This is the follow-up title to Alienography: Or How to Spot an Alien Invasion. In the first book, a parody of a fictional work of non-fiction, Riddell directed his attention to aliens and robots. This time, he’s targeted the iconic evil-genius-with-a-giant-head for his lampooning.
There are plenty of franchises up for ridicule, with Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5 and Star Wars all lined up to be shot down, and by focussing on evil geniuses (genii?), he plays with all sorts of lurking henchmen, dastardly devices and world-destroying spacecraft. But as with the first book, I felt that many of the references here were aimed at the parent, not the child. Which is no bad thing, as long as there’s enough there for the kid too. I thought Dan Dare was a strange choice for an extended parody in a mini-comic, however; hardly any child now would know who he was. Other parent-centred ideas that strayed off the path of direct lampooning, such as the adolescent world, Planet Janet were, at times, funnier than those that just made fun of the icons.
There is no story here, it’s presented as a facts book – where you read through the categories, picking out the quirky details in the excellent illustrations, and though I thought some of the humour wasn’t as tightly targeted as the previous book, there were still some laugh-out-loud moments. In the end, I felt the in-jokes were mostly intended for adults, leaving the kids to enjoy the silly names, mad characters, and zany worlds and spaceships, along with interesting features such as flaps and a Top Trumps-style card game. When it comes to illustration, Riddell is a master of his trade, and this struck me as a real illustrator’s project that could have benefited from more focussed writing, but still a great book to be shared between a parent and any young science fiction fan.