Beige Planet Mars
by Lance Parkin & Mark Clapham

Publisher: Virgin
ISBN: 0 426 20529 4


    Attending a conference commemorating 500 years of humanity on Mars, Benny is drawn into a plot involving murder, treachery, nuclear missiles, paper-thin characterization, oversexed hamsters, bad porn and really annoying side-kicks. On the plus side, there's no Ice Warrior soap opera, so it's still better than GodEngine.

    Professor Bernice Summerfield.

    Multi-millionaire and man-about-town, Jason Kane, now famous for writing a best-selling interspecies porn novel.

    The Bantu corporation, although unseen, are kind of the enemy here and they featured heavily in the previous novel, Another Girl, Another Planet, but it's not vital.

    Pg 1 "The means to get to Mars existed, the technology had been there for some time, tried and tested, but the will was not." The Ambassadors of Death and The Dying Days, specifically.

    Pg 2 "In 2086, the Martians destroyed Paris." Referenced in Transit.

    "Many men died fighting the Martians, but the greenies were driven to the brink of extinction in exactly a thousand days." The Thousand Day War and the description of the Ice Warriors as 'greenies' were also both established in Transit, upon which this book leans quite heavily, despite being set nearly 500 years later.

    Pg 8 "Both at Carter in the south and Ransom in the north." The spaceports on Mars are named for famous fictional human explorers of Mars. Carter is from Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoon stories, whilst Ransom is from CS Lewis' Space Trilogy. Not Doctor Who, but we thought you'd like to know.

    Pg 11 "Three weeks ago that had happened to Jeff Mett, ten metres from Barney's spot, when a Chelonian pilot had pulled a burster from his - or her, it was very difficult to tell with three-metre humanoid tortoises - shell." Chelonians appeared first in The Highest Science and subsequently in a variety of NAs and MAs since then. They've even been name-checked in the new series in The Pandorica Opens.

    Pg 12 "When it had been built, Noachin Spaceport had been one of the greatest human architectural achievements of the early twenty-second century, right up there with Golden Dream Park or the Lunar Tower." The architect of Golden Dream Park was one Kroagnon, mad Richard Briers impersonator from Paradise Towers.

    Pg 13 "I'd forgotten how beautiful Mars is. I was twenty-four the last time I was here." The dig that Benny undertook on Mars at that age, we later learn in The Dead Men Diaries, was the experience that made her name and formed the basis of her oft-mentioned book, Down Among the Dead Men.

    "It doesn't seem five minutes since I was celebrating my thirtieth." Benny's thirtieth birthday was the day that she met the Doctor in Love and War.

    Pg 15 "Water still looked alien on Mars, like some morphing, writhing CGI effect in an old movie." This is probably a reference to Babylon 5's extensive use of almost-convincing CGI when it visited Mars. The special effects had improved by the time Doctor Who went there in, appositely enough, The Waters of Mars.

    Pg 17 "She felt a bit ashamed pushing a copy of her own book Down Among the Dead Men at the woman." Benny's aforementioned bestseller, first mentioned in Theatre of War.

    Pg 19 "The Thousand Day War in 2086 to 2089; the Invasion in 2157; the Battle for Mars fifty years ago." The first of these was established in Transit (although the specific dating is both new and nice to have). The second is The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and the third is the Dalek War that took place in the wake of Frontier in Space and which informs much of the backstory to this novel.

    "And the last two of those were started by the Da-" The first of many almost-references to the villainous pepperpots who are now personae non grata in the NAs because copyright law and Terry Nation's estate are more terrifying than extermination.

    Pg 24 "Benny remembered her own sacrifices during the last War: her mother's death, her father's disappearance." Both first established in Love and War. Her father's disappearance was resolved in Return of the Living Dad.

    "That was just the first year, 2540." The date of Frontier in Space.

    "The forces ranged against humanity had been utterly ruthless, thriving on conquest and extermination." That last word should give you a clue. Yes, it's another oblique Dalek reference.

