THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVEL "APOLLO 23"
AND THE AUDIO BOOK
"THE RUNAWAY TRAIN."
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN APRIL 2010.
250,000 years’ worth of junk floating in deep space, home to the shipwrecked Sittuun, carnivorous Sollogs, and, worst of all, the Humans.
The Doctor and Amy arrive in the middle
of an all-out frontier war between Sittuun and Humans, and the clock is already ticking. There’s a comet in the sky, on
a collision course with the Gyre...
When the Doctor is kidnapped, it’s up to Amy and THE “galaxy-famous swashbuckler” Dirk Slipstream to save the day. But
who is Slipstream, exactly? And what is he really doing here?
Part of the first batch of eleventh Doctor novel adventures, Night of the Humans immediately impresses with an intriguing opening and improves from there on. Certainly the strongest of these three novels, it takes the Doctor and Amy way into the future, circa the year 250,000, onto a hazardous agglomeration of space junk known as the Gyre. New information is continually revealed as the plot twists and turns, and to reveal to much here would risk spoiling the fun. There’s a rich future world on offer here, one that feels part of a wide, rich universe.
While humans have expanded across the galaxies, contacting many alien species, one crashed space crew has been stranded on the Gyre, inbreeding for millennia, becoming a savage, tribal race, worshipping a twisted religion and convinced that they inhabit the one true Earth. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that their home, the Gyre, will soon explode, destroying many inhabited worlds. The Sittuun have come to disintegrate the Gyre safely before this can happen. Inevitably, the two groups don’t see eye-to-eye.
The two opposing factions on the Gyre are well-explored, the humans through the eyes of the Doctor, and the Sittuun through those of Amy. It’s soon very clear that the Sittuun are the more advanced people, albeit with their own innate weaknesses. Wonderfully, their language is completely incomprehensible to others, so they’ve taken on Arabic names to converse with human society. Except for Charlie. The four main Sittuun characters are all well-drawn and likeable, and the sections of the novel dominated by Amy and Charlie are among the most enjoyable.
The humans are a much more clichéd bunch, but with a purpose. The vicious, superstitious savage is very old hat and can easily become somewhat offensive, but here the author subvert expectations, and not only by making the humans the savages instead of the aliens. By having the Doctor explore their convoluted beliefs, while trying to convince them to let him save them, author David Llewellyn explores what it is that makes us human. While the Sittuun lack fear, and therefore superstition, they also lack the will to explore, to truly better themselves. The humans, although unpredictable, arrogant and violent, have the capacity to become something more.
The novel misses a trick by having the Sittuun be well involved in greater human society. More perhaps could have been explored if they believed the descended humans of the Gyre to be typical of their species, rather than knowing throughout that they were a twisted example created in disaster. Then again, it’s the Sittuun characters who make the most interesting observations of human nature. Thrown into the mix is Dirk Slipstream, who at first seems unnecessary, but soon takes the plot to another level. A sort of mix between Gilderoy Lockhart, Zap Brannigan and Leslie Phillips, the space scoundrel is after an immensely powerful artefact hidden somewhere on the Gyre, and his villainy accelerates the growing crisis between human and Sittuun.
This is a well-written, stirring adventure, but one with a deeper message. It looks at the relations between races and their views on each other, and how they can be clouded by experience. Perhaps not the most subtle or original of values, but one that always deserves exploration.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2010
Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
We have placed this first batch of eleventh Doctor novels between Victory of the Daleks and The Time of Angels, as this is the only gap in Series 5’s tight continuity which sees the Doctor and Amy travelling without either Rory in tow or the spectre of his non-memory looming large.
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