Wendy's Reviews > Peculiar Lives

Peculiar Lives by Philip Purser-Hallard
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's review
Apr 12, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: doctorwho, sf-fantasy
Recommended for: Stapeldon fans
Read in April, 2008

If Echoes was reminiscent of Sapphire and Steel, this installment in the Time Hunter series recalls The Tomorrow People, with its superpowered teenagers who are the next stage of human evolution. Though I suspect that Phillip Purser-Hallard actually drew most of his ideas from the work of Olaf Stapledon rather than from the 1970s kids' TV series. (One of the characters in Peculiar Lives is one Erik Clevedon, a science fiction author clearly modelled on Stapledon.)

Purser-Hallard tackles the unpleasantness of the social Darwinist thinking implicit in the idea of "the next stage of human evolution". (I've always thought it was vaguely discomfiting the way The Tomorrow People basically proposed to its audience that the vast majority of them were evolutionary dead ends. I suppose it got away with it by playing on everyone's willingness to imagine that they would be one of the special ones.) This book pretty much puts to rest any fears I might have had that the Time Hunter novellas' short word count would mean that they were simplistic or short on ideas.

On the other hand, the short word count does mean that some of the characters seem to experience moral epiphanies or changes of heart rather abruptly. And because we spend much of this story seeing the two leads of the Time Hunter series, Honore and Emily, through the eyes of others, I suspect it would be even more effective if I'd read all of the previous books in the series, and knew these characters better. But the book was more than good enough to convince me to seek out some of the earlier volumes in the series.
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