only human 1 only human 2

Gareth Roberts
BBC Worldwide, LTD. / BBC Books
2005 / 2014

Reports of a time disturbance lead the Ninth Doctor to modern-day London, where he discovers a Neanderthal Man, twenty-eight thousand years after his race became extinct. A trip back to the dawn of humanity only deepens the mystery: who are these strange humans from the far future now living in the distant past? The Doctor must learn the truth about the Osterberg experiment before history is changed forever.

The ninth re-released novel in the eleven-book 50th Anniversary series, at this point do I really need to say tis is a Ninth Doctor story? Well, I just did. Redundancy is redundant.

Anyway, Only Human was written by Gareth Roberts, a name you might recognize as the guy who wrote some Doctor Who episodes, as well as Doctor Who novels…including the novel adaptation of the lost serial from Douglas Adams—Shada. In Only Human, the Doctor, Rose, and Jack Harkness arrive in modern-day Bromley, and run across a Neanderthal named Das. Somehow, the scruffy little guy was transported from the year 29,185BC (give or take a century), and after an attempt to bring him back to his time results in Das nearly getting his atoms scrambled in the time stream, the Doctor suspects a “dirty rip machine” was somehow involved. Since such a crude time travel device could do irreparable damage to the fabric of reality, the Doctor and Rose travel back to Das’ time to see about fixing things. In the meantime, since Das can no longer time travel, he and Jack stay behind, and Jack sets to acclimate Das to living in the 21st Century. Meanwhile, back in prehistoric times, the Doctor and Rose run across humans that have traveled from the year AD 436,00 back to 29,185 BC to conduct “historical studies”–only their leader has other plans all together. And it doesn’t help that almost everyone there rely on a combination of drugs to take care of those pesky emotions of theirs. Oh, and Rose has been kidnapped by a tribe of primitive humans, and look to make her the wife of the son of the tribe’s matriarch. Wackiness all around.

I have to say, reading this particular tale of the Ninth Doctor was quite the amusing romp. In the introduction on the 50th Anniversary reprint edition that I have, it’s mentioned that it was Russel T. Davies that proclaimed that Gareth Roberts really caught the essence of the Ninth Doctor in this story. I tend to agree, but then his writing style makes doing so seem effortless. And like any good sci-fi story, Only Human manages to take some rather absurd premises and make them plausible to the imagination. The bits where Jack Harkness is teaching Das about living in the 21st Century by way of respective journal entries was great.

Overall, Only Human was a rather good Doctor Who story, tightly paced and wit-fully written. A good choice for inclusion in the list of re-releases.