Canon or Cannot?
Warning: opinions expressed on this page are likely to be unpopular. I don't read Dr. Who novels and I don't accept them as canon. I don't understand why anybody else would. Please explain it to me. But first, hear me out:
90 percent of the appeal of Doctor Who lies in the portrayals and personae of the actors playing the part.
If you take that element out of the picture, what's left is a pale, ghostly thing that is no substitute for the original. This is true whether you're talking Doctor Who, Star Trek, The X Files, Dark Shadows or any other fantasy franchise. Without the presence that the actors provide combined with a creative direction that a script editor and producer provide, no series of spin-offs can, to my mind, be considered a legitimate part of the series.
True, the series of books does have an editorial team: but their "direction" seems to be limited to shoe-horning new stories into an existing timeframe, which they frequently do with flagrant disregard for the intentions and spirit of the television show.
Then there's the principle of the thing. Liscensed, spin-off SF series written by hacks are pushing REAL books and real authors -- authors who deserve your attention -- off the racks. In some cases, established authors are being forced by publishers to work on media spin-offs in order to get their REAL books into print. In other cases, long-established SF authors (including the likes of Norman Spinrad, to name but one) are being turned away by the bean counters who now run the publishing industry in favor of "tried-and-true" franchise books.
"Franchise" books are helping to kill the publishing industry, and they are taking food off the tables of serious writers. They are doing this at the expense of our intellectual health, by replacing real books by real authors with franchise pablum.
I'm going to take the time to read a book, I want it to be a real book written by a real author with a vision of his or her own to put forward, not a liscensed spin-off piece of crap.
If you really want to read a literary "take" on Doctor Who, read Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius series. Moorcock is a fan of the show who took the character, processed it through his opwn cerebellum and delivered a wild, original version all his own. It will knock your socks off. And it's a REAL BOOK.