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here’s no genre quite like science fiction. Nothing else celebrates the infinite possibilities of the human imagination and the splendour of the universe in quite the same way, so we’re delighted to delve deep in this latest SFX special. How do you define the genre, though? That’s tricky – SF has natural cousins in both fantasy and horror. For the purposes of this bookazine we’ve focused on the big stuff: Star Wars, Doctor Who, Peter F Hamilton, Star Trek, Stephen Baxter: the authors, shows and films that are boldly, unashamedly science fiction. This volume is called The Sci-Fi Handbook for a reason. It’s been designed as a comprehensive guide to the genre in its three primary mediums. Whether you enjoy SF on TV, at the movies, or in its natural habitat – the printed page – you’re sure to find lots here. We’ve combined brand new decade-by-decade histories and fascinating features (check out our exclusive interviews with Westworld’s Jonathan Nolan on page 68, Trek’s Nichelle Nichols on page 86 and author supremo Stephen Baxter on page 118) with the pick of some of the very best features from SFX’s archives. I hope you enjoy it. WILL SALMON, EDITOR
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Films The History Of Sci-Fi Movies p6
Shonky Sci-Fi! p40
From silent sci-fi to the blockbusters, we look at cinema history.
Not all science fiction is good... In fact some positively stinks. Here are some of the very worst movies ever made.
Quentin Tarantino’s SF Faves p18 The motormouth director on his favourite screen SF.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day p44
2017 In Film p20
Looking back at one of the greatest science fiction sequels of all time, Jim Cameron’s explosive Terminator 2.
What’s there to look forward to next year? Lots, as it turns out.
138 Facts About Star Wars p24 We fill in the blanks in the increasingly complex Star Wars universe, with reference to the books, comics and other spin-off material.
Alien p32 Analysing Ridley Scott’s deep space shocker.
Intelligent Design p34 We look at the superb AI drama Ex Machina, a true modern classic.
Terminator Timeline p48 We try to make sense of the (frankly gibberish) Terminator timeline... Wish us luck, eh?
Inside Inception p50 Looking back to our time on the set of Christopher Nolan’s mind-bender.
The Lost Worlds p54 The secret history of the abortive attempts to make a War Of The Worlds before George Pal.
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The history of
From the earliest days of film, moviemakers have been keen to show us the future. David Barnett explores those visions – and what they revealed about our present
veryone is a science fiction fan today, whether they consider themselves one or not. At least, they are if they go to the movies. The multiplexes – and your DVD shelf, satellite box, your Netflix account, or however you watch your films these days – are stuffed to the gills with high-concept, big-budget, starstudded science fiction spectaculars. It’s a situation we can really trace back almost 40 years to the debut of Star Wars… back then that’s all anyone knew to call Episode IV: A New Hope. George Lucas kicked off a craze for effectsladen space epics, it started the trend for
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franchises and series movies, and Hollywood would never be the same again. But there was science fiction in the cinemas before 1977, of course there was. Science fiction was being employed by movie makers at the very dawn of the medium, and over the years it had its ups and downs in the popularity stakes but it never fully went out of favour. From the first rudimentary movies, through the explosion of 1950s B-movie bug-eyed monsters, to the big-budget ’80s and through to the domination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, here we look, decade-by-decade, at how science fiction conquered the cinema.
The history of sci-fi movies
The 1920s S Without sound, innovative visuals were key to SF success cience fiction cinema is as old as the medium itself. One of the very first movie studios was set up in 1897 by the French pioneer Georges Méliès; by 1902 Méliès had released his – and the world’s – first science fiction film, Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). Drawing heavily on the work of 19th-century authors such as Jules Verne and HG Wells, its special effects were considered ground-breaking at the time. As cinema developed over the following years, so did film-makers explore the fantastic worlds of established novelists. Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had a notable adaptation in 1916, while movies we now consider horror – though with a very scientific basis – were made of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1910 and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, three years later.
“Science fiction movies weren’t just about entertainment. they provided social commentary” But it was not until the 1920s that cinema began to expand exponentially, and broaden the horizons and the imaginations of audiences of this amazing new medium. That decade kicked off with another adaptation of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, silent as all movies would be until 1927, accompanied by the frenetic and doom-laden accompaniment of live musicians. But as well as mining the back-catalogues of popular authors, directors began to strike out with original features, especially in Europe. In Italy in 1921 André Deed released the very first movie in a genre that would have lasting appeal for almost another century: that of the robot. L’Uomo Meccanico (The Mechanical Man) posited a battle between two automata, and a direct lineage can be drawn
Metropolis is one of the greatest movies of the ’20s, regardless of genre.
from this to the popular Terminator movies of the late 20th Century, resurgent in recent years.
