One of the parties looking to bid for the Doctor’s biodata is the Faction Paradox, which in this novel is more fully formed than in Christmas on a Rational Planet. They perform voodoo rituals and have a religious view on using biodata to control people and the universe. Time Lords to them are liars and cheats, not without merit of course, but throughout the novel we see them controlling soldiers and attempting to complete their own plan. Their plans are also left hanging by Miles to be picked up in future books, but the information gleaned in this novel is enough to tell a complete story. It’s not actually the plot which is interesting in the novel, but it’s almost all the setup and worldbuilding Miles sets up for the Eighth Doctor Adventures as a range. The treasure hunt so to speak of taking control of the casket and the Doctor eventually destroying it is an excellent plot and the ending is quite poignant, so the worldbuilding is just icing on the cake for the book. The actual villain is Shift, an incredibly interesting incorporeal creature who communicates through psychic influences. It is something that infiltrates the minds of its victims and intends to create times of great paranoia to gain control of the biodata.
Miles includes the Krotons as one party wanting to take the biodata of the Doctor which actually are quite threatening in this appearance. Time is taken to describe the biology of the Kroton race as silicon base and individuals are able to commit suicide and rebuild themselves to make them stronger. There’s also a Time Lord, Hommunculette, as a bidder who’s more interesting involvement is the relationship with his TARDIS, Marie. Marie, being a Type 103 TARDIS, has an almost human sentience and form and her death about 1/3 into the novel is incredibly effective. It sends her owner into a fit of rage as Miles implies a deep romantic and psychic relationship between ship and operator.
Finally, there is the inclusion of Sam Jones to consider when looking at Alien Bodies. There have been complaints about Sam being a non-character in the previous five novels which only Paul Leonard attempted to rectify in Genocide. Alien Bodies is a book where Sam’s non-character nature is revealed as setup for future novels again. The idea is that Sam Jones has two biodatas. The first is the one the previous five novels have given us: Sam is a young blonde woman, preoccupied with activism and a goody two shoes to boot who met the Doctor when running away from drug dealers in Totters’ Lane. The other is a bit more interesting and a bit deeper than that: Samantha Jones is a dark haired young woman who has fallen into a heroin addiction and is friends with drug dealers. This is the first glimpse of what Miles calls ‘Dark Sam’ and something that the Doctor decides to keep from his companion. Yet outside of that Miles also makes Sam quite the likable character through the first half of the book, comforting a UNISYC soldier and honestly just acting like she wants to help out. It makes a big change from the previous novels where she has been more of a whiny child. Overall Alien Bodies is a novel full of atmosphere that takes a slow burn approach to storytelling. It clocks in at 313 pages and is the first Eighth Doctor Adventure to really hit it out of the park and set up the storyline for the range. 10/10.