Doctor Who: The Whoniverse by George Mann and Justin Richards (book review).

October 27, 2016 | By | Reply More

There will be a couple things that will strike you when first opening ‘Doctor Who: The Whoniverse’ by George Mann and Justin Richards. First, there are no photographs. All illustrations are paintings by Alex Fort, Richard Hardy, Chris J. Lees and Shaun Williams. When you consider this takes up a large percentage of the book, you have to wonder why these artists aren’t noted on the cover. Second, once you start reading, you quickly realise that there is no painting reference to the BBC TV series productions of the renegade Time Lord formerly called the Doctor who sourced these adventures. Considering the number of appearances he has in the text, that does seem a rather odd omission. It’s hardly like he’s been a shy and retiring fellow throughout all his regenerations, even if during the Smith regeneration people now think he died, although that is not mentioned or how such news can spread right across the time-lines. That must be a bit confusing considering the number of times he pops up as this book points out.


Taking that into account, this book is written purely like a history book, although there is an index at the back. If you have other books that do so, I suspect you’ll spend time making notes and putting things into context, let alone ponder on why some things were omitted, like my comment in the previous paragraph, although I suspect that might be more to do with space available. You’ll also have to make notes as to which regeneration of the Time Lord you are dealing with because, for much of the time, this is the history of the universe and where he crosses into it. Saying that, it isn’t as though Gallifreyan regeneration isn’t mentioned but if you aren’t totally aware of all the stories, you might well believe the Doctor was just moving along the time-line, especially when he appears in successive events where there is a considerable gap in his life-line. No doubt next year there will be a book about the Doctor’s life-line in context to the universe to make sense of it.

Within the context of the history line, after the focus on the start of the universe, there is a lot of emphasis on the history of a little blue planet whose significance and sentient species develops beyond its size across the Milky Way galaxy.

Beyond that there are focuses on a couple empires. The first is the Cybermen, no doubt because how close to Earth, the tenth planet Mondas or Telos, where the inhabitants replaced their organics with cyber-technology and from a parallel Earth where a similar thing went on. Later, both sets of people joined as one. I don’t know whether their unification is canon but it would make sense or they would be having their own wars. This would also make the term ‘Cybermen’ potentially a generic term than a species.

The second empire looks at the rise of the Daleks and how even they weren’t afraid to experiment, both on themselves and on their war machines. Although their own time travel exploits are noted, it is very much like the Doctor in not being in context to their time-line, which is confusing enough as it is. The authors are still not sure whether or not the McCoy regeneration Doctor destroyed Skaro or not, let alone why it is still there. One option they didn’t give but which I had a thought about is that in ‘Remembrance Of The Daleks’, the destruction of Skaro is seen in the night sky which meant even in distance terms, it was quite close to the Earth, even if we have to make allowances for any time dilation in getting there and exploding in real time. I doubt if the original Skaro was that close to Earth or they’d have invaded us much sooner. That being the case, who’s to say that the Daleks call every planet they rule Skaro and the Doctor just took out one of the more ‘recent’ planet acquisitions, which is hinted at in the text.

Finally, there is an examination of the Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords. If you’re not familiar with the details, this book does put things into context. Considering how much a bane in the back the Doctor has been to the Daleks, you do have to wonder why they have never attempted to go back in time and prevent his birth, despite Gallifreyan space defences or even tried to kill his parents. I ended up answering my own question in that although the Doctor changed their time-line in ‘Genesis Of The Daleks’, they actually came out stronger for it. They might hate the Doctor with a vengeance but he actually made them what they are and I doubt if they would want to change that.

Don’t expect full disclosure as to when the Doctor acquires companions as the likes of Jamie McCrimmon aren’t exactly covered. Likewise, none of the adventures of Sarah Jane Smith or Torchwood are covered here as well. You would have thought being a Whonivere, they would have been covering all events but that might be a space restriction.

A secondary area of concern is how this history book maintains any validity should other stories set in early Earth history be told or even further back. As such, don’t think this history is set in concrete or other such substances.

I should point out that many of the paintings are landscapes with a sprinkling of various cybermen, demons, daleks, sontarans and homo reptilia. You might see Gallifrey from time to time but none of any of the Doctor regenerations, although the Master appears twice. Maybe this is an effect of the Smith Doctor regeneration removing himself from the history books, although you would then have to wonder how this history could be written and the book be told. Time travel, huh?!

As you can tell from the scope of this review, I found it an interesting read. Even with the vague areas, you will find yourself doing your own research to make meaning of it which is no bad thing. I do think they ought to have crossed out ‘the untold’ part on the cover because it’s all told, well mostly, in here.

GF Willmetts

October 2016

(pub: BBC Books/Ebury Publishing/Penguin/Random House. 320 page illustrated indexed very large hardback. Price: £35.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78594-061-3)

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Category: Books, Doctor Who

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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