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A Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Doctor Who Galaxy, A review of Whoniverse by Lance Parkin

Christmas is not too far away and “Whoniverse” by Lance Parkin is a wonderful book to give to a Whovian.
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Having compared this book to the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, I should point out immediately the section on Earth consists of a lot more that “Mosty Harmless”.

Each subject in the book has a History section. Most have a Behind The Scenes section, a Fact File [referring to stories relating to the subject] and a Timeline but when they don’t, there is usually a stunning piece of art.

There are footnotes tying into the History section relating to the sources of the text. One of the great things about this book (which enhances it compared to some of the official titles) is that the sources of reference encompass more than the television show. The TV series is where the majority of the information is sourced from but there are references to comic strips, novels, novellas, short stories, audio adventures, video games and stage plays. This will hopefully open doors for you to find some amazing Doctor Who stories you may not have experienced before. Some of the stories may even help you appreciate a TV story more by giving it some additional layers.

So join me on my guide to Lance Parkin‘s guide to the Whoniverse.

Section One: The Universe

The best place to start is the beginning and the first section relates to the Big Bang (or Event One as the Time Lords have named it) accompanied by a stunning image of the Black Guardian. We continue our journey by visits to Terminus and some other universes such as E-Space, the Anti-matter and parallel universes. We then gaze into the Time Vortex before journeying onto the First Planets and visiting the Ancient Civilisations. This section ends with a look at Mutter‘s Spiral (also known as the Milky Way) which then leads us to the next section…

Section Two: The Solar System

After an overview an a look at the Sun and Mercury, we take a visit to Vulcan. This is not the planet of Spock but the setting of one of the many lost stories (episodes that have been wiped when BBC wiped tv shows in order to reuse the tape, copies made for other markets are now often the source of many of the lost stories but Patrick Troughton‘s debut story “The Power of the Daleks” remains lost but is top of many Whovians wishlist for stories to be rediscovered, thankfully the audio track still exists). After a brief stop at Venus, we finally arrive at Earth. We explore the Young Earth of the then the Humanian Era before saying farewell to Old Earth. We then venture to the Moon including the Colonisation of the Moon and (after seeing the events in 2014‘s “Kill the Moon”) the New Moon. An extended visit to Mars then follows looking at Ancient Mars, Dying Mars and the various Mission to Mars. The Thousand Day war is looked at, a series of events following the events of the TV story “The Seeds Of Death” that formed the novel “Transit” by Silurians Ben Aaronovitch followed by the novel “GodEngine” by Craig Hinton. We then explore the rest of the Solar System before venturing further afield into…

Section Three: Earth‘s Colonies In Space

This section takes us to the many Earth colonies visited by the Doctor and again will entice you to revisit (or visit for the first time) the many wonderful worlds contained within this section. As Lance states in the introduction, it would be nearly impossible to cover EVERY planet visited by the Doctor but he makes a fine attempt with no obvious omissions. The beauty of this type of book is that you can dip in and out of and you will find yourself reaching for your DVD/audio/comic/book collection or going online to find some of the lesser known gems. The next section in particular will give you a new perspective of some of the most iconic characters in the show‘s history as we visit..

Section Four: Planets Of Origin

We now travel to visit the planets of the Time Lords, Daleks and Cybermen. We visit some planets mentioned in the tv series but have featured in other forms of media. This section contains references to some wonderful stories, may of which were written in the years between the tv series ending and the new series‘ successful return in 2005. Following this, we then visit a cornucopia of planets in a subsection called Planet Of The Monters. These range from Alfava Metraxis to the War Planet (although it is a bit harsh having Traken in this section).

Section Five: Distant Planets

These planets are those located at the far reaches of the Doctor Who Universe, such as the Isop Galaxy, Vortis, the Sense-Sphere and Raxacoricofallapatorius. Encounter beings such as the Drahvins, The Ood, the Menoptra and Sensorites.

Section Six: The Last Planets

These planets include new home planets for the Human race such as Refusis I, Frontios, New Earth and Malcassairo. The end of the Universe is covered in this section too and although there is not a restaurant here, there is the City of the Saved and it is where this guide ends.

