Tegan Jovanka is also a character in this novel whom Morris spends quite a bit of time exploring, as he builds on the idea that she is slowly becoming fed up with the death and destruction that follows the Doctor around. She’s become almost untrusting of the Doctor as he insists they need a holiday, and takes much of the early portion of the novel to get some fresh air where she meets PC Andy Weathers. Andy is a police officer who meets Tegan in a bar in an oddly mundane situation for Doctor Who and they immediately hit it off. It’s not an overly flirtatious relationship, but Morris writes it as two people getting to know each other and just maybe realizing the potential for something more than friendship. As this is Doctor Who, and a story set during Season 21, Andy does have red shirt plastered over him, and Morris deals with this better than he could have. His death still furthers Tegan’s motivations and the interactions she has with Mike Yates, who kills Andy as he is taken over by the alien force in this novel. Yates did this when backed into a corner, Andy had been transformed into a Xaranti and would have killed them both, infecting Tegan in the process.
The idea of alien infection is nothing new to Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom and The Ark in Space had characters transformed painfully into aliens, and Morris’ Xaranti are perhaps one of the novel’s weaker elements. The Xaranti are highly derivative of the Wirrn from The Ark in Space, something that Morris lampshades near the end of the novel, and outside of being more like scorpions than the insectoid Wirrn, have little to distinguish them. They have a queen and hive mind which controls them, they infect people who are slowly turned into them, and the infection begins subtly at first before cocooning them and having their new forms burst out. The only differentiation between the Wirrn is the plot point that the Doctor can find a cure for the infection, making the last fifty or so pages feel like a retelling of the end of Doctor Who and the Silurians. The slow burn of the pace makes this novel feel like it’s following a disease outbreak which tonally distinguishes it from The Ark in Space enough to recover some of the quality that the book is lacking. Morris also allows several familiar characters including Tegan, the Brigadier, Sergeant Benton, and the Doctor to all be infected which is interesting enough. Overall, Deep Blue suffers from being a highly derivative novel, taking from other Doctor Who stories which hold it back from being an all time classic novel. As it stands, it is a good read and a decent way to spend some time if you’re a fan of the Fifth Doctor or the UNIT Family. 7/10.