Proving that anything familiar can be new again if approached from a fresh angle; Doctor Who: A History of the Universe in 100 Objects tears through the universe in a grab-bag style that shamelessly delves into its brief while avoiding anything too all-encompassing.
Taking the kaleidoscopic approach of Dr Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects and using a very loose definition of an ‘object’ the book is an absolutely entertaining delight for new and seasoned Who fans.
And that for a long time has been what’s missing from other Doctor Who encyclopaedias – to borrow a phrase from the Doctor himself; there’s been too much ‘library’ and not enough ‘swimming pool’.
Not so with Doctor Who: A History of the Universe in 100 Objects.
The book not only draws in the casual fans through the hundred objects that define the Doctor but also cleverly uses lines of dialogue, screen grabs and concept designs to open uncharted areas of the Whoniverse for the uninitiated.
For example; take the Tenth Doctor’s reaffirmation of his total faith in the human spirit in The Satan Pit:
“But I’ve seen a lot of this universe. I’ve seen fake gods and bad gods and demi gods and would-be gods…”
Well now you get a full list, divided into all of those ‘fake Gods and bad God’s and Demi God’s’ that the Doctor has faced, presented with such eye-catching, witty and even educational panache that it’s hard not admire the lesson; even if the subject matter isn’t anything new.
And those are just the lists and sidebars. One of the book’s strongest inclusions are the sketches by Concept Designer Peter McKinstry, and for anyone who owned a Doctor Who annual and gazed for hours at the technical drawings of the inner workings of the Daleks or Cybermen and could almost see how they would function, their inclusion are a pure nostalgic hit.
Although some of the sketches of the less intricate objects lack the same eye-catching detail; particularly a sketch of one of the most iconic objects in the shows history; the Fourth Doctor’s scarf, the transection of, for example the Master’s Tissue Compression Eliminator more than makes up for such minor shortcomings.
Your hat must be doffed in the direction of designer Paul Lang; the imaginative layouts pop, drawing the eye across the page with such finesse and a devotion to the subject that you can almost feel in the pages.
The geek-pleasure of turning to the entry for the Pandorica only to find it slashed in half by a crack in time or the double-page spread that rates the accuracy of each Doctor’s TARDIS piloting skills is constant, surprising joy.
You won’t find a more eye-pleasing book this year.
It’s not just the images that impress.
The writing by James Goss and Steve Tribe is clear and concise; offering both witty explanations of both the real and the fictional worlds of the Doctor (personal favourite is a throw-away line about the Eighth Doctor’s subsequent exploits after the ’96 TV Movie being ‘lost in classified literature and arcane audio-visuals) while keeping everything light and quirky enough to make even the driest of subjects engaging.
Who would have thought the history of the hat or the Christmas tree tradition would be so entertaining?
Charming, witty and one of the most beautifully packaged Doctor Who books you’re likely to come across; Doctor Who: A History of the Universe in 100 Objects is perfect for anyone looking for a refreshing, easy on the eye exploration of a world they know and love.
With an RRP of £20.00, Doctor Who: A History of the Universe in 100 Obejcts is available now for just £9.99 from Amazon.