At the end of Rings of Akhaten, there’s a bit where Clara kills a planet with a leaf. The leaf gives it a stomach ache and everybody goes home. It is a ridiculous moment and yet it works, because it emphasises the emotional weight we lend to tangible things, as if they somehow carried their own stories, a reminder of things we have done and the people who have touched our lives. A single plastic toy, the paint dirty and flaking; the chipped rim of a mug; a pebble from the beach. “I began to warm and chill,” says Nick Cave’s convict, languishing in his cell on Death Row, “to objects and their fields.”
Our site editor knows this. So much so that he’s written a book about it. Titled 100 Objects of Doctor Who, and published by Candy Jar Books, it “collects together,” quoth the press release, “facts and opinions from all fifty-seven years of the best science-fiction series in the world.” It’s weird, because I thought the best science-fiction series in the world was Black Mirror, but that’s only ten. And yet here we are.
Here’s the blurb:
“So, all of time and space, everything that ever happened or ever will: where do you want to start…?”
100 Objects of Doctor Who is a celebration of everyone’s favourite sci-fi show. Perfect for fans, no matter your mileage – whether you’ve just started your journey through all of time and space, or have lived through the highs, the lows, the Wildernesses, the Androzanis, and the Twin Dilemmas.
Inside, you’ll find: A terrifying army of three Daleks! Death’s Head’s head! A really quite astonishingly heavy door! Dinosaur fossils! A framed piece of wall!
And much, much more!
This is a book about Doctor Who. But probably not the one you’re expecting.
This isn’t actually the first Who-themed book with the word ‘Objects’ in its title – James Goss and Steve Tribe have already taken on the impressive task of distilling the whole of time and space into a random collection of things, in 2012’s Doctor Who: A History of the Universe in 100 Objects (a cracking read, incidentally). Philip’s collection is far more linear, which suits us just fine, because honestly, who wouldn’t want a romp through six decades (give or take) of Whovian history, particularly when his choices are so eclectic? Just have a gander at this: the Space-Time Visualiser, the sonic screwdriver, a talking cabbage, the Revenge of the Cybermen VHS, River Song’s diary, the BBC Sound Effects No. 19: Doctor Who Sound Effects vinyl, the 1996 Series Bible, a Bubble Shock bottle, the Seal of the High Council of Gallifrey, a mouldy old Slitheen…
It’s not Philip’s first outing for Candy Jar. His ‘10 Objects of the Brigadier’, to which this may be considered a spiritual precursor was featured in non-fiction book The Brigadier: Declassified. On that front, here’s Candy Jar’s Head of Publishing Shaun Russell:
“When Philip submitted his piece for The Brigadier: Declassified I was blown away by the quality of writing. His take on the series was unlike anything I’ve read before. His writing reminds me of Doctor Who: The Completely Useless Encyclopedia from 1996 by Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons. I am truly excited that we have been able expand beyond ten objects.”
For this publication, Philip’s approached the Whoniverse like a big ball, hopping back and forth along the timeline like River Song (the words “temporal guide” pop up, but is that describing the book, or its author?). “My book does feature the behind-the-scenes trivia you would expect,” he says, “but I wanted to go one further. So, I’ve included sections on the live events not everyone’s been lucky enough to experience, asked the question how Christ the Redeemer relates to Doctor Who, as well as looking at the bizarre world of fake merchandise. I basically wanted to go off the beaten track, jumping backwards and forwards in Who history.”
Before we wrap up, take a look at that cover. it’s the work of Martin Baines, who recently completed the art for Candy Jar’s hardback edition of the Downtime sequel, Child of the New World. Martin says: “I really enjoyed working on this book. I wanted to emulate the look of 1970s comics such as Scorcher, Valiant or TV Comic. Added to this, I’ve always loved Doctor Who Weekly and it was great to pay homage to this as well.”
“You don’t need me to tell you how brilliant it is,” Philip adds. “Feast your eyes! Spotting the small details is a joy, but the most impressive thing is how evocative the piece is. There’s a warmth and playfulness about it. The yellowing page surrounding instantly brings to mind that wonderful smell that encompasses you when you enter a second-hand book store – a reminder that all these stories have been experienced by previous generations. Suffice to say, I love it.”
So there you go. This is a nostalgia trip, but it’s a Doctor Who themed nostalgia trip, and maybe that’s the best kind there is. Anyway: our heartiest congratulations, Phil, and I hope I’ve given you a decent write-up. Now can I please have my yo-yo back?
100 Objects of Doctor Who is currently only available from Candy Jar, for £9.99 (+ p&p).