An unabridged reading of the 7th Doctor novel by Paul Cornell, which formed the basis for the 10th Doctor television story "Human Nature/The Family of Blood".
Hulton College in Norfolk is a school dedicated to producing military officers.
With the First World War about to start, the boys of the school will soon be on the front line. But no one expects a war - not even Dr. John Smith, the college’s new house master.
The Doctor’s friend, Benny, is enjoying her holiday in the same town. But then she meets a future version of the Doctor, and things start to get dangerous very quickly.
With the Doctor she knows gone and only a suffragette and an elderly rake for company, can Benny fight off a vicious alien attack? And will Dr. Smith be able to save the day?
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Fear makes companions of us all
Human Nature is an excellent story. You can easily see why it was dramatised in 2007 with David Tennant's 10th Doctor.
One of the elements I enjoyed most of all - SPOILERS! - was the scene in which the companion Bernice Summerfield accidentally informs a friend of a friend in the village of the forthcoming First World War. This friend's reaction to the news that someone for whom they care deeply will die in the first charge at the Somme was an excellent dramatisation of the different stages of grief in microcosm and yet you could see despite the fear that he was willing to do what he could to help her.
This also explained one of the novel's main themes which I enjoyed: Even when people are faced with tough choices which may hurt them as individuals or be the easy way out they should do the right thing whatever that may be.
I have listened to several of Lisa Bowerman's audio performances for the company Big Finish. In those performances she does not play all the parts but I still feel that in comparison to some of her work this shows her versatility with parts and voices and tone - be it the emotionally charged sequences with Smith and Joan Redfern, the desperation of Benny to have her Doctor return and Tim to have the bullies ignore him and lastly the anger of McCoy's Doctor once he returns. On a related note I must congratulate Bowerman for doing a far more true to life and intense 7th Doctor than I was expecting.
Aside from the previously mentioned accidental revelation, one other moment which tugged at my heart strings was the sequence during the climax where Benny - and later on Tim - try to convince Smith to become The Doctor again with all the carnage around them. It moved me to see that in an attempt to discover what makes us human, all that occurred was devastation and bloodshed, with love in the centre of it all.
This book is excellent. Some may prefer the modern television version but it is a great piece by itself and it is always good to see both the original and the reinterpretation. 10/10.
- Kathryn McIntyre