on 28 September 2012
This is a great, fun book. It's well-written and beautifully illustrated. Great for those who already know a lot about Dr Who and those who know little. From the start the authors say their top 100 will be wrong from the perspective of everyone else, (they understand fandom as well as the programme).
on 5 October 2012
Once in a while the DOCTOR WHO merchandise universe spawns a publication that eloquently mixes the cohort of analytically intelligent with a humorous incredulity that I cannot but recommend to fans, and, on 27 September 2012, DOCTOR WHO - A HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE IN 100 OBJECTS is that singular tome.
I entered into an intimate - yes, reading it in bed over three nights - relationship with James Goss & Steven Tribe's 260-page eclectic collective of (seemingly) random items drawn from DOCTOR WHO 49-year old universe, and we never argued (never go to sleep without `making-up' after an argument, by the way, trust me, it could flare-up in the morning and shouting with morning breath is not pleasant. I digress) from start to finish.
Every chapter is like having Christmas Day such is the non-sequential surprise of the `object' and its relative narrative, and whilst the `object' choices are singular - categorised chronologically - there is a collaboration of insight by the authors that engages and entertains in equal measure.
`A Christmas Tree' juxtaposed with an Agatha Christie novel is joined by a humble `Hairdryer' and `Tegan Jovanka's Lipstick, followed by the archetypal DOCTOR WHO barrier-to-be-succumbed (`A Door') and loathed - in its juiced form - by the Sixth Doctor, `Carrots'. As you can see, there is neither rhyme nor reason to their selection, and there lies its strength.
Certainly, this is not another boring and earnest `encyclopaedia' and may be the first DOCTOR WHO `coffee-table book' that even the most casual of series viewers would not be embarrassed to have on display.
Charmingly, DOCTOR WHO - A HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE IN 100 OBJECTS asks more question than it answers, and that conversation (or heated debate) is refreshingly astute, and unlike other publication released since the series was re-launched (2005) it's a cross-pollination of CLASSIC and NEW SERIES is reverentially balanced and a credit to Ebury Publishing and the authors.
To be honest, it is difficult to fault this book, not only in its content and but rationale but its exemplary print & production quality (the clarity print, the page stock and the overall design meets Ebury Publishing/BBC BOOKS exacting standards that DOCTOR WHO fans have come to expect), but I have to identify at least one criticism to justify an unbiased review. And this is where I am struggling. Struggling to find a singular excuse to chastise the authors but I think I have found one. Yes, only one as this `reference' book is that stunning.
So, what's the conflicting problem?
The authors skip lightly over the `other' main character, TARDIS, of the drama series with such alacrity that it seems to disregard its central importance. Chapter 052 is brief, far too brief, given the prestige nature of this storytelling device, especially as TARDIS' consciousness has finally, after decades of being hinted at, been realised as organic manifestation (see THE DOCTOR'S WIFE). In this chapter there is no mention of `nano-telepathic' technology (allowing its occupants to understand any/most languages of the universe/s without a second thought), nor (alleged) `state of temporal grace', nor the fact that the Doctor can remove (see INFERNO) its operational console from its main piloting area whilst retaining the transcendental dimensions within, nor the relative fact that an asteroid, discovered in 1984, was named after it (see 3325 TARDIS). However, yes, another positive - damn it - from the release, the two-page analysis of the Doctor's ability to pilot the time:space ship demonstrates that the random nature of traversing the Time Vortex has become too contrived (well, for this reviewer at least) throughout the NEW SERIES. The excitement of settling down with a plate of fish fingers and baked beans teetering on your lap in front of the affectionately named "goggle-box" (read: television set) and to guess where the Doctor would be materialising next was all part of the fun, rollercoaster ride of the series. Now, sadly, TARDIS is a mere taxi service (as the Fifth Doctor referred to it) with the element of uncertainty dramatically dissipated resulting in tempering the action.
