The Janus Conjunction
by Trevor Baxendale


Publisher: BBC
ISBN: 0 563 40599 6

     

    BASIC PLOT
    Janus Prime and Menda are linked planets orbiting opposite sides of the same sun. Millennia ago, their respective species destroyed each other, but before their demise they left a doomsday device behind them capable of destroying the entire sector of space. As the Doctor tries to prevent a madman from setting it off, Sam discovers that she has skin problems.

    DOCTOR
    Eighth.

    COMPANIONS
    Sam Jones.

    MATERIALISATION CIRCUIT
    Pg 11 On Janus Prime, Sept 14, 2211AD. For the TARDIS occupants, this takes place on Pg 15.

    Pg 275 On Menda, a few days later, just in time to save Sam.

    PREPARATORY READING
    None.

    CONTINUITY REFERENCES
    Pg 14 "He was currently humming 'Smoke on the Water' by Deep Purple in direct competition with Caruso's 'O terra, addio' booming from the gramophone's trumpet speaker." The gramophone and the interest in opera come from the Telemovie. The interest in Deep Purple is new.

    The second line that the Doctor says in this book is "Sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry." On the bright side, 'sorry' isn't a monosyllable. On the negative side, this is the repeating-word-nightmare Doctor that we hate. On the bright side, it suggests he's going to be really bad in this book, and he's not.

    Pg 15 "'Caruso will have to wait,' he said, pulling the handbrake." We see the TARDIS handbrake for the first time in The Unquiet Dead.

    Pg 16 "Destination: JANUS PRIME Dateline 14.09.2211 HUMANIAN ERA" Once again, the TARDIS monitors are consistent with what we saw in the Telemovie.

    Pg 17 "'Sam.' The man spoke swiftly and confidently. 'Number eleven. Quick as you can!'" Another reference to the well-worked out manoeuvres which the Doctor has worked out with Sam in exactly the way that he hasn't with any previous companion ever, including Ace and Bernice who would have been really obvious contenders for such a thing. Interestingly, number eleven turns out to roughly translate to 'When I say run, run'.

    Pg 18 "He had seen enough computers stumped by conflicting data or even simple logic puzzles to recognize that, whatever the cause, he at least had a few seconds' grace." BOSS in The Green Death is the obvious contender. The confusion that the Spidroid has to the Doctor's metabolic system is analogous to the androids' confusion with his biochemistry in The Caves of Androzani.

    Pg 21 "'Did - did you kill it?' The Doctor looked shocked. 'Certainly not. Magnificent creature like that? They're a lot harder to make than destroy, you know.'" Very similar to a line in Full Circle.

    Pg 23 "Since meeting the Doctor she had met creatures from all over the universe, including a pair of pleasant Arachnons on Dreamstone Moon." Dreamstone Moon. And they died. Horribly.

    Pg 25 "'We're being shot at,' the Doctor told her, casually dragging her down into the luminous dirt. 'Already? This must be some kind of record, even for you.' The Doctor shook his head. 'There was this one time in San Francisco... never mind.'" Arguably the best reference to the opening moments of the Telemovie ever.

    Pg 33 "He was a world away from Sam, just as on Hirath's moon, just as when he lost her for so long..." Longest Day and the Sam is Missing arc which followed.

    Pg 34 "She moved over to where the Doctor stood to one side wiping Lunder's blood off his fingers with a handkerchief." This habit eventually stood the Doctor in incredibly good stead as regards Sabbath when it came to Sometime Never...

    Pg 39 "As a rule, matter transmitters were pretty crude affairs in the early twenty-third century." This suggests that the technology hasn't advanced very far since The Seeds of Death.

    Pg 41 "'There are some important questions I've forgotten to ask.' 'Such as?' 'Where am I? What are you people doing here? In short: what, exactly, is going on?" How very Time and the Rani of him.

    Pg 45 "The Doctor smiled, left the bag of jelly babies on the table next to the bed and left." Do we need to tell you which particular Doctor was fond of jelly babies? Thought not.

    Pg 51 "The star charts were actually copied from those left by the Daleks after their abortive occupation of Earth in the 2160s." The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

    "So humankind took its first steps out of the solar system by combining its native ingenuity and determination to ride on the backs of the alien races who had already discovered interstellar travel. Once again human beings achieved a level of technology beyond their years." This is wonderfully consistent with what we learn in Fear Itself.

