BBC Books, out June 4th
The principles of the universe – as interpreted by Doctor Who…
Owing a great debt – which is suitably acknowledged – to the Science of Discworld books, this is a fascinating trek through various science subjects, both as seen in the TV series and in the real universe. Each discrete section begins with a short story which illustrates the principle being discussed, before going into a detailed scientific breakdown of the concepts involved. There are copious references to episodes, with important quotes pulled out of the text and given their own little graphic box, and the authors don’t hesitate to point out where the series contradicts what we know of reality (and the key point is made that our knowledge is constantly expanding). For those who aren’t particularly scientifically minded – which I’ll freely admit I’m not – this is engrossing stuff.
For those who have got their science degrees, and to whom all of this is possibly old hat, the book is still well worth getting for the short stories. Every Doctor makes an appearance, with more than one starring role for the current incarnation, and an interesting sidestep into “Season 27” by Andrew Cartmel featuring the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Raine as heard in Big Finish’s Lost Stories season. Most tread new territory, and I’m hoping that Jenny Colgan will provide us with more of Meghan’s adventures with the 12th Doctor – if Tom Baker thought a talking cabbage would be a good companion for his Doctor, then I suspect Meghan would be more than a match for Capaldi!
As with any good selection of short stories, some will appeal more than others. Mark Wright kicks off the book with a well-drawn 12th Doctor and Clara, dealing with a situation as perhaps only they could. There are thought-provoking tales from James Goss, James Swallow and Una McCormack, in particular, while Jonathan Morris adds a well-characterised outing for the 9th Doctor, as does Mark Morris for the 3rd. Andrew Smith presents the 5th Doctor with an embarrassing reminder of his past, Jac Rayner adds some welcome humour in her 6th Doctor story, and Justin Richards gives us a side to the 8th that I hope features in some more original fiction soon!
Verdict: A fantastic blending of fact and fiction. 9/10