by Paul Leonard

Publisher: BBC
ISBN: 0 563 40572 4


    In the future, the planet Tractis is invaded by the Earth Empire and all-but destroyed. In revenge, a group of Tractites return to the beginning of the Earth, and start a colony there, creating a Universe in which humanity never developed. But you shouldn't meddle with paradoxes. Fairly soon, there's barely any stable space-time left and, while Jo and Sam face down a mad UNIT captain, the Doctor has to convince the Tractites to, quite literally, wipe themselves out.


    Sam Jones, Jo Grant and a brief cameo from Benton.

    Pg 30 We don't see it happen, but it gets the Doctor and Sam to Paratractis, near the town of Afarnis, on January 1st, 2108.

    Pg 139 The Kilgai Gorge, in what will one day be Tanzania, 2,569,878BC.

    Pg 184 The same place, but now in roughly 3,630,000BC

    Pg 262 Having hung around for 1.07 million years, the TARDIS proceeds to go back to where it started, in roughly 3,630,000BC.

    Pg 273 It must be on Tractis, some time in the late twenty-ninth or early thirieth century, but we don't see it appear.

    Pg 275 Before going to Tractis, the Doctor and Sam returned to 2,569,878BC to give the Habilines the antidote to Hynes' virus.


    Pg 27 "'Back issues,' said the Doctor, without looking up, 'Strand magazine. Thirty-five to forty-seven, inclusive.'" He's obviously got a bee in his bonnet about these, as he was looking for a different issue in The Bodysnatchers as well.

    Pg 28 "They seemed to be the Doctor's favourite garb: he claimed he'd picked them up on Savile Row in 1892, but Sam had seen the label on the jacket. Party Funtime of San Fransisco, California, USA." He picked his clothes up in the Telemovie, and probably still hasn't paid for them.

    The "many clocks of the console room", as we saw in the Telemovie, get a name-check.

    Pg 29 "Hmm. Yes. I meant the Venerable Bede. I think there was some kind of editorial problem. I'll have to speak to Oscar about it. He knows everybody." The Doctor claims to have shared a salmon he caught in the River Fleet with the Venerable Bede in The Talons of Weng-Chiang. Oscar is Oscar Wilde.

    Pg 30 "This is London, first of January 2108, the opening day of the Winter sales. I've been here before, bought some wings. A long time ago." Speed of Flight.

    Pg 53 "Sam hesitated. Then she looked the Doctor in the eye, and said 'Eight-point-five.' The Doctor jumped back as if she'd hit him. 'What?'" The Doctor's reaction to the number 8.5 is quite extreme and rather odd. Since there is some speculation that the post-Ancestor Cell Doctor could be considered Doctor number 8.5; maybe it's a response to this! Whatever, it's still extremely strange.

    "The Tractites are hardly Zygons, are they? Or those stupid Daleks you go on about." The Bodysnatchers, and confirmation that the Doctor's only been talking about Daleks when she mentions them in Vampire Science, and she hasn't actually met them yet. One is forced to wonder, given that Sam's entire frame of reference to baddies appears to be vampires, Zygons and the Doctor chattering on about the Daleks, exactly what she and the Doctor did do between The Eight Doctors and Vampire Science that caused her to go through three pairs of 'sneakers'. A lot of working out in the gym?

    Pgs 58-59 "'What's the goddamn e-mail address for this United Nations Intelligence force?' she asked after a while. 'I can't find it anywhere on the net.'" Which is interesting as, in The Paradise of Death they were in the phone-book! Presumably, security has tightened up since then.

    Pg 59 "When she did, memories flooded back: the cottage on the green hillside in Wales, the protest marches with Cliff and Jo." The cottage is, presumably the Nut Hutch, from The Green Death.

    Pg 69 "There was an Earth Reptile called Morkal, or Menarc, or something like that." 'Earth Reptile' is the PC term for Silurians. The guy turns out to be called Menarc, but it's interesting to note the similarity for the name 'Morkal' here to that of Imorkal, who appeared in Blood Heat and Eternity Weeps.

    Pg 74 In Jo's house "there was even a pair of white moon boots, thick with dust, stuffed into the narrow gap between the wardrobe and the wall." This may be an oblique reference to the title of Jon Pertwee's autobiography, which was Moon Boots and Dinner Suits.

