A while ago I published the post: Reading Order: Every Canon(ish) Star Wars Novel. I wanted to do a similar post for other insanely long-running and complicated franchises. My current plan is to make reading order posts for Doctor Who and Star Trek, but if there any any others you’d like to see, please let me know!
Doctor Who has a long history. One thing you know about Doctor Who if you’ve ever tried to watch the Classic series – many of the early episodes and series are lost to time, as the original tapes were recorded over by the BBC decades ago. Many of the remaining footage of the early seasons comes from home recordings, rather than originals.
That being said, novelizations of the TV stories serve as a decent way of getting access to those lost stories in today’s world. Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of novelizations of the TV stories. Wikipedia also has a good list of the Big Finish Audio Dramas.
Doctor Who novels can be split into a few different categories:
The Classic Doctors, featuring characters from the original run of the series, and Doctors 1 through 7.
The Eighth Doctor, featuring stories of the Doctor who started reviving Doctor Who.
The New Doctors, featuring characters from the 2005-present series, doctors 9 – current.
This blog post gives a good chronological order of the original episodes, with supplemental novels and audio dramas, for the first 7 doctors. This website lists supplemental comics and annuals for the first 16 series of the classic show.
The Past Doctor Adventures features new adventures of the first seven Doctors, with the following exceptions:
— Scream of the Shalka, a novelisation of a webcast story featuring the Alternative Ninth Doctor;
— The Infinity Doctors, featuring an unspecified Doctor;
— The Face of the Enemy, featuring The Master;
— Fear Itself, the only PDA featuring the Eighth Doctor.
The Missing Adventures – A series of novels from Virgin Publishing based on the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who, featuring stories set between televised episodes of the programme. The novels featured the First through Sixth Doctors (with the Seventh Doctor appeareing in one novel). Like all spin-off media, their canonicity in relation to the television series is open to interpretation. In addition to original novels, the Missing Adventures series also incorporated two novelisations – The Ghosts of N-Space (based upon a mid-1990s BBC audio play) and Downtime (based upon an independent video production featuring several characters from the Doctor Who series).
The New Doctor Who Adventures – A series of novels from Virgin Publishing based on the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who. They continued the story of the Doctor from the point at which the television programme went into hiatus from television (in 1989). From 1991 to 1997 all books (except the final one) involved the Seventh Doctor, played on television by Sylvester McCoy; in further books published between 1997 and 1999, the New Adventures series focused on the character Bernice Summerfield and the Doctor did not appear. Like all Doctor Who media, their continuity in relation to all other Doctor Who media is open to interpretation.
The Virgin Bernice Summerfield New Adventures were a series of novels that featured Bernice Summerfield and her “supporting cast” and published by Virgin Books following the loss of the license that allowed them to publish an original series of novels, the New Adventures series, which could legally use characters and concepts derived from Doctor Who. Though most featured Bernice herself, two, Deadfall and Dead Romance, centered on other characters. The series began in in May 1997 and ended in October 1999. Big Finish Productions would later obtain the license to these characters for their own line of audios, novels and short fiction featuring Benny and her supporting cast. The book series initially used the same cover designs as that for the later Doctor Who NA books, except with a newly commissioned New Adventures logo. A new cover design was introduced with Another Girl, Another Planet which removed the NA identifier from the front cover and introduced a new title-lettering style.
The Virgin Decalog books were collections of short stories published by Virgin Publishing based on the television series Doctor Who. Five volumes were published between 1994 and September 1997, although volumes 4 and 5 did not feature the Doctor or any other non-Virgin copyrighted characters. This is because the BBC decided not to renew Virgin’s licence to produce original Doctor Who fiction.
The Target Books novelisations of the TV series Doctor Who and published under the Target Books imprint. Target Books began to publish reprinted and original Doctor Who novelizations in 1973. Retroactively numbering of the books only began in 1983. The first new book to be numbered was Time-Flight. The numbering did not initially reflect either original publication order (which would have placed David Whitaker’s Doctor Who and the Daleks first), or broadcast order, but rather was conducted in alphabetical order, so that the novelisation of The Abominable Snowmen was numbered “1”. Due to print delays and last minute reordering of publication schedules, a few of the later books were released out of numeric order.
These are the Target Books novelisations of the TV series Doctor Who and published under the Target Books imprint. Target Books began to publish reprinted and original Doctor Who novelizations in 1973. Retroactively numbering of the books only began in 1983. The first new book to be numbered was Time-Flight. The numbering did not initially reflect either original publication order (which would have placed David Whitaker’s Doctor Who and the Daleks first), or broadcast order, but rather was conducted in alphabetical order, so that the novelisation of The Abominable Snowmen was numbered “1”. Due to print delays and last minute reordering of publication schedules, a few of the later books were released out of numeric order.
The novelisations of each TV story, in the order they originally aired on British TV. From the first episode through to the TV movie (the last episode to be novelised).
A series of novels revealing the untold story of Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart and Anne Travers set shortly after the 1968 Doctor Who serial, The Web of Fear.
Short Trips was a name initially given to three short story anthologies published by BBC Books, starting in 1999. These three books were published in conjunction with the BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures and BBC Past Doctor Adventures book series. Each book contained stories featuring the first eight incarnations of the Doctor. After publishing Short Trips and Side Steps in March 2000, BBC Books abandoned short stories for full length prose. In 2002, Big Finish Productions obtained the rights to the Short Trips series.
Eighth Doctor Adventures – The Eighth Doctor Adventures (sometimes abbreviated as EDA or referred to as the EDAs) are a series of spin off novels based on the long running BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who and published under the BBC Books imprint. 73 books were published overall. Like all spin-off media, their canonicity in relation to the television series is open to interpretation.
The New Series Adventures, published by BBC Books beginning in 2005, contain new stories featuring the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctors.
Class is a YA series set in contemporary London. Incredible dangers are breaking through the walls of time and space, and with darkness coming, London is unprotected. With all the action, heart and adrenalin of the best YA fiction (Buffy, Hunger Games), this is Coal Hill School and Doctor Who like you’ve never seen it before.
The Torchwood novels are a series of spin-off novels based on the BBC science fiction television series Torchwood and published under the BBC Books imprint. All releases to date in the Torchwood novels line have been published in hardcover. The books themselves can be read in any order and share no internal continuity. However they often reference and foreshadow events in the series.
Brand new adventures from Big Finish Productions, featuring the new series UNIT team, as led by Kate Stewart (Jenna Redgrave) and featuring Osgood (Ingrid Oliver).
Doctor Who Short Stories – Official collections of short stories published by BBC Books