DoC­Tor WHo: im­Pos­si­bLe WorLDs

Pic­tur­ing the Whoni­verse

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Re­views -

re­leased OUT NOW! 288 pages | Hard­back

Au­thors stephen Ni­cholas, Mike Tucker

Pub­lisher BBC Books

The best thing about this cof­fee-ta­ble book on the Doc­tor Who art de­part­ment is the win­dow it opens into a par­al­lel uni­verse. Not the one where Rose lives with a spare David Ten­nant, but the one where the pan­els on the TARDIS con­sole slide out, the New Paradigm Daleks aren’t Tele­tub­by­coloured, and the new-look Sil­uri­ans still have a third eye – just a few of the paths not taken glimpsed here in early con­cept art.

It’s di­vided the­mat­i­cally, with sec­tions on the TARDIS/other craft, the Daleks, the Cy­ber­men/ robots, the Son­tarans/weaponry, the Sonic/gad­gets and Gal­lifrey/ other worlds. There are de­signs from the clas­sic se­ries too (gen­er­ally rough sketches in pen­cil or pen), though they’re thin on the ground, and long-time fans will have seen a fair few be­fore. With so much his­tory to cover, the ac­com­pa­ny­ing text is nec­es­sar­ily se­lec­tive, but – though a lit­tle dry – does a de­cent job of high­light­ing key de­vel­op­ments.

But it’s the art­work that’s the main draw here, and it looks glo­ri­ous printed at large size on glossy pa­per; it’s a plea­sure to see the vivid imag­i­na­tions of artists like Peter McKinstry fi­nally get the show­case they de­serve. Ian Ber­ri­man

Tucked away at the back in a wal­let are 15 art cards, in­clud­ing one fea­tur­ing the Zy­gon cave from the cur­rent se­ries.

hideous de­mons, but none as mis­shapen as this baf­fling, barely-co­her­ent book. It starts in mis­er­abilist mode, on a bleak es­tate where sui­cide rates are surg­ing and the lo­cal drunk gib­bers of shadow-mon­sters. Then it be­comes a hap­haz­ard dream fan­tasy, with talk­ing an­i­mals and thun­der­ing steam trains.

Of course, fan­tasy can move be­tween ex­tremely dif­fer­ent tones and reg­is­ters to daz­zling ef­fect, but here it just feels like a lot of bits. Some of these feel like the be­gin­nings of very good sto­ries – such as a por­trait of a dam­aged, in­sti­tu­tion­alised boy, dev­as­tated by grief. The book has a more har­row­ing fan­tasy treat­ment of men­tal ill­ness than any­thing in Terry Gil­liam’s films, but even that ta­pers off. Pro­tag­o­nists are set up in­ter­est­ingly, then aban­doned in favour of half-baked fan­tasy fig­ures, whose in­tro­duc­tions are jud­der­ing and clumsy.

The writ­ing wa­vers be­tween com­pelling and alien­at­ing, with lots of an­noy­ing sim­i­les that don’t work and a fan­tasy con­flict that’s too vague to reg­is­ter on any level. As the magic bat­tles heap up, the reader longs for more re­al­ity – only for a bit of ca­sual real-world vig­i­lante killing to round things off in dis­gust­ing fash­ion. An­drew Os­mond

Opens a win­dow into a par­al­lel uni­verse

Paul Meloy de­cided he wanted to write hor­ror af­ter read­ing James Her­bert’s The Rats at the age of 12. “It rocked!”

The lesser known “melted nose” Ood.

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