Review: Doctor Who: Books: Cybermen Monster File

Cyber Monster FileBBC Interactive eBook, out now (click here)

A potted history of the Cyber-race, together with a new story, Status Update, by Joe Lidster…

You may recall a few years back a series of books called The Doctor Who Files which came out from Penguin; they had basic information about the alien in question, along with a new story. You may also remember John Barrowman, in character as Captain Jack, presenting various Monster Files on the old version of the BBC website. Finally, everyone will remember the early days of Doctor Who Confidential, when the appearance of a classic monster on the show was the cue for clips from their past. Put all of those ideas together and you get this new Cybermen Monster File.

It’s in two parts – the first tells you key facts about the various versions of Cybermen, although it conflates a number of them together, perhaps to the horror of those who have spent their lives charting the myriad differences between their appearances. Maybe I missed this, but I didn’t realise that the Cybermen Rory met in A Good Man Goes to War were meant to be the Cybus Industries ones who had taken foot in our universe…

This section is illustrated with clips from six episodes ranging from The Tenth Planet to The Time of the Doctor, as well as assorted interactive sections, where you can press on the relevant part of a Cyberman to find out the history of that aspect, or spin a cube to learn about four of the key people involved. There are games and quizzes too, and while the seasoned fan isn’t likely to learn anything new, it’s good to have it all in one place.

The second part is Lidster’s story, which I would highly recommend treating as an audio adventure for which you have the script in front of you (with some illustrations by Neil Roberts). It’s the story of a Cyber invasion which is repelled in an unusual way, told through the diary of a young boy caught up in it. You may have thought that Stormageddon was an unlikely defensive weapon; just wait till you see what Jacob Sowersby ends up using! The BBC site recommends that this is for all those aged 13 plus; I’d say it’s fine for 10+ although it does get rather bleak in places, as it needs to – as ever, Lidster doesn’t shy away from the emotional side of the tale he’s telling.

Until the end of July 2014, this can be downloaded free by BBC licence payers within the UK and only on certain platforms; it will then become available to buy. If you have got access to such devices, then I highly recommend this – not just for the content, but because, inevitably, higher demand will lead to more content being made available. Ice Warriors next perhaps?

Verdict: A good use of the interactive format for some enjoyable Who content. 8/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to download the Cybermen Monster File


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