    "Four hundred years before they had made an easy conquest of Earth, using only limited resources." The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

    Pg 25 "The War had reached Mars, but only a few biogenic weapons managed to get as far as Earth." We saw the results of one of these weapons in The Sword of Forever.

    Later on in the story... "For two decades the war was fought on enemy territory, and the War ended on a decisive note with the destruction of the enemy's home planet." This is... odd, given that it sounds like Remembrance of the Daleks. However, there was nothing in that story to suggest that the 'Skaro time zone' which the Hand of Omega entered was that of around the 2570s. At the same time, I can find no other reference to the destruction of Skaro at this point anywhere else, so surely that was the intention here. Or maybe Bernice was misinformed.

    "But not before the enemy had killed Claire Summerfield in an air raid, and not before Isaac Summerfield's ship, the Tisiphone had been lost over Bellatrix." The name of Benny's father's ship and the location of where it had been when it was lost were both established in Return of the Living Dad.

    "'Professor Summerfield,' he said. 'A pleasure to see you.' 'And you, Mr Saldaamir,' she replied. 'It's been far too long. Just leaving?' 'My business here is concluded and I'm expected back in San Francisco this evening.'" A nod to the EDAs. According to The Gallifrey Chronicles, Mr Saldaamir was the last survivor of the time wars that had occurred in Gallifrey's distant past. He also knew the Doctor's father according to Unnatural History. The reference to San Francisco may be a reference to the Telemovie or to the selfsame and forthcoming Unnatural History, which was set there (albeit nearly 600 years before this novel's date). It's noted on Page 26 that Benny recognizes him but can't actually place him. He also appears in Father Time and The Infinity Doctors.

    Pg 26 "Makhno was just trying to explain to a delegate from Alpha Centauri exactly why the air-conditioning was unlikely to suck people up and spit them out on to the concrete below." Alpha Centauri from The Curse of Peladon, The Monster of Peladon, Legacy and Empress of Mars.

    Pg 27 "'Now that's what I call homo erectus,' she said shrilly." And that's the obligatory dick joke that you get whenever Alpha Centauri pops up (fnar fnar) in the books.

    Pg 30 "Some details seemed to have been exaggerated; the Polar Express never seemed that interesting at the time. Other details, such as that business with the Bane Corporation had actually been toned down for the sake of plausibility." The Polar Express is Tempest and the rather cruel comment towards its author, Christopher Bulis, might have worked better were it not for that fact that this book is, at this point, infinitely worse. The Bane Corporation is an unrecorded adventure but might relate to the Sarah Jane pilot Invasion of the Bane. The description seems spot on if so.

    Pg 31 Reference to Joseph, Benny's porter on Dellah. He's been around since Oh No It Isn't!

    Pg 33 "We could really do without sub-Lovecraftian evils slipping their ancient chains and trashing the place, or one of those weird reality-bending devices." The first one started off in White Darkness, moved into All-Consuming Fire amongst other places before imploding in The Taking of Planet 5. The latter could be any number of things, Ghost Devices being one of the more recent ones.

    "Well, I've wandered in eternity a bit in my time." Pyramids of Mars.

    Pg 43 "'Look, there's Tuburr the Mighty!' exclaimed Makhno." Tuburr, one of the first Ice Warriors, was first mentioned in Legacy. His sword appeared in GodEngine. Apparently, he only gets mentioned in books that aren't very good.

    "They had met on the ice plains of Prashant to discuss Chelonian floral culture." Chelonians again, originally from The Highest Science, the book that also established the interest that some of them had in flower arranging.

    "They had even held a conference on 'The Influence of Machine Intelligences on Warfare' in the catacombs where once, long ago, just such a race of cybernetic creatures had slept their dreamless sleep." Presumably Cybermen and presumably Telos, from The Tomb of the Cybermen and Attack of the Cybermen. But see Continuity Cock-Ups.

    Pg 44 "Benny and Trinity had been pounced upon by Desmond de Montfort, an incredibly tiresome little tit of a man." Probably not a relation of Phillipe de Montfort from Sanctuary, but it is an uncommon surname. Phillipe would have run the authors through for that description, had it been applied directly to him.

