THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
AND "THE PIT."
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN FEBRUARY
Many legends speak of
SAKKRAT, home of the
Highest Science, the
pinnacle of discovery.
THE DOCTOR ARRIVES
on a large, green,
BLISSFULLY UNWARE of
any connection with
the legend. But the
connection is there,
and it will lead HIM
into conflict with the
AND Sheldukher, the
most wanted criminal
in the galaxy.
The Highest Science
The Highest Science is Coronation Street scribe Gareth Roberts’ first Doctor
Who novel. Written with peerless style and wit, this debut effort offers an appealing mix of heart, humour, and horror, catering to all manner of different tastes.
To begin with, Roberts has a great handle on the regulars, particularly Bernice, who finds herself right in the thick of things here and – unlike in Transit – with all her eccentric foibles firmly in place. The Doctor certainly isn’t neglected though, proactively driving the narrative forward as he scours the planet Sakkrat for a rogue “Fortean Flicker.”
The author introduces us to some fascinating supporting characters too. The Chelonians
are an equally fearsome and humorous bunch - they’re a race of 57th century reptilians with a very confused sense of gender, hell-bent on wiping out humanity as they see humans as “parasites”. Perhaps the most interesting ‘character’ of all though (if indeed ‘character’ is
the apposite word) is the Cell, a free-floating genetically-enhanced brain forced to live in interminable agony, kept alive by the villainous Sheldukher in order to aid him in his quest
for the titular ‘Highest Science’.
Unfortunately, what exactly the Highest Science is supposed to be is nebulous at best, and remains so for the preponderance of the story. Rather than engender intrigue, this lack of information often made the story feel a little hollow for me, though in fairness this was amply made up for when I discovered that the “Fortean Flicker” that the Doctor had been tracking had left events hanging on the most delicate thread of coincidence, and thus the Highest Science was revealed as an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Earth authorities to finally trap Sheldukher. It’s almost cheeky in its cunning, though I can see how some might find it anti-climactic and maddening.
Sheldukher himself is the novel’s biggest disappointment, a generic baddie with absolutely
no redeeming features. Roberts offers us no explanation for the man’s obscene behaviour; nothing for us to sympathise with. He’s just a bad, bad man.
Ultimately, The Highest Science is well worth a fortean flick through if only to enjoy Roberts’ wry prose and decidedly skewed take on the Whoniverse. This novel is certainly not without its flaws, but these are quite easily outweighed by its overriding charm.
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.
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