    "The Arcturans and the Mentors in particular were willing but suspicious traders." The Curse of Peladon and Mindwarp (The Trial of a Time Lord, episodes 5-8)

    Pg 52 "Gustav Zemler grew up in a society that matched violence with violence and then turned in on itself when the Daleks were gone. The Intercity Wars sparked and spat around the globe for decades until volunteer members of Earth's newest colonies returned to bring it back into order by force." This is consistent with, and adds to, what we learned in Legacy of the Daleks.

    Pg 57 On the subject of the Doctor being called 'The Doctor': "OK, it's daft, but it's just the way it is. Names stick, I guess." Yep. Go back to An Unearthly Child, and you'll discover that 'Doctor' is just a name that stuck.

    Pg 71 "Then she heard the sound of running water, and his voice again, singing a song about leaving hearts in San Fransisco." Probably a Telemovie reference, but interestingly, it's one of the songs he will later quote to Sabbath on the subject of his missing heart in Camera Obscura.

    Pg 78 "Some of my best friends have been soldiers." The Brigadier, UNIT and, arguably, Ace.

    Pg 87 "His parents had died in the Dalek invasion." The Dalek Invasion of Earth, obviously.

    Pg 94 "This is a sub-etheric beam locator, but it can be modified to emit submeson rays of varying frequencies." We saw one of these in Genesis of the Daleks.

    Pg 96 "'Spiders!' he exclaimed. 'I'm not scared of them myself, although I did come across a pretty unfriendly bunch on Metebelis 3.'" Planet of the Spiders and see Continuity Cock-Ups.

    Pg 98 "Even when he returned to Rho Priapus twenty years later to free it from a Selachian invasion force." Selachians are from The Murder Game and The Final Sanction.

    Also references to Cybermen and Veltrochni, the latter from The Dark Path and Mission: Impractical.

    Pg 104 "The eyes were like fried eggs swimming in fat. The nose was just a bubbling hole over a set of uneven teeth, grinning like those of a skull. Saliva hung from the chin, along with a web of flesh which had stuck to the collar of his spacesuit. 'Hello, my pretty,' he laughed." It's not strictly continuity, but this is so like the end of episode 5 of The Talons of Weng-Chiang that it may as well be considered so. From the moment you know that the radiation sickness causes the body to dissolve, you know in your heart of hearts that this moment - the revelation of the baddie leader as the most hideously disfigured of all - is coming at you with all the subtlety of a traffic accident.

    Pg 125 "When I say run..." Does this need explanation? Thought not.

    Pg 132 "The Doctor grinned. 'At the very least I would expect disturbances in the local space-time continuum.'" Rather wonderfully, the Link is caused by a chunk of the local moons' masses being in Hyperspace. This is totally consistent with what we learn about the effects of hyperspace on normal space in Vanderdeken's Children. Almost like it was planned. Spooky.

    Pg 145 "Varko was having no luck with the blue box. He had tried to kick the doors in at first but they proved stronger than they looked - a lot stronger, because they had gone on to resist, with equal fortitude, the attentions of a crowbar, a laser pistol, a laser rifle and finally, a point-impact fusion grenade." Just like Four to Doomsday.

    Pg 163 "'Go on, then,' she said. 'Do it. Shoot me. Show me what a man you are.'" This is like The Happiness Patrol but not as good. She also says it twice more in The Face-Eater.

    Pg 168 "I just thought - wouldn't it be funny if I pressed this and a can of fizzy drink dropped out?" No. It wouldn't. But it would remind us of Paradise Towers. Which also wasn't funny.

    Pg 169 "The girl had a tracer implanted in her arm, set to a beta-nine frequency." It's possible that this is a reference to the android recognition belts in The Caves of Androzani, which were on beta cycles.

    Pg 186 "It was one of the strangest worlds she had ever visited, alien in a way not even Skaro or Hirath had been." War of the Daleks and Longest Day.

    Pg 227 "'The column is not responding.' 'What a pity. Have you tried the crank handle?'" This may a reference back to the crank handle used to open the TARDIS doors in Death to the Daleks and which has reappeared in roughly every fifth NA and EDA since it first appeared back then.

    Pg 233 "'Here you might have a chance. Another visit to Janus Prime would finish you.' 'But you're not immune, Doctor.' 'No.'" The Doctor hasn't been immune to radiation sickness since The Daleks. And, given that, he probably never has.

    Pg 235 "The flyer dropped like a stone before it bounced on an invisible cushion and veered to the side. The Doctor brought it quickly under control and twisted the throttle, located per tradition on the handlebar grip." The Doctor on a sci-fi motorcycle owes its origins to the Telemovie.

