Doctor Who–New book takes fans through a time portal to a place that wasn’t

Review by C.J. Bunce

Have you ever experienced the Mandela Effect–that certainty that you’ve experienced something that is later proven to you that it actually didn’t happen?  Maybe you remember playing with rocket-firing Boba Fett figures only to learn later that they were never released.  Or if you’re a fan of the 60 years of the Doctor Who TV series, you recall posters, games, and action figures from long ago, but they never were really there.  Fan Andrew-Mark Thompson is going to play with your recollections in his new book, This is a Fake: A Collection of Unreal Things, now available in the UK here at Amazon.  In his book, he has mocked-up realistic advertisements, event tickets, even grocery store stamps–all kinds of collectables that could have existed in the past 60 years of Doctor Who.  Only these objects are filled with in-jokes and more than an ample dose of British humor.  Er… humour.

If you recall the original series of Star Trek novels and wished someone had written something similar for Doctor Who (advertised as “For hours of absorbing reading choose from our fantastic range of Dr. Who books that look like Star Trek ones”), this book is for you.  The book asks the question (in a round-about way): What if George Lucas or Gene Roddenberry had been behind the promotion of Doctor Who?  What could that have meant for Whovian fandom?

Yes, the humor is not only British, but also intentionally dated.  Much of the jokes will go over the head of anyone whose first Doctor was Christopher Eccleston or later.

If you were  child in the 1960s or 1970s, did you ever want a breakfast cereal with Doctor Who freebies inside?  It didn’t happen, probably because the BBC was too rigid about such things.  But with this book you can recall how it could have happened with someone else managing the marketing for the show in its infancy and beyond.  How about Tom Baker in a VHS spin-off called Cyborg Terminators?

Yes, the book crosses paths with modern Doctors, too.  The action figure “Action Man” box mock-ups are the best of the pack, along with a Doctor Who Clue game.  I mean Cluedo.  Mocked-up food items are… weird.  Then again, you might find everything a little bit above and beyond here.  A few pages have collectable trading cards you could cut out if you wanted to ruin the book.  Gold Key Doctor Who comics?  Who doesn’t think that wouldn’t have been a good sell?

Some real satire can be found within, as the author pokes fun at all the odd ways companies marketed their products in the 1960s and 1970s.  Dropping in Doctor Who in place of other things points a finger at plenty of lost opportunities for the longest running sci-fi or fantasy franchise anywhere.

If you want to understand all the references in This is a Fake, you’ll need to be 60 years old or older and British, or have watched all the seasons of Doctor Who from 1963 onward, committed them to memory, and watch a lot of British TV.  And you still might catch all the humor.

It’s a strange kind of time travel.  For the Doctor Who fan who has everything, This is a Fake: A Collection of Unreal Things is now available in the UK here at Amazon.  Those in the States can pick up a copy via Who North America at its website here, once it’s available.


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