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Seeing I

Doctor Who: The BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures #12
Nick Mellish

‘Seeing I’ is the book which sees the conclusion of the Sam-ran-away story arc (except, of course, she didn’t run away). After ‘Dreamstone Moon’, a book that I enjoyed a lot, I wasn’t expecting anything as impressive, which was nice as it made for a pleasant surprise when ‘Seeing I’ turned out to be very good indeed.

The plot has quite a lot to create: an adventure for Sam, an adventure for the Doctor, a meeting between the two of them and a good reason for Sam to travel with the Doctor again. Thankfully, it succeeds admirably.

Of the two story strands (which interconnect very nicely), I preferred the one concerning the Doctor and his numerous attempts to leave prison, only to be foiled again and again. I must confess that I worked out the twist about how they kept on catching him quite a way before it was revealed in the novel, but the Doctor’s reaction to discovering the truth was so well written and nicely handled that any frowns over its predictability were quickly laid to rest.

Once more Sam is given a lot to do, and whilst Kate Orman and Jonathan Blum try in many ways to lift her out of the role of generic-companion-for-the-new-generation by adding to her character, she is still firmly stuck in that very niche (she asks questions, she screams, but she’s not afraid to question- rock on…).

That’s not to say that she is unbearable. Certainly, her very literal love for the Doctor is interesting and something well handled, and when alone her independence shows her off to be something better than what we have seen thus far, but as soon as the Doctor turns up she falls back into the role of predictable, safe and lacking in redeeming features, which is a pity.

The plot moves along at a nice pace, and the supporting characters are once again very written. As with ‘Vampire Science’, Orman and Blum’s last EDA, you actually care about them and this helps make the book as good as it is.

This is a very good book, and by far one of the highlights in the EDA range thus far. It has its flaws (Sam Jones is bland; try as the authors might, she always shall be), but that is not to say that it isn’t very good, as it is. A fine end to the Sam-arc, and a fine addition to the ‘Doctor Who’ canon.

Chad Knueppe

Kate Orman and Jonathan Blum's "Seeing I" transcends all expectations. It meets the criteria you'd expect from the last novel by these two (as well as Kate's numerous solo works), but the sheer scope of this novel will amaze you. This book, I predict, will be as monumental to the ongoing Doctor Who continuity as Paul Cornell's "Human Nature" or Kate's "Set Piece" was to the Virgin days.

Following the events of "Longest Day" and "Dreamstone Moon" (and the side-story of "Legacy of the Daleks"), the Doctor his still searching for missing companion Samantha Jones. When the mass evacuations take place in the preceding book, "Dreamstone Moon," Sam is relocated to a planet under the jurisdiction of the INC, a company seemingly in charge of just about everything. Having no proper electronic identity, Sam finds herself the only job she can... she works in a soup kitchen, in exchange for a place to sleep.

The Doctor, meanwhile, manages to infiltrate the INC's computer, hoping to find Sam. He is arrested as a spy for doing so, and sent to prison. Here, he finds himself amid prisoners who had retired with artificial organs provided by the INC during the time of their employ. The INC will not allow its ex-employees to go elsewhere with what it sees as its property, and hence imprisons them. The Doctor obviously opposes the INC and seeks to resume his search for Sam, but discovers an alien influence on INC and its technology. He makes several attempts to escape, but always fails... for reasons best left for you to discover.

Sam progresses in her life, the Doctor spends time in jail... and three years pass. Yes, three years. This may seem a mere flicker in the life of a Time Lord, but the Doctor states otherwise ("Three years of nothing," he says). While we witness Sam's evolution, we also see the Doctor's deterioration. When reunited, Sam is three years older. Many have compared this to Ace returning after three years in the Virgin series, but I believe this is richer because we spend the lost time with her, rather than with the Doctor. We see her evolve, not through great adventures, but through the tedium of the everyday. Placing Sam in the daily struggles of menial labor and adolescent relationships tells more about her character than all the prior novels put together. Even the Doctor notices... he himself makes the comparison to Ace, whom he says he barely knew upon her return (yes, Virgin continuity is alive and well; they reinforce the Doctor left Sam for independent adventures, a la "Dying Days" and even take a quote relevant to Sam's evolution from a Virgin novel, "Timewyrm: Revelation".

I admit: I'm a huge fan of Kate Orman's. I've yet to read anything she's done that wasn't brilliant, and she takes such an adult approach to Doctor Who. (Her husband's writing complements her style; I hope all Who fans can have the opportunity to view his fan video TIME RIFT, which features the character from "Vampire Science," their first book together, Brigadier General Adrienne Kramer.)

"Seeing I" should not be missed. "Dreamstone Moon" should be read as well, as it leads up to this book... but it's "Seeing I" which really develops these characters for all the stories to follow. It takes away the Doctor's identity and restores it, and gives Sam a credible and realistic evolution. Things are definitely changing for *this* TARDIS crew...