Popdose at Kirkus Reviews: “The Man Who Invented the Daleks”

Written by Books, Kirkus Reviews

For more than 75 years, Kirkus Reviews has served as the industry bible for bookstore buyers, librarians, and ordinary readers alike. Now Popdose has joined the Kirkus Book Bloggers Network, taking to the virtual pages of Kirkus Reviews Online to dish on the best — and sometimes the worst — in pop-culture and celebrity books.

This week we’re looking at a recent bio of a writer who helped make the reputation of one of TV’s best-beloved shows…

At long last, Doctor Who is becoming a household name in the United States. The British sci-fi institution is poised to make the transition from cult phenomenon to just plain phenomenon, thanks to a charismatic cast and clever longform plotting. (A big marketing push from BBC America hasn’t hurt, either.) Doctor Who, which premiered in 1963, brings with it a rich backstory of centuries-spanning plotlines, colorful supporting characters, and shudder-inducing villains.

Of the latter, none have inspired more nightmares — or, paradoxically, more affection — than the Daleks. These creatures, feeble organic bodies hidden inside robotic shells, are the ultimate xenophobes, ruthlessly scouring the universe to exterminate all life that is Not Dalek. Pitiless, remorseless, impervious to bargaining or appeals to reason, the Daleks are like unto a force of Nature, willing to obliterate Reality itself (and themselves with it) if it means the annihilation of inferior life-forms. Pretty ambitious for a monster that looks like a rolling garbage can kitted out with a plunger, a wire whisk, and a telescope.

To call the Daleks “wildly popular” understates the case. The media frenzy surrounding last weekend’s midseason premiere of Doctor Who pales in comparison to the Dalekmania that gripped Great Britain in 1964 and 1965, when Dalek toys and merchandise were flying off the shelves and Doctor Who was beating the Beatles for television ratings. Alwyn W. Turner’s The Man Who Invented the Daleks: The Strange Worlds of Terry Nation, published in May, is the first full-length biography of the writer who ignited this sensation…

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