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Time, Unincorporated: The Doctor Who Fanzine…

Time, Unincorporated: The Doctor Who Fanzine Archives, Vol. 1: Lance…

by Lance Parkin

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There are few people who have more intelligent things to say about Doctor Who-- both the show and its fandom-- than Lance Parkin. Fortunate for us, then, that this book (the first in a series of fanzine reprints) collects nearly everything he's written on the topic (aside from, perhaps, lengthy screeds on Outpost Gallifrey). The lynchpin of the book is the year-by-year history of the show he wrote in 2003 (supplemented with his account of 2004-8); it provides a quick summative overview of what was going on in the show and around it in any given year. Largely insightful and entertaining, it's like About Time but one-eighteenth as long. I love his rubric for measuring the programme's health: how much merchandising can you buy in a given year. I'd like to see this broken out in a chart or something, not just mentioned off-handedly. The only part it really falls down is the 1980s; reading this, you'd wonder why the show wasn't canceled in 1982, as Parkin seems to spend every year explaining why it wasn't as good as the previous year. Which, as you might imagine, contradicts itself. We're told that it all goes wrong in 1984 with The Twin Dilemma, then we're told that 1985 is a fall from the height of the previous year. Even though I like the 1980s, I understand some negativity about it-- the Time Team usually makes good points-- but this comes across as mindless and uninsightful.

Parkin's enthusiasm for the new show, however, is overwhelming, and justifiably so. The supplement to the 40-year overview covers some of this, as do his columns for the fanzine Enlightenment, where he tries to depict the significance of the show in Britain to his Canadian audience. It's a fascinating look at a phenomenon that we colonists only get glimpses of. Most of his columns reproduced here are quality work; I especially like his debunking of the notion that Quatermass had a strong influence on Doctor Who as well as his review of The Nth Doctor. Of especial interest are the entries from his blog about the writing of The Eyeless; I always appreciate getting insights into a novelist's process, and he has some good ones, though it feels like the blog cuts off abruptly, with the book not really all the way there and more to be said. The book closes out with his pitches for uncommissioned stories-- in most cases, I suspect we were better off without them (the Faction Paradox version of Warlords of Utopia is way better than the Doctor Who one here, and the original outline for The Infinity Doctors is awful), but I really do wish that To Hold Back Death had been commissioned; it would have washed out the taste of Escape Velocity nicely.

Overall, a smart collection of intelligent essays, well worth reading for the devoted Whovian.
  Stevil2001 | Jul 19, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lance Parkinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rose, LloydIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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