    Pg 48 "He'd heard stories about veterans' implants suddenly becoming active again after decades." Veterans with implants were also relevant in Transit, but those were to fight the Ice Warriors 500-odd years ago, whilst these veterans' implants were to fight the Daleks. The technology doesn't seem to have changed much.

    Pg 52 "One place I spent a good few of my middle years on was a planet now in serious trouble: Tyler's Folly." Benny visited, as the text notes, "a few months ago" in Down.

    Pg 56 "Then again, she had been fed through the military machine, been the daughter of an admiral, no less." Admiral Isaac Summerfield again, who appeared in Return of the Living Dad.

    Pg 57 "I'm sorry but, you know, since my divorce..." From Jason in Eternity Weeps.

    Pg 61 "'Oh FUCK!' screamed Seez." In the wake of Transit and its superfluity of fucks, incoming editor Rebecca Levene tightened the restrictions on the language used in the NAs. She left a little before this book was published. You can probably tell.

    Pg 64 Another reference to Benny's father.

    Pg 70 "There had been one exception. The Solar System had been invaded in 2157, with both Earth and Mars occupied for a decade by -" This will be the Daleks again then, from The Dalek Invasion of Earth and, as regards Mars, GodEngine.

    Pg 74 "All showing the same thing - a relentless wave of smooth metal discs the size of cathedrals slicing into the thin Martian atmosphere, shedding cargoes of bombs, missiles and one-man fighter units. It was an old B-movie image come to life." Probably a sly reference to the 1966 Doctor Who film Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 AD and its precursor, The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

    Pg 77 "'Well, there were a few offworlders.' He pointed at one picture and the fuzzy image of an old man and a girl in her late teens appeared. He had thin white hair and an aquiline face and was wearing a stylish blue business suit. She was plump, with a mass of curly black hair. 'I remember them. They downed a saucer at the Argyre Dam and helped coordinate the final attack.'" This is so deliberate that it sounds like the Doctor, but it's hard to work out which one. Instinctively, it's the first going by the description right up until the blue business suit at which point it falls apart. Oddly, given the timing, the twelfth is probably the best fit, although 'plump' is a little harsh for Bill.

    "Mars was liberated. Earth was bombed with bioweapons." As mentioned above, we saw the results of these in The Sword of Forever.

    Pg 78 "There were two big arcades, named after the first two men on Mars." These arcades turn out to be called the Grosvenor and the Guest, which sounds like it ought to be a reference to The Ambassadors of Death, but is actually a reference to Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future. Grosvenor was the Admiral and Guest piloted one of the ships in the first mission to Mars in 1965. So now you know.

    Pg 90 In Jason's pornographic novel, we get the line "As I luxuriated in the dark green smell of freshly pleasured Earth Reptile". I'm frankly embarrassed to have had to retype that line, but it behooves me to inform you that 'Earth Reptiles' is the politically correct term for Silurians from Doctor Who and the Silurians, Warriors of the Deep, Blood Heat, The Hungry Earth and so on.

    Pg 99 "She negotiated her way past a curly-haired man, his blonde companion and their robot dog." The fourth Doctor, the second Romana and the second K9.

    Pg 101 "The Solar System had been invaded in the 2150s, and the homeworld had been occupied for a decade." Yes, we get it. It was The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

    "For the first half of the century, Earth Intelligence thought that the greatest threat was from the Dragons, reptilian humanoids with an empire slightly bigger - and a lot more established - than Earth's. The truth is that in the unexplored sectors beyond Dragon Space there were warlike races that had ruled their empires for thousands of years." Frontier in Space, the Draconians and the Daleks. Again.

    Pg 104 "He remembered when they had first met, the only two humans on a distant, alien world." Death and Diplomacy.

    Pg 112 "Skip bail and, God help me, I'll have every DK in the galaxy on your case." DKs are Dalek Killers, such as Abslom Daak as seen in Deceit as well as Ace during her three-year sabbatical following Love and War.