’bot in the city
Science fiction movies weren’t just about entertainment. They provided social commentary in a changing world, none more so than Metropolis, from the Expressionist director Fritz Lang. Rightly considered a classic today, Metropolis was one of the final silent movies, and is all the more powerful for it in its prescient depiction of the far-future world of 2026, where a pampered elite live high above the downtrodden working classes. Lang would return to science fiction with 1929’s (again silent) Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon), but as well as casting their eyes to space film-makers were concerning themselves with technology on Earth. The idea of ray-guns fascinated directors; in the very odd French short film from 1924 Le Rayon de la Mort (The Crazy Ray; sometimes called Paris Qui Dort/Paris Asleep) a mad scientist uses his invention to freeze Parisians; an American serial movie called The Invisible Ray (1920) features crooks using a scientist’s discovery for ill. The advent of sound revolutionised cinema, but 1929 saw a catastrophic economic crash, and in the following decade, science fiction movies would take an interesting turn.
Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, of course, is the ultimate 1920s science fiction movie, still widely available on DVD and often on TV. You might – if it’s your bag – even track down the remastered 1984 version featuring a new soundtrack by Queen’s Freddie Mercury. Some of the earlier movies are difficult to find as many didn’t survive in their entirety; The Mechanical Man, for example, was originally an 80-minute feature, but only 26 minutes of it remain (though that has been released on DVD). The Russian silent movie from 1924, Aelita, where a young man leads an uprising on Mars, had a DVD release in 2004 and is worth checking out.
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2017 IN FILMS From totalitarian dystopias to the adventures of Rey and Ren in a galaxy far, far away, here are the sci-fi films to watch out for in 2017
here may never be a more exciting year for big screen science fiction than 2017. From follow-ups to critical indies Moon and Ex Machina to blockbuster sequels such as Star Wars Episode VIII and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, there’s a reason why science fiction is the cinema’s hottest ticket right now. Sequels and adaptations are the order of the day, but when they include the near mythical Blade Runner 2049, Ridley Scott’s xeno sequel Alien: Covenant, a stunning-looking adaptation of Mamoru Oshii’s classic anime Ghost In The Shell, monkey threequel
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War For The Planet Of The Apes, DC team up extravaganza Justice League and Luc Besson’s 30-year passion project Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, it feels churlish to complain. And there are also the under-the-radar originals to watch out for. Could God Particle (aka Cloverfield 3), Life or something that hasn’t even been announced yet prove to be this year’s Midnight Special? And all power to Independence Day writer Dean Devlin who’s keeping the global destruction train chugging along with original disaster movie Geostorm. Either way, science fiction is set to dominate the big screen in 2017 – the geeks truly have inherited the earth.
The White King 27 January
Based on György Dragomán’s award-winning 2005 novel, The White King is set in a Nazi-like totalitarian dictatorship where state-supported violence and a pervading sense of fear are woven into the fabric of society. Newcomer Lorenzo Allchurch stars as 12-year-old Djata, who is labelled a traitor alongside his parents when his father is imprisoned. Complicating matters: Djata is also the grandson of government loyalist Colonel Fitz (Game Of Thrones’s Jonathan Pryce), who uses his annual birthday visits to indoctrinate his grandson in the ways of the party.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter 3 February
Alice’s adventures in zombieland end as they began – in massive subterranean science complex The Hive, from which killer hologram The Red Queen is co-ordinating her final assault on humanity.
138 Facts About
Losing track of everything thatâ€™s happening in the new-look Star Wars universe? Help is at hand, as Richard Edwards rounds up all you need to know...
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Wonder why Deathtroopers have that name…? Scrappers Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen).
Even Stormtroopers like a dip in the sea.
