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Unnatural History

By Jonathan Blum & Kate Orman

Book review by Brad Schmidt

It's taken 23 novels, 3 more Doctor-companion kisses and 2 Sams before the latest series of Doctor Who has begun to acknowledge - so directly - its future through introducing and developing the themes that were presented so early in Lawrence Miles' Alien Bodies. Unnatural History reads like a far less innovative sequel to that story, and is just as dull a novel.

The prose is (as always for these authors) almost musical in execution, but the almost philharmonic orchestrations of the plot aren't to the novel's benefit - if it is a plot, and not simply a helpful reminder for the future of the series.

It is unusual that Blum and Orman have produced a novel that has failed to enthrall, but is in keeping with the unlikely events that occur in it. San Francisco has moved from the gritty (and far more interesting) playpen for the Eighth Doctor to a menagerie for unicorns, magicians and such. It's not a pleasant shift. Far less attention is given by the authorities to these strange occurrences than ought to be, allowing talking unicorns and aliens to run amok in the city with little ceremony, apparently.

Sam's the saving grace in this story, and is far more fun than ever before, although Sam's absence from the novel further reinforces the uncomfortable probability that she has perhaps been the sole anchor in the series, boring though she may be.

Unnatural History reads too much like a sequel, in the same respect as Attack of the Cybermen was to Tomb, offering little new ideas and diminishing the impact of the original ones. [2/5]

This item appeared in TSV 58 (September 1999).

Index nodes: Unnatural History