Stargate: SG-1
The Illustrated Companion (Seasons 7 & 8)

Author: Thomasina Gibson
Titan Books
RRP 10.99, US $16.95
ISBN 1 84023 934 4
Available 24 June 2005

Sci-fi series
Stargate: SG-1 continues to reach new heights of popularity, as Colonel Jack O'Neill and his elite military team, SG-1, explore the worlds and face the challenges beyond the Stargate: a mysterious, ancient portal that allows instantaneous travel to remote planets throughout the universe...

The fourth authorised volume of the SG-1: The Illustrated Companion series contains coverage of seasons 7 and 8, and includes behind-the-scenes interviews, scores of pictures and a comprehensive episode guide. Plus, this time there's a bonus 16-page colour gallery as well. This edition also features contributions written by cast and crew members, including a Foreword by Martin Wood, an Afterword by Peter DeLuise, and an exclusive piece from Jack O'Neill himself - Richard Dean Anderson.

While author Thomasina Gibson's writing is more than adequate, I couldn't help feeling that she was wasting her talents and was stuck with a very rigid style to ensure this volume fitted in with the previous three. Maybe that's why she tries to sing her own praises at every opportunity.

Last volume she managed to stick three pictures of herself in amongst the pages. While this time we are only treated to one image of her, she's really topped herself in the editorial department. What on earth is Gibson doing with her Citizen Joe inclusion? The fact that this stars Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer and others in The Simpsons) hardly gets a look in. No, instead the majority of the text is taken up with her telling us that she was an extra in this episode and what that experience was like. Now I'm not saying that this information isn't interesting... it is. But, shouldn't it have been used somewhere else? Maybe even a page dedicated to a day on the set. Or she could have her included experience in the 'Stargate and the fans' section. I wanted to read more information on the episode and decision to include Castellaneta, not about how scary it was to push a pram - even though she was probably out of focus in the background.

In actuality all you are really paying for are the few exclusive photos and material from the cast and crew. Everything else has been on the Internet (on sites like TV Tome) for months already. And that brings up a question on the future life of these sorts of collections. With the Internet at everyone's finger tips why should you pay just under £44 for the four guide books in this series? Publishers are going to have to start coming up with new and interesting ideas if they don't want to see dwindling sales.

Guide books don't have to be dry affairs. It's been brought to my attention that an old boss of mine, from my DreamWatch days, has breathed much needed new life into the companion genre with his work on the Farscape and now Smallville series of guide books. Now I'm not just saying this because he used to pay me a salary, but Simpsons's research is akin to a hard-nosed journalist with a smell of a good, meaty story - he rummages around and digs up tons of little nuggets of insider information. What Gibson gives us are short and sweet snippets on the episodes - the sort of thing you can find on any fansite.

It's not that this book is bad - far from it. It's just that it doesn't really offer anything that the hardened fan won't already know.

Darren Rea

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