Yen), who is not a Jedi yet follows their teachings… …and is closely protected by Baze Malbus Wrong ’un Director (Jiang Wen). Orson Krennic (Ben There’s also a security droid called K-2SO Mendelsohn). (a performance-captured Alan Tudyk, who has mechanical previous from I, Robot)... ...and an insurgent called Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). This isn’t the first time Saw Gerrera has appeared in Star Wars. He was part of a resistance cell on Onderon in season five of The Clone Wars, where he received training from Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Mon Mothma is back – and she’s played by the same actress (Genevieve O’Reilly) who played her in Revenge Of The Sith before her performance ended up on the cutting room floor. The likeness with original actress Caroline Blakiston is uncanny. As you’ve no doubt seen from the Right ’un Bodhi trailers, Darth Vader is back. Rook (Riz Ahmed). He’ll be voiced by James Earl Jones again – as he is in Star Wars Rebels. But Vader won’t be the star. “He will be in the movie sparingly,” said Kennedy. “But at a key strategic moment he’s going to loom large.” He’s possibly not the biggest Imperial cheese in the movie. That role is filled by Director Captain Cassian Andor Orson Krennic (Ben (Diego Luna) don’t Mendelsohn), a man who need no helmet. really wants to keep the Emperor happy. That doesn’t mean that Krennic and Darth Vader are BFFs. The Dark Lord has high standards. There’s some new Imperial hardware in the movie. Like the not-quite-AT-AT AT-ACTs (All Terrain Armoured Cargo Transports)... ...and the wedge-shaped TIE Strikers. While old-school Stormtroopers will make an appearance, they have some new cousins. Like the Deathtroopers… ...and the Shoretroopers, guaranteed to ruin any beach holiday. Some scenes from the movie were filmed at Canary Wharf tube station. The film is said to end about 10 minutes before the start of A New Hope. Could this mean a cameo for a certain princess? Those much-reported reshoots are hopefully nothing to worry about – Lucasfilm sources told >> EW that they were planned all along.
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All images: twentieth Century Fox
Ahead of 2017’s forthcoming prequel, Alien: Covenant, Ian Berriman looks back at all the elements that made Ridley Scott’s deep space shocker such a masterclass in horror movie making Giger’s Creature
The biology of the Alien defies any explanation other than the magical. One minute it’s less than a foot high; shortly afterwards it’s man-sized... how? Wouldn’t it have to, er, metabolise huge amounts of protein, or summat? Fortunately, HR Giger’s designs are so beguiling that you let that slide. Terrifyingly other yet elegant as a Ferrari, it would almost be a privilege to be gored by it. There’s something of the S&M dungeon about it – it’s not much of a leap to imagine it cracking a bullwhip and grinding a stiletto heel into your groin, is it? Anyone...? Just me, then.
As the prototype ass-kicking female heroine, we think of Ellen Ripley as a fearless Amazon, but one of the pleasures of watching Alien is seeing her emerge. Initially she’s a peripheral character, and a largely unsympathetic one – a chilly jobsworth, more concerned with sticking to the quarantine rules than the feelings of her colleagues. Later, she has moments of weakness and panic – she’s not a superwoman. Over the course of her hero’s journey we see Ellen becoming Ripley. The Nostromo is the crucible in which she is forged.
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ALIEN CLASSIC SCENE:
It’s the actors’ reactions that make it. As John Hurt grimaces, Yaphet Kotto just grins like he’s got a bad case of Delhi belly – the facehugger’s been forgotten.
Veronica Cartwright knew an alien would emerge, but didn’t know she was gonna be sprayed in the face with blood, so her reaction is authentic...
Parker and Brett
Yaphet Kotto’s Parker and Harry Dean Stanton’s Brett are blue-collar grunts who moan about their pay and wind up their superiors – they’re plumbers in space, basically. They ground the story in a recognisable reality we can relate to. In Alien, “astronauts” still smoke roll-ups, wear Hawaiian shirts and plaster their bunks with porn. It couldn’t be further removed from the anodyne, airbrushed world of Star Trek, populated with paragons.
Screenwriter Dan O’Bannon is sniffy about this subplot, inserted into his script by other hands. But while it’s true that Alien would remain a great movie without it, the revelation that medic Ash is an android, a Company plant there to ensure the creature’s survival, is a brilliant twist. Although we’re not sure it quite makes sense... how did The Company know that the signal received by the Nostromo would lead them to a “life form”?
The Grunge Aesthetic
The Drinking Birds
The moment where the chestburster slowly looks around is both eerie and comic, and gives you a sense that this creature could be our intellectual equal.
Nice to see that naff novelties survive into the far-future. Check out the “drinking birds” bobbing in and out of a coffee mug on the Nostromo’s dining table! Who brought them along?! It’s almost as jarring as if Captain Dallas suddenly roller-skated in wearing a pair of deely-boppers...
