'Doctor Who' marks 50th birthday

Special to the HeraldNovember 24, 2013 

If you could go anywhere in the universe, where would you go? If you could visit any era throughout the history of time, which would you visit? Whatever your choice, there's a chance you might encounter the time-travelling, human-looking alien known as the Doctor.

Yesterday marked 50 years of the longest-running science fiction TV series, Doctor Who. A special anniversary episode aired simultaneously around the world and will rerun locally tonight (check local listings for times). The first series of Doctor Who aired in 1963 on the BBC and ran for 26 years until 1989. In 2005, the show was successfully resurrected and has a zealous fan base of about 80 million people in over 200 countries.

Relying on his superior intelligence and driven by an insatiable curiosity, the Doctor travels through time and space with various human companions in a machine called the TARDIS. For an alien, he demonstrates a surprising degree of humanity as he explores new worlds, solves mysteries, and (mostly) saves the day. The Doctor has been played by eleven different actors, who each gave a different flavor to the character. Peter Capaldi will step in as the twelfth Doctor, replacing Matt Smith in the 2013 Christmas special.

If you need to catch up on the show, or need to indoctrinate a friend, the library has all seven seasons of the new Doctor Who series on DVD. To increase your encyclopedic knowledge of the Doctor, pick up "Doctor Who: A Celebration; Two Decades Through Time and Space," by Peter Haining and "Doctor Who: Who-ology," by Cavan Scott.

Many Doctor Who novels have been published for fans wanting more tales of the Doctor's escapades. "Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice," by science fiction heavy-hitter Stephen Baxter features the Second Doctor and his companions as they land on a mining colony orbiting Saturn and are suspected of causing the mysterious happenings there. "Doctor Who: Harvest of Time," by Alastair Reynolds sticks the Third Doctor in the morally difficult situation of having to save his nemesis, The Master, in order to also save the universe. For a story that almost fell through the cracks of time, check out "Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams," by Gareth Roberts. Based on scripts written by Adams for an unaired season of Doctor Who, this novel features the Fourth Doctor. Fans of the spin off, Torchwood, will love the newly published "Another Life," by Peter Anghelides. Captain Jack Harkness and the crew head to Wales to track down a murderous alien.

Remember you don't need a TARDIS to explore the mysteries of the universe. Your library can take you to the far reaches of space, to any point in history, and introduce you to exotic and alien cultures. Take advantage of the librarians' research expertise and we'll get you reversing the polarity of the neutron flow in no time.

Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Access the library online at www.mymanatee.org/library.html. Jonathan Sabin is the Information Specialist for the Manatee County Public Library System.

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