I'm dead chuffed. I now know why the Dying Days (along with Rip Tide, Eye of the Tyger and a bunch of short stories and audios) fit before Vampire Science (VS) in terms of continuity. There's a short section in VS in which Sam explains that the Doctor left her at a rally, and when he returned, he'd been away for a year. It doesn't quite gel with the fact he says he's 1200 in Dying Days and only just over 1000 in VS, but hey, we'll overlook that because he's always getting his age wrong anyway.
The plot is essentially that a few vampires remain in San Francisco (stubborn beggers aren't they?) Some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abused (sorry, that's Annie Lennox, I'll try again.) Some of them want to develop a new source of food so they don't have to rely on killing humans, some of them want to cause mayhem. With UNIT waiting in the wings, hoping to destroy them, the Doctor manages to create an uneasy truce that is strained to the limit over the course of the novel.
Some great characterisation makes the actions and reactions of Sam and the Doctor very believable, and the supporting cast are also memorable and interesting. You get the feeling that they all have motivations and instincts beyond those of simple plot devices. I.e. that events happen because of the characters, not to them.
Carolyn is an immediately likeable woman, always searching for something more and yet simultaneously longing for a normal world. Something in me identified with that; Kramer is the kickass UNIT commander, militaristic in nature, but good humoured and willing to use a different ruleset when the Doctor turns up; Doctor Shackle is a surgeon in a run down part of the city, questioning the point of his existence if he can't stop everyone from dying; Harris and her motivations are a shade of grey in a story that could have so easily been black and white; Slake is a cracking bad guy with plenty of style, and let's not forget the ominous creature that is 'Weird Harold.'
The Doctor now appears to operate by telling the total truth, while keeping one or two ideas up his sleeve should he need them. This is in stark contrast to the 7th Doctor's scheming personality.
Vampire Science is a well written, entertaining novel that draws you in bit by bit, and keeps you reading in an attempt to discover if the characters are hiding any dark secrets.
When I started reading it, I was thinking it read like an eight out of ten, but then I encountered some extremely amusing paragraphs, such as the description of Fred the Eternal Snail, which had me in stitches. The humour gets it an extra point.
Review by Tom Hey
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