JONES THE CAT
Our favourite ginger tom not only provides scares by leaping out at unexpected moments, but also humanises his mistress – ya gotta love a heroine who goes back for her kitty! And when the full-grown Alien makes its first appearance, Jones’s reaction sells the moment far better than Harry Dean Stanton’s (the cat was actually reacting to a German Shepherd!). Plus, he looks dead cute when he licks his paws. Aw.
Alien’s set designs aren’t a total break from the norm: the computer room is filled with the traditional winking lights; the hypersleep chamber is an immaculate, gleaming white environment; and yes, it has automatic doors that slide open with a hiss. But Alien’s grimy, worn surfaces and industrial forms (built up from old aircraft parts) became the new industry standard for spaceship interiors.
The spaceship on the planet surface resembles a splayed pair of legs, accessed through a vaginal aperture. The alien eggs inside (dressed with all sorts of glistening meat products) are a sexophobe’s nightmare. The chestburster resembles a snappy-toothed phallus, as do the Alien’s drooling, facepenetrating inner jaws. Dripping with perverse, bloody birth imagery and symbolic rapes, Alien is a car crash of castration complexes and genital revulsion.
Special Order 937. Science officer eyes only. Nostromo rerouted to new co-ordinates. Investigate life form. Gather specimen. Priority one: Ensure return of organism for analysis. All other considerations secondary. Crew expendable.
Imagine how crass this poster could have been – all gore and guts. Instead, it’s a teasing puzzle – what is that thing? An egg? And what’s inside? Then marvel at the fact that one of the best tag-lines in movie history – “In space no one can hear your scream” – is whispered in lowercase Helvetica. Classy. Enigmatic. Understated.
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Sometimes, in a galaxy not so far away, the genre comes crashing down harder than an AT-AT with its shoelaces tied together. Miles Hamer presents 10 of the very worst sci-fi movies
1 Battlefield Earth (2000)
“dack rambo never quite made it as a hollywood star”
Dir: Roger Christian
Because no list of speechlessly bad sci-fi is complete without reference to Travolta’s dreadlocked monstrosity. The Scientology movie that nearly sunk its star’s career, the plot is so off-its-nut you could write a more coherent script by dipping severed dicks in ink then hurling them at a piece of A4. Producing a movie based on L Ron Hubbard’s novel of the same name was always going to prove tricky, which is perhaps why it took Travolta years to get this insane mission off the ground. Haemorrhaging money and dignity in one spectacular misfire, Battlefield Earth is the painful noise of a vanity project powered by the very finest dumb known to Hollywood. Best worst line is Travolta bellowing loudly, “While you were still leaning how to spell your name, I was being trained to conquer galaxies!” That’s nice dear; I’ll put the kettle on, and you tell me all about it.
2 Mac and Me (1988) Dir: Stewart Raffill
In a film where your actual Ronald McDonald is in the credits and he’s not the worst thing in it, you know a film’s gone to a very wrong place indeed. An excruciating ET rip-off that practically illustrates amateurism, there isn’t a single reason why anyone with a cerebral cortex would want to watch this film. Its biggest problem is the titular alien himself, MAC (an acronym for Mysterious Alien Creature). Like a cross between Yoda and your dad’s scrotum, his consistently static appearance is deeply
3 Ultra Warrior (1990) Dirs: Augusto Tamayo San Román, Kevin Tent
All you ever need to see of Mac And Me.
disconcerting. Whistling through the film like Peter Lorre in M (only much more menacingly), MAC diets exclusively on E-numbers (specifically Coca-Cola and Skittles, prominently displayed), and generally exudes all the playful charm of a weeping scab. Elsewhere, there’s a dance in a Maccy D’s (big sponsors here, in case you hadn’t figured it out from the name) which curdles the blood, and a laughably awful wheelchair scene that’s become better known as an ongoing Paul Rudd joke than a serious piece of enjoyable drama. War atrocities have more entertainment value than this shameless and shameful disaster.
A patchwork quilt of borrowed stock material, pre-school storytelling, and a VHS cover so unrepresentative of the action therein it might as well be challenging Advertising Standards to a fistfight. In a post apocalyptic future a warrior named Kenner leads a band of muties against alien invaders. What FX there are look as if the crew had their hands smashed with hammers, and the main character is played by a guy called Dack Rambo. Dack never quite made it as a Hollywood A-lister. Which begs the question; how bad do you have to be if you didn’t make it with a name like that?!