Oh, and the publication's wraparound jacket. For impact, it may have been more substantial if all the cut-and-paste images had been removed, focusing purely on a typographic (with a gloss varnish matte) design. Unreservedly, this would have classically intriguing.
Overall, as you might have guessed, DOCTOR WHO - A HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE IN 100 OBJECTS is, and I use this next word with only a minor hesitation, genius.
on 14 June 2013
I received my copy of 'Doctor Who - A History of the Universe in 100 Objects' from two of my closest friends on my twenty-fifth birthday. They know that I have become somewhat of an avid Whovian since the series' revival in 2005, and thought this book would be a great little coffee-table reader. Compiled and authored by James Goss and Steve Tribe (famous names in the world of media tie-in novelisations and compendia) have attempted to put together a history of the Doctor's Universe from event one (the big bang) to the end of reality itself. The way they have done this is in a way very similar to the recent anthropological BBC radio programmes and academic articles, published by specialist lecturers from the Open University, exploring humanity and nature's most important and beautiful accomplishments through the interdisciplinary study of material culture. Both animate and inanimate objects are given as examples, including such things as a simple door, the Lost Moon of Poosch, the Doctor's scarf and the Face of Boe, amongst many others. In their preface introduction, Goss and Tribe declare that 'this book is wrong', meaning that every reader will have their own opinions on what should be included in their list of objects that are meant to explore the realms of the Doctor Who universe. I certainly agreed with most, but sometimes disagreed with the addition of others, but these opinions are simply to be expected when searching through the history of such a rich and diverse media franchise.
This publication from BBC Books was released in 2012, just after the new series' seventh season episode 'Asylum of the Daleks' aired. With the upcoming fiftieth anniversary celebrations, it is a great accompaniment to some of the other latest publications that have been released, such as 'Who-ology' and the latest edition of the 'Doctor Who Encyclopoedia', for example. What is great about this release is that it sets out to decipher a timeline of important events within the Whoniverse using sometimes everyday, and sometimes extraordinary objects which are part of a particular story, set at a particular point in time. For example, object 029 is a gas mask, taken from the new series' first season episode 'The Empty Child', wherein a mysterious child, wearing a gas-mask seemingly welded to his face, is spreading a horrific infection to the regional population in 1940s London. The authors link the object and the episode it is depicted in to real world events, such as the Second World War in this instance, and they add additional information regarding behind-the-scenes exploits of the episode in question. Each object is also lovingly rendered artistically on a full-page scale, and additional scenes from the series and pictures from the real world surround the text where appropriate.
Naturally, the home universe of a Time Lord, with almost limitless travelling distances in time and place, can become very complicated when attempting to put together a chronological and linear time-line of major natural occurrences, invasions, inventions and species development, etc.. A particular convolution is that of the history of the Daleks, in that two origin theories have been established via various television stories and tie-in media. A lot of people, including Goss and Tribe it seems (and myself coincidentally) attempt to place the various dates of dalek history into one cohesive time-line, although this book (and myself) do acknowledge the alternative origins as well. Even with these potential hindrances, the authors are meticulous in presenting in-story information and how this connects to other televised stories in linear sequence.
Ultimately, this is a well-crafted book that attempts to give avid viewers a detailed overview of the world of the Doctor, his companions, enemies, friends and family; with linking relevance to the real world and how ideas for stories and particular species were crafted from contemporary issues, literature, film and other media. By utilising a strategy introduced as an anthropological tool of categorising the world's most intriguing and influential material culture, this publication offers a sense of academic insight into the Whoniverse, while still maintaining a simple yet witty repertoire. For fans old and new of the Doctor Who franchise, 'A History of the Universe in 100 Objects' provides just that - a detailed, comprehensive and illustrated guide to the most important (matter of opinion, of course) items which surround the Doctor and the people he has come in to contact with. This, in turn, also provides the most up-to-date and detailed compendium of the universe in which the most famous of all Time Lords resides, offering viewers a visual linear chronology of events that have shaped nearly fifty years of adventures in time and space.
on 27 November 2012
I should really ask my son to review this, as I bought it for him but to my surprise I quite like it myself as well. It is a mixture of phantasy, humour, real history and 'Dr Who history' all in one. There are many many very pretty images, not just from the Dr Who series but also from paintings, drawings etc.
