With the release of Original Sin and Cold Fusion, Big Finish's novel adaptations line seems to be over. Its been a pretty good run that hit most of the high points of the Virgin line: we heard the Doctor's first meetings with Bernice Summerfield and Sherlock Holmes; got to hear Gareth Roberts' rightly legendary Fourth Doctor trilogy come to life; Russell T. Davies' first Doctor Who story (which, space-cocaine aside was practically a manifesto for his TV series); we even got a Chelonian story out of the deal.
Still, with how good the last two were it feels like the series is over just as it was starting to hit its stride so here are a few... *ahem*, humble suggestions on where the line might go if it ever returns. Honourable mentions for books that can't be adapted because of the sad loss of vital actors: The Dying Days, Happy Endings, The Shadow of Weng-Chiang, Managra and First Frontier off the top of my head.
The Empire of Glass
The whole point of this novel is to place the staunchly non-interventionist First Doctor in the sort of adventure he'll have in later lives: a pseudo-historical set in Renaissance Venice with loads of different aliens knocking around because Irving Braxiatel wants to hold an intergalactic peace conference. Also Gallileo, Shakespeare and Marlowe are there. It sounds over busy and, frankly, it sort of is but it has the potential to be a fun little romp with lashing of Miles Richardson thrown in.
Whilst the “true origin” of the Doctor as Marc Platt writes it here might not be to my taste, it was the cap off to the Seventh Doctor's adventures back in the day. It tied off a lot of threads that had been seeded throughout the novels, including in Cold Fusion. Now, a lot of these ideas got re-used by Platt in other work for Big Finish, the Doctor's origins being something of a pet project of his, but I'd love to see the original story see the light of day again.
This was the book that wrote out Ace and had her become her own hero, Time's Vigilante (as opposed to the Doctor as Time's Champion). Given that Big Finish are muleheadedly dedicated to not giving Ace a definitive send-off she might as well finally get one in the canon grey area that is the novel adaptations. Its a good send-off, too, unsurprising given its written by Kate Orman.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
A high fantasy romp set in the early, anything goes days of Season One. A year ago this would not have made the list since it has a really substantial solo story for Barbara but with Jemma Powell taking the role in The Early Adventures the possibility is open. Its a great little novel that handles the four person TARDIS crew better than most of the TV stories they appeared in giving everyone something substantial to do. Plus, the First Doctor doing magic is just too delightful an idea to resist.
Andrew Cartmel's War trilogy
The “Cartmel Masterplan” is, of course, not a thing. He's been quite upfront about how he had no endgame in mind when he seeded all those hints about the Doctor's past into the episodes he script edited. If anything its the Platt Masterplan but we dealt with that earlier in the list.
But if there were a Cartmel Masterplan this would be it: unapologetically political, anti-corporate Doctor Who with a focus on how the Doctor affects the world around him.
So Vile a Sin
Never read it. Probably never will. Out of print pretty much the moment it came out and insanely expensive second hand. The grand sequel to Original Sin with Chris and Roz returning to their home time written by two of the NA's best talents Kate Orman and Ben Aaronovitch. Frankly, even if it didn't sound great on paper, just the fact that its stupidly hard to get hold of makes it a worthwhile addition to this list.
Naughty, I know. This was a BBC novel not a Virgin one and so probably Big Finish wouldn't be able to get the rights but it is absolutely the best Eighth Doctor Adventure in the whole in the whole series (which, being the second in s eries if seventy three novels is praising with faint damnation) and if I could have only one novel brought to life in audio it would be this.
Vampire Science is basically Kate Orman and Jon Blum writing a stage by stage guide on how the TV Movie should have been made. Its set in San Francisco, the Doctor teams up with a female scientist who's having relationship difficulties, it delves into the series back catalogue for an antagonist but it does all these things in fresh and interesting ways. I absolutely love this novel.