doctor who - the last dodoJacqueline Rayner
BBC Books
2007

Sometimes, listening to the Doctor, you got the impression that someone had taken a perfectly sensible, straightforward though and then cut and pasted it at random all over the place. I just nodded and went ‘mm’. The others did too.

The Doctor and Martha go in search of a real live dodo, and are transported by the TARDIS to the mysterious Museum of the Last Ones. There, in the Earth section, they discover every extinct creature up tot he present day, all still alive and in suspended animation. Preservation is the museum’s only job–collecting the last of every endangered species from all over the universe. But exhibits are going missing… Can the Doctor solve the mystery before the museum’s curator adds the last of the Time Lords to her collection?

It’s a tricky thing to try and utilize fiction as a vehicle to present a certain socio-political viewpoint. It’s nothing new: ever since the days of H. G. Wells and even Frank O’Baum’s Oz series reflected the respective writers’ viewpoint in oft-times not-so-subtle ways. The trick is to make the fiction entertaining enough so that the whole message, whatever it may be, doesn’t overpower the fact that you’re reading fiction in and of itself. And any dyed-in-the-wool Whovian is well acquainted with this. Par for the course, really.

With a story like The Last Dodo, one would be hard pressed to not try and get in an “humans making animals go extinct” message. I mean, here is a story about Martha Jones wanting to see a live dodo bird, but instead of taking them back to the time when the Dodo wasn’t wiped out of existence, the TARDIS brings them to a museum planet that stores the very last of every kind of species from around the galaxy; they beam in and scoop up the very last live specimen and keep it in a state of suspended animation, then bring it back to the planet to be put on display for the general public to gawk at…and also cared for by the curators. That too, I guess. The overseer of this massive collection of inaction figures is very single-minded when it comes to her collection…and imagine how piqued her interest becomes when she discovers that the very last of the Time Lords has all but delivered himself to the museum’s collection. All of that, plus cloning, dinosaurs and dodos running amok London, and a plan to blow up the Earth and keeping Martha as the Last Earthling thrown in at no extra cost.

The narrative of The Last Dodo switches periodically from the unreliable narrator from Martha’s point of view, to your standard Third Person, with a couple of instances where the point of view is shown from the Dodo in question. The story was fast-paced, the dialog was snappy, and the overall ecological message manages to pull up before becoming too ham-fisted…though there were moments where it came dangerously close to soapboxing for Greenpeace. Overall, yet another quick and satisfying read in the Doctor Who series.

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