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Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big Dr Who fan. Of all the TV I've watched over my lifetime, I daresay Doctor Who is probably my favorite show of all time. Without boring you with the entire history here, the TV show went off the air in 1989 (after running for 26 years). There was an attempt to revive it in 1996, but it didn't get off the ground past a pilot movie. It finally returned to the TV in the spring of 2005. I was cautious, as I didn't know how the show would play out now, 16 years after it ceased being on the air. But I shouldn't have been worried, it was a tremendous success - was renewed for two more years after the one in 2005. The show was fabulous, and not just because there was new stuff. My wife, who abhors the show watched a few, and genuinely liked them.

The new series is where this book comes in. "Back to the Vortex" was written by an old friend of mine Jim Lyon (who now goes by the name Shaun Lyon). It's a superbly detailed behind the scenes story of the making of the new series from how it came about to the press on it's return, to the actual physical shooting, plus a lot more. It's got a level of detail that might overwhelm some readers. One part that almost bored me was the bits about shooting. As I don't live in Cardiff Wales, the acutal locations mean little to me. Several sections of the production areas of the book were "OK, filiming was done here, and they shot until the darnkess.." After several such lines like that, they all seemed to blur together. it's my only fault with the book.

After the book gets to the point of the show being on the air, it switches to programme guide mode, where each episode is broken down into several parts, it's an extremely detailed guide, offering both a factual, and opinionated look at the story in question. There's also an appendix discussing ratings, and other information.

If you like Doctor Who, and have been lucky enough to see the series (as of Dec 2005, it has yet to air anywhere in the US, nor are there any current plans to do so (on TV anyway, it comes out on DVD in Feb 06)), then you should check the book. Some of it reads like a reference guide, but I guess that's what the book is.

Also make sure and visit Lyon's Outpost Gallifrey website at [...] as it's by far the best Doctor Who site on the net.
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on December 13, 2005
Back to the Vortex: The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who 2005 by J Shaun Lyon is one of the finest non-fiction books ever published about Doctor Who. It is a meticulously researched guide that will only improve over time. It is simply wonderful.

The book is split into two distinct sections. The first part is the history of Doctor Who's return as viewed from the outside. Lyon has definitely captured the cultural impact of the series with all of its twists and turns. It is fascinating to follow how accurate or inaccurate the press was at the time.

The second section is a much more traditional guide to the episodes with features like cast and crew information, locations, continuity, errors, factoids, and reviews. All of these are handled admirably. This section also includes other authors to provide their views on the themes of the new series and their reviews of the episodes. Lyon has chosen quite a cross-section of reviewers from many different countries and backgrounds. His own reviews are excellent and thought-provoking.

This guide is fantastic, and I recommend it to anybody with an interest in the new series. I simply can not wait to see how Lyon follows up Back to the Vortex. I am now almost as excited about the next guide as I am about the next season of Doctor Who.
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on December 30, 2005
First off, it's big. Much larger than I thought it would be. And that's good. Doesn't it suck to go buy a book you wanted only to find out it's only 100 pages and some change? This is 423 pages! For it being so big, I actually read most of it pretty fast.

The book chronicles the trip from new Doctor Who as a pipe dream to the end of the first series and all the hoopla that went with it though press releases, news reports and internet gossip. It covers the development of the show, the casting, the first impressions and even the pirated version of "Rose".

It's a very strange thing reading about something that is so close to you. As editor for a Doctor Who Newsletter I read all this material as it happened, so most of the info in the book I knew already, but it was great reliving it. It totally took me back to the state of anticipation and nervousness I felt while waiting for the series to come out and while it was happening from the point of view of a fan.

The book also takes each episode in detail and has reviews by a wide number of people from fans to established writers. The reviews are interesting as they were written right after each episode aired, so there is speculation as to where this story fit and what was going to happen at the end. Though I would have liked to have seen a second review by each of the members after the season had ended to compare their first impressions and then how they felt later, but that's just me.