    Pg 114 "In a mere decade of interstellar travel she'd rubbed the Droge of Gabrielides up the wrong way when she'd refused to marry him; inadvertently insulted the Master of the Fifth Galaxy; there was that business with the Lord Herring on Sqakker's World." The first is mentioned by the Doctor in The Sun Makers. The second is feasibly, although not necessarily, Galaxy Five from The Monster of Peladon and Legacy. The last is ludicrous, as is the grammar in that sentence.

    Pg 117 "One had a naively painted Martian and an equally simply portrayed human, back to back, blazing away at unknown enemies, with anonymous, generic black firearms. Menacing plungers just edging into view." Those would belong to the Daleks then.

    Pg 118 "He saw the future. He was living with Benny in a big house on Dellah, looking after the kids while she went on adventures. He'd fund all her trips, let her write that book of hers without pressure from the university. A happy ending." Which is what it was supposed to be in Happy Endings, of course.

    Pg 119 Another reference to Tuburr the Mighty from Legacy etc.

    Pg 122 Another reference to Benny's book Down Among the Dead Men.

    Pg 125 "The there's the one with the bearded villain who turns me into Lego." Benny's dream, here, feels like a strangely veiled reference to the original Master of the Land of Fiction from The Mind Robber.

    Pg 126 Another refence to Chelonians, this time with the tagline "One Bad Mother". The Chelonians were hermaphrodytes, and therefore they referred to all their forebears as 'Mother' (The Highest Science et al).

    Pg 137 The description of the Xlanthi begins with the legend "Serial 10Q". In possibly the nerdiest reference in history, this is probably supposed to be the production code for Beige Planet Mars. An Unearthly Child was A, The Daleks was B and so on. Survival was 7P. Continuing from there and applying the rules about not using I or O (to avoid numerical confusion), assigning production codes to the 61 Doctor Who NAs and the Benny ones since then, well, this is 10Q. I'm not entirely certain what I feel about this. (Thank you.)

    Pg 152 "Remember all that trouble when you told everybody that Dr Bowman was the Pope's nephew." James Alistair Bowman was the Doctor's alias in Seeing I.

    Pg 163 "Her follow up, So Vast a Pile, is eagerly awaited." Bernice's sequel to Down Among the Dead Men has been mooted, in the fictional world, since Oh No It Isn't! In the real world, it's probably a skit on (as well as a near-anagram of) the title of the last Doctor Who NA released, So Vile a Sin.

    Pg 168 "She sold out Mars. Quite a lot of people died. Remember? It was just after you cut a deal with the -" Yes, we know: you can't mention the Daleks.

    Pg 169 "But once the superpowers had atomic bombs, suddenly there was a weapon capable of destroying the world. The z-bombs and proton missiles that came afterwards were just a refinement of the same principle." Z-bombs are from The Tenth Planet.

    Pgs 174-175 "She remembered her mother stumbling forward, about to die. Benny had been seven. Black ships filled the sky of Vandor Prime, firing at the colonists as they ran for the shelters. Her mother was clutching Rebecca, Benny's favourite doll. There had been a flash, white was black, black was white for a moment, and Claire Summerfield died." Sanctuary established that Benny spent some of her childhood on Vandor Prime. Parasite showed the scene where Claire Summerfield died, although in that novel Benny's doll was called Molly - but it was called Rebecca when Paul Cornell described the original sequence in Love and War, so fair enough. Dalek fire turning everything negative was established right back in The Daleks.

    Pg 182 "There were nests around Olympus back before the Thousand Year War." Once again, another idea - in this case the idea of Ice Warrior 'nests' - comes back to Transit and, by analogy, Vietnam.

    Pg 195 "It was an old building, a brick pyramid dating back to native Martian times." There's a pyramid on Mars. Pyramids of Mars.

    Pg 201 "We face a terrible threat from the Bantu Corporation." The villains from Another Girl, Another Planet.

