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by David Banks

Book Review by Jon Preddle

As I may have revealed before, the Cybermen are my favourite monsters, and when it was announced that a book written by the Cyber-leader himself, David Banks, was coming out, published by Who Dares publishers (well known for their bookmarks, posters, etc.), I quickly sent off my order. The book cost approximately NZ$60, and it is definitely worth it.

The book is 144 pages long, and it is larger in size than Peter Haining's Doctor Who - A Celebration, and is divided up into four sections. After introductions by David Banks (writer), Andrew Skilleter (illustrator), and Gerry Davis (co-creator of the Cybermen), the first section gives an overall view of robotics in fact and fiction, culminating with a study in cybernetics themselves, as well as the likelihood of spare-part surgery being possible in the not too distant future. This section is fairly heavy going, but very interesting.

The most interesting aspect of the book is the second section. Labelled History, this tries to put all the Cyber-stories into chronological order. It is written from the viewpoint of two from the race of ArcHivists - Farozia and Novasa. Having discovered nine documents on the planet Earth, these documents tell of Cybermen on Earth and in space (the nine documents being, of course, the Cybermen stories on TV. This book was finished before Silver Nemesis was broadcast so couldn't include a lot about the new story).

Starting with theories of how Mondas broke from its orbit and started to travel the universe, the book goes on to speculate how the Cybermen change their appearances. It is pointed out all the time that this is only theory based on ideas included in the documents. The theories are backed by quotes from the stories. Banks even manages to show how it is possible for Revenge of the Cybermen to occur before Earthshock, and thus show that the scenes on the scope are correct.

Since Silver Nemesis is not included in the section, it is hard to see where it does fit in with the history as presented here, but that is not a fault of the book. Any other future TV Cyber-stories might also contradict what has been written here.

The third section is a background on the making of the ten Cyber-stories to date. However, it is all too obvious that the book was written prior to Silver Nemesis, as mention of this story seems to have been added at the last minute.

The fourth and last section deals with merchandise based on the Cybermen. The chapter on comics is interesting because there are synopses for the 1960s TV Comic strips given as well as the more recent Doctor Who Monthly strips. Oddly, The World Shapers, which heavily features the Cybermen, is not included...

Gerry Davis has allowed the inclusion of his story outline for Genesis of the Cybermen - a story that was submitted for Season 25. However, I am glad that it was never made, because it completely detracts from the all ready established Cyber-history. I mean, Mondas being blown out of orbit by the launching of a couple of hundred rockets???

The book is concluded with a full run down of cast and technical credits of the ten Cybermen TV stories. Interesting, it lists the cameos that appeared in Silver Nemesis as tourists - Fiona Cumming, Peter Moffatt, Andrew Morgan...

The book is illustrated with photos and illustrations by Andrew Skilleter, who has done a lot of work for Target books, and DWM. Detailed designs of the Cybermen, similar to the ones in the Doctor Who Technical Manual, enhance the book. However, there are only 16 colour pages, and the photos or paintings selected for these pages are somewhat disappointing, although the paintings of The Tomb Of The Cybermen based on the original blueprints for the serial help make up for the missing story.

To coin a phrase, the book is "Excellent" and is a must for any fan of the Cyber-race...

Book Review by Pat Albertson

The Cybermen have always been among the most popular of Doctor Who monsters and so, it was probably no surprise that they were featured in the story marking the 25th Anniversary of the show. The appearance of this large hardcover book, published by Who Dares and written by Cyberleader David Banks also comes as no great shock.

Cybermen is a very well researched in-depth look at those famous (or maybe infamous) creations of Gerry Davis and the late Kit Pedler. 144 pages long, it is divided into four sections which are of varying interest to the average reader. The first one, 'Concept', deals with how Pedler and Davis invented the Cybermen and is perhaps the hardest part of the book to read. The fact that they were once human makes the Cybermen far more menacing than if they were mere robots and bionics taken to the ultimate extreme.

'Archive', the second section is a history of the Cyber races based on Earth documents (Doctor Who scripts) and plotted by the ArcHivists (a race of aliens created for this book). Ever wondered how the Cybermen keep coming for more after being wiped out at the end of each story? This book will give you the answers (although the ArcHivists will no doubt have great difficulty fitting Silver Nemesis into the picture - remember the Cybermen cannot travel through time). The history starts with The Invasion (the last Troughton Cyber-story) and finishes with Attack of the Cybermen and has been skilfully worked out by Banks.

'Program' deals with the changing shape of the Cybermen and how each story was made including the difficulties experienced by actors having to wear the bulky, claustrophobic cybersuits. Among other things, it tells how they had to wear plastic bags inside their leaky cyberboots to keep the water out when filming The Five Doctors and also how the brilliant but one-sided battle with the Raston Warrior Robot was made. Also, on a more sorry note, it tells which episodes were destroyed by the BBC in the 1970s making all the stories before Revenge of the Cybermen missing or incomplete (does anyone out there have copies of the remaining episodes? I'd love to see them again).

'Datalog', the last and shortest section, includes, as well as cast lists and merchandise, 'Genesis of the Cybermen' - a rejected Cyber-story by Gerry Davis. Although interesting it doesn't seem as plausible as David Banks' less dramatic version.

Cybermen, as well as being very well written, contains some fantastic artwork by Andrew Skilleter as well as photos and computer-generated images and from the series (mainly The Invasion). If you can afford a copy, you won't be disappointed, because it's the best book you'll find about the Doctor's deadliest enemies.

This item appeared in TSV 12 (March 1989).