Doctor Who: Night Of The Humans book review

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Review Dave Adamson 12 May 2010 - 17:38

A really entertaining extension to the adventures of the 11th Doctor, Dave checks out Night Of The Humans...

The second of the new Doctor Who adventures is a story that has some really quite interesting ideas that, at face value, seem to have been culled from other sources. There's a character that I fully expected to be poor mans' Captain Jack, a tribe of stranded humans and their religion based on 20th Century film that might have stepped out of an episode of Star Trek, and a dilemma that has been seen many times before. However, the author manages to keep all of these quite fresh and conjures up an entertaining, well-paced story.

The Doctor and Amy Pond find themselves on a flat junkyard in space called The Gyre. Rather quickly, they discover a tribe of stranded humans who have referred to it, for generations, as Earth.

The Gyre is about to be destroyed by a comet, yet the humans are refusing to move. They've killed three emissaries from the Sittuun, a peaceful race who offered sanctuary to the humans, believing that these aliens were sent by The Bad to corrupt them.

The humans claim that their god, Gobo the Clown, will save them when the comet lands, taking them to their version of Heaven. Obviously, the humans are misguided, superstitious and barbaric, but they're also a product of The Gyre, home to the vicious slug-like Sollogs and pretty much inhabitable to anyone else. These humans have carved out their own civilisation on The Gyre and are intent on staying there.

As the Doctor and Amy attempt to rescue the humans and the Sittuun, they are joined by the intergalactic cad and bounder Dirk Slipstream (imagine a cross between Ace Rimmer from Red Dwarf and Professor Lockhart from Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.)  He's on a rescue mission of his own and isn't the brave swashbuckler that he initially portrays. It appears that the Doctor has met Slipstream before and it would be nice if this were followed up at some point.

As the danger to The Gyre becomes more and more imminent, the Doctor realises he must take drastic action and that there are occasions when the best thing to do is not get involved. As easy as it would have been for The Doctor to swoop in and save the day at the last minute, the decision not to do this offers a rather touching finale to the story in which the individual plotlines are brought to a satisfying conclusion.

Being the early days of the Eleventh Doctor and Amy, we're treated to quite a faithful rendering of their relationship. The duo are still finding their footing and learning about each other. The Doctor has moments of anger at the way people behave and his inability to help, whilst Amy has the right mixture of awe and level-headedness. This is further enhanced when the Doctor and Amy are separated and the characters, particularly Amy, are allowed to develop. Amy becomes friendly with the Sittuun Charlie, whilst the Doctor finds himself prisoner of the human leader, Django. 

The Night Of The Humans is an interesting story that benefits from strong character development over a plotline that has a number of holes in it. The biggest of these is why are the people of 250,000 years in the future watching films and listening to music from the 20th Century? Such plot holes don't ruin the story, but they slow the pacing down somewhat if you think about it too much. 

Despite its very few faults, the story works. It has a well developed sense of adventure and humour, interesting characters and a setting that is at once believable and amazing to consider. The relationship between the Doctor and Amy, the Sittuuns and the humans, and the arrogance of Dirk Slipstream are never overplayed, remaining well balanced by the use of humour that never becomes unwelcome or slapstick. 

All-in-all, it is definitely a fantastic addition to the Eleventh Doctor Adventures.

4 starsDoctor Who: Night Of The Humans is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.

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