    Pg 208 "Still deeper beneath the ground, in millennia-old tunnel systems, the native Martians were aware of the threat to the humans they had learned to co-exist with." The one actual glimpse we get of the Ice Warriors (from The Ice Warriors et al) throughout the entire book.

    Pg 233 "We can kill some wretched monster that will scramble our innards if we don't get them first." Dalek guns, to which this is a reference, will do this, as Remembrance of the Daleks (amongst others) makes clear.



    Professor Elizabeth Trinity, Gerald Makhno, General Keele, Phillip and Christina York, Inspector Alekseev.

    The indescribably irritating Seez Westfield and Sotherton Ashley (Seez and Soaz).

    Professor Megali Scoblow, an oversexed Pakhar with a taste for human men, accompanied by all the hilarity that you would expect from such a concept.

    Bit parts include Barney Durham, Desmond de Montfort, Jeremy Norbridge, Elias Cromwell, a Welsh fisherman, a nurse with perfect breasts (sorry - it's her defining feature in the text) called Nancy and a ginger girl whom Jason is definitely not ruling out. (Which is her defining feature in the text. Thank you so much, Parkin and Clapham.)

    Full-on chorus of armed and dangerous pensioners with military implants. And they're not afraid to use them.


    1. Pgs 18-19 "On the horizon - so much nearer than the horizon on Earth or Benny's home planet of Dellah - there were hints of mountains and mesas." Sorry? When did Dellah become Benny's home planet? Yes, she lives there at the moment, but that doesn't fit any definition of 'home planet' that I understand. For the record, Benny was born on Beta Caprisis.
    2. Pgs 29-30 After one of the local Martians (human, not Ice Warrior, note), trips and bangs his head on the monorail carriage, we get "The monorail train slid away from the platform, a football-sized dent in its chrome side the only evidence of any accident?" Sorry, what? Falling against a train carriage causes a football-sized dent in the carriage? This is not a form of transport which, safety-wise, I would feel particularly comfortable taking.
    3. Pg 43 "They had even held a conference on 'The Influence of Machine Intelligences on Warfare' in the catacombs where once, long ago, just such a race of cybernetic creatures had slept their dreamless sleep." Except, assuming the intention was that this was the Cybermen from The Tomb of the Cybermen, this is 2595, so it's not 'long ago' at all, as most datings (including Lance Parkin's own AHistory), set Tomb in the late 25th century. More relevantly, they're still there! The Doctor didn't destroy them in Tomb; he put them back precisely where he found them and then electrified the doors. So that's a really stupid place to hold an academic conference.
    4. Pg 144 "'Whatever our killer was doing with that terminal, it took less than five minutes, so it can't have involved going through any records in great detail.' 'That's about as long as it takes to read a moneycard.'" A moneycard is the equivalent of a credit card in this story. Do they seriously take five minutes to read? Whither contactless payment? Can you imagine the queues in Martian Harrods?
    5. Pg 162 "'Nervous?' Christina asked in that Deanna Troi voice of hers." Given that this is Benny's thought-processes, it's impressive that she can compare Christina's voice to Deanna Troi's given that, in The Left-Handed Hummingbird, she didn't recognize Star Trek: TNG at all.
    6. Pg 175 "'Isaac had his heart ripped out,' Trinity reminded them." It's true, but Trinity only learned that Isaac was dead eight pages ago, and no one has told her how he died. So how is she in the position to remind them of that salient fact?
    7. Pg 187 "Presumably you can't just log on from a hotel and send an vmail telling the missiles to launch." That's a bit of a grammatical mess. Clearly, the original line read 'email' and someone decided that didn't sound futuristic enough - and then didn't change the determiner.
    8. Pgs 209 Something goes really wrong here. Jason meets Benny, and he mentions knowing Scoblow; Benny is surprised that he does. This would be a really odd reaction had Scoblow actually been there, which she turns out to be because, towards the bottom of the page, she enters the conversation ("Scoblow tapped Benny on the shoulder"). She provides a little bit of helpful information, despite having apparently been invisible beforehand and then the discussion continues. A page later, Benny sends Seez off and looks at the people left: "Benny turned to the others. Soaz, Makhno, Trinity and her very own Jason Kane." Where did Scoblow go? Where did she come from? Why did Benny not notice her with Jason if she was there? What, in short, is going on?
    9. Pg 211 "'Nothing like the weather we had back in the old country,' said the man, pocketing Jason's cash and wandering away." Except that, on Page 177, there was only enough money on Jason's moneycard to hire four diving suits, and they had to compromise on the equipment, given that his available funds didn't cover what they actually needed. So where did the extra cash come from?
    10. Pg 230-231 Christina orders a nuclear strike on all the major Martian communities and notes to the AI that "This order can't be countermanded." Less than a page later we get "'CATCH,' said Christina, nursing her bad leg. 'You have a new command, one that overrides all other considerations, and which cannot be countermanded.'" By definition, however, this new order that cannot be countermanded overrides the previous order than also could not be countermanded. Countermanded doesn't mean what it used to, clearly.

