Ten Little Aliens was the fifty-third novel in the BBC Past Doctor Adventures series. It was written by Stephen Cole, released on 3 June 2002 and featured the First Doctor, Ben Jackson and Polly Wright.
2002 BBC Books edition
Far out in space, on the ragged edges of Earth's bloated empire, an elite unit of soldiers is on a training mission. But deep in the heart of the hollowed-out planetoid that forms their battleground, a chilling secret waits to be discovered: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the moment of violent, bloody death.
The bodies are those of the empire's most wanted terrorists, and their discovery could end a war of attrition devastating the galaxy. But is the same force that slaughtered them still lurking in the dark tunnels of the training ground? And what are its plans for the people of Earth?
When the Doctor arrives on the planetoid with Ben and Polly, he soon senses a net tightening about them. And as the soldiers begin to disappear one by one, paranoia spreads; is the real enemy out there in the darkness, or somewhere among them?
2013 BBC Books edition
Deep in the heart of a hollowed-out moon the First Doctor finds a chilling secret: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the moment of their death. They are the empire's most wanted terrorists, and their discovery could end a war devastating the galaxy. But is the same force that killed them still lurking in the dark? And what are its plans for the people of Earth?
In the distant future, Marshal Nadina Haunt is training trainees of Earth's Anti-Terror elite at a training facility. Haunt takes a group of them to a barren planetoid for a mock battle against Kill-Droids, however they find a complex architecture from the Earth conquered Schirr homeworld.
Meanwhile, the Doctor, Ben, and Polly arrive in the TARDIS and begin examining a central chamber within the Schirr complex. Haunt's troopers are surprised by the presence of the trio but are distracted by the discovery of the corpses of the Ten-Strong, a magic-wielding Schirr terrorist cell, sealed behind a force field. Haunt's group explains that the Ten-Strong previously learned magic from the discorporial Morphieans, then assaulted Earth forces with various 'spells'. The assembled humans ponder how the Ten-Strong came to be lying dead on the Barren planetoid. The complex they are in suddenly breaks away from the planetoid and rockets towards the Morphiean quadrant.
The soldiers and the TARDIS team all set about investigating how to turn the asteroid around and why the corpses are present. Denni is suddenly dragged away in the dark from an unseen force, as is Lindey later on. They later find out that this was done by stone angels and cherubs, which are identified as Morphiean constructs. Over time the group realises that they are all transforming into Schirr, with Frog being the most advanced into this process. The process seems to be beneficial to some: removing shrapnel from Shade's face, healing Frog's voice, and removing a cyst from Haunt, however the end process is that their bodies will become Schirr. Shel is revealed to be an android; the group ponders on whether he was sent to sabotage the mission or investigate someone else who might want to do so.
The remaining soldiers and the TARDIS crew set up a neural-net between them: a means of looking through each other's perspective to forcibly link the minds of all present. Eventually, the Ten-Strong revive, having faked their demise behind a time-stasis field. The Doctor realises that Haunt, a Schirr sympathizer, deliberately lead her troopers to the asteroid as fodder for the Ten-Strong. Weakened from their recent escapades, the Ten-Strong plan to use Morphiean magic to convert Haunt's soldiers into Schirr flesh, then absorb them to regain their health. If successful, the Ten-Strong intend to cast their greatest spell to date - a ritual that will let their allies, a group of Morphiean extremists, seize control of the Morphiean host mind. United, the Ten-Strong and renegade Morphieans will crush the Earth empire: gaining the Schirr revenge and the Morphieans a plethora of physical hosts.
For the ritual to be successful, a specific number of beings must be present for the final spell, the Morphiean constructs (in the form of bugs swarmed together to form stone angels and cherubs) kill off a few of Haunt's troopers throughout the plot, including: Denni, Lindey, Joiks, and the cyborg Shel. When the correct number are present, the Ten-Strong usurp the trooper's neural net. Finally, the Ten-Strong leader DeCaster consumes Haunt and readies for the final incantation.
The Doctor discovers that when the cyborg Shel previously interfaced with the network, a trace element of his AI personality was left behind. As the Ten-Strong make their final casting, the Doctor begs Shel's digitized persona to mentally resist the incantation. Shel's disruptive presence ruins the chant, causing an energy backlash that obliterates the Ten-Strong and ruins the renegade Morphiean's protection spells from the hive-mind, allowing the Morphiean authorities to detect and eliminate them.
With the threat to Earth ended, Haunt's remaining soldiers steer the wayward complex towards home and the Doctor, Ben, and Polly leave in the TARDIS.
- Marshal Nadina Haunt
- Eiji Shel
- Adam Shade
- Gisel Denni
- Dav Joiks
- Mel "Frog" Narda
- Ralph Tovel
- Stace Lindey
- Joseph Creben
- Dax Roba
- Polly spent a week in 1963 working at a charity shop.
- Earth colonies include the Little Europe star system, the Indochina system, the Thai system, the Commonwealth Belt, planets Toronto, New Jersey, the Argentines, Buenos Aires, Paris II and Beijing Minor.
- The Schirr homeworld was renamed Idaho.
- Earth's empire annexed the Schirr homeworld.
- Schirr terrorists use Morphiean magic against the empire.
- Imperial soldiers use websets and Kill-Droids in their training.
- The Schirr use crystals with cartographic information in them to pilot their ships.
- This adventure is set between The Smugglers and The Tenth Planet. It is the only novel in a very small number of stories to feature the First Doctor travelling with Ben and Polly. The Three Paths, a 2006 short story, establishes a solid narrative gap between the two TV serials which allows for this.
- The novel's title is based on the Agatha Christie story Ten Little N*ggers.
- The book was re-released with a new cover on 7 March 2013 for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary.
- The story is set in May '90, but the millennium and century are unspecified. The reference book AHistory places the year as circa 2890, as it is set during a time when Earth's empire is strong.
- The spacesuits worn here are the ones later seen in the television story The Moonbase.
- The book takes on an unusual format from pages 196 to 244, taking on the style of a 'Decide Your Destiny' book during the sequence when the characters are linked in the neural network, allowing the reader to switch between the first person perspectives of each of the characters, excluding the Doctor
- The Doctor can sense his upcoming regeneration into his second incarnation, telling Ben that he will soon feel a new person. (TV: The Tenth Planet) As will be the case with his tenth incarnation considerably later in his personal timeline, he is apprehensive about the inevitable change. (TV: The End of Time)
- The Kill-Droid reminds Ben of the War Machines. (TV: The War Machines)
- Creben refers to spectrox. (TV: The Caves of Androzani)
- Haunt says to the Doctor that the pioneers used to say that our destiny is in the stars. The First Doctor said this in France. (TV: The Reign of Terror)
- In order to stop Polly from looking at his thoughts, the Doctor produces the image of a penny farthing. (TV: The Space Museum)
- The Doctor mentions civilisations which eat the bodies of the dead in order to remember them. (PROSE: Venusian Lullaby)
Additional cover images
- Official Ten Little Aliens page at Penguin Books
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Ten Little Aliens at The Whoniverse
- The Cloister Library: Ten Little Aliens