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[Doctor Who] Human Nature by Paul Cornell
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250445,873 (3.96)14
Title:[Doctor Who] Human Nature
Authors:Paul Cornell
Info:Dr Who (1995), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:doctor who, sf, y2005, seventh doctor, y2013, 1301, xl, NA

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Human Nature by Paul Cornell



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This Seventh Doctor plus Bernice Summerfield New Adventure is really rather good. Paul Cornell here asks the unaskable: what if the Doctor were to try being human for a while, to live and love like the rest of us? He has managed to get to the heart of the Doctor's mythos. I found it very satisfying, and raced to finish it, to the point of waking up early this morning to do so. It's the first of the Doctor Who books I have downloaded that I would really like to spend money on for a dead trees version.

Bits I particularly liked: I thought the character of Verity resonated particularly effectively. "Verity" of course means Truth, and she holds the key to the truth about the Doctor's character; the name of course also recalls the real-life origins of Doctor Who; and the character herself is of course a very close reflection of Neil Gaiman's Death.

I also very much liked the human relationships of the book. I caught on to the true nature of Shuttleworth's liaisons pretty early on; the John Smith and Joan Redfern relationship was neatly done; and the Epilogue, which the author admits he had doubts about putting in, was very effective.

Great lines, too:
"You may know me as mild-mannered John Smith, history teacher, but secretly I'm the Doctor, universal righter of wrongs and protector of cats."
"So what did you say to him," the Doctor asked.
"That he believes in good and fights evil. That, with violence all around him, he's a man of peace. Thet he's never cruel, or cowardly. That he is a hero."
Sure, the book has its flaws, as mercilessly pointed out by some of the Doctor Who Ratings Guide reviewers (though most of them loved it). I'm with the Discontinuity Guide folks, though. I don't think I've read a better Doctor Who novel.

This is still the only Who novel to have been adapted for television rather than the other way round. I first read it, gulp, seven years ago - the first Seventh Doctor novel I ever read - and would have been rereading it anyway as I shall be rewatching the TV episode soon.

Now that I have read the previous 37 New Adventures, I still think this is one of the best in the series. It is better than most Who novels as a standalone (though Niall Harrison found the continuity heavy going), the major reference to previous novels being to Benny's loss of her lover in the Albigensian crusade. The Doctor is absent from most of the book and needs to be explained to his own alter ego, John Smith, whose final sacrifice is very effective. ( )
  nwhyte | Jan 27, 2013 |
I have to admit it: I'm a HUGE Doctor Who fan. That said, I have not thought too much of the handful of books I've read that accompanied the series. Human Nature, on the other hand, was just brilliant. I admit it still had it's pulpy bits in the story, but in general it was as well written as many of my favorite novels (well, maybe not Gibson or Stephenson quality, if we're talking modern scifi, but quite solid nonetheless).I'll be seeking out other books by Cornell. It should also be mentioned that this book was loosely used as the basis for the episodes Human Nature and The Family of Blood in the 3rd seasons of the new Doctor Who series. These were easily among the very best Doctor Who episodes ever, so getting this book (it was a present from my darling wife) was a real score. ( )
  tlockney | Feb 5, 2012 |
I read this book solely because it was the one they turned into an episode of the Doctor Who television show in season three of the revived television series. I was extremely disappointed by the book, but this is definately not the first time I've been drastically disappointed by published Doctor Who fiction, which I read mainly out of a sense of morbid curiosity.

It was frankly terrible. I read the copy of it the BBC has decided to host online and not only was it formatted like shit, it was simply written terribly. The whole plot-- the Doctor becoming human and falling in love-- was done much more poorly in the book than in the television show. In fact, it was done so awkwardly that I struggled to avoid imagining in my head what was going on on the page.

Avoid this at all costs. As one should avoid most Who fiction. Now, I haven't read any recently-published stuff, and I don't necessarily plan on it, so I can't judge that. I know there are quite a lot of Who writers on LibraryThing, for some reason. But all of this older stuff is trash. ( )
  lmichet | Nov 22, 2008 |
Probably my favourite New Adventure by my favourite New Adventures author. Recently adapted for the new TV series as an above average episode which I would probably have enjoyed more if I had been more successful in leaving behind my preconceptions from the book. Gave me a reason to read it again though. ( )
1 vote PaulHassett | Apr 23, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cornell, Paulprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bowerman, LisaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Donohoe, BillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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