Book Review – Doctor Who: Evolution

  • Title: Evolution
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: John Peel
  • Characters:  Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 1/17/2015

Doctor Who Evolution is part of the Doctor Who The Missing Adventures published by Virgin Publishing, it features the Fourth Doctor as played by Tom Baker and Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elisabeth Sladen. And it’s a very fun read. The only reason it took me so long to read the book is my e-book didn’t have flowable type (at least in the first e-reader I tried) – since the print was incredibly small, and attempting to enlarge it meant I had to scan horizontally across the typeface – I found it to be physically exhausting and irritating. I finally tried reading the book in Adobe Reader and then I could get the print to a reasonable size without having to scan back and forth on each line. Some of the lines double-printed, though, with the type over-lapping, so I had to go back to other e-reader and squint to read the type then go back — that was exhausting. Publishers CHECK YOUR COPY! And don’t assume everyone can read micro-sized 6-point type! OK, rant over.

The story itself was a fun romp. Sarah is exploring the TARDIS, checking out the wardrobe, then the swimming pool, but she eventually gets bored. She goes to the Doctor who asks her if there’s someone she wants to meet – and Sarah says, yes, Rudyard Kipling.

The TARDIS then arrives in Victorian Devon – where a horrific giant hound is haunting the moor, and a fisherman’s been killed by some extra-ordinary creature, and Sarah meets Kipling – but he’s a schoolboy. She and the Doctor also meet Arthur Conan Doyle, not yet “Sir”, who’s just finished a tour as a doctor on a whaling ship – that’s also pulled into the port in Devon. Yes, this story is as fun as you might expect. The Doctor and Sarah are quickly caught into events because several local schoolboys and street children have disappeared, and Kipling and a couple of his friends are trying to find them.

The plot involves a scientist who’s lived in his older brother’s shadow his entire life and has a terrible inferiority complex who’s determined to prove he’s smarter than his brother – and a deluded industrialist, who thinks he’s on the side of progress – but actually he’s promoting slavery and lack of self-will and self-determination. The arguments of the scientist and industrialist to defend what they are doing are fascinating. Totally wrong and awful – but fascinating none the less.

I really enjoyed this book. The first half, as the Doctor and Sarah meet all the locals in the small village – the lord at the manor, his daughter, her fiancé, Conan Doyle, the local doctor (Dr. Martinson), Kipling and his friends, a local boy from the village, the local fishermen, the whaling boat captain, etc and find out about the mysterious hound on the moor is just plain fun. The second part, as it becomes clearer and clearer just what is going on is also pretty cool. It should be horrifying but it’s not really, it was just very, very neat. And I loved the end!

Highly recommended, especially to classic era Doctor Who fans!

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