Dalek I Loved You
by Nick Griffiths
Review by John Berlyne
Gollancz S.F Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0575079401
Date: 19 April, 2007 List Price £12.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /
A humorous memoir will resonate with anyone who - like me! - grew up in the UK during the 70s and 80s.
"...writing with wit and humour, Griffiths takes us on a poignant and often hilarious journey through his childhood, where he first encountered Dr Who, into his teens where he is packed off to boarding school and discovers Girls and David Bowie, on to his first formative years of employment at some hip but now defunct music magazines and into life as a father and husband who is now writing about his childhood passion for a living."
"A very funny book for anyone who grew up wearing Tom Baker underpants - I know I did" -- David Tennant.
Any male British genre fan hovering around the age of forty will come away from reading Nick Griffiths' delightful memoir with a nostalgic tear in his eye and wry and knowing smile of recognition on his face.
It's not common for genre publishers to release memoirs over fiction, and much less common when those memoirs are (and I think Mr Griffiths' will forgive me for saying this) by someone one hasn't been hitherto heard of. But Dalek I loved You is a genuine treat and is not so much an opportunity to experience the author's fascinating life as it is an invitation to look back at your own.
Griffiths is a British journalist - in his book he charts his journey up through the ranks of that profession to the dizzy heights he now occupies – he is the resident Dr Who writer for the Radio Times (the leading British television listings magazine). This is dream job for Griffiths, as he happens also to be an obsessive fan of the show, which began back in the early sixties, floundered after thirty or so years and has recently enjoyed a deserved resurgence in popularity. For many a British genre fan, Dr Who was the hook that pulled them in at an early age, the prime mover that led to their life-long love of Science Fiction. I doubt there is a single one of us that cannot relate to Griffiths' tales of hiding behind the sofa as John Pertwee fought off some terribly unconvincing monster. This was the stuff of our youth.
Griffiths fully acknowledges the unavoidable nerdy connotations involved with all this – it comes across as his secret shame at times and we all know that kind of goes with the territory - but the amazing longevity of Dr Who, for folks our age (Griffiths is forty and I am not far off!) means that we can virtually chart our lives by its eras and incarnations. As impressionable children our Dr was Jon Pertwee, as young teenagers we were entranced by Tom Baker and as we discovered girls and music, Dr Who suddenly seemed to get quite crap. I don't think I watched a single Colin Baker or Sylvester McCoy episode, which was probably wise!
With a warm and self-deprecating honesty Griffiths charms us through his formative years, all the while expressing his genuine love for this TV show, which clearly sparked his imagination and creativity at an early age and still feeds it to this day. He captures perfectly what it was to be a kid in the 70s and a youth in the 80s here in Britain and all the while, as I read, I found memories of my own cropping up, stuff I hadn't thought about in years. It was nice to be reminded. Dalek I loved You is a gentle and delicious dip into the past. A piece of personal time travel that is well worth the trip.
"Everyone is a time machine," says Griffiths on page 21, "The stories they can tell."