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Reviews for Unnatural History

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Loved it

By:Nate, Seattle
Date:Thursday 22 August 2002
Rating:   10

Couldn't put it down.

Uh... Um... Nice Cover!

By:Isaac Wilcott, Ridgecrest, California
Date:Tuesday 13 May 2003
Rating:   3

I'm not a big fan of Orman. Her New Adventures I found to be both silly and
dull (except maybe the first hundred pages of Set Piece), I avoided Vampire
Science like the plague (I hate vampires), but gobbled up the excellent
Seeing I in a single day. So I usually don't go out of my way to read her
books, but after that one good EDA I decided to give this one a shot.

Unnatural History nicely encapsulates all that is bad about Orman's work --
and I suppose that applies to Blum as well. They're great stylists and the
actual prose reads wonderfully. But the plot is silly -- a victory of style
over substance -- laden with adolescent-level seriousness and inane
angst-ridden philosophizing. All the characters run around like mad
teenagers while trying to decide whether to shag or not (in accordance with
their likewise teenage-level hormones), the Doctor/TARDIS get horribly
tortured and mutilated, and characters from previous Orman books pop up
making the reader stop cold and utter "Huh? Who? What?" Why does she expect
us to remember stupid characters from her previous books?! Ah well, it's not
like we're missing anything. The only one I actually do remember is that
stubborn receptionist from the beginning of Seeing I...

So how fares the plot of Unnatural History? More space- and time-tearing
shenanigans in San Francisco. Ho-hum... I didn't even like this plot the
first time round, in that atrocious TV movie. Remember that? I sure wish I
didn't, and that Orman & Blum would quit reminding us. And they're really
not doing themselves any good by emulating it. The only time paradox story
set in San Francisco I'd ever want a repeat viewing of is Star Trek IV, and
considering my opinions on that particular franchise that's really saying

And for the second time in a row, the TARDIS is nearly destroyed. This sort
of thing is exciting, but only when it *doesn't* happen every other day. It
was a big mistake to put this novel and Dominion right next to each other.
And the brief, out-of-the-blue solution to the hitherto insoluble
dimensional scar problem left me blinking my eyes with little *bink-bink*
noises, like Dee-Dee from *Dexter's Laboratory*.

And there's an incredibly stupid and insulting scene on page 156 where the
Doctor buys a bottle of beer and pours it out onto the ground in memory of a
friend who recently died. Doctor in da hood! "This is for my homies who got
da cap in da head..." I can't believe they actually wrote this scene, and
even more unbelievable is that it made it through the editing stages.

However bad the story and characters may be, there are several really good
jokes. Highlights include the Doctor shouting "Sam, number fifteen!" and
staggering across the alley to provide a distraction (p. 48), Fitz's
thinking about "ley lines" (p. 61), and the Doctor taunting the Faction
Paradox kid (p. 166).

Ah yes. Faction Paradox. I love these guys from Miles' books, but here
they're reduced to a group of trick-or-treaters, or creepy in-bred retards
from the backwoods of West Virginia, right out of a bad Lovecraft story. But
I must say the whole biodata concept was better explained here than in any
of Miles' books, and having strands of it lying around San Francisco was
interesting and nicely used. The temporal duplication machine that runs on
its own Blinovitch cancellation energy was quite clever and I enjoyed that.
And I thought the Doctor's biodata being inconsistent and self-contradictory
was a nice touch, emphasizing that time travellers suffer unusual

This book explains (in part) the whole "Dark Sam" business that was hinted
at in Alien Bodies and carried on in Interference, but it was annoying to
have to wade through this ghastly book just for those bits. And even so,
they weren't very good.

I never cease to be amazed by the obligatory massive acknowledgements
page(s) in these *Who* novels. I counted no fewer than FORTY people
mentioned in this one! I don't even *know* that many people! Much less
people whom I could sucker into helping out with my book... (It's like one
of these effects-laden movies, where the ending credits mention even the tea
lady who came in to substitute for Sally -- who had the flu -- for one
afternoon of filming.) And yet, with all this help and feedback, the book is
still crappy! You'd think one of these people would speak up and say "Ah...
you know, Kate, there are a couple hundred pages here that could use a
little more work..." Apparently not. They're either sycophants or idiots
themselves. What a waste.

Save yourselves the time, money, and effort by reading Cameron Dixon's
synopsis at The only outstanding
thing about this novel is the really nice cover. But remember: you don't
have to pay money to look at it!


By:a person, hayfield
Date:Sunday 21 February 2010
Rating:   9

With its interesting plot and excellent villans, this a particularly good EDA and Blum and Orman's best book yet. recoommended


By:Emma Bowman, Sydney, Australia
Date:Sunday 18 November 2012
Rating:   4

I positively loved Blum and Orman's last EDA book "Seeing I", so I had rather high hopes for "Unnatural History". Unfortunately, I found this book to be of a much lesser quality than I was expecting. The plot was at times frustrating and occasionally confusing, and although the idea was interesting, but in the end it was poorly executed. It wasn't the worst EDA book I've read, but I really didn't enjoy it, and I won't bother read it again. Bit of a shame.

Clever outcome, but not how you expected

By:Wolfgang Bailey, Harrogate, United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 26 March 2023
Rating:   8

So the actual story of this, as a self-contained book, is fairly average, but its role in the whole Eighth Doctor story is very clever indeed.

*Spoilers hereafter*

The way that this story links the Faction Paradox arc, Sam Jones, and makes the whole Eighth Doctor story fit with pre-existing canon (or what passes therefore), including little nods to the pre-tv Movie "Leekley Bible" etc. This book was essentially the point at which it became basically impossible for any future relaunch of the show to just ignore the TV movie and pretend McGann was never the Doctor.

In that regard I think it's excellent!

As a story of its own?

Well I quite like Sam's story in it. I'm aware that a lot of people have a squeamishness about its depiction of sex and drugs, but I think it's a really good, albeit hardly original, look into how small decisions can completely change the course of your life.

I think the arguments against this book fall into two main categories:
1) people who don't like DW having grand story arcs, especially not when they make any changes or elaborations into the show's lore. And that's fine, but I personally disagree and quite like those stories when handled well

2) people who don't like depictions of sex or drug taking in their media (or maybe just in DW). This one I have mixed feelings about, because IMO if you're going to do it, you should do it properly, and this is done in a very BBC way. But equally I have absolutely no issues with depictions of sex and drugs more broadly because I am a person who has sex and has taken drugs and has enjoyed both a lot. I feel like to ignore those two innately human behaviours always limited Classic Who's ability to develop 3 dimensional companion characters (not at all saying that it always failed, and even less that simply having the companions have sexual/romantic feelings or engaging in recreationally altering their state of consciousness would have achieved it alone. Just both are things humans have done since long before the written word existed and statistically were likely to have cropped up at some point or other).

This is a rambling mess of a review, but I'm basically just quite defensive of this book, because I know a lot of people who would prefer every story to be completely self-contained and rated U, whereas I like the bigger stories and I've never minded a bit of less than child friendly behaviour

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