Reviewed By: newt5996
Review Date: 3/1/19 3:51 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
Paul Leonard deserves congratulations for Genocide. The fourth novel in the Eighth Doctor Adventures range has a lot going for it, but perhaps its greatest feat is that it takes companion Samantha Jones and is the first to make her likable. This is done without having to take her away from her activist stereotype characterization, as Genocide deals with a simple premise that hits home to Sam as a character. The premise involves the Tractites, an equine alien race of the planet Tractis which became ravaged by war in the far future. This of course was a war with the emerging Earth Empire on an imperialistic streak, seeing Tractis destroyed. Before the beginning of the novel the Tractites gain time travel technology, travel back in time, and rewrite the Earth’s history so the human race contracts a virus which destroys them during the homo habilis stage of their development. Of course it is up to the Doctor and Sam to stop them, but there goes the dilemma, should they? Earth has become Paratractis and they have their own society, living their own lives in peace, and by all accounts are less warlike. Yes the Doctor wants to stop it, but only so far as sorting out the temporal stress problem that interfering in the past caused. If that means that the human race no longer exists, so be it. If that means that the Tractites still undergo the oppression of humanity, so be it. The Doctor is working as a third party in this case, which allows Leonard to give the Doctor a backseat in the story. When he does take the forefront, the characterization of the Doctor is close enough to the TV Movie portrayal, and gives the Eighth Doctor enough of his own identity to serve as a good characterization.
The portions of the novel with the Eighth Doctor that work the best are his interactions with Jo Grant. Jo Grant has divorced Clifford Jones and is raising her only son Matthew (this continuity discrepancy can be explained away by the interference of the arcs that the next few books will begin). Jo has grown up considerably since her time with the Third Doctor, and is going out on her own to a dig in Tanzania where a mysterious Captain Jacob Hynes is actually working with the Tractites to see the Earth destroyed. Jo’s part in the novel is perhaps superfluous, yes it is nice to see her and the Eighth Doctor interact, but what she does could easily be taken by the two archeologists in Tanzania. You see, the interference with time is allowing both existences to remain side by side and slowly bleeding over. Rowena and Julie, two archeologists studying remains of the ancestors of humanity in Tanzania, are taken back in time with Jo and given the virus. They both have a story which ends in tragedy, giving the audience the sway to the Doctor’s side as while Hynes is insane, he is kind of correct in his logic. Humanity has caused extinction of several species of animals throughout our history, but part of that is the simple nature of humanity being animals at their core and survival is a prime instinct. Jacob goes about his goals by going insane and attempting to commit a genocide in the past to ‘fix’ the present.
Leonard pairs Hynes with Sam for much of the second half of the novel where she is genuinely tricked into giving humanity the virus which is going to wipe them out. Without spoiling how the Doctor ends up saving the day, I will say that the conclusion of the novel takes a left turn ¾ of the way through which works really well. Sam throughout the novel has an internal struggle of if she should trust in the Doctor, and humanity, or with the Tractites. She struggles with her own life, realizing that she could have contributed to the problems humanity give to the galaxy, and has to come to a catharsis by the end of the novel. Her narrative is a highlight and makes Genocide an excellent novel, only brought down by the superfluous nature of Jo’s appearance and a few really predictable twists.