them up and read them as short stories that have little reliance on your knowledge of the show. In the case of Zygon is helps if you are a fan, the longer standing the better as there are references to previous adventures. Rather than alienate a new reader, Harness comments more of them as an aside, an in joke for the deeper fan.
I always enjoy these books as they give a look into the mind of the characters and that is certainly true of The Doctor here. The Target books are often told from a companion point of view, but here we get a glimpse into the mind of Twelfth Doctor and how the proceedings in this adventure remind them of tough decisions made in the past. As you would expect from the writer of the show, Harness does a brilliant job of capturing this Doctor’s personality, all hard edges and dark humour, but with a core of hope.
The story is fun if a little action based to begin with. The book really proves itself in the conclusion with an interesting take on Game Theory, with the ultimate consequences. Having studied the theorem, it is always nice to see it being used in new and interesting ways. The idea of Hawks and Doves, of mutual destruction are all present and give the last moments of the novel real drama.
I would not place The Zygon Invasion as one of my favourite Target novels as it did have to squeeze a lot of action into the written form, only being given room to consider and breath towards the end. However, it is great fun, especially for the longer-term fan of the show. There are more Easter eggs hidden in this book than usual and you get to meet some iconic characters and aliens.
Written on 31st August 2023 by Sam Tyler .