Many kids may not be too enticed to open up "Children's Encyclopedia Volume 16" but I know for sure my nearly 9-yr old Dr-Who fan will be happily glancing through this book, looking at his favourite Daleks, K9, Cybermen... and learning loads about real history on the way. Because there is, just to take an example, 3 pages dedicated to gas masks, describing its use during the 2nd world war, explaining how they work and then listing when and how they appeared in Dr WHo.
The text is very informative but not written for kids really, too hard for them to take it all in. I do think though that my son's fascination with Dr Who is not just temporarily but that it may last for many years to come and this book may well teach him loads as he grows older.
on 21 January 2013
I asked my brother to buy me this book for Christmas; instead of The TARDIS Handbook (q.v) The main reason for changing my mind was that it contained a lot more pages for just a couple of quid more. I used the "look inside" feature which allowed me to read the first of (supposedly) 100 objects, "The urns of Krop Tor" and I could not wait for Christmas Day to arrive so I could read the rest of it; we had it delivered to my own address so it took a lot of willpower not to look past the first pages. What I like about this particular book is it mixes fiction with fact - one of the objects, for example, is the fob watch which contained the Doctor's and Master's consciences. It also delved in to the history of clocks, explaining that fob watches came about some time after World War One. It contains objects across Doctor Who's history from William Hartnell to Matt Smith. It even cross references some of the objects. Some of the entries go into a lot of details, whilst others are annoyingly concise. The book also contains many black and white and colour photographs, and lists what other sci-fi works influenced the Dr Who stories. There are only 97 objects; in my opinion for the following reasons. The Pandorica entry is incomplete, but there is a line through the double pages which resembles the crack in time, so my guess is, this is not a defect but deliberate. The UNIT entry has "Classified" sections in it which are blacked out, and one of the objects is simply a flow chart which I simply cannot follow. I don't know if it would appeal to Science Fiction fans who aren't Doctor Who fans (I'm sure there be some of them out there), but for Doctor Who fans such as myself, it's a fantastic book.
on 2 December 2012
A very detailed book, tons of "who" facts and photos, goes into detail with small type not a kiddie book something for the genuine fan, my husband loved it, got it for my stepson for Xmas too.
on 7 November 2012
I'd seen this in a bookshop and was immediately entranced. I just had to buy it and knew Amazon would offer a great deal - which they did! It's a book to dip into rather than read straight through, but all the better for it. The artwork is first class and the photographs bring back so many great stories and memories. I'll be dipping into it for years to come.
on 2 October 2012
I think any fan of Doctor Who should have this book. The book is really well edited, photography is wonderful and it has absolutely everything about Doctor Who's objects.
on 11 April 2013
Every object tells a story. From ancient urns and medieval flasks to sonic screwdrivers and glass Daleks, these 100 objects tell the story of the entire universe, and the most important man in it: the Doctor.
Each item has a unique tale of its own, whether it's a fob watch at the onset of the Great War or a carrot growing on the first human colony on Mars. Taken together, they tell of empires rising and falling, wars won and lost, and planets destroyed and reborn.
Within these pages lie hidden histories of Time Lords and Daleks, the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, the plot to steal the Mona Lisa and the story of Shakespeare's lost play. You'll find illustrated guides to invisible creatures, the secret origins of the internet, and how to speak Mechonoid.
A History of the Universe in 100 Objects is an indispensible guide to the most important items that have ever existed, or that are yet to exist.
on 18 November 2012
The introduction states that one is not supposed to agre with what objects that are chosen. This makes for an interesting read. Good deal of diverse information. Not sure the enemies of the Doctor, like some Types of Dalek, should be included as objects, though. Very good quality publishing!