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The Discontinuity Guide
The New Adventures

Human Nature

May 1995

Human Nature cover
Human Nature has been published as an e-book by the BBC.

Author: Paul Cornell

Editor: Rebecca Levene

Roots: Victor Gollanz's Something More and British Summertime. There are lots of quotes all over the place.

Goofs: If Benny's had the portable history unit since she was on Heaven, does that mean that she just happened to have it on her when she was swept out of the TARDIS in Blood Heat? If not, then how come it's not in the Doctor's original TARDIS rather than the alternate one she and the Doctor are currently using?

The Doctor laughs at the idea that Darwin's theory of Evolution was unproven. However, most of the details of the theory Darwin put forward has actually been disproven. Today's theory of Evolution bears little resemblance to the contents of The Origin of Species.

There may or may not be all sorts of minor historical errors that I didn't spot, but one that leapt out at me was Constance's claim that Churchill (then 1st Lord of the Admiralty) was starting to dismantle the Navy and that the Germans were doing the same. At that time, the naval arms race between the two powers was still going on.

The writing on the front of the TARDIS is wrong. [It's deliberately changed its appearance for Timothy's benefit].

Smith gets the Lord's Prayer wrong, missing 'lead us not into temptation'.

How does using the Pod restore the Doctor's little finger?

Technobabble: The Doctor reverses the polarity of the communications coil. A moleculer redistributer can melt through walls.

Dialogue Disasters: Greeneye's justification for megalomania: 'Don't knock it, it's something to do.'

Richard Hadleman: 'I believe in dialectical materialism, the force of history, and the revolution. Two ideas collide, form a new idea, a synthesis, and that idea is naturally revolutionary.'

Dialogue Triumphs: Benny: 'Pain is always forgotten. That's what allows us to have babies.'

Benny describes herself as: Professor Bernice Summerfield, FRAS (fairly rotten at Scrabble), current occupier of the Proxima University Chair Of Archaeology (it's in my room, by the begonias), holder of the Martian Gallantry Medal (I found one and thought I thoroughly deserved it).

Benny: 'As regular readers of my diary (if that's you, Doctor, put it down now) know ...'

Benny: 'This adventure was going to require a serious frock.'

Hutchinson: 'Murder is never justified.'
Doctor Smith: 'What about the Boer War?'
Hutchinson: 'That was different. That's war.'

Benny: They're a backward lot, the natives of Gallifrey. Idiots with no dress sense.'

Doctor Smith: 'There's no soldiers here. Nothing special about the town at all, except for the rock -'
Serif: 'Ah yes, the radioactive granite, so conducive to mutation.'
Doctor Smith: 'No, the rock with "Greetings from Aberdeen" written through it.'

Doctor Smith: 'Anywhere that birds still sing, one can have a picnic safely.'

Constance: 'We may commit arson and explosion, but have not murdered anyone. We are sincerely moral campaigners.'
Benny: 'Fine. One day, I'll learn to talk like that, too.'

Constance: 'Do I take it that we are being fired upon?'
Benny: 'Yes. Sorry. Happens to me every other week.'

Greeneye: 'Do you prefer me as a man or a woman?'
Benny: 'Do you do amphibians?'

Aphasia: What's retaliate?'
August: 'It means kill most of the enemy and let the survivors apologize.'

Doctor Smith: 'What would the Doctor do?'
Benny: 'He'd find a way to turn this around. He'd make the villains fall into their own traps, and trick the monsters, and outwit the men with guns. He'd save everybody's lives and find a way to win.'

Alexander: 'Isn't it odd how close masculinity is to melodrama?'

Doctor Smith: 'You my know me as mild-mannered John Smith, history teacher, but secretly I'm the Doctor, universal righter of wrongs and protector of cats.'

Alton: 'Interesting that we're old enough to be shot at, but not to hear wicked words.'

August: 'We're all things when it comes to war.'

And many others.

Continuity: Benny had a portable history unit, which broke down before she arrived on heaven. It allowed her to look at archives whilst in the field, and had a program to make any given library think that you're a member and allowed to access its archives. Her family is British.

Earth is in the arm of Mutter's Spiral in the Stellarian Galaxy, whilst Gallifrey is at the core. The Sontarans and the Rutan are in the same Galaxy, but are nowhere near each other. There are cats on many worlds, but the Aubertides believe them to be Gallifreyan animals.

The [Seventh] Doctor hates the taste of pears. For some reason he is particularly keen not to hurt Owls. He is still a vegetarian.The TARDIS contains medi-patches that can sober you up instantly.

Death claims that she, Time, and Pain are the dreams of Time Lords who leak out across the universe and occasionally given form by something like the Timewyrm. Time Lords in nightmares or near-death states sometimes make deals with them, including becoming their champions. Verity refers to them as Eternals (as in No Future).

Aubertides (from, unsurprisingly, the planet Aubis) can shapechange by consuming organic matter and mimicing it - one cell is enough to steal a shape. They cannot absorb Time Lord abilities in this fashion. Every hundred years, the Aubertide queen lays eggs and the Aubertide king fertilises them in the ground. Those in the eggs reproduce by budding - but each "family" can only produce six generations (one in each) before the genetic material is stretched too thinly. Aubertides like citrus fruit and, apart from the Dubraxine family, are usually friendly.

The Time Lords are said to have interbred the humanoid races, causing genetic drift - possibly as a cure for their "periodic" infertility. They also dream of what it is to be able to fly or be a different sex or to have a child.

Links: There are many references (especially in the prologue) to Sanctuary, and Benny's brief relationship with Guy de Carnac. We see Death, and the death of Smith completes the deal that the Doctor made with her to save Ace (Love and War). There are references to the Hoothi, Benny's friend Clive, and the Monks of Felescar (Love and War), currencies from The Ribos Operation, and The Mysterious Planet, All-consuming Fire (Benny's 'recent acquaintance'), the Sontarans and Rutans, Ace, Time Loops (Image of the Fendahl), Time-Space Visualisers (The Space Museum), Warlock (Chick), the Ice Warriors, Benny's dad, Jack Harkaway (Conundrum), and Morgaine (Battlefield).

Most of Doctor Smith's memories are based on things from the Doctor's past - mostly pretty major things like the Master, Cardinal Borusa, and former companions. I'll let you spot them for yourself. The ring the Doctor gives Joan is probably the first Doctor's - except that the stone is described here as being purple rather than blue. There's a brief mention of "intelligent seaweed" (Fury from the Deep, and Benny thinks that the Doctor has probably met Rudyard Kiplin (Evolution).

Location: A marketplace on the planet Crex, an unknown time in the future (though given Greeneye's oath about currencies, probably around The Ribos Operation, The Mysterious Planet, and Trial of a Time Lord). Farringham, Norfolk, April 1914

Unrecorded Adventures: Doctor Smith notes that Newton was always extremely bad-tempered and completely... obsessed with death. The Doctor has already met Richard Hadleman, in Richard's future (or in events that Richard should have forgotten).

The Bottom Line: 'The Doctor would have some plan worked out in two seconds. One, if we had a chessboard handy.' One of the best New Adventures. The book starts on a roll with Benny's diary extracts, playing out her reactions to the probable death of Guy in Sanctuary. It continues with a brilliant plot and, throughout the book, we get to explore who the Doctor is. There's barely a line that's not superb, and the characterisation is well up to Cornell's usual standard. The only people who could criticise Human Nature are nitpickers.

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