4 Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) Dir: Jimmy T Muraki
Despite top notch talent behind and in front of the camera (including a James Horner score), this
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The history of sci-fi TV With more than ever to watch on the boxes in the corner of our living rooms, Steve O’Brien looks back at nearly eight decades of small-screen sci-fi to see how we got to this point… t’s been 78 years now since television screened what most TV historians believe is the first broadcast science fiction play. Since then the genre has had its ups and downs and has been in and out of fashion, but those eight decades have given us science fiction that can sit proudly next to the greatest SF literature, from Doctor Who to Star Trek, from Battlestar Galactica to Lost, from Red Dwarf to Thunderbirds. We’re currently experiencing a television golden age, and top-drawer SF is definitely a part of that. So join us in celebrating 78 years of small-screen SF...
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The Early Years What was the first ever science fiction TV show? If that question were ever asked in a pub quiz, it’s unlikely many people’s hands would shoot up for the answer, that it was a 35-minute extract from the play RUR (it stands for Rossum’s Universal Robots) by the Czech playwright Karel Capek (1890-1938), broadcast live on 11 February 1938 on the BBC. The play, set in a future world where robots have risen up against their human masters, was considered a success, but sadly all that exists now of that landmark production are a few on-set publicity photographs. It was however adapted again, 10 years later in 1948, also by the BBC, this time for a full 90 minutes, though again, no recording was ever kept of the production (which, interestingly, starred a pre-Doctor Who Patrick Troughton as one of the robots). American network television began broadcasting in 1948 and within a year had produced its first ongoing science fiction series, with Captain Video And His Video Rangers making its debut on 27 June 1949. Set in the year 2254, it was almost comically overambitious for the television of the time, being broadcast live, and with a miniscule budget for sets and special effects. It did, though, run until 1955. Sadly, only a handful of episodes now exist of the 1,537 made, so how good (unlikely) or bad (more likely) the series was is lost in the midsts of time. What we do know is that it was derided by the critics in its early years, until the production team approached bona fide SF writers to pen episodes. Tragically, we’ll likely never see Arthur C Clarke’s or Isaac Asimov’s episodes of Captain Video, nor indeed the BBC’s 1949 adaptation of HG Wells’ The Time Machine, which starred Australian actor Russell Napier as the book’s unnamed lead and Mary Donn as Weena. Lost to time they may be, but science fiction television had arrived...
The history of sci-fi TV
Archaic thrills and spills in Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.
William Shatner in one of his two Twilight Zone appearances.
the 1950s I
f you showed much of the SF TV of the 1950s to a modern viewer they’d most likely see it as antiquated and fusty as a silent movie from the turn of the century. TV was still learning to walk as a medium in the 1950s and most of the decade’s science fiction output is almost mockingly simple-headed and amateurishly made. In the US, SF cinema was still mostly the preserve of B-movie filmmakers and drive-in schlock-merchants, but at least they had the moolah to make UFOs fly and aliens looks alien. TV, on the other hand, didn’t. Those early SF shows struggled with pocket money budgets and derivative plotlines. The idea of science fiction being for adults was a fanciful idea, and most 1950s small screen sci-fi was targeted firmly at the kiddie market, from the time travel antics of Captain Z-Ro (which plays out like a lobotomised version of early Doctor Who, with its efforts to educate kids about history) to the live-action/ puppet adventure series Johnny Jupiter to the Poundland space heroics of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. Most of these were inspired by the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials of the 1930s, and were headed up by traditionally heroic, and boringly uncomplicated, space adventurers. Across the pond there was much less sci-fi
TV, but what there was was similarly juvenile. The BBC had Stranger From Space, a kids’ series about a human boy befriended by a Martian who crash lands on Earth, which ran from 1951 to 1953, while, on ITV, Gerry Anderson began his run of SF-coloured puppet series in 1957 with The Adventures Of Twizzle (its lead character – a boy who can extend, or “twizzle” his legs and arms, Mr Fantastic-style – ain’t among Anderson’s greatest creations). Yet this was the decade that also brought us one of the greatest, the most lauded and most blazingly
“the show was preceded by a health warning”
There goes the neighbourhood in Quatermass And The Pit.
