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The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who is an interesting combination of science lecture interspersed with short fiction from some of today's best known science fiction authors. Science fiction author Simon Guerrier and astronomer Dr. Marek Kukula have collaborated on a collection of science fiction and science fact to give a decades-spanning overview on how space, time-travel, and our own understanding of these principals have evolved in real life and on the small-screen in that beloved cult-classic Doctor Who. The book is broken up into three sections that each cover a particular concept: Space, Time, and Humanity. The Space section covers things like how our views of the possibility of extra-terrestrial life has changed, how we might actually travel to distant galaxies, and what that distance is really like. I really enjoyed the short-fiction in this section called The Lost Generation written by George Mann; it was classic Doctor Who, and I loved the feeling of instant recognition when he described the doctor as "whizzing his scarf around his neck and jamming his hat atop his curly mop of hair". Ah, nostalgia! The Time section breaks down the laws of time and how they affect the practicalities of time travel. There is also an explanation of what Time War would look like, as we all know that Gallifrey was destroyed in such a war, and the other Time Lords are meant to keep this from happening again. I was struck by the damage that a weapon like time distortion could do in reading Justin Richards' story Natural Regression. I also very much liked Rewriting History by James Swallow, which featured one of my favorite companions Martha Jones. The Humanity section discusses the sciences of evolution and artificial intelligence. It also explains death and the difference in attitudes about the possibilities of living for very long times, and the rules regarding entropy and the ever-increasing rates of order to disorder in the scientific world. The Girl Who Stole the Stars by Andrew Cartmel was very entertaining. I enjoyed the trip back to early-era Doctor Who, with companions Ace and Raine driving an old Karmann Ghia - I always want one of those! In all, this book, while fairly heavy on the science-y bits, was definitely enjoyable and I guarantee you will learn something!
Parallel universes, killer androids, and H. G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle fighting the Invisible Man. You already know whether or not you will like this book (though if you're still on the fence for some reason, let me add dinosaurs, King Kong, a dragon, and Nazi bombers). Yes, it's slightly corny, but it's a fun metafictional story. It takes liberties with both history and science for the sake of adventure, and throws both into the blender for the climax, but remains internally consistent and believable. Palma's world-building is creative even while he draws from well-loved tropes and familiar personages. His old-fashioned narration is charming if a bit flowery. The story starts out rather slowly because, as in The Map of Time, the reader can't at first see how the different plot lines are related. But the book gains momentum and blends all the different story lines together for a satisfying climax.