    Pg 79 Very brief reference to Daleks.

    Pg 91 "'- though that's always seemed paradoxical to me. "I'm my own grandpa." You know.'" Ooh, a grandfather paradox. That sounds familiar. We'll see more of this in Alien Bodies.

    Pg 97 "I'll take it up with Brigadier Bambera ASAP." From Battlefield and Head Games.

    "A galaxy long, long ago and far, far away." Do I really need to tell you from which famous series of sci-fi movies this particular quote is taken from?

    Pg 99 "He's like a machine, thought Jo. She felt a chill inside her despite the dry African heat. She wondered if she was walking into a trap. She'd always been good at that." Too many occasions to count!

    Pg 102 "Rowenna remembered Jo, the stories of Autons, Axons and Daleks." Terror of the Autons, The Claws of Axos, Day of the Daleks and Planet of the Daleks. One wonders if Jo ever signed the Official Secrets Act. Presumably not...

    Pg 117 Another reference to the Zygons of The Bodysnatchers.

    Pg 118 "No drugs, no wars, no starving millions, no smoggy monoculture destined to get slowly worse and worse for the next thousand or two years and then - if the Doctor was to be believed - simply cease to exist." This latter presumably refers to the solar flare activity that necessitated the building of The Ark in Space. But see Continuity Cock-Ups. , although around the year 4000 seems very early. It's not the Ravolox removal of Earth from The Trial of a Time Lord, as The Eight Doctors made clear that that has now retroactively never happened.

    Pg 119 "The Doctor and I could just go back in time and stop the Tractites from ever coming here. Then the place might fill up with - oh, I don't know. Talking giraffes. Insectoids. Perhaps even bipeds, like us." It's probably a coincidence, but in Cold Fusion, the Solar System in the Ferutu universe was inhabited by insectoid creatures.

    Pg 121 "Kitig took another step, another, then seemed to vanish through the door, even though it was far too small for him to pass through." The TARDIS doors appear to still be set up as they were at the end of The Bodysnatchers. See also Continuity Cock-Ups.

    Pg 124 "'We're losing the eighties,' the Doctor was saying." For some Who fans, this is a dream come true!

    Pg 146 "Jo shrugged. 'Time travel isn't all that rare. The Doctor's lot try to keep it to themselves, but you can't really stop a technology from spreading.'" Jo appears to have learned a lot since she left the Doctor, but we can assume she draws this knowledge from conversations that they had sometime soon after The Three Doctors.

    Pg 147 "'If only the Doctor would turn up,' she muttered. 'But then, timely rescues never were his strong point.'" That's brutally unfair, actually.

    Pg 149 "'We've got to do something.' Jo felt the blood flow to her face. That had been her line, once, many years ago." She says this in Colony in Space.

    "She made herself remember the jungles of Spiridon, the Daleks cruising through the mist. Autons, faceless faces turning the corner - Sea Devils, Xarax, deadly parasitic Axons." Planet of the Daleks, Terror of the Autons, The Sea Devils, Dancing the Code, The Claws of Axos.

    Pg 151 "She walked on, saw the angular white shape of the secondary TARDIS console. A clean white floor. The smell of plastic." The secondary console room now looks like the primary one used to, instead of the wood-panelled one we saw in Season 14. This, rather wonderfully, confirms the speculation made in the guide to The Eight Doctors that, when the Doctor redecorated the main console room, he also changed the secondary one to look like the primary one used to, and it is in here that much of the action of The Eight Doctors takes place.

    Pg 158 "He pulled a thing that looked like a green rubber tennis ball from his pocket and fitted the hypo to it. It started to expand and contract slowly, almost as if it were breathing. 'May as well start working on a proper antidote while we're waiting,' said the Doctor." This rather convenient device is very similar to something that the Doctor used in The Face of Evil.

    Pg 160 "He'd known it as soon as the Doctor had arrived. Despite his weird nineteenth-century costume, he had the air of a man from the Golden Age." Hynes' thought-processes are getting a little bit all over the place: it's not clear whether he means the Golden Age of 1997, or a metaphorical Golden Age. Operation Golden Age was, of course, the plan the last time it was decided to wipe man from the face of the Earth and start again, when they tried it in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, and there is a lot of similarity between what was being tried then and what Hynes is trying to do now.