adult, SF series of all-time – Quatermass. Nigel Kneale’s series, made up of 1953’s The Quatermass Experiment, 1955’s Quatermass II and 1958’s Quatermass And The Pit, was a culture-quake event for the BBC and, according to broadcasting legend, emptied the streets and pubs when it was on. In Kneale’s series, the alien threat was always an oblique presence, a mistily defined sense of “other”. There were no traditional monsters in Kneale’s concept of science fiction, and its quasi-documentary type realism disturbed some viewers so much that the show was preceded by a BBC-delivered health warning. In the US there was however one writer who had the hunger to wrench sci-fi away from the comic book and to the sublime, and his name was Rod Serling. A firebrand writer with a potent liberal agenda, he’d grown tired of battling philistinistic sponsors and had decided instead to camouflage his social comment within a science fiction anthology show. On 2 October 1959, Rod >> Serling unveiled The Twilight Zone...
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There have been 12 (well, technically 13) Doctors, with each actor bringing a distinctive style and persona to the role. We called on some of the writers who have worked on the character on screen and in print to sing their praises… Hartnell 1William by Stephen Baxter
It’s hard to overemphasise William Hartnell’s contribution to establishing the character of the Doctor, and the show. Back in 1963, here was a senior actor with a distinguished career behind him taking on a show which must have seemed half-baked even as production started, and a role which was confusingly and unpromisingly defined: “DR WHO: A frail old man lost in space and time … He remains a mystery.” So ran the BBC’s earliest description of the Doctor’s character from April 1963. It took two pilots to get it right, but in the end Hartnell was able to define a character who was indeed frail, old, mysterious, difficult, cantankerous and alien – and yet also authoritative, and at times even likeable. It was surely necessary that the Doctor had to be old in his first incarnation; that sense of age has always lingered. And
Troughton 2 Patrick by Chris Chibnall
Perhaps the mark of a great actor is how unafraid they are: willing to experiment, always creating. Patrick Troughton claims the Doctor as his own within 25 minutes. He could have performed it as a copy of his predecessor. Instead, the patriarch is gone and Troughton is the first to take that bold step of making the new Doctor the same man, yet totally different. Over three years, Troughton just keeps broadening and deepening the Doctor’s character, building on Hartnell’s
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“Old, mysterious, difficult and alien – and yet also authoritative, even likeable” that agedness is rooted in Hartnell’s authoritative playing. My favourite single line of Hartnell’s actually came in tenthanniversary special “The Three Doctors” when he berates his successors: “So you’re my replacements – a dandy and a clown. Have you done anything?” For the elderly band of us who remember the launch of the show, William Hartnell will always be the Doctor. Stephen Baxter’s latest novel is The Massacre Of Mankind, published on 19 January by Gollancz.
creation, but taking it in new directions. His Doctor contains multitudes. His contradictions define him: serious yet frivolous, kind yet short tempered, a fast-thinking genius who’s easily distracted, a grave clown. What you get is a great character actor working as leading man: a performer so talented, so agile that he can turn the mood of a scene from funny to sombre within a line, and then spin it back again. But what I love most is the joy of this Doctor. Particularly once Jamie McCrimmon joins, we get a chemistry, and, yes, a love between the Doctor and his companions that’s new. This era is the first to feel like friends travelling together, having fun. And at the centre, a Doctor who is simultaneously child and adult: the central character beautifully mirroring the point of the show. The third series of Chris Chibnall’s Broadchurch will run in 2017. He takes over Doctor Who in 2018.
DOCTOR WHO Pertwee 3Jon by Terrance Dicks
It has to be Jon Pertwee of course. Who else? The Doctor I worked with for five exciting, dramatic, traumatic and fun-filled years. It isn’t an easy choice. I’m very attached to Pat Troughton’s whimsical charm. Mac Hulke and I wrote his last show, “The War Games”, exiling him to Earth. I’ve a great admiration for Tom Baker, and am very proud to have launched him with “Robot”. And when the show made its comeback, David Tennant, with a big claim to be the best ever, strained old loyalties.
