The Use and Abuse of Scientific Format in Doctor Who Paratexts

Tonguc Sezen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter investigates the historical evolution and characteristics of epistolary paratexts of the Doctor Who franchise. Written in an in-universe style and imitating the form of scientific reports, engineering manuals, and technical drawings, these ancillary texts project and add verisimilitude to the world of Doctor Who by describing the inner workings and the scientific roots of events, lifeforms, and machinery seen on the screen or in other transmedia extensions. In mid-1960’s Souvenir Press’ Dalek themed annuals included pages describing technologies and society of the Daleks. In 1980’s reference book authors studied and theorized on the fictional world of Doctor Who as if it was real and sourcebooks on various technological aspects of the Doctor Who universe were released as part of FASA’s Doctor Who Role Playing Game. Coinciding with the rise of design-oriented fandom and encyclopaedic reading practices, the 2005 incarnation of Doctor Who spawned multiple guides on its world and technology, such user manuals for the TARDIS and survival guides against the Daleks. At their core these epistolary paratexts retell the stories of the series and but they also expand the secondary world of Doctor Who with apparently scientific explanations which range from plausible theories based on the scientific knowledge of the time they were written, to outlandish and magical dreams. They reproduce and repurpose material from earlier publications but also differ in their approaches to the same subject matter. This chapter examines how epistolary paratexts expand the Doctor Who universe and discusses their use and abuse of the factual and scientific format within the series’ science fiction setting.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDoctor Who and Science: Essays on Ideas, Identities and Ideologies in the Series
EditorsMarcus Harmes, Lindy Orthia
PublisherMcFarland and Company, Inc
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781476642000
ISBN (Print)9781476681122
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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