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You will be assimil... no, you will be wrapped up!


Featured reviews below are our favourite books for Christmas 1999 for Red Dwarf and Star Trek. For the Buffy Season One Box Set and a trio of Jonathan Creek videos, return to the other reviews selection page from this issue.

Also reviewed in this issue: Ally McBeal guides, Buffy books and soundtrack, Coronation Street behind-the-scenes, Doctor Who Whispers of Terror audio, Red Dwarf VIII on video, more Star Trek books, Twilight Zone soundtrack.... and a wallful of 2000 calendars!


Are we there yet?

New Worlds: Boldly go all over with this atlas

From the onset, this book has an interesting premise – an atlas, of sorts, of all the major worlds in Trek. What could have been a slap-dash collection of publicity stills and hackneyed text on planetary history has been transposed into a wondrous ‘snapshot’ of each planet, giving a guide book retelling of a visit.

Each part is presented as a story told by an observer to the planet, the ‘writers’ journey to several important Trek worlds to explain such diverse points as evolution of the Hirogen to the excavation of a Cardassian burial chamber.

One great pity is that the tone of each piece – though purported to be separate writers – is that of one voice, and indistinguishable from each other. Michael Jan Friedman’s ‘travelogue’ text puts one in mind of a constantly awe-stuck Michael Palin. A minor grievance, but something that could have easily have been put right with the employment of other authors.

The up side of using Friedman is that the pieces are interesting, and often revealing. The Q Continuum piece, for example, takes time to explain the events of Voyager’s somewhat disappointing foray into the Q’s realm in Deathwish from the first-person perspective of Captain Janeway.

It embellishes incredibly, even bringing significance to the barely-seen Starfleet scarecrow in a very controversial and impressive manner. In fact, most of the work is of this nature, and – if you consider it canon – quite inflammatory. The artwork is superlative.

A year ago, I had the displeasure to review The Art of the X-Files, a brave and disjointed effort, and this knocks it into a cocked hat. Here the artwork is not only inspired by the series, but also linking into the narrative. The Borg artwork is darkly sensuous, and the afore-mentioned Q imagery is both clever and comely. There is a little over-reliance to use computer-manipulated artwork; the more traditional techniques less prominent.

Written by Michael Jan Friedman
Reviewed by Dan Ranger
Simon & Schuster Books
Price: £25.00 • Out now
ISBN: 0 671 88103 5
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The only pieces that are completely out of place are the somewhat comic-book renderings of Earth itself, and the devastated San Francisco. It is completely at odds with the rest of the work, and lacks any sobriety of the tone of the piece. On the whole, the book’s unity and beauty is to be marveled at. If you are to get this in your Christmas stocking, a proud fan you should be.


And now, a word from our creator…

Red Dwarf VIII scriptbook

Longtime readers of TV Zone may recall that I have something of a problem with scriptbooks, that problem being: why bother when you can just get our your videotapes and enjoy the words with the pictures (plus the music, CGI etc)? The Red Dwarf VIII scriptbook is a bit different and worth getting hold of to see how it should be done.

Full of brand new pictures, plus CGI storyboards and behind-the-scenes shots (amongst other more familiar photos), this book contains not only the scripts for the latest season, which are all pretty funny, and in some cases extremely funny, but also sections which were edited out at some stage and notes from writer Doug Naylor.

Although reading many of the edited lines simply makes their removal understandable, at least it makes for a more complete look at the script and occasionally a lost gem is unearthed, usually a Holly line. It also explains the occasional plot point missing from the transmitted story, such as why Baxter doesn’t make good on his threat to Lister in Only the Good....

The best aspect of the book, though, is Doug Naylor’s introductions and ‘outros’, which enable the reader to undergo the trials and tribulations of TV production, and learn why sometimes things just don’t turn out the way they were originally planned. On transmission, Pete was criticized for being dragged out over two parts; reading this book, you discover that budgetary constraints forced this to happen, with the story only meant to have been a single episode. You can also learn what was meant to happen at the end of the season and discover the idea behind dropped final episode Earth.

Introduced by Doug Naylor
Reviewed by Paul Spragg
Virgin Books
Price: £14.99 • Out now
ISBN: 1 85227 872 2
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Doug Naylor’s recounting of stories during the production are consistently enjoyable and funny, especially his recollection of how the series was commissioned, and these parts are worth getting the book for alone. Yes, it’s a bit pricey at £14.99, and some of the photos are a little blurry or treated to look decidedly odd for no apparent reason (see pages 41 and 150), but it’s well worth a look.

© Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction
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