Tuesday 31 December 2013

#CBR5 Book 152. "Vampire Science" by Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman

Page count: 288 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars

In 1976 a young med student named Carolyn meets the eight Doctor and his teenage companion Sam, while they're trying to stop Eva, a vampire, from killing a young woman. Having never realised that there was such a thing as vampires, time travel or exciting individuals like the Time Lord and his companion, Carolyn's word is forever altered, but despite an unspoken invitation to join the Doctor on his continued adventures, Carolyn chooses to take the injured woman to the ER and worry about her upcoming exam instead.

Twenty years later, there are clearly vampires in San Francisco again. Carolyn is a doctor herself now and has made great strides to fulfil her dream of finding a cure for cancer. She has a good life, and a dependable lighting technician boyfriend, but when the Doctor and Sam appear again, barely changed from when she met them two decades ago, she starts to wonder if she made the right choice.

There's been a number of mysterious deaths, and the Doctor and Sam are there to stop them. It turns out that not all the vampires necessarily want to hunt humans, some are trying to find alternatives to drinking human blood. Then again, one faction of the San Francisco vampires are more than happy for things to remain the same, and they don't feel that the Doctor, Carolyn, Sam or even UNIT are enough of a threat to keep them from declaring war on humanity.

It seems very likely that the writers of this book originally intended Carolyn to be Grace Holloway, from the 1996 TV movie. The film was set in San Francisco, and her character was a doctor. Due to rights issues, they needed to change things, and the beginning of the book has a lot of really rather clunky info dumping, as well as the rather hurried prologue, probably inserted to desperately give Carolyn some back story with the Doctor and more of a characterisation than would have been needed if they could've just used Grace. Sadly, James, her lighting technician boyfriend barely gets any characterisation at all until the book is nearly over. Having just been reminded with Night of the Doctor that the Eight Doctor, played by Paul McGann, was by far the sexiest of his many incarnations, I'm not the least bit surprised that Carolyn would be tempted to drop everything and run off with him in the TARDIS.

There are a lot of clever nods to all sorts of previous vampire stories, including Anne Rice, Dracula, and there's even a mention of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although most likely the movie version, as the book seems to have come out before the TV series started airing. There are some amazing revelations as to what forms the "vampire science" of the title have taken, including some really very funny attempts at turning various animals vampiric. A quick enough read, it is still by far the weakest of the Doctor Who novels I've read, and unless you're very into vampires, there are better ones to check out first.

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