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The Monsters

by Adrian Rigelsford and Andrew Skilleter

Book review by Paul Scoones

This should not be regarded as an essential reference work, but rather as a collectors' item, a coffee table book to browse through, reading a chapter at a time and admiring the usually (but not always) wonderful paintings.

Most of the book is made up of a collection of fictionalised extracts from diaries, audio logs, legends and computer files. Some of these presentations are inspired, such as Professor Travers' notes on the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster, and Sil's court trial transcript; whilst others are a bit contrived, such as Olive Hawthorne's writings on the Fendahl, the Destroyer and the Haemovores, or a Sontaran training simulation involving all of the Doctor's on-screen encounters with that race.

In essence, the chapters on the various monsters - which include the Ice Warriors, Zygons, Yeti, Sontarans, Wirrn, Autons, Silurians, Sea Devils and more - are nothing more than imaginative retellings of the stories in which they appeared. I had hoped that the book would create race histories for each of the monsters, but with a few marginal exceptions this is unfortunately not the case. An even bigger waste of an opportunity is that the Ice Warrior and Sontaran sections are presented in story transmission order when they would, to my mind, have befitted greatly from an 'historical' ordering of the encounters, enabling at least a semblance of a race history to be constructed around each incident.

The last section of the book is a behind-the-scenes fact file on each of the stories featured in the earlier chapters. With the exception of a few rare photos and some interesting notes on the creation of the monster costumes, this chapter could easily have been dispensed with.

The Monsters was originally planned as part of a trilogy, to sit alongside David Banks' excellent Cybermen (to which both Rigelsford and Skilleter contributed), and a shelved book on the Daleks by the team of Howe, Stammers and Walker. Much of the inspiration and creativity which made Cybermen such a success is missing from this companion volume. It's attractive and well-written, but could have been so much better.

This item appeared in TSV 33 (April 1993).