Usually I name each post after the title of the publication covered, plus one or two of the straplines or pieces of dialogue from the cover. In the case of this post, I’ve used absolutely every piece of text on the front cover. Dave Gibbons draws a montage cover featuring the Space Shuttle, the Mekon’s face and a ringed planet on a starfield.
This book was compiled by Roy Preston, whose name we’ve seen a few times (though about half of his 2000AD work was in the era before credit cards). I don’t know what the genesis of this book was, but I’d imagine it was presented by management to editorial (if the editorial staff of 2000AD even had any involvement with this Mirror Books publication) and Preston then hired to assemble it. Note that it said compiled rather than written by… Thanks go to Rackle for going through the questions with me – unfortunately I didn’t think to keep a track of how well I was doing as I went along.
Commencing Countdown sets the tone with some generic space questions. Some are a little too generic, and the answers to simplistic, f’rinstance: “From Earth they appear to be red flames leaping out into space. In fact they are glowing gases – but what are they called?” Did you think they were solar flares? The book answer is “Solar prominences”, but a little explanation of how they differ from other likely answers (flares, filaments and sprays) would have been helpful.
Getting specific, the next section is The Solar System. If you know which planet has a red spot, you’re sorted for the answers to at least two questions in this book (more about repetition later). If you know which planets have rings, then you’re out of luck, because this book thinks that only Saturn has rings – outside of this book (and by 1980, when it was published) we know that Jupiter and Uranus have rings. Discovered after publication, so does Neptune.
Stars does for those big burny things what the previous section did for planets, moons and other objects in our system. There’s an ‘inspiration’ round at the end, which is pretty ropey, and also includes three out of ten questions about 2000AD and/or Starlord.
Space Race is full of questions about the USA and USSR space ventures (you can tell I’m running out of things to say about a quiz book, can’t you)?
Astronomers and Astronomy is self-explanatory, so let’s skip to the next bit, shall we?
Spot the Difference – this is where the book earns the ‘2000AD’ part of the title, with five differences between panels (all reprints from the pages of 2000AD and / or Starlord) from: Strontium Dog by Ezquerra, Dan Dare by Dave Gibbons, Robo-Hunter by Ian Gibson, Dan Dare by Dave Gibbons (again), Strontium Dog by Ezquerra and Dan Dare by Dave Gibbons (yet again).
Seen on the Small Screen starts off with one 10-question round on Star Trek, then gets on to more general TV sci-fi, before coalescing around Doctor Who for three or four rounds.
Seen on the Large Screen does the same, but for films. The most prominent being Star Wars and Superman.
Books and Authors – you can probably guess that kinds of questions appear in this section.
Comic Book Characters concentrates on 2000AD (of course), earlier British sci-fi strips (hope you’ve been paying attention to the massive amounts of reprint material in the annuals and specials – no Phantom Patrol but Rick Random and Jet Ace Logan appear) and mainstream USA comics. As a point of order – one picture question has Dredd in full Luna-1 Marshal regalia, asking who he is. The answer given is “Judge Dredd, top cop of Mega-City One” – in that uniform he’s surely (Judge?) Marshal Dredd, top cop of Luna-City One.
Music is as you may expect – songs with (sometimes tenuous) space connections – as a clue to just how tenuous, the answer to one question is “The Sun Has Got his Hat On”.
Out of this World is full of wordsearches and rounds that could have appeared in the previous sections. And in some cases, the questions and answers were in previous sections, albeit reworded.
After the questions is an advert for 2000AD, featuring Dredd, Hammerstein, Blackhawk and Johnny Alpha. The date of publication of this book is 1980, and assuming it was released around the time of prog 156 (when I first saw it mentioned in the weekly) then Hammerstein is no longer appearing in 2000AD, and won’t be back until 1984! Alpha also hasn’t appeared for a while, since his Hellish escapade, and there’s no sign of his return on the horizon yet – I know he’s back for Portrait of a Mutant, but can’t remember if he’s going to appear before that. Either way, you’ll be disappointed by the current weekly if you buy it on the strength of the advert.
It’s a 40-year-old quiz book so you’d expect that some answers are out of date – that’s fine. What is not so fine is how many times the same questions are repeated, sometimes in slightly different ways. As an example – on page 85 the last question is “Who, or what, is Plumduff?” The answer is “He was the partner of Jet Ace Logan.” The very next page, 86 has jumbled letters which make a three-part name of a “famous space ace”. The letters are EAGECJOTALN. Effectively the answer is the same as the question immediately preceding it! This is not unique…
Grailpage: There’s only one (possibly) two pages of original art, both by Dave Gibbons (not sure about the black and white line drawing of Dare on the back cover – and I’m not counting the diagrams or editorial illustrations from unknown hands). So, Dave Gibbons’ cover it is.
Grailquote: an early example of humour which unfortunately doesn’t carry on throughout the book (there’s odd jokey questions or answers, but not enough): “Rumours of space warps or areas that lead into other dimensions are talked about. Which of the following has such rumours associated with it: the Watford Gap, the Bermuda Triangle or the Mull of Kintyre?”