Hasslein Books, whose tag-line is “Reference books by geeks for geeks” has recently released a new tome dedicated to The Doctor entitled Lost in Time and Space: An Unofficial Guide to the Uncharted Journeys of Doctor Who, and by “reference books”, they weren’t kidding. I’m usually up for having a look at just about any book relating to the Doctor Who TV series, and I try not to judge too harshly if they are a little popularist. Plenty have been cropping up in the wake of the 50th Anniversary, and many are dictionary-like with topical entries meant to bring new viewers (or even readers of Who comics) into the fold and help them catch up on terminology, cosmology, and even the different incarnations and personality traits of the Doctor over the course of a half century. And I think those books need to exist to help out new converts.
What we have in Lost in Time and Space is certainly accessible and wouldn’t turn away a new Who enthusiast, but it’s also much more than that. It’s a thoroughly and painstakingly constructed chronology in prose of what the series hints and suggests, or even states, that the Doctor has gotten up to “off screen”, placing these elements in their proper time/space place in the context of the show. Any knowledgeable fan attempting to do this would have to spend countless hours of devoted labor to establish canon and consistency, and in fact I’ve often heard fellow Whovians arguing about these very things at get-togethers.
Author Matthew J. Elliot has done it for us, and certainly furthered the detailed arguments one can make for exactly what happened when and what the necessary interrelationships are that can lead us to these conclusions. It’s a “reference book” for a history that easily eludes the viewer and also clues us in to minute references in the show that the writers are trying to guide us by. Elliot picks up the breadcrumbs and presents them in a clear prose-driven order. Reading it, you might even be reminded of things you had discovered and later forgotten about and might challenge your personal theories with solid arguments to consider.
The book is divided into chapters devoted to each incarnation of The Doctor, introduced by a chapter focusing on Gallifrey, and is rounded off with two useful appendices, one on the “Also-Rans” (focusing on audio drama content), and another entitled “Traversing the Whoniverse”. As the chapters move forward, Elliot uses a careful cueing system of headings that read “Prior to” in order to orient the reader between episodes and deduce what must have preceded the episode to tie the threads of chronology together–no small feat when dealing with a series that is only partially linear as a narrative.
Elliot’s background as an author includes books such as Sherlock Holmes on the Air (2012) and The Immortals: An Unauthorized Guide to Sherlock and Elementary (2013) as well as The Throne Eternal (2014) and his clear pursuit of Sherlock Holmes in pop culture places him in good stead to piece together The Doctor’s history detective-style.
As a reference work, but one with a fluid prose structure, it can be read from cover to cover or stands ready for you to dive in on a particular time period when re-watching portions of the series. That double usefulness isn’t quite matched by other Who-related books published recently, and as such it’s a very helpful addition to our experience of The Doctor’s journeys, especially the “uncharted ones”.
You can find Lost in Time and Space: An Unofficial Guide to the Uncharted Journeys of Doctor Who via Hasselin Books, and even download an excerpt yourself here. It’s listed at a base price of 24.99 for its 352 pages in softcover, but you might be able to get a discount deal as well.
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