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Superior tones and errors spoil an otherwise recommended read
on 4 November 2010
Reading the updated edition of About Time Volume 3 is a frustrating experience. This range of books without doubt makes up the definitive guide to Doctor Who, and each edition is full of valuable insights and information. However, as the range has developed, so too has the sneering attitude, and this comes out in full flood here, blighting too many pages. The always slightly superior tone has slipped into open academic condescension, spoiling what was once an informative and entertaining balance. The waffling side articles often fail to make their point or go on far too long, while blanket debunking of areas the authors don't personally resonate with (especially anything they see as pseudo-science) makes some paragraphs feel like partisan rants rather than constructive observations.
These faults might be more forgivable if the book was itself an example of perfection, but instead it is littered (almost on every page) with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, often incomprehensible sentences and missing words that smack of an all-too quick editing process. Indeed, one has to wonder if it was ever proof-read at all. Calling attention to niggling continuity details in a TV series and heavily criticising series writers (especially Terry Nation) while being equally guilty of creative sloppiness does the authors no favours whatsoever, and the hypocritical feel only increases as each page is turned.
All this is a shame, because there is much to commend here, the text going to depths of analysis that leave other related tomes looking superficial by comparison. About Time 3 is still, therefore, a recommended read for all Who fans, but the authors should take note of the old pots and kettles adage for any future entries in this range and one can only hope they restore the keen and less cynical observations that made the earlier books so enjoyable.