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The Gallifrey Chronicles

by John Peel

Book review by Jon Preddle (writing as R.H. Cotwood)

In TSV 22 I looked at the social structure of Gallifrey and the Time Lords. I commented that John Peel's The Gallifrey Chronicles attempts to do something similar. I've now had the chance to read Peel's book, and I was rather disappointed.

The book itself is beautifully put together (by the team who write The Frame fanzine). Of 100 or so photos, a third are in colour, and half I've not seen before. Some of the black and white photos however seem to be 'scratched', and some are mis-captioned, but that is only a minor grievance.

The book is divided into chapters each depicting a different aspect of Gallifrey and its complex culture. Peel stresses that he has only used television references as his source, and quite rightly too, although the photo from Shada sticks out like a sore thumb after Peel carefully states that he has ignored that particular tale!

Subjects such as the Matrix, politics, temporal Engineering, and regeneration are explored. Peel's regeneration theory is somewhat contrived (and later in the book he gives a second theory on how regeneration works - oh dear), although nevertheless original.

Each of the major Time Lords is given a full history and profile, and the lesser-known ones receive a paragraph. Peel has tried to list every Time Lord to have appeared on television although the omission of the Inquisitor also sticks out - and there is a photo of her! Peel's theory on how the Valeyard came into being is also confusing.

The final section is a fictional account of Rassilon's creation of the Time Lords; starting with the war with the Giant Vampires and ending with Omega's detonation of the Star with the Hand of Omega. It is presented in the form of a diary and into this Peel has inserted his own theories of how regeneration, TARDISes and the Game of Rassilon came about. The Doctor even makes several appearances although he is not named directly.

The danger of a book like this is that too many readers might accidentally accept it as fact. Another danger is that something occurring in the series if/ when it returns could contradict Peel's ideas and thus render the book obsolete.

Personally I found the book somewhat pointless, although it is worthwhile for the photographic content, and I still feel that like Peel's other 'factual' book about the Daleks it fails to deliver the goods. It could have been so much better...

This item appeared in TSV 26 (December 1991).