The Deviant Strain
Roots: Vampire stories, the end of the Cold War. Jack sings Pack up Your Troubles in your Old Kit Bag, and the Doctor mentions Star Trek
Goofs: The language used by some of the Russians uses some very English colloquialisms, such as "he went ape, if you'll forgive the expression".
Why is a former Soviet submarine called the St Petersburg, when the city was renamed Leningrad from the Russian Revolution until the fall of the Soviet regime.
Technobabble: The Doctor asks for a pseudi-quantum-enabled scanning electron microscope, "with flashing lights and stuff" when no such thing exists. Mutagenic revivification enhancement energy (MRE) is "life-force".
Continuity: Jack claims that he was born and bred a captain. He used to be scared by death and facing it, but now he's scared by the possibility that he'll live to grow old.
The TARDIS's translation device makes the names of the TARDIS crew sound "normal" to those they encounter.
Rose isn't used to Russian-style Vodka, but she can drive a car.
The device draining energy from humans is tuned to one strain of DNA. The Doctor's DNA is close enough that it won't take anything else if it won't take his [presumably this is a reference to the Doctor being half-human in The TV Movie). The Doctor claims that blue is a cliché for alien monsters.
The Arcane Collegiate ship is piloted by humanoids and has remote units which are glowing blobby blue things with tentacles. Its antennae are pseudo-silicate material that poke up through the ground to absorb energy from any strain of energy that is available. It has a safety feature that excludes the life force from intelligent beings, though that feature has been altered so that it now only absorbs life energy from humans. The remotes can absorb energy in the same way, but are vulnerable to fire. The ship and the remotes communicate on a psychic wavelength, so humans whose alpha waves work on a similar frequency might pick up the link and see the images the remotes are sending back to the ship. The pilots are one with the ship, so that part of their minds live in in the ship even if they die.
Links: The Vourdulak mentioned as a possible cause of the deaths may be related to the Verkulak mentioned in the UNIT Audio Snakehead. Rose mutters "trip of a lifetime" - a reference to the trailers for the start of the new series. The Doctor and Jack refer back to their conversation about Volcano day in The Doctor Dances.
Location: Novrosk, Northern Russia, the early 21st Century.
Q.v. Bad Wolf, The Parting of the Ways.
The Bottom Line: 'Right part of the world for a Molotov Cocktail, I s'pose.' Like many of Richards' Who novels, this is workmanlike. It does the job of telling the story, but isn't involving. The characters and their situation aren't terribly involving, and there isn't any real sense of a threat from the situation.