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The Highest Science

by Gareth Roberts

Book review by David Lawrence

[The Highest Science]

The Highest Science is quite possibly the best New Adventures novel I've read. There are some great moments; the Doctor's conversation with the failed Chelonian florist, the thoroughly entertaining team of Fakrid and Jinkwa (Fakrid's soap opera-style revelation on his death bed is too ridiculous to be true!), and the highlight of the Death of a Salesman chapter is probably one of the most hysterical things I've ever read. What impressed me most though is the attention Gareth Roberts has paid to characterisation - in particular, the criminal Sheldukher, who comes to life on the page as a thoroughly nasty villain. The Highest Science is a witty, captivating, intelligently-written book with a well-paced plot and plenty to keep the reader interested. And most importantly, it's fun. With books like this one, we can keep the flame alive the series won't need to come back then!

Book review by Chris Rainbow

The only problem I had with this book was the wait that had to be endured for the Doctor to appear. In a lot of other New Adventures novels, such as Warhead, the Doctor has been sidetracked, in favour of Ace. Until the Doctor finally appeared in chapter 3, I was worried that he might not turn up at all.

This book marked a return to the old style of Doctor Who, where, for once, the Doctor doesn't know everything about what's going on, so things that happen in the story are new to him as well. I hate being confused throughout an entire book and then being told everything in a flurry of explanation in the final chapter.

The reader finally gets to know Bernice - I think Roberts, rather than Cornell, is her real creator because I could hear her voice and see her mannerisms as I read, which is a mark of good writing.

I hope that when Doctor Who returns, it will have a sufficient budget to present the Chelonians on screen - the parental reversals were quite amusing, and each Chelonian seemed to have a personality, a thing that is neglected with other races in Doctor Who mythology.

Despite what other reviewers have said, I thought the ending was a nice change rather than a cop-out. It was similar to Genesis of the Daleks in that the Doctor didn't actually totally 'win'. He said that "he'd get around to it someday", but I'm sure Peter Darvill-Evans will make sure he is far too busy for that.

With the exception of Exodus, The Highest Science is the only New Adventures novel I have read while hardly ever being bored. All true-Who fans should enjoy it for what it is - a Doctor Who book, rather than a run-of the-mill SF ramble with gratuitous sex and swearing.

This item appeared in TSV 35 (September 1993).

Index nodes: The Highest Science