Wednesday, May 15, 2013


So, here I've been lo these many months, out of my mind with excitement that soon (but not soon enough), I'd be holding a Doctor Who novel written by my favorite living science fiction writer (that would be Alastair Reynolds*, duh, and may he live long and prosper**), and one that concerns one of my favorite Doctors (that would be the Third, portrayed by the inimitable Jon Pertwee), and I realized, hey, I've never actually read a Doctor Who novel.

So I went hunting. Concurrently with a recent mania to watch the whole of the Ninth Doctor's single TV season and an accompanying wild hair to write a novel starring said Ninth Doctor, because Christopher Eccleston is another favorite.*** And Only Human had the best blurb. This might be Jasper Fforde's fault for making me sympathize so with Neanderthals. I'm just not sure on that.

I am now dangerously close to writing a blog post that is longer than the actual novel, which is short and sweet but packed with goodies to satisfy the wibbly wobbly timey wimey longings of any Who fan, new or old, with offerings ranging from a Neanderthal lost in 21st century England (whom Captain Jack, of all people, must help to acclimatize) to a population of technologically advanced modern humans living in a Prisoneresque village in prehistoric England but strangely uninterested in the Neanderthal and Homo sapiens sapiens populations nearby unless their "popper packs" (basically a ripoff of the Penfield Mood Organs from Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) compel them so to be, even though studying these populations and the charismatic megafauna that share their world is why said H.s.s. are there and then (for of course, they are time travelers, using a cheap and dirty version of time travel so cheap and dirty as to make Captain Jack's vortex manipulator look like something from the pages of Inhabitat).

But so, the Doctor and cavemen of various species. Who doesn't love a combination like that? I'm certainly in for a go, even if Rose has to come along, too, which she does, but no tale is perfect, right?****


Like I said, there's a lot packed into this short little book. While Captain Jack is training the displaced Neanderthal, Das, in 21st century living, the Doctor and Rose travel back to Das' time (to which Das cannot return because of reasons. And cheap and dirty time travel tech. Wibbly wobbly) to find out how/why Das got when he is and put a stop to whatever's going on because it is Bad. And they find the aforementioned Penfield Mood Organ junkies. Who are all enslaved via their Poppers by a charismatic and devastatingly (and artificially) intelligent, ruthless scientist named Chantal. Everybody wants to please Chantal. And Chantal is up to no good. Basically a Master/Rani hybrid, is Chantal. Except a bit more effective; at one point even the Doctor is drug-boozled into wanting to please Chantal -- and were this not a Doctor Who story, one might well have come to believe the jeopardy in which this places him. As it was, it was not at all easy to see how he was going to get out of his predicament. While Rose was off cavorting with cave men.

So, I wound up enjoying this little romp rather a lot. And I'll say this for my fellow Rose haters: book Rose, at least this book Rose, is rather more enjoyable than TV Rose -- not because Billie Piper did a bad job on TV or anything, just that the kind of stuff Gareth Roberts put her through would not be easy at all to pull off on TV, and is very likely way more satisfying for people who consider her dominance of the early seasons of NuWho to be their flaw rather than their glory.


*I say this not only because it's true, but also because Reynolds occasionally reads my blog and my saying this makes him blush, and I'm just sadistic enough to enjoy making him blush. Especially when, for reasons that blast out my logic circuits, right now Britons can enjoy Harvest of Time, but I as an American not legally do so for another month. Harrumph.


***For those who will surely ask, my current (because they fluctuate, because I'm only human (heh) order of favorite Doctors is: Ninth, Third, Eleventh, Sixth, Fourth, First, Seventh, Second, Tenth, Fifth. Usually Eleventh is higher, and he's like to regain a higher spot on my list after the bravura performance in the most recent Neil Gaiman-penned episode in which Matt Smith got to pull a Gollum/Locutus of Who thing. But I'm all about the Pert right now because of Alastair Reynolds. Duh.

****And there I've outraged all the Rose partisans out there. Bring it. I've been dealing with people who aren't down with my dislike of Perpugilliam Brown for decades now, and Al Bruno III and I are still even friends.
I wasn't going to nerd out quite so much for this post, but dudes, trying to choke the life out of Peri on his very first day beneath Colin Baker's blonde curls is a huge part of why the Sixth Doctor is so high on my list. That and I'm just generally a bit partial to Bastard Doctors.

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