Whilst I have been suitably impressed with previous volumes of Justin Richards' Doctor Who guides, I was left feeling that the new edition seemed like it was done by someone else, someone who didn't care quite as much about the content. Previous books have focused on various aliens and enemies of the Doctor, with a healthy mix of Classic foes and villains from the new series up to the point of publishing. So for example, last year's "Creatures and Demons" book featued old skool terrors like the Krynoid and the Wirrn, alongside monsters from the tail end of S2 (the Cult of Skaro) and first half of series 3 (Judoon, Sec Hybrid). Arranged in alphabetical fashion, with beautiful photos and design sketches, the first three books were great for fans wishing to complement their Classic guides with new Who info, and ideal for newcomers to both incarnations. Most importantly, the guides featured a detailed index at the back for referencing monsters and the episodes they feature in.
The new book "Starships and Spacestations" is a real departure from the "a-z monsters" approach, and the book suffers as a result. One need only look at the contents page to see how haphazardly the guide has been assembled. Previous books have had around 30 entries to peruse, whilst the new volume has just 6 and tries to lump together categories of alien and Earth ships from across time and space and both versions of the show.
It also tries to stick to the principle of mixing old and brand new with mentions for late S3 episodes and early S4, but these are randomly shoved in - who would honestly expect "The Fires of Pompeii" to crop up in a book on starships and spacestations? Similarly, the splendid two-parter of "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" is chucked in, but not in the detail it would be were the book a guide to MONSTERS rather than SHIPS, so there's no scarecrows, no John and Joan and no real detal on the family.
Infact, it seems to me that even the field of spaceships isn't serviced very well as there are many many omissions and some entries at the back mention the alien races who have ships and don't even show a still of the ship itself, just the alien. And surely any guide to DW's vessels needs to devote more than a page at the back to the TARDIS?!
Of course, like any Justin Richards and BBC production, the book is still lavish and detailed, but with no index, a poorly thought out structure and confusing one page pictures with no caption or relevance to the pages around them, this guide is a disappointment. And maybe Justin Richards was running out of suitable ingredients for titles (after "Monsters and Villains", "Aliens and Enemies" and "Creatures and Demons") or maybe it seemed time for a guide to the technology of DW, but as volume 4 of this particular range, it was a real disappointment, and as a guide to spacecraft it was sorely lacking.