    Pg 181 "'Wait!' If these things had any kind of language, there was a chance that the TARDIS translation system would work with them." Sam seems to be aware of how the TARDIS gets into her head, so presumably the Doctor has told her. This would square with the fact that he tells Rose about it in The End of the World, but it does mean that he won't have that vital clue if either Sam or Rose are ever hypnotised and start asking about how it works (see The Masque of Mandragora).

    Pg 211 "No. Wait. They won't hurt us if we - ow!" This is a glorious subversion of something that the Doctor has said far too many times to list here.

    Pg 222 One of the nicest subtle resonances in all the books anywhere: "'I had become my enemy. Can you understand that?' The Doctor's eyes opened, but he said nothing." A brief and gentle reflection back to the beginning of the NAs, without ramming it down your throat.

    Pg 240 "At first she thought it was carved into the tree, perhaps by Jacob; then she realised that it was in the rock behind the tree. Letters. Words. Each one must be six feet high. SAM - THE TA." The words carved into the rocks as a message by Kitig owe something of a debt to the Amarna graffito in Set Piece, by which Ace sent a message forward in time hundreds of years to Benny and the Doctor.

    Pg 245 "'It [the TARDIS] has to be here!' she said. 'It's obvious! Otherwise we'd never have been able to understand Axeman!'" And this, Sam's realisation that the TARDIS is still translating for her, is identical to Ace's similar realisation in, once again, Set Piece.

    Pg 250 "'Come on! I can't leave you! They'll kill you!' Vampires, Zygons, hyenas, wolves..." Once again, this refers back to Vampire Science and The Bodysnatchers and further suggests that Sam had little or no experience of life with the Doctor before Vampire Science.

    Pg 258 "The TARDIS had completely changed. The time rotor was recognisable, but the rest was a jumble of dark rugs brass surfaces, and an incongruous VW Beetle parked by the edge of a dark Persian carpet." The VW Beetle first appeared in Vampire Science, and is around for the next twenty books or so.

    Pg 260 The display reads "HUMANIAN ERA: 2,569,878BC" which is consistent with the display in the Telemovie.

    Pg 265 "Sam put her thumb over the button, and was going to shout a warning, a threat, a simple word 'Halt' - but there was no time to shout, no time to give the alien fair warning, she just had to - Fire - The Tractite exploded." Sam carries the guilt about having killed a living being around with her, and it colours her actions in some of the subsequent books in the series.

    Pg 273 "In the middle of the Imperial Throne, on cushions of velvet and satin and force and air, sat the tiny, wrinkled husk of a woman. The Empress." It can be assumed that this is the same Empress who we meet in So Vile a Sin, albeit earlier in her timeline, before she is completely subsumed by the computer and killed by the Doctor.

    "She wasn't a subject of this woman. She didn't care what everyone else was doing. The humans, the Earth Reptiles, Draconians, Ice Warriors, Zygons, GorEntelech, even the Tractites, all knelt around her." Doctor Who and the Silurians, Frontier in Space, The Ice Warriors et al, Terror of the Zygons, unknown.

    Pg 274 "'You know who she reminds me of?' whispered the Doctor. Sam shrugged. 'Old friend of mine. Name of Davros. He used to make decrees as well, and it didn't do him much good either.' 'Never met him,' said Sam. 'I hope you don't.'" This prefigures the next book, War of the Daleks, in which she does.

    It's nice to see Jo again, and she's a much stronger person than she used to be. We also get a few moments with RSM Benton, who isn't a much stronger person than he used to be (but see Continuity Cock-Ups), and a very, very brief moment of Jo's (now ex) husband, Cliff, from The Green Death.

    Practically all the leads, except the TARDIS crew, end up dead, which means that this is a list of bit parts and extras this time round:

    A bunch of people who think they can save the planet by writing bad poetry make a brief, yet strangely unwelcome, appearance.

    The Tractite Gavril, who utterly vanishes from the plot on Pg 114 and is never heard of again. Interestingly, this means that there's a random - and probably quite lonely - Tractite, wandering around the Kilgai gorge even unto this day, not entirely sure why humanity hasn't ceased to exist.

    An Earth Reptile called Menarc makes a fleeting appearance.

    Matthew Jones, son of Jo and Cliff, makes a fairly fleeting appearance as well.