This book is a wonderful guide and allows you to visit many worlds within the Doctor Who universe and with references to many other adventures beyond the TV series, it is invaluable for those wanting to explore the extended universe of Doctor Who.

8th Doctor Sale at Big Finish

Doctor for a night

His adventures continue

With Lucie Miller

Paul McGann was the Doctor for just one night on television but thanks to Big Finish, he has had a chance to be the Doctor and continue with new adventures.

Starting on Monday 20th February, Big Finish will have  the four series of Paul McGann Doctor Who stories with his companion Lucie Miller on sale over four days. Series one on Monday, series two on Tuesday etc. click here for more details.

These stories have a feel of the new series in style and format (the stories are approximately 60 minutes and Lucie Miller (played marvellously by Sheridan Smith) would feel right at home in the TARDIS with any of the new Doctors.

If you still aren’t convinced, then you can download part one of Blood of the Daleks to hear for yourself or get them as a treat for that special Doctor Who fan.

A podcast with more information can be found here.

If you are already a fan, I’d love to hear your views about these stories.

Doctor Who Gifts (1: Books)

It’s that time of year when we think about what to get our loved ones. Here are just a few suggestions for that Doctor Who fan in your life. If you have found other Doctor Who related gifts, pleaser feel free to comment. Thank you.

This post , I shall be looking through a few books that I have that bought/received as gifts/on my wish list that have put a smile on my face.

Biographies

One of my favourite Doctor Whos is second Doctor, Patrick Troughton and there is a new biography about this very private man written by his son, Michael. Patrick Troughton’s importance to the world of Doctor Who cannot be over emphasized as it was a bold move to not only change the lead actor but to make it a deliberate change, no lookalike replacement here but a new man. Alas, many of his stories have been lost (more about that below) but I heartily recommend the stories that survive and the audio versions.

2011 was a sad year for Doctor Who fans as we lost two actors who played two of the most loved characters in the Doctor Who universe, Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) and Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith). Nicholas Courtney has written a few autobiographies, the best being Still Getting Away With It. Elisabeth Sladen has also written an autobiography which was originally scheduled to come out earlier this year (2011) but her sad death postponed the release. But the book is out now and will be a wonderful gift for those who fondly remember Sarah Jane Smith, the character that bridged “classic” Who and “new” Who.

Series Guides

If you are looking for an all in one series guide, it might be worth waiting a year or two until the 50th anniversary when, I’m sure, there will be several to choose from. In the meantime I shall suggest a few books that deal with classic Who.

There are a series of books called About Time that focus on certain eras of Doctor Who. There are 6 volumes altogether covering the original seven Doctors and the 8th from the TV movie. The authors go into detail about the episodes and also mention the context when the stories were first broadcast. With a lot of stories is an accompanying essay which can relate to the problems of dating the Dalek stories and what they would eat to what the BBC thought about the show. Volume 1 covers all but a few of the William Hartnell stories, volume 2 covers the final William Hartnell stories and all of the Patrick Troughton stories. Volume 3 covers the Jon Pertwee era. Volume 4 covers most of the Tom Baker years. Volume 5 starts from the “star field” opening sequence for Tom Baker and includes the Peter Davison era and volume 6 covers Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann.

Doctor Who Related

I recently treated myself to a book that has been on my wish list for sometime, Wiped by Richard Molesworth. This book looks at how the BBC worked in the ’60s and ’70s and its policy of wiping taped shows so that the (expensive) tape could be reused. Doctor Who was only one show whose past has been lost in this manner (other shows include Not only but also and Dad’s Army). Some stories have been found (usually copies that were made for overseas sale) and there is always hope that one of the 108 missing episodes may turn up.

My quest to watch Doctor Who in order was partly inspired by Running Through Corridors by Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke. Both have pedigrees in Doctor Who, Rob Shearman has written Doctor Who stories for Big Finish, one of which he adapted for the new Who story Dalek which saw the return of the iconic exterminators. Toby Hadoke has starred in several Big Finish stories and is also well-known for his one man show, Moths ate my Doctor Who scarf.Both have made entertaining contributions to the DVD extras of a number of Doctor Who stories.

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Patrick Troughton by Michael Troughton

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Elisabeth Sladen's autobiography

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The story of the missing episodes