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I, WHO: THE UNAUTHORIZED GUIDE TO THE DR. WHO NOVELS
A light, good-natured guide for the hardcore fans.
By Dan Cziraky
January 11, 2000
When the long-running British science-fiction TV series 'Doctor Who' was unceremoniously cancelled by the BBC in 1990, rabid fans (a.k.a. Whovians) were soon treated to all-new adventures in the form of original novels. Virgin Publishing debuted the first in their series of 'New Adventures' in 1991, continuing the adventures of the Seventh Doctor and his companion, Ace, from the last televised episode, 'Survival.' The novels started out as multi-part adventures, with the first, 'Timewyrm,' running four books, and the second, 'Cat's Cradle,' going for three. Fan reaction was mixed, but sales were brisk, and Virgin soon pared the books down to single-volume adventures. They then added a line of 'Missing Adventures,' telling stories of the previous six Doctors from various points within the show's continuity.
This filled the gap until the 1996 'Doctor Who' TV-movie, 'Enemy Within,' where the Seventh Doctor (reprised by Sylvester McCoy) regenerated into the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann of 'Alien 3'). It was hoped that the movie would revive the series, but dismal ratings ended that dream. Then, in 1997,the BBC refused to renew Virgin's license, and their series ended after 94 books. BBC Books then started their own series of 'Eighth Doctor Adventures' (picking up from after 'Enemy Within'), as well as starting their own 'Past Doctor Adventures' line. Both are still being published today.
Pearson, a price guide editor for Wizard Press (WIZARD, TOYFARE, INQUEST GAMING), has concocted this 'unauthorized' guide for Whovians without the luxury of time to read all 150 books covered in 'I, Who.' In his foreword, Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy admits he hasn't read ANY of the novels, but is familiar with their plots. (He also confesses to abhorring the TV-movie's revelation that the Doctor is half-human.) Pearson admirably summarizes the plots, pointing out the inconsistencies with TV lore, and just generally giving fans a leg-up on all these bizarre new characters, planets, and gadgets. The style is light, and a tad smart-assed, but in a good-natured fashion. Of course, a good working knowledge of the TV show is mandatory (he recommends a couple of 'Who' series guides, notably David Howe and Mark Stammers' 'Doctor Who: The Television Companion'); otherwise, why are you even interested in the first place, right?
Since it is 'unauthorized,' the illustrations can't actually depict any 'Doctor Who' images, so the assembly of talented comic book artists were limited to generic time travel and sci-fi scenes. That's the book's only real detriment. Well, that and the fact that, with more books coming out every month, as well as an all-new series of audio productions in release (starring some of the original TV 'Who' cast), an updated volume will be necessary in fairly short order.I, WHO: THE UNAUTHORIZED GUIDE TO THE DOCTOR WHO NOVELS, by Lars Pearson. Foreword by Sylvester McCoy. Sidewinder Press, New York, October 1999, 368 pp., illustrated, $14.95.