THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
TV STORIES "THE BRAIN
OF MORBIUS" AND "THE
SEEDS OF DOOM."
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-426
-20422-0) RELEASED IN
The Doctor and
ARTHUR CONAN Doyle
join forces to
uncover a macabre
scheme to interfere
with human evolution
aS both Sarah Jane
and RUDYARD Kipling
face a TERRIFYING
John Peel gets a lot of stick from fans for his later continuity-riddled and head-scratching Dalek novels, but in fairness to the man I thoroughly enjoyed the inaugural New Adventure that he penned, “Timewyrm: Genesys”, and his novelisations of the two second Doctor
Dalek serials are absolutely first class. Hell, even “War of the Daleks” does not deserve its dire reputation. It came as little surprise to me then, to find that his first Missing Adventure is a wonderful slice of Doctor Who. Were it not for a few adult overtones, this chilling story would have slotted seamlessly into the Philip Hinchcliffe / Robert Holmes era of the series
(though I am sure that Mary Whitehouse would have a thing or two to say about a Fisherman having his face bitten off!)
What I enjoyed the most about “Evolution” is Peel’s superb handle on his two main characters – he obviously knows the Doctor and Sarah Jane inside out. I particularly like the passages written from Sarah’s point of view, where she reflects on events and on this amazing life that she leads; it gives an insight into this much-loved character that a television serial cannot really offer. Her fears about accidentally changing the future are conveyed well too, and create some real tension at the end as she thinks she has caused Rudyard Kipling’s death!
The Doctor comes across very much as he does in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, as a very Holmesian character. Here, of course, the comparison is much more explicit though as
Peel also uses the real life character of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the novel, implying that the ‘fictional’ Sherlock Holmes is based upon the ‘real life’ Doctor. A footnote on page 260 remedies any continuity blunder (the earlier seventh Doctor novel “All Consuming Fire” establishes that in the Doctor Who universe, Sherlock Holmes is indeed a real person,
albeit with a different name), but even so it is pretty obvious what Peel intended his readers to infer from this book when he was originally writing it. Another point of interest for continuity buffs it that we learn where the Doctor’s deerstalker hat and cape coat came from… the wardrobe of Sir Edward Fulbright. I can hardly say that one has been keeping me up at
night though, mind.
Further, Peel’s supporting characters are also, for most part, superb. The character of Colonel Ross threw me completely, and the sad story of Lucy (one of the children on the receiving end of Percival’s experimentation) is both gritty and touching.
“...no Doctor, I expect you to die.”
There is also a lot of gore here, a lot of stylish horror, a bit of Bond dialogue, a villain called ‘Percival’, and even a Rutan thrown in just for good measure! Fair dues, none of it is particularly fresh or groundbreaking, but nonetheless “Evolution” is an appropriately horrific, beautifully written, textbook Doctor Who story… and is that not precisely what the Missing Adventures were supposed to be all about?
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Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
The earlier novel All-Consuming Fire established that Sherlock Holmes is a real character in the Whoniverse, albeit one with a different name (Holmes and Watson are names coined by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in order to protect the sleuths’ identities). Accordingly, there is room in the Whoniverse for both the “fictional” characters and their apparent creator.
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