Evolution (Doctor Who Missing Adventures) Paperback – 15 Sep 1994
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Sarah Jane Smith wants to meet her fellow journalist Rudyard Kipling, and the Doctor sets the co-ordinates for Victorian England. No sooner have they landed, than the time travellers find themselves pursued across Devon moorland by a huge feral hound.
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‘Evolution’ is centred around mass capitalism and industrialisation, the exploitation of children in the factories, genetic experimentation and the advent of the age of electricity. There is a slight steampunk feel to it all with all the semi-anachronistic scientific equipment and experimentation. It also seems to fit in reasonably well with the Hinchcliffe era, especially the second year in which it is set. However, the story in somewhat different for this era in having no actual alien threat. Instead it is humans making use of alien tech/genetic material.
Having two literary figures works quite well as the Doctor and Sarah Jane get paired off with one each during their investigations. Both are also used for humorous purposes with Sarah Jane having to deal with the teenage Kipling and his friends whilst the Doctor, with his new outfit later used in ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’, becoming the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.
In fact, the events of the novel are clearly intended to provide inspiration for works by both Doyle and Kipling. The most prominent of these is obviously ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ but the anthropomorphism of ‘Jungle Book’ could easily be credited to Kipling’s experience in this novel.
The portrayal of both Sarah Jane and the Doctor is reasonably good and there is a good grasp of the speech patterns and foibles of them both. However, there is a focus on their more aggressive sides. The Fourth Doctor is very in keeping with the more action orientated nature he exhibits in ‘The Seeds of Doom’; which is fairly apt considering this novel is set between that story and ‘The Brain of Morbius’. This is also Sarah Jane at her toughest; asserting her authority at every opportunity and, rather oddly, even exhibiting some martial arts at one point.
The story starts with scenes of a creature on the hunt; then, a fisherman is killed. Meanwhile, Sir Edward Fulbright is enjoying the party as his stately home; his beloved daughter is there with her fiance, but Sir Edward is not so keen on their other guest Colonel Edmund Ross – just what is the fellow up to? The Doctor and Sarah Jane are aiming the Tardis for India so that Sarah can meet up with Rudyard Kipling, but missing the mark a bit, the Tardis crew find themselves caught up in a Victorian adventure – not only is Rudyard Kipling there, but we also get to meet Conan Doyle.
This is a really delightful story; nothing too heavy or complex, but a great mystery story which blends historical and other elements. The Doctor and Sarah get large parts to play in the story, and Sarah is her usual independent self. Both the Doctor and Sarah are really well characterised and written in this story, and you could easily imagine this story playing out well on the small screen. A very enjoyable Missing Adventure.
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