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on 25 September 1999
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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on 9 January 2014
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. Fitz is now in full companion mode, he seems used to the Doctor and has learned to deal with time travel and strange occurrences. Blum and Orman really write well for him, getting his insecurities and his attitude down perfectly. A lot of people seem to criticize his characterization here, but I found nothing wrong with it at all.

Obviously the novel is about Sam, and again the authors have managed to make her interesting. Dark Sam is a breath of fresh air, cigarettes, drugs, sex and an attitude to boot she really is the opposite of Blonde Sam and therefore so much better. She seduces the Doctor with ease, something Blonde Sam took an age to even try, and even beds Fitz. Blonde Sam isn't a good character, she's never felt right in the role, and never struck a chord with the readers. I'd liked to have seen more of her in the range.

Unnatural History also features a host of supporting characters but very few of them make sense, with only Faction Paradox being particularly interesting.

Unnatural History is an odd novel, at times it's brilliant and almost as good as Lawrence Miles's Alien Bodies, but at others it seems to lose its way and introduces us to concepts which just don't seem relevant to the story. I honestly went from thinking it was the best novel yet to hating it, to thinking it was brilliant again. Definitely one for fans of the Eighth Doctor novels only.
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on 26 March 2008
This book was a great read, from the mysterious boy working for the Faction to the alternate version of Sam. Indeed whilst reading the book I had no idea as to wheather or not the normal Sam would turn up again. The enemy to the Doctor in this book was the mysterious Unnaturalist. I did feel at times that not enough backstory was shown for him, but i decided that we dont always need to know where the villains came from. In conclusion this novel wasnt quite as explosive as I was expecting but it was still a gripping read.
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on 7 June 1999
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. The extracts from Eldin Sanchez's 'Interesting Times' are also well thought out and provocative. And, much more importantly, 'Unnatural History' is far more entertaining than Kate and Jon's previous San Francisco outing, 'Vampire Science'. Don't gorge yourself all at once.
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on 27 February 2016
Bought as gift
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An attempt at tying a lot of things together from the range so far, with alternate versions of companions and nasty and quite original villains, this is a very clever and very literary book.

But it's too clever for it's own good. It's just not very readable. You will plod through the pages, and you won't care much what happens by the end. And given how hard this book was to get through, you probably remember what happened before then either
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on 18 November 2003
We all wanted to go down to the pub, but we couldnt cos Louise only looks about nine or something, so anyway, we all went to the off license and tried to buy vodka SHUT UP I didnt even go there I dont know what Shiela was doing with Rob Sanderson from McDonalds!
Anyway right this thing happened that didnt happen cos Meredith came over and started stirring it all up about this thing that happened but didnt really happen. But if she offers you sweets dont take them cos shes dirty.
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