DoCTor WHo: imPossibLe WorLDs
Picturing the Whoniverse
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.