Hirst Publishing
Shooty Dog Thing

Editor Paul Castle Cover image
ISBN 0 955 7149 X
Publisher Hirst
Published 2010

Summary: A collection of articles from the fanzine of the same name.


A Review by Jamie Beckwith 8/10/10

In our current instant blogs, message boards and updated facebook statuses world, the old paper fanzines that you could hold in your hand have all but died out. As Paul Cornell laments in his intro to the new book collecting together the best of the first 10 issues of Shooty Dog Thing, this has seen the loss of the in-depth articles, whether it be studiously academic theories on Gallifrey Mean Time or exuberant irreverence about Adric's pants. The fast pace of the internet has seen the rise of comment for comment's sake, everyone chipping in their 2 cents worth amidst a sea of smiley face icons and LMAO abbreviations. This is not to knock such interaction but there is something about reading an article where the author has taken the time to step back, really think through their argument or point of view and committed it to the page in a hopefully interesting and absorbing way. Shooty Dog Thing manages to capture that feeling and embraces the technology to allow its distribution across the web via a free download PDF file which can be read onscreen or printed off at the reader's leisure.

The book brings together some of the best articles to have appeared in the 'zine as well as a host of new material. It's by no means a one-man show; the byline "Paul Castle and friends" gives the game away as to his generosity and acknowledgement that without a willing band of enthusiastic contributors there wouldn't be a 'zine. This is never more evident than where a contributor is invited to rebut a theory he's just argued in favour for, such as the Take Five Theory which postulates that, from Davison onwards, each Doctor has born a remarkable similarity with the incarnation five regenerations before him and which the co-writer gleefully demolishes as being nonsense.

One thing which is obvious is how much love there is for anything Who-related and invites the breadth of possibility that you can never run out of things to say about it. Whilst debates on canon can range from the interesting to the irksome, Castle favours the more inclusive approach and so the 'zine gladly welcomes discussions on any aspect of the novels, the audios, the comics, the stageplays and the multitude of spin-offs. When looking at the Sontarans, for example, in advance of their return to Season 4, he's sure to include the comic Dragon's Claw, the audio play Old Soldiers and even the Doctor's terrifying encounter with Jimmy Saville in A Fix With Sontarans! The lives of Bernice Summerfield and Iris Wildthyme are given as much weight as that of Rose Tyler or the Brigadier. Faction Paradox are considered every much a classic enemy as the Cybermen.

A staple part of the regular 'zine is the review section which highlights that all inclusive ethos. Rather than review the latest releases, Shooty Dog Thing has taken the novel spin of reviewing anything which might have been released in the months of that quarter's issue BUT from any year and in any medium. The book follows suit and whilst it narrows its subject matter down to the Sixth Doctor, Timelash is but one representation, with The Ultimate Adventure, The Age of Chaos and Teach Yourself Ballroom Dancing showing off the gamut of stories for the sixth Doctor.

As with the best 'zines, the articles have a wide range of appeal and perspective, from the personal such as first convention experiences or dipping in to the classic series having been introduced to the show by the new to the flippant such as the demands for the return of less than classic monsters such as the Malus or the Vervoids! The weightier articles which go for more in-depth and thoughtful analysis touch on a range of subjects from fanboy taboos such as the Doctor's wife and what it means if he's in love with Rose (far less a nauseating article than it sounds!), how 60s Who speculated on how the 21st century might pan out, the genetic viability of the Thals to survive in the blasted plains of Skaro and speculations as to whether WOTAN was a Dalek patsy.

Personally, my favourite article from the bunch was the gargantuan attempt to link together Ace's timeline based on the various media she's appeared in, no small task when you consider the comic strip killed her off! There is an academic discussion on the etymology of the names given to the Aztecs (or should that be the Mexica?) and a kick-ass theory on the origins of Vraxoin which, surprising though you may think, lends a real pathos to the silly-looking Mandrels.

Alas, the only criticism I have is the number of typographical errors but considering the legacy of the fanzine, typos are par for the course and even DWM slips up on occasion.

As Anthony Stewart Head originally delivered his line in School Reunion: "Get the Shooty Dog Thing!"