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Doctor Who Yearbook 1994

Book review by Paul Scoones

Marvel's Yearbooks are all very strongly reminiscent of the notorious - yet highly collectible - Doctor Who annuals (the last of which was dated 1986). The Yearbooks are full colour hardback books with rather low page counts (60 pages), and featuring a mix of basic fact articles and both text and comic stories. The 1994 Yearbook is the third in the series.

The text stories are all by New Adventures authors, including Marc Platt, Terrance Dicks, Gareth Roberts, Mark Gatiss, Andy Lane and Nigel Robinson. Oddly enough, although all of these writers have turned out excellent novels, their short stories are not nearly so consistent. Dicks's Reconnaissance, set just prior to Liz Shaw's departure, is easily the best of the bunch, simply because the writer has such a strong grasp of the characters involved, and brings them to life in a very satisfying manner. Andy Lane and Mark Gatiss's stories are also well worth reading, but the others were disappointingly instantly forgettable.

The two comic stories are also less than I'd expected. DWM's comic strip has seen a definite rise in quality of late, and I was sorry to see that the tales by Tim Quinn and Warwick Gray were rather simplistic, though perhaps the intention was to echo the superficial fare served up in the aforementioned annuals?

The handful of factual pieces are, again, less interesting than the high calibre material that usually comes from the DWM stables. Andrew Pixley's analysis of the precise number of episodes each Doctor, companion, regular character, monster, etc has appeared in has potential worth as a reference piece, however.

Marvel would do well not to follow the formula and standards set by the Doctor Who annuals for its Yearbooks, when a better yardstick for quality can be found closer to home in the pages of its own Doctor Who Magazine.

This item appeared in TSV 36 (November 1993).