In Doctor Whom, A. R. R. R. Roberts provides readers with a humorous parody of both the British science fiction television drama and of a strict adherence to grammar and punctuation standards. Roberts follows traditions of the show Doctor Who, including a brilliant alien time-traveler with a larger-on-the-inside spaceship, his average human companions, and continued attempts to save the planet from certain doom - but twists them with plays on words and logical but often ridiculous extensions of program staples. Instead of sparing Earth from alien invasion, the Dr of Roberts' novel fends off a very different danger - that of misplaced modifiers and poor punctuation. The Doctor and his companions are interrupted in their mission of good grammar by villains that are almost familiar to fans of the show - the android Garleks, a version of the program's dreaded mechanical assassins the Daleks, and the Cydermen, Roberts' development of the intimidating Cybermen who represent an "upgrade" of the human race to a more computerized form. The narrator of the book, a writer by the name of Prose Tailor (named for his occupation, and as a nod to Rose Tyler, companion to the BBC's Doctor), provides the story of his adventures out of chronological order. While sometimes confusing, it adds a unique element to the parodic nature of the book. Tailor's rabbit trails into grammar dilemmas as he writes can be both entertaining and off-putting to those who understand the trials of a conscientious writer. In the end, however, Prose Tailor learns with the reader that grammar and perfect commitment to traditions are not always the best methods for problem solving, but that a bit of creativity, though less orderly, can sometimes be the right answer. Doctor Whom may be intended for an audience familiar with the show, but the principle of flexibility and learning from others is relevant to all. As one who considers herself a fan of the show, I found that the gentle mockery of one of my favorite fictional characters did not hamper my enjoyment of it in the least. The ending, in which the narrator and the reader find themselves presented with an alternative to the Dr's strict grammatical views came both as a surprise and a challenge to me - a challenge to not only accept but to seek out new ideas and solutions that may be more successful. On a lighter note, I look forward to reading Doctor Whom once again - this time in proper chronological order.
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