“the elegance, the confidence, the charisma! you couldn’t take your eyes off him” Baker 4 Tom by James Moran
Tom Baker became the Doctor before I was born, so as far as I was concerned, he had always been the Doctor. Later I became aware that other actors had played the part, but because Tom had been there for my whole life, I just assumed he’d do it forever. If they’d designed an actor in a laboratory to be the perfect Doctor, they’d have made Tom Baker. As the Doctor, he made everything fun, and always saved the day in style. Nothing worried him, and he had no respect for authority in any form. Just when things got a bit too scary and threatening, he would
“if they’d designed an actor in a lab to be the perfect doc, they’d have made tom baker”
But it has to be Pertwee. Jon was an actor all through with all that that implies. Charming, kind and amusing – and underneath deeply insecure, with a need to be the centre of attention and a constant need for reassurance. (Almost every show, an anguished call from the director. “Could you come over to rehearsal, Jon’s not happy about the script…” “Jon’s never happy about the script,” I’d reply. Then I’d go over, talk through his worries, change a word and adjust a line here or there, and send him away reasonably happy.) But it was all worth it. On-screen the elegance, the confidence, the charisma! You couldn’t take your eyes off him. Doctor Who above all is the Doctor’s show – it becomes less interesting whenever he’s off the screen. Jon carried the show brilliantly, demonstrating wisdom, charm, compassion, courage and a high moral tone. It was all in the script, but never mind. He was the Doctor, he was our hero. There’ll never be another like him. Terrance Dicks was Doctor Who’s script editor in the 1970s and is a bestselling author.
bound in, flash a manic grin, offer everyone a jelly baby, and then casually ruin the villain’s plan. More importantly, he’d undermine the villain while he was at it, teaching me valuable lessons about refusing to let people intimidate or scare you. He was too silly to be a grown-up, too old to be a kid, and occupied a strange middle ground that I found oddly comforting. He was also definitely an alien – I suspected he was one in real life as well, he had far too many teeth for a human. In those pre-internet days, I had no idea he was leaving, and was heartbroken when he regenerated. He was my TV best friend. And he always will be. I’m still convinced he’s an alien. It’d explain a lot. James Moran has written Doctor Who as well as the films Severance and Cockneys Vs Zombies.
5Peter Davison by Joseph Lidster
I don’t really remember the Fifth Doctor as a kid so my first real experience of him was when I borrowed a friend’s VHS copy of “The Five Doctors” in the ’90s. What struck me then, and still does today, is just how brilliant Peter Davison is in the role. His Doctor could so easily be overshadowed by the others. The First Doctor is old and grumpy. The Second, sweet and loveable. The Third is heroic and arrogant and the Fourth, only appearing briefly, is witty and charming. The story is full of old monsters, old companions and even Dinah Sheridan and the High Council of Gallifrey. And yet, at no point is the Fifth Doctor overshadowed. A lot of this is down to Terrance Dicks’ fab script which is a brilliant big old adventure, both funny and exciting. But most of it is down to Peter Davison’s performance. Lacking the obvious hooks of the other Doctors, he’s simply a young bloke having an adventure. He’s clever,
heroic, charming and occasionally irritated. The other Doctors bicker whereas he appears to be faintly embarrassed by them – as if his family has turned up at the school disco, something that would have chimed with the show’s audience, both young and old. Davison’s performance is fantastic – he seems genuinely pleased to be reunited with old friends, excited to be off on new adventures and is clearly upset by Borusa’s downfall. In a story in which he’s surrounded by so many fab things, Davison, through a nuanced, pitch-perfect performance, never lets you forget that he is the hero. There may be five Doctors but he easily keeps his place as the Doctor. Joseph has written episodes of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
“davison, through a nuanced performance, never lets you forget that he’s the hero” the complete sci-fi handbook | 73
HISTORY SCIENCE FICTION
It’s the heartland of the genre. David Barnett looks back at the origins of SF literature, and how it has grown decade-by-decade…
cience fiction is the literature of the imagination, of speculating on far futures and the distant reaches of our universe. But the very best science fiction also puts the here and now under the microscope, to tell us sometimes uncomfortable truths about our world and our present. It’s a point of debate when science fiction actually began as a genre. Elements of the fantastic can be found as far back as the birth of the idea of making up stories… tales of monsters in the dark and gods in the skies told by the earliest humans as a way of making sense of their world.
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But it is in the last 200 years that the form has really entrenched itself in the literary world, and has grown and grown over those two centuries. In the following pages we take a look at just how science fiction literature developed, from the early days of the first attempts to align advances in science and technology with our lives, through the Golden Age and the pulp explosion, to the New Wave revolution of the swinging ’60s and up to the present day. It’s a fair argument that science fiction has never been more diverse or widespread than it is today, but at its heart still remains that questioning attitude about our universe and our destiny… and how we can truly understand our own world through the fantastic. >>