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Monsters Within: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To Doctor Who 2008 by Stephen James Walker

01/05/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Monsters Within in the USA - or Buy Monsters Within in the UK

author pic

pub: Telos. 303 page small hardback. Price: 12.99 (UK), $22.95 (US), $29.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84583-028-1.

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First impressions stick when buying a book. Publishers know this which is why they use pictures that should give you an idea what genre you're buying. Its also helped by having in bold letters the title and with the more famous authors, their surnames sticking out as well just in case anyone missed it.

Now, whether Telos believes they make more sales through the post or via the Net, only they can know but looking at the cover of 'Monsters Within' rather than the Net photo, would you think it was about the fourth season of the recent 'Doctor Who'? I should point out that there are no indications of this on the back cover or spine other than the main title.

That criticism aside, what you really want to know is whether or not this unofficial and unauthorised guidebook is worth pursuing. The fact that there is no official and authorised guidebook should tell you that Telos have cornered the market on this particular subject matter. If you're a fan of 'Doctor Who' then this needs to be on your shopping list.

As with the previous three volumes in this series, the book covers the aftermath of the previous season before wading into the Christmas special and the season episodes, providing details of production and cast, including uncredited performances. There is also a brief synopsis, press comments and author Stephen James Walker's analysis of each episode. Whether he's reacting to reviews or readers' comments, I felt the synopsis to not being so in-depth as previous years.

I doubt if there are going to be many people buying these books before seeing the season and its certainly been shown world-wide enough by this book's release. This isn't so much the contesting of spoilers but ensuring that the book is seen as historical record. Had books such as these been released since 1963 with 'Doctor Who's first release then it might well have given a lot more synopsis depth for the missing episodes where they might have been fleshed slightly differently in the novelisations.

Speaking of which, there are several pages in the appendix detailing Who tie-ins for last year and yet no one has thought to do novelisations of the series itself. Granted in the days of DVDs, people can watch the original time and again but you would have thought the BBC would have been after that kind of earner.

I do wonder about the detail covering outside filming of the series though and whether people will use it as a means to pilgrimage to see where it was done. If you are of that ilk, please remember most of these places are private property and without the studio make-overs are likely to appear like anywhere else you might have been. No doubt the Google cameras will visit such places to prove it one day.

Anyway, that's me reacting to issues from the book not a criticism of the contents which I found to be a good in-depth read without necessarily pulling any punches. Your 'Doctor Who' collection won't be complete without it.

GF Willmetts

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