There is also the ratings info which show how many people watched each episode, which was interesting as the ratings would dictate whether there would be future seasons.

For me VORTEX is an indespensible guide to press and news surrounding the new show as it happened. I will be reading this in years to come, remembering the time fondly when all of this was happening. This is a great book.

Erik Engman, Editor of the "Intergalactic Enquirer"

Time Meddlers of Los Angeles
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on December 13, 2005
I read this recently, and it gave me alot of insight into the behind the scenes moving around necessary to get a venerable old franchise back on the air, as well as indepth analysis of what happened on-screen. The author didn't do all this alone, and he is definitely grateful to all the other contributors.
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on December 22, 2005
Just got this and I am so impressed by the amount of detail this book goes into. "Back to the Vortex" not only covers the first series, but it also talks about what went on behind the series before it premiered.

As webmaster/editor of Outpost Gallifrey, Shaun Lyon knows the Doctor Who fandom better than anyone, and offers a truly unique perspective. The fact that he brought in some Doctor Who "experts" as a review panel makes it even better. I highly recommend this, especially if you're a fan of the new Doctor Who series.
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on February 3, 2006
Shaun Lyon writes a painstakingly detailed summary of the lead up to the brand new series of Doctor Who. It's unlikely you will find out any great revelations here, but it's a thoroughly researched archival document. The second half is a nicely presented review of the first series including comments from guest reviewers.
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on March 22, 2007
Long-time fan of the series, had to wait a year to get it on DVD in the states and this book is a perfect companion to the TV series. It offers several people reviewing and commenting on each episode, which made me think about the episodes in a new light.

About 1/2 of the book was the build-up and behnd the scenes stuff of how the series came back. I skimmed over some of it, I was more interested in the episode-by-episode, but this is a great reference for Series One and a nice perspective of how it was brought back in the UK, considering that I'm in the US and it gives me a glimpse into how things work on the other side of the pond.

If your a causal fan looking to know more, or a die-hard fanatic, definitely a good reference and an enjoyable read.
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on March 11, 2006
Back To The Vortex: The Unofficial And Unauthorized Guide To Doctor Who 2005 by J. Shaun Lyon presents the ultimate Dr. Who guide as a remembrance to future generations and what impact the beloved Time Lord had on society. Back To The Vortex paves the entire pathway of history of the British television series Doctor Who granting every desired detail to readers with thorough analysis of every episode and the deeper message depicted in each. Back To The Vortex is a "must" read and invaluable reference for all dedicated fans of Doctor Who.
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on May 5, 2009
Have you ever wanted to know what is it like to be a fan? A hardcore nut ball of a fan? Well, here is your chance. The first part of this book is almost a reenactment of how fans felt and reacted to the new Doctor Who that came out in 2005. Interviews, well parts of interviews, press releases, false rumors, reactions, complaints, whining, facts, lies, everything that every happened, real life or on the web, when the New Doctor Who was born. So many pages after pages of small print you'll want to scream, Who do you think I AM? Do I look like I have all the time in the world? I'm NOT a Time Lord. I am a Doctor Who Fan. Why would you fill this book up with worthless nonsense that I already know? Why would a person, who is not a fan, pick up this book? And why would they bother to plow through all this boring garbage? I wanted something like the About Time books - I wanted backgrounds about episodes, character reviews, plot summaries, debates about the science, the ethics and where the ideas came from. You know, something smart, interesting and revealing.
Even if you are a new fan of Doctor Who you don't want to get into this trap that somehow is called a book. 423 pages! And when it gets to the episodes we get reviews from 10 different people. Which is nice, but they don't really bring any real insight to the episodes. The reviews on the Dalek episodes don't really link it to the old series, don't talk about the changes in their mobile shell or in their tactics or where they were in their timeline or anything. I would have liked more debate about Satellite Five or Pete Tyler's death or nanogenes.
If you must get it please, please, please, get it used and make sure to take off a week to read it.
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