the net guide for creative
DOWSE Guide to the
by Tony Lee editor of
Encyclopedia Of TV Science Fiction
Roger Fulton, additional material by John Betancourt
Boxtree, 836 pages paperback £18.99
review by Steven Hampton
This is simply the most comprehensive one-volume genre guide of its type. Here you
will find detail of over 350 SF/fantasy series, from small screen classics like Gerry
Anderson's puppet shows, and cult favourites The Avengers, to obscure, perhaps
best forgotten, trashy sci-fi such as The Fantastic Journey. The Encyclopedia
Of TV Science Fiction is ten years old now, and this newly revised edition - which
incorporates material from The Sci-Fi Channel Encyclopedia of TV Science Fiction
(Warner books, 1998) - brings together everything that even the most devoted fan could
ever reasonably want to know. It won't tell you who operated the third Dalek on the
left, in Colin Baker's first confrontation with the eager exterminators, but it does
offer a rundown to every episode of Doctor Who.
There are other books on the market covering at least some of the same
ground as this one, but only in these exemplary pages can you expect to find Alien
Nation, Blake's 7, and The Champions, along with Voyage To The
Bottom Of The Sea, Weird Science, and The X-Files. The range of TV
Science Fiction is worthy of serious study in itself, and although the comments on
individual episodes or one-off progrtammes, and introductory overviews to each series,
make entertaining reading themselves - with occasional pithy jibes or salutory remarks -
there's precious little here in the way of insight into what exactly makes a hit show.
What authors Fulton and Betancourt do accomplish with unerring skill is an informative,
and easily accessible trip down memory lane for the parents of Buffy and Red
Dwarf fans, while giving the audiences of Farscape and Xena a book
they will also be interested in.
The eight pages of b/w photos provide an effective snapshot of both state
of the art - Babylon 5, First Wave and Invasion: Earth, and those
golden oldies - Fireball XL5, The Tomorrow People, and Land Of The
Giants, that you're more likely to find being repeated on satellite or cable TV
than any terrestrial channel. From the highest achievement the medium has produced
(arguably, The Twilight Zone), to its lowest ebb (Metal Mickey gets my
vote), this impressive A to Z surveys and chronicles the lot.
I recommend this book to anyone with a television set.
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