The lost adventure by Douglas Adams
Novelization by Gareth Roberts
Ace Books, 2012
There have recently been a number of reworkings of Douglas Adams' stories and reincarnations of his unfinished works, and with the unabated popularity of Doctor Who it was almost inevitable that the never-used script for one of Adams' Doctor Who stories would be made into a novel. This was originally a set of six episodes that were killed due to a BBC strike in 1979; Gareth Roberts has fleshed it out a bit to address some incomplete subplots, but is largely true to the original scripts.
So we are sent back to the days of the Fourth Doctor, Romana, and K9, right at the end of season 17. The Doctor responds to a call for assistance from a retired Time Lord, only to find that that being, an ancient of the name Chronotis, has no recollection of sending this call out. Or perhaps he does -- he can't quite recall. He's getting on a bit, and the old memory isn't quite what it was. Either way, it calls for a good cup of tea and some biscuits, and then some serious investigation.
Unbeknownst to pretty much all parties concerned, a young undergraduate at Cambridge University, Chris Parsons, has unwittingly absconded with a mysterious tome. This is not just any mysterious tome, however! It is a lost treasure of Gallifrey, and one with powers unknown even to the Doctor himself. This is discovered at approximately the same time as a dangerous psychopath with plans to take over the universe appears in Cambridge and starts killing people. Wacky high jinks ensue.
Although I have very limited exposure to the older episodes of Doctor Who, this novel seems to me to be very true to the spirit of the show. It is very much a light-hearted space opera of the classic sort, with grandiose villains, ancient civilizations of immense power but limited bauplans and sharing a very limited aesthetic, and pumped full of an overabundance of plot reversals and deus ex machina. The voice of Douglas Adams is apparent, although a bit diluted.
As long as you approach this as an homage to 1970s science fiction television (and Douglas Adams!), this is good fun. But because this is what it is, it has the expected failings -- a very two-dimensional villain, a lot of handwavium, and plots constrained by an old-fashioned idea of what science fiction is. However, this is overall a fun read, and I recommend it to any fan of Douglas Adams, Doctor Who, or classic science fiction.