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Doctor Who and the Space War was a novelisation based on the 1973 television story Frontier in Space. Although the policy of using the prefix "Doctor Who and" would continue for some years to come, this was the last Target Books novelisation to use a different title than the televised story.

Publisher's summary[]

1976 Target Books edition[]

"Doctor," screamed Jo. "Look at that thing. It's coming straight at us!" A small black spaceship, about a mile away, was approaching rapidly.

It had no lights, no markings. But some instinct told Jo that the tiny craft meant danger.

The year is 2540, and two powers loom large in the Galaxy – Earth and Draconia. After years of peace, their spaceships are now being mysteriously attacked and cargoes rifled. Each suspects the other and full scale war seems unavoidable. The Doctor, accused of being a Draconian spy, is thrown into prison. And only when the MASTER appears on the scene do things really begin to move...

Chapter titles[]

  1. Link-up in Space
  2. The Draconian Prime
  3. Stowaways
  4. The Mind Probe
  5. Kidnap
  6. Prison on the Moon
  7. The Master
  8. Space Walk
  9. Frontier in Space
  10. The Verge of War
  11. Planet of the Ogrons
  12. The Trap

Deviations from televised story[]

  • To keep the novel self-contained, the ending was rewritten with the Doctor, in good health, leaving in the TARDIS. Before leaving, he tells the Master he must deal with the Daleks. The Master gathers up his belongings and says to himself "Oh well, there's always tomorrow."
  • An original sequence features the Doctor and Jo's first interrogation by Williams.
  • The Doctor makes a plea for the President to release the political prisoners from the moon.
  • The novel includes and elaborates on the backstory to Williams destroying a Draconian ship which was cut from the televised version. Williams, given the first name John, was a lieutenant who took command when the captain and senior officers were killed, and destroyed the Draconian ship by firing his retro-rockets at it and causing a chain reaction. The future President was on board as a senator's aide; it is implied that they were in a relationship which the incident ended.
  • Williams is said to have supported the President's opponent in the election and been offered his position as military advisor as a reconciliatory move.
  • The Master claims to come from Aldebaran Four rather than Sirius IV.
  • There is an earlier appearance of Brook, making a newscast calling for war prior to the report from C-982.
  • The Master mentions the Daleks as his employers in an aside after leaving the Doctor and Jo alone on his ship, much earlier than in the televised version.
  • Patel is renamed Doughty and is described as fair-haired rather than of Indian descent.
  • There is no explanation for what happens to Dale after the Master removes the Doctor from the airlock.
  • It is clarified that the Governor encourages guards to pretend to help prisoners escape and then make sure they die in the attempt.
  • The sequence of the Draconians attacking Williams' ship is omitted entirely.
  • There is an extra scene of Jo quizzing the Master about his motives.
  • Gardiner instructs Earth Security not to starve the Doctor and Jo.
  • Jo sees a chained-up Ogron, who will be starved and then fed to the lizard for stealing food from the shrine.
  • The Ogron-eating monster seen on-screen is replaced with a giant lizard, as originally scripted, and this is what appears to the Ogrons when the Doctor uses the hypno-sound device at the end.
  • The characters make frequent use of a ritual form of parting, exchanging the words "May you live a long life and may energy shine on you from a million suns"/"And may water, oxygen and plutonium be found in abundance wherever you land." This does not appear in the televised version.

Writing and publishing notes[]

  • This is the first cover artwork in the range not to use the Doctor's face, just the iconic aliens. Although Jon Pertwee's likeness would reappear on the cover of the very next publication, Planet of the Daleks, it would soon afterward become policy not to use the face of non-current Doctors in cover artwork. By 1976, Tom Baker was well established on television as the star of the show, and the BBC held the view that his was the identity which should be promoted. Future novelisations of television serials featuring past Doctors would therefore leave the Doctor off the cover altogether, and instead bear images of key characters and/or monsters.

Additional cover images[]

British publication history[]

First publication:

  • Hardback
W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd. UK
  • Paperback


60p (UK)


This Target Book was released as an audiobook on 4 February 2008 complete and unabridged by BBC Audio and read by Geoffrey Beevers.

The cover blurb and thumbnail illustrations were retained in the accompanying booklet with sleevenotes by David J. Howe. Music and sound effects by Simon Power.

The audiobook version was reissued as part of the audio anthology The Second Alien Worlds Collection on 6 December 2018.

External links[]

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