Doctor Who
Aliens and Enemies

Author: Justin Richards
BBC Books
RRP: 7.99, US $12.99, Cdn $15.99
ISBN 0 563 48646 5
Available 26 May 2006

The Cybermen are back to terrorise time and space - but luckily the new Doctor, played by David Tennant, and Rose are back to stop them. This fully illustrated guide documents the return of these metal menaces, as well as the Sycorax and other foes from the new series, plus first series terrors like the Gelth and the Reapers. More classic baddies such as Sutekh and the Robots of Death also make a welcome appearance...

This follow-up to last year's Monsters and Villains book dishes up a second helping of glossy illustrations and lightweight guides to some of Doctor Who's most memorable baddies past and present.

If a book like this had been published during the wilderness years of the 1990's, then the dedicated fan would of course have been treated to full in-depth production notes, tracing the roots and development of each species. And I dare say it would have gone on to chronicle, with agonising detail, every returning appearance in books, comic strips, short stories, Weetabix packets and cards that came free with Sky-Ray Lollies.

This isn't that sort of book, though. In fact, Aliens and Enemies is much more reminiscent of Terrance Dicks' glorious Doctor Who Monster Books from the 1970's. A brief background on each Who nasty with short, fun facts and a wealth of great pictures that the younger reader will lap up with glee.

I'm pleased to say that production standards have risen since those days, and Aliens and Enemies is suitably glossy with superb full-colour photographs and illustrations, showing off some of Doctor Who's finest monsters and enemies at their very best.

Naturally, there is a strong emphasis on the new series and thus we have lavish showcases for the Sycorax, the Gelth, the Krillitanes, the Clockwork Robots and several pages devoted to the awesome new Cybermen. But ample room is also given to some of the Doctor's older foes, notably the Axons, Sutekh, the Zarbi and even The Weed Creature from 1968's Fury From The Deep gets a surprising look-in!

The book is clearly aimed at the newer, younger fan, and much of the material is accordingly simplistic, brief and fun, but even the more mature old-school fan may find a couple of gems within these pages. Of particular note are some of the original concept artwork for the new series, including an early look at the Emperor Dalek, frankly disturbing images of the original Zombies from New Earth, and several breathtaking paintings of early Cybermen designs, some of which (hush, whisper it) look even better than the finished model seen on screen.

The highlights of last year's Monsters and Villains book were the background notes supplied by Russell T Davies himself, delivering brand new nuggets of information and offering tantalising clues to the show's future. It's a major disappointment that they sadly haven't been followed up in this sequel, although we are instead presented with extended behind-the-scenes material, and new series writers such as Steven Moffatt, Paul Cornell and Tom MacRae are given space to discuss their respective scripts.

Overall, Aliens and Enemies is a fun, glossy and very reasonably priced book. It has to be said that the hard-core fan probably won't find much that is terribly new, and is not likely to spend more than about twenty minutes gleaning all they can from the pages, but maybe that's not the point. Aliens and Enemies harks back to the glory days of Doctor Who when the show was massively popular and there was a market for fun material aimed at younger fans. We should now be jumping with joy that we're back there again, and every fan should be over the moon that such a lovely book as this even exists.

Danny Salter

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