    A UNIT guard.

    Chorus of Homo Habilis.

    Oh, yes, and the Empress of the Earth Empire makes a cameo appearance.


    1. Pg 52 "Do please be careful what you say. Yes, we are in an "alternative universe", but the trouble is, it's inherently unstable for a reason I haven't yet understood." It's because it's a paradox. The whole basis for the book makes little or no sense: Mauvril has the idea to create Paratractis and thus wipe humanity out after the humans invade her home of Tractis. Assuming she was successful, the humans would never have invaded Tractis, so therefore she wouldn't have had the idea or the need to create Paratractis, so therefore the humans would have existed and then they'd have invaded and so on and so on and so on.
    2. Pg 80 "Regimental Sergeant Major John Benton" Last we heard of Benton, in Mawdryn Undead, he'd retired from the army and was selling used cars.
    3. Pg 118 "No drugs, no wars, no starving millions, no smoggy monoculture destined to get slowly worse and worse for the next thousand or two years and then - if the Doctor was to be believed - simply cease to exist." This latter presumably refers to the solar flare activity that necessitated the building of The Ark in Space, although around the year 4000 seems very early. If this indeed what Leonard's referring to, he's confusing the building of Nerva beacon ("late thirty-ninth, early fortieth century, I feel sure") with the solar flares, which occurred much, much later.
    4. Pg 121 "Kitig took another step, another, then seemed to vanish through the door, even though it was far too small for him to pass through." The doors are behaving just as they were in The Bodysnatchers, but on that occasion the Doctor had to do it using the Chameleon Circuit which, he says, disables the drive when used to do that. It doesn't seem to be a problem here.
    5. Pg 202 "'Now,' she said, 'I want you to tell me about the Book of Keeping you refer to.'" And, yes, it turns out that the Book of Keeping is, in essence, a paradox as well - Kitig, who's read it, describes it to its author before she's written it; in essence, it wrote itself.
    6. Pg 222 "Can you understand, then, how we felt when we found the time tree?" Longest Day would later suggest that the time trees were being sold to the Tractites, but this doesn't square with Mauvril's description of having 'found' it. And more to the point, if they did 'find' it, how on Earth did they work out what it was and how to use it? If someone grabs some seeds and just disappears, surely the instant thought from those left behind would not be that they've travelled backwards in time?
    7. "At first we were going to sabotage the invasion - but how? We would have to smuggle a six-metre tree into orbit - position it exactly - and make it travel back an exact number of years! No, it was too difficult." This implies that the tree cannot move things in space, only in time. What we fail to learn, then, is how Mauvril and friends managed to smuggle the six-metre tree not just off Tractis but all the way to Tanzania in order for their plan to start. Leonard just slides round the point by not mentioning that it might have been a problem.

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

    1. It's no wonder the Vortex is in such a mess. Given that we see Time Trees again, in Longest Day, plus the fact that, according to Interference, the Doctor is by now an agent of Faction Paradox, that this is their work. Thus, in a cycle that's bouncing back and forward between the two different alternatives, it is the Doctor setting his feet on Paratractis that 'cements' that timeline as being just as real as the normal one, given that Time Lords appear to make a possible future certain just by being there. Therefore the Vortex chaos that results would appear to be entirely his fault.
    2. Either Benton re-enlisted at some point, or he was on an even more hush-hush mission than Harry Sullivan and even the (retired) Brigadier couldn't know, so this was his cover story. Which probably makes some sense, but it destroys the thematic tragedy of Mawdryn Undead.
    3. The Doctor told Sam the story, but she also got confused about the dating. No wonder she's depressed.
    4. He's fixed the doors to work in a different way sometime between the two stories.
    5. That pesky bunch of Faction guys!
    6. Time trees were sold to the some Tractites, but not specifically to Mauvril. Presumably, someone had one and that someone was killed in the invasion, leaving the time tree just waiting to be found. And clearly they did work it out, but I'll be damned if I can tell you how. Or maybe the Faction just told them. They really are a handy get-out for just about anything, aren't they?
    7. Presumably, Mauvril had friends who were prepared to help in this way, which would leave no specific trail, but wouldn't take the tree into orbit as then it would be clear who was to blame. That doesn't strictly work, as, if Mauvril had succeeded in stopping the invasion, they wouldn't have had to do it anyway, but don't get me started on paradoxes again.

