Saturday, 6 June 2015

Doctor Who and science have had a very on-and-off relationship, with uncountable moments of plausibility being erased from existence in favour of dramatic licence. But back in 1963, the show began with a very educational remit – to balance historical stories with future-set stories, so that children and their parents would learn about different historical eras and scientific ideas, while being entertained by the adventures of the Doctor and his companions – and it’s that ideal of educational entertainment that Simon Guerrier and Dr. Marek Kukula are returning the franchise to.

The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who is a sizeable book divided into three sections – ‘Space’, ‘Time’, and ‘Humanity’ – each further divided into five chapters. Each chapter begins with a short Doctor Who story, followed by an explanation of a related scientific concept, drawing links to the Doctor’s adventures past and present in order to assist their explanations.

This is a difficult kind of book to get right – too wordy and you become inaccessible, too simplified and you become patronising. And yet Guerrier and Kukula hit the perfect balance, clearly and dynamically covering a wide range of subjects. 

Importantly, it’s evident the writers really know both their science and their Doctor Who; the quotes and references chosen genuinely do support the science and rarely feel crowbarred in. You’ll learn how we can potentially travel in time, just how plausible Omega’s anti-matter universe is, and all about creatures with regenerative abilities similar to a Time Lord’s.

Whether you’ve been a Whovian for decades or Mr. Capaldi’s your first Doctor, if you’ve ever watched an episode of Doctor Who and wondered “could that really happen?”, Guerrier and Kukula probably answer your question – and a whole lot more you never thought of asking.


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