    PLUGGING THE HOLES [Fan-wank theorizing of how to fix continuity cock-ups]

    1. It really is that she lives there at the moment, but it's still a weird turn of phrase.
    2. It's established that the monorail is quite old. It really must be.
    3. Despite the fact that the avoidance of giving them a proper name makes it clear that the authors intended this to be the Cybermen and Telos, it's obviously a different race of cybernetically enhanced creatures who slept a dreamless sleep long ago.
    4. He's exaggerating for effect. But it's still pretty odd and smacks of not having really been thought through at all.
    5. Embarrassed by this gap in her twentieth-century knowledge, Benny has since watched the whole thing on the Dellahan equivalent of Netflix. She enjoyed Chain of Command, but thinks that The Inner Light is overrated. Besides, she prefers DS9.
    6. She's a very intelligent woman and has worked it out in the context of the discussion.
    7. It's pronounced 'avee-mail'.
    8. Scoblow is so very short that Benny quite literally overlooked her when she arrived. Given her shortness, she must have to have gotten on some kind of stool to actually tap Benny on the shoulder, at which point she is noticed. After contributing to the conversation, she gets back off her stool and, when Benny looks around at her team, once again, she fails to register Scoblow as she is below eye level. Given that the plan they then come up with is pretty much suicidal, Scoblow decides not to look a gift-horse in the mouth and scarpers PDQ. Yes, this explanation is patently ridiculous, but it's so very strange that I can't think of a different one.
    9. Despite the fact that MarsNet is basically down at this point, the power of royalties is greater even than the mad AI device that has shut down communications and the banking system, and some new royalties from his bestselling porn novel were dropped onto the card. Presumably it took more than 5 minutes.
    10. CATCH is senile, so it has forgotten the first command. Pretty lucky for all concerned, in the circumstances.

    Professor Scoblow is a Pakhar.

    An insect creature.

    Ro-Barracudas. Exactly like you'd imagine them.

    A variety of bloody scary genetically augmented and mutated fish.

    CATCH is an AI that has gone senile, but I'd still argue technically a being in its own right.

    We get the tiniest glimpse of the Ice Warriors. Blink and you'll miss it.

    The planet Mars, mostly Jackson City and its environs, with the action taking place from the 21st June 2595 and into the few days thereafter.

    IN SUMMARY - Anthony Wilson
    Whether it's because it was written in this way or not, it is vanishingly rare that a book written by two authors has demonstrated that fact so profoundly. The first two-thirds are horrendous, mostly featuring stupid characters doing stupid things at a very slow rate whilst trying to be both funny and satirical and failing utterly at every hurdle. Suddenly, at around page 160, everyone has a brain transplant (every single character, Benny included, changes motivation, intelligence and ability), the pace is turned up to 11 and it rocks along to a fabulous conclusion. I'm not sure I can actually recommend it to read, since for the first chunk I really felt like throwing it across the room on multiple occasions, but at least the construction means that you don't think quite so badly about it if you do actually make it all the way through.