    Tractites - half-horse, half-ox creatures with double-jointed hands and a snout like a wolf, Tractites have four eyes (two for night, two for day) and a reputation for being the nicest beings in the Universe. That is, unless you invade their planet and brutally kill most of the population, in which case they have a tendency to get a little narked, travel back in time and try to wipe out your entire species.

    It's not an alien race as such, but, back in the distant past, we come across Australopithecus and Homo Habilis, both precursors of modern man.

    I've made an assumption that everything in the 'present' is contemporaneous with the publication date of the book (1997), as there's no reason not to and this just about squares with Jo saying that she hasn't seen the Doctor for 20 years (it's probably closer to 22, but she's approximating).

    Pg 1 A village in prehistoric times (the existence of a copper axe suggests somewhere between 8000BC and 3000BC), presumably in Tanzania, Africa.

    Pg 10 A quick time travel backwards to some time - it's not at all clear - but presumably the same area.

    Pg 11 And again, this time to the time when the Paratractis colony was founded: roughly 3,630,000BC.

    Pg 15 The framing sequences take place in the buildings of the first Paratractis colony, 3,630,000.

    Pg 17 Wray Park, near Los Angeles, presumably 1997.

    Pg 30 Paratractis (alternate Earth), January 1st, 2108

    Pg 39 The Kilgai Gorge, Tanzania, presumably 1997. Interestingly, and weirdly, the Kilgai Gorge does not appear to exist on Earth - Kigali is the capital of Rwanda and there is a gorge nearby - the Olduvai gorge - but not Kilgai. Is this a misprint? If so, it's consistent throughout the book. Why choose somewhere that doesn't exist, when everywhere else in the book (on Earth) does? Weird.

    Pg 49 The city of Afarnis, Paratractis, 2108.

    Pg 67 Mauvril's narrative is set on Tractis when the Empire came, which we can extrapolate out to being sometime in the late twenty-ninth or early thirtieth century.

    Pg 73 Jo's house is in Hackney, again, one presumes, in 1997.

    Pg 116 The tree travels, with Jo, Rowenna, Julie and Hynes, to 2,569,878BC (confirmed on Pg 260).

    Pg 135 The bulk of the action now shifts to Tanzania, 2,569,878BC.

    Pg 184 The Doctor and Kitig go back further, to roughly 3,630,000BC, but the same basic location - which is currently the site of the first Paratractis colony, known as Quan-Nafarnis.

    Pg 225 Six days have passed for Sam and Jo, who are still in 2,569,878BC

    Pg 231 Meanwhile, several weeks have passed for the Doctor and Kitig, back in 3,630,000BC.

    Pg 273 The Imperial Throne, currently located on Tractis, some weeks (months? a couple of years?) after the Earth Empire invaded. The Doctor and Sam observe from the Baron's Residence.

    Pg 277 We return to Kitig at the end of his life, which could be 60 years later or 600, not knowing what an average Tractite lifespan is.

    Pg 278 Using the Time Tree, Kitig then flashes back through a whole series of time periods, the last one being the formation of the solar system.

    IN SUMMARY - Anthony Wilson
    The framing devices are quite lovely and the whole thing's very nicely written, particularly Rowenna's flashes back to her nightmare of being shot and Mauvril's description of herself. There are layers and layers here as everything becomes a metaphor for everything else - the deaths of Rowenna and Julie, as 'innocent bystanders' standing as a metaphor for the destruction of Paratractis. Rather wonderfully, it's only right at the end that you realize that the skull that caused the whole thing to happen is probably that of Hynes. There is genuine tension throughout, particularly helped by the sequences in the third quarter (normally a lagging point) when Hynes tricks Sam into helping him infect the local tribe with the virus. There are clear character journeys for practically everyone (although perhaps it's a little unfortunate that most of these journeys end in the character being dead). Best of all, though, there is no Paul Leonard brain haemorrhage three-quarters of the way in; it goes all the way through without stopping. Startling in its maturity in many ways, it achieves the near impossible by managing to make Sam mostly not irritating and leaves the reader with a genuine uncertainty about the rightness of anyone's cause. If only the paradoxes in the time travel hadn't been so thumpingly awkward, it could have been perfect.