Posted on August 7, 2011 | Back to Literature
REVIEWED: Torchwood: The Encyclopedia by Gary Russell
Here be spoilers.
The Torchwood Encyclopedia is not the usual type of book I would review for my website, because on the whole I don't find encyclopedias to be especially creative or interesting to read. They are more about the regurgitation of fact, which frankly, this one does as well as any. But I decided to include it among my reviews because I'm in the middle of watching Torchwood: Miracle Day and I thought it might help some of you connect the dots on what's a dense television mythology, especially if you're new to Torchwood or just haven't watched it in a while. In this respect, the encyclopedia is useful. The book is beautifully produced with great, full color photographs, many of which I've never seen before. The information is nicely displayed and easy to navigate. Entries are cross-referenced by their appearance in specific Torchwood episodes, books or teleplays. Here, however, there is one glaring oversight as the Dr. Who episodes where Capt. Jack Harkness and Torchwood are introduced are mentioned but not specifically cited. It seems like a glaring omission, because Torchwood maintains an important presence in both franchises and Dr. Who was the original incarnation. If new fan wants to go back and see the Dr. Who episodes where Capt. Jack first appeared, I'm afraid they'll have to do a Google search instead.
My other complaint has to do with what the author chose to include in the encyclopedia. For example, does an encyclopedia really need an entry like this one?
Girl in park: Youngster seen in a trance-like state when being used as a conduit by the 456.
Huh? There were tons of kids in Children of the Earth who were put in trance-like states. Why was this one singled out when she's clearly not important to the overall story? After all, she's only "girl in park."
Latin America: The continent of South America, not yet visited by the fictitious Samantha Jones.
Now come on! It feels more like the author was just padding out the pages, doesn't it? This encyclopedia could become very thick indeed if it includes all the people, places and things of absolutely no significance whatsoever to Torchwood. I would have much preferred if the author had created fewer entries but had spent more time detailing the relationships between things, including the aforementioned Dr. Who connections.
I guess I would recommend this book to two types of people. The first would be Torchwood die-hards who just need it to round out their collection of memorabilia. The second would be Torchwood noobs who might benefit from keeping it close at hand during their viewings of Miracle Day so they can quickly fill in any knowledge gaps. For almost everyone else, however, you can probably skip owning it.