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Doctor Who: Only Human: 50th Anniversary Edition Kindle Edition
|Length: 242 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Taking place during the time of the Ninth Doctor, he and his companions, Rose and Captain Jack Harkness, make their way to present day England when the TARDIS picks up a disturbance in the space time continuum. There, they discover, to their shock, a very much alive Neanderthal man running around town. And when their investigation takes them on a journey into Earth's ancient past, their ensuing battle with the time travelers messing with history will make them understand what it truly means to be human.
These books are pretty much just for fans of Doctor Who, as there's plenty of references to various episodes of the show, so the writing pretty much expects you to already know who the Doctor and Rose are, what the TARDIS is, and so on. These books pretty much play out like a professionally published fan fiction, and all the main characters behave and sound like they would on the show proper. Case in point, this story plays out perfectly like an unaired episode, with a great balance of seriousness, humor, and thoughtful lessons. All the characters are in perfect form, and though Jack Harkness gets pushed to the wayside a bit, he has a particularly memorable moment in which he has to provide a distraction so the Doctor and Rose can slip by the authorities. What he does, I dare not spoil, but it had me in tears, laughing.
And that's part of the book's charm---there's a great many humorous moments that I think a lot of other "Who" books have been lacking. The Neanderthal man they befriend early on is extremely friendly and likeable, and his exploits in the modern day are both hilarious, but also insightful, as his observations about the strangeness of present day humans reveals a lot about how truly bizarre we can be as a species. And therein lies the book's greatest strength; it's message in humanity. It's so easy to look back on our ancestors and believe them to be savages, but after glimpsing the future and how mankind has found ways to do away with negative emotions, to the point of being almost robotic and uncaring, it makes the reader have to look themselves in the mirror and wonder just who is the real barbarian here?
Both a funny and telling glance at human nature, this is easily one of the more unique and well written "Who" novels that I've come across.
The story has plenty of humor and there are a lot of interesting elements with the time travellers, sometimes it feels like too much. They’re travellers from 400,000 AD where everyone has figured out how to modify their moods and lives to be totally comfortable at all times and avoid “wrong feeling.” And there are a small minority of refusers. This could be a book in itself.
And then you have a crazy scientist lady at the head of the operation who has removed her own consciousness and has some really evil plans...and this could be its own book.
And then you have the relationship between early humans and neandrathals...and this could be a book, through probably for Hartnell and not any of the modern day doctors.
There's a lot going on, and it's entertaining enough and pretty frenetic and fast paced. Mostly though, it does work. I do think the decision to set this during Jack's time on the TARDIS and having the neandrathal integrate into the twenty-first led only to light comedy and keeping Jack off the TARDIS. Probably the easiest thread to cut would have been this one. Still, it's a solidly enjoyable read as is.
"Only Human" in particular was a fun read. Since we only had one season with Eccelstein's Doctor, it was fun to engage in another adventure with him, Rose, and Captain Jack. Even more importantly, the story line: Neanderthals, time travel, and futuristic Earth with limited technological capabilities-- are fascinating. It makes for a great read.