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Doctor Who: Unnatural History Mass Market Paperback – 7 Jun 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (7 Jun. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563555769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563555766
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 11.4 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 787,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

After the exhilaration of Dominion, in Unnatural History we are treated to a tired and unimaginative plod through a bunch of re-hashed ideas which all worked better in previous novels and stories. Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman do their usual trick of trying to be too clever and adding stuff to the "mythos" rather than concentrating on what matters--original plot and character. Obviously they haven't yet realised that Doctor Who on television went pear-shaped when it started to draw too much on itself rather than being original, and with this novel the BBC range does the same thing. Worst of all though is that this book is unengaging.

For a start, Sam is not Sam at all but some dark-haired variant hinted at in Lawrence Miles' Alien Bodies. In Miles' hands this was an interesting idea, a brief anomaly to be pondered over. In Blum and O rman's hands however she comes over exactly like the "older, wiser, more experienced" Sam they tried to create in Seeing I. Dark-haired Sam is unfortunately tedious and predictable. Fitz suffers in the same way... and he and D-H Sam getting it together is unbelievable. Good grief! How pointless.

Fitz changes from a slightly insecure but likeable male into some sort of obsessed shag-monster, alternating between dying for a smoke and lusting after anything female on two legs. Meanwhile D-H Sam--what with snogging the Doctor, sleeping with Fitz and agonising over her past and future--is a typical unstable, neurotic and angst-ridden female all too familiar from Orman's other novels. The Tardis too is made to suffer--like the reader--and the whole plot element about an alien collector of species and his Tardis-like specimen cabinet seemed to have been imported from another novel entirely. Add to this loads of techno-nonsense about bio-data and mythical creatures roaming San Francisco and you have a novel which goes nowhere, does nothing and ultimately bores the reader through too many disconnected pieces of information being thrown together.

A tremendous disappointment after the excellence of Dominion and Demontage. Let's have more books with single word titles that start with the letter "D"! --David J Howe


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As usual, Kate and Jon's prose is immaculately constructed and a pleasure to read. The USP of Unnatural History is that it confronts head-on many of the narrow-minded criticisms of the new Who range, placing them squarely within the structure of the plot. Don't be put off if you've never heard of rec.arts.drwho though, as they are so well integrated as to be unnoticeable to the non-initiate. The novel confronts the problem of inconsistency, the 'villains' monkeying around with the past lives of the 'heroes', and details the Doctor Sam and Fitz's attempts to both defeat and come to terms with this. Great stuff that as with all the best Who, TV and novel, works on several distinct levels according to the reader.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Unnatural History is an Eighth Doctor Adventure by Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman which deals with the "Dark Sam" concept which has been hinted at previously. Blum and Orman are two of the most talented Doctor Who writers and actually managed to get me enjoying Sam back in their previous novel Seeing I so I was hopeful for more of the same.

Dark Sam is an alternative version of Blonde Sam who stayed in London, did lots of drugs, and now lives in a dirty bedsit, with a crappy job. Until this point in time nothing has been explained about her existence and the novel starts with the Doctor tracking down Dark Sam as Blonde Sam got caught up in an anomaly in San Francisco. On returning to San Francisco they meet up with Fitz who has been investigating unusual behaviour caused by the anomaly.

It turns out the anomaly was caused by the Doctor's "birth" at his regeneration in San Francisco and that Blonde Sam was possibly created from this. Now however the anomaly is at breaking point, only being held together by the TARDIS. To top off the troubles, a collector is after the Doctor and Dark Sam for his collection. I loved the concept of the Dark Sam storyline but the trouble is this brilliance of it is merged in with what can only be described as mess of concepts. Unnatural History seems to flit from one scene to another without explanation, some are really humorous, other deeply bleak.

The Doctor is well done which isn't a surprise given Blum and Orman's previous characterization in Vampire Science and Seeing I. He is worried about his TARDIS which he is using to contain the anomaly and the prospect of not being able to travel and being forced to settle down.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was the first Doctor Who Original Novel I've ever read - I've read the "Sea Devils" book a few years ago starring the third doctor - but that was a novelisation of the television story.
The great thing about these novels is that there is no budget for special effects. Imagine the effects it would require to create about a hundred different types of mythical creature, or to create an impossible unfolding chest in which Fitz gets trapped (oops - spoiler there!), or indeed the sheer magnitude of the whole of san fransisco being sucked into a scar in the space time continuum...
The story begins with the doctor trying to convince an alternative brown-haired version of his companion sam to come with him to put right what he has accidentally wronged. He slowly gains her trust, only to lose it again and gain it back many times. You see, theres this thing called "The hunt" which changes Sam's "Biodata" - which changes her history, and future and memories... which makes her doubt whether things in her life have actually happened.
I especially enjoyed Faction Paradox and the little boy. There was a small boy who was very cheeky, but also very clever. His sole purpose was to medal with time and create paradoxes. An example of this was when the doctor was creating a scientific fluid to summon the boy - the boy was actually in the room trying to put him off conjouring him - if he'd have succeeded there would have been a small paradox.
Anyway, I'm giving way too many spoilers away... but if you liked the movie starring McGann's eighth doctor, you'll like this as it links in very well. A word of warning though, it starts well and ends well, the middle is heavy going, but stick at it, you won't be disappointed.
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By A Customer on 7 Jun. 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Halfway through this book, I thought that I was going to give it three stars out of five, instead of the hundred percent the opening merited. Jonathan Blum has recently criticised Christopher Bulis for using stock SF ideas, but then the plot of 'Unnatural History' seemed to resolve around one of these stocks formulas. However, it's how you employ this gravy which matters, how you twist it to create an original slant, and Jon and Kate have succeeded in doing this by creating a thrill-a-minute resolution.
Two years after the millennium, a scar has opened up in space/time in San Francisco. The Doctor did something unethical in a previous visit, and now he has to clear up the pieces. Unfortunately, the scar has attracted all sorts of alien flotsam, including a certain Miss Jones, who is sucked into the scar. In order to stabilise the scar, the Doctor plugs it with the TARDIS. Sam Jones may be gone, but why is she also living in London? Where has this alternate Sam come from and what is she to do with the scar? The Doctor must find out, and release the TARDIS, but there's something nasty in Golden Gate Bay and old enemies appear to stand in his way. They're the sort of people who revel in chaos, but the Doctor's biggest concern is someone with a more rational mind...
A lot of delicious ingredients have gone into this pudding, along with a few juicy one-liner sultanas, but the mixture never gets too rich to be unpalatable. There seems to be a lot more continuity operating in the BBC books nowadays, and there have been subtle hints in previous books about a particular danger of time travel. There are also teasers which make you hungry for more. For instance, Kate and Jon seem to address the vexed question of whether Benny exists in the BBC universe.
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