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The Doctor Who Chronology

By Lance Parkin

Book review by Jon Preddle

The concept of a chronological listing of all the events in the Doctor Who universe is not a new one. Jean Marc Lofficier has done several revised versions of his own in the various editions of The Programme Guide and The Terrestrial Index, and there have been many fan timelines written over the years. In fact, I have been working on one of my own for some time now (The UNIT Years in TSV 27 being part of it), and it is my intention to publish the full thing as a TSV Special shortly.* However an English fan, Lance Parkin (who has a New Adventure on the way called Just War), has beaten me to the post with the publication of one of the most comprehensive chronologies I've seen.

It is impossible to read Parkin's work without comparing it to my own, but I can honestly say that I am grateful to Parkin for providing possible solutions to some of the continuity problems I had struck during my own research.

The Doctor Who Chronology is a fascinating read. The 128 page spiral-bound book contains a 59 page history that starts with the Big Bang (from Terminus) and ends with the sun going nova (as mentioned in Colony in Space). Along the way Parkin provides his justifications for why he has selected the years he has, which is something I have also done with my own chronology.

While I agree with most of what Parkin says, there are a couple of places where he has let his research slip a wee bit. While he is quick to criticise Lofficier for ignoring specified dates given on TV, Parkin is himself guilty of doing this. In trying to make sense of the UNIT years dilemma brought about by the 1980 date from Pyramids of Mars versus the 1977 and 1983 dates given in Mawdryn Undead, Parkin has for some reason chosen to ignore these latter dates in favour of the Doctor Who Magazine UNIT special's ill-conceived notion that Mawdryn Undead is actually set in 1983 and 1989 - despite all the on screen references to 1977 and 1983! He has also chosen to ignore such things as on-screen calendars when they don't fit in with unsupported dates he has already selected for other stories.

For example, Parkin notes that the calendar seen in The Android Invasion suggests the year could be 1973, 1979, 1984 or 1990, and yet he has placed the story in 1981!? What I find most strange is that he acknowledges one Jon Preddle for providing this reference, when I did no such thing! (Unless he has read the letters pages of TSV 37?) It is because of this I was tempted to tear out the pages covering the years 1963 to 1989 in frustration!

The remainder of the book consists of 'histories' of the Cybermen, the Daleks and the Time Lords, which offer new variations on the same thing that TSV has covered in the past. There is also a complete (?) list of the Doctor's non-televised adventures; a cosmology which attempts to map out the locations within the Universe of all the planets mentioned in the series; plus essays on time travel, space travel and evolution on Earth. There is also a bibliography that lists other books and fanzines that have chronologies, in which Parkin compares continuity theories. While I prefer my own chronology (modest, aren't I?), I recommend this book to anyone interested in this at sometimes confusing topic.

* Jon notes: which I did do in 2000 under the title Timelink.

This item appeared in TSV 43 (March 1995).