by Terrance Dicks

Publisher: BBC
ISBN: 0 563 53822 8


    The world stands on the brink of nuclear armageddon. The Players are back, manipulating events for their entertainment, but this time the Doctor has no idea who they are.


    The seventh Doctor has a brief cameo, reprising a scene from Timewyrm: Exodus.

    Ace has a brief cameo at the beginning.

    None. The box-like shell resides in the Doctor's cellar (pg 20) and is later transported elsewhere and then returned.


    The preceding Earth arc books aren't necessary, but are nice if you're doing it in sequence.

    Pg 3 "A small dark man and a tall dark-haired girl were drinking tea and eating buns at a Festival of Britain refreshment stall." We get a reprise of the beginning/end of Timewyrm: Exodus.

    Pg 27 "The Doctor had a sudden vision of a many-armed glowing-eyed being in a misty cavern somewhere immensely far away." The Doctor briefly flashes back to his Venusian karate teacher, while engaging in the activity. The third Doctor used Venusian karate rather a lot.

    Pg 40 "I know a man called Greene who might help." The Turing Test.

    Pg 42 "Ask them to send over that Turing file that Greene compiled in the mid-forties." The Turing Test.

    Pg 48 Reference to Turing and Greene (The Turing Test).

    Pg 61 Reference to Greene (The Turing Test).

    Pg 66 "But he seemed to have a natural gift for code-breaking - a gift sharpened by recent association with Britain's finest code-breaker, Alan Turing." The Turing Test.

    Pg 67 "When he looked into the painted face of the Venerable Bede, he could imagine the man holding a fishing rod for some reason." The Doctor says the Venerable Bede adored fish in The Talons of Weng-Chiang.

    Pg 75 Reference to Turing and Greene (The Turing Test).

    Pgs 83-84"'Players...' He broke off suddenly, staring blankly into space. 'What is it?' 'Just for a moment I thought the word meant something to me.'" Players.

    Pg 112 "Players... Somewhere deep within him, a faint spark of memory flickered... and died. Something about a woman. A beautiful and dangerous woman." Players.

    Pg 118 "Liberty Hall, my dear chap. Liberty Hall!" Also said by the Brigadier in The Three Doctors.

    "Sleep, after all, was for tortoises." The Talons of Weng-Chiang.

    Pgs 125-126 "I like trains. I used to have a set myself." The Doctor's love of trains was first mentioned in Black Orchid and he mentions having a set in Love and War. We see the eighth Doctor playing with his in the short story Model Train Set from Short Trips.

    Pg 136 "I seem to remember carrying some sort of screwdriver thingy with me, but I seem to have misplaced it." The sonic screwdriver, first seen in Fury From The Deep.

    Pg 145 "There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish occasionally." Robot.

    Pg 214 "First the funny little clown, then that great handsome bull of a man..." The second and sixth Doctors, Players.

    Pg 215 "Remember the expression on the Count's face when I shot him?" Players.

    Pg 219 "I must know. I mustn't know!" This is the first, but by no means the last, time an all-powerful alien offered to restore the amnesiac eighth Doctor's memories and he recoils in horror at the idea. This appears to be motivated by his subconscious fear of confronting his destroying Gallifrey in The Ancestor Cell, but The Gallifrey Chronicles provides a much better resolution to this arc.

    The Countess, who returns from Players.

    Kim Philby was briefly seen in The Turing Test, but plays a major role here. He'll also show up briefly in History 101.

    Guy Burgess, Donald MacLean, Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin, Jim Anderson, Kent Howard, Penny the waitress.


    1. Pg 120 "'The Cold War will get a few degrees colder,' said the Doctor [to Axel], remembering Kim Philby's words." Except that, not only did the Doctor say this to Kim Philby, rather than the other way around (page 84), when doing so he was actually reporting Axel's speech at the time (page 72). Why the Doctor thought Kim Philby had said this when the man who'd actually said it to him is the person he's addressing is a mystery.
    2. Pg 156 "Soon after he got elected in '47" Except that on page 129 it's stated (correctly) that Truman was elected in his own right in 1948. It seems especially odd that one of the President's key advisors would misremember the year from merely three years ago.
    3. Pg 177 Professor Myrek becomes Marek for about two thirds of a page before reverting to Myrek again.

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

    1. Kim Philby felt the need to repeat Axel's phrase fairly often and this got stuck in the Doctor's head.
    2. Captain Howard is slightly dyslexic.
    3. Player Myrek was unfamiliar with Earth names, so he chose the unlikely name of Professor Marek Myrek.

    The Players.

    Pg 13 London, 1951.

    Pg 124 The coast of France.

    Pg 125 Washington, D.C.

    Pg 162 Project Kali is located an hour away from Washington.

    Pg 204 The USSR.

    Pg 209 Rennes, Paris, Berlin, Moscow.

    Also, a variety of planes.

    IN SUMMARY - Robert Smith?
    If you can handle Terrance's lightweight style, this is actually pretty good. It's got everything he does best - detailed historical figures, world-spanning action and an entertaining fluffy plot - but the Doctor's amnesia reigns in his usual excesses of continuity. This is actually a triumph of Justin Richards' editorship: the new broom forces Terrance to think outside his usual box, producing a novel that's at least trying to be a bit different from his usual schtick. The apathetic Doctor is a bit of an albatross, since stories about a lead character who doesn't care about anything whatsoever generally tend to fall a bit flat. On the other hand, it was probably going to be done at some point or other and I'd much rather Terrance's entertainingly naive approach than the sort of grim and angsty story we'd have had from just about any other author tackling this. All up, it's a reasonably solid entry in the Earth arc, but by no means a disaster.