    Pg 237 "Only a god has that kind of power." Zemler is channelling Davros.

    Pg 238 "You're just like all the others, Doctor: no moral fibre." And now he's channelling Rorvik from Warriors' Gate.

    Pg 241 "'Why not? We're all dying? This way we go out with a bang.' His friend chanced a smile. 'Biggest bang in history, you mean?'" This conversation, in which the author can't even be bothered to give the characters who are talking names, is there entirely to 'amusingly' reprise Sarah Jane's 'biggest bang in history' line from Revenge of the Cybermen.

    Pg 250 "'I've come back to do what I should have done a long time ago, Captain,' Moslei replied. 'Put you down like the mad dog you are.'" As well as being a cringe-inducing line, this is, bizarrely enough, a quote: it's what the Doctor said with regard to his not killing Davros in Resurrection of the Daleks way back in Lucifer Rising. It may not be deliberate, but it is the case.

    Pg 255 "I trained on the Mars-Venus routes three hundred years from now." Robot.

    Pg 262 "Or stay behind and go back to school in Shoreditch." The Eight Doctors.

    Pg 268 "We have to hold back death for as long as possible, Lunder." The leitmotif from the Telemovie.

    Pg 273 "Well, I've a couple of barrels of Best Old Shobogan in the cellar." A beverage first mentioned in The Eight Doctors, although the Shobogans are mentioned in The Deadly Assassin.

    Pg 274 "He spent half the night in a Tibetan healing trance." Possibly related to something he once said in Terror of the Zygons, or maybe The Abominable Snowmen.

    "And then half the night playing with his train set." The reference to the short story 'Model Train Set' from Short Trips is another reference to the OrmanBlum. Well, okay, it's originally from Love and War. But no one ever remembers that.

    Pg 278 "He reached into his pocket and took out a slim tube of stiff material which, with a flick of his wrist, unfurled into a light Panama hat." Sam wears the Fifth Doctor's hat.

    Pg 280 Reference to UNIT.

    OLD FRIENDS AND OLD ENEMIES
    None.

    NEW FRIENDS AND NEW ENEMIES
    Julya. Lunder. Pietr. Anni Zech. Jonah Gilly. Everyone else dies, mostly horribly.

    CONTINUITY COCK-UPS

    1. Pg 27 "The Doctor looked back the way they had just come, and realised he was about to spring back for his friend when a spacesuited figure strode into view, pointing a laser rifle at them." The word 'realised' is hideously misused here, unless we are meant to assume that the Doctor is now so utterly disoriented by his lifestyle that he no longer takes decisions so much as realising that he's about to do something. Which is embarrassing to say the least.
    2. Pg 54 "I once visited a sort of theme-park in the Cronns system." Presumably, this is meant to be Kursaal, which was in the Cronus system. But it's not.
    3. Pg 57 "No one knew what its function was, but the column had fascinated Zemler from the moment he had found it in the sandy wastes of Janus Prime. Nwakanma personally found it somewhat sinister, its lack of obvious use of purpose disturbing him. Like some of his comrades, however, he felt uncomfortable with his commanding officer's obsession with it." The 'however' in the final sentence, implying a contradiction with what has gone before, is misplaced, since no such contradiction exists. Nwakanma doesn't like it, period. 'However' is normally used in 'Everyone thought it was wonderful. Nwakanma, however, thought differently.' But it's not used in this way. So this is wrong.
    4. "'Doctor? What is his name then?' asked Vigo. Sam smiled. 'I don't really know, its tricky to say.'" Except she recognised his name well enough two books ago in Vanderdeken's Children.
    5. Pg 71 "'It's so long since I last had a shower,' the Doctor continued enthusiastically. 'I mean a wet one, with water.'" Except that the TARDIS has had water every other time we've seen it, and he clearly had a bath after Genocide, according to Seeing I, so why shouldn't it have a shower?
    6. Pg 96 "'Spiders!' he exclaimed. 'I'm not scared of them myself, although I did come across a pretty unfriendly bunch on Metebelis 3.'" Except that in the previous novel, The Scarlet Empress, he is, in fact, afraid of spiders.
    7. Pg 116 "Sam recalled - momentarily - the devastated features of Gustav Zemler and nodded in agreement. 'Thanks' Vigo just nodded." Except that she's talking to Varko, not Vigo. Vigo died on Pg 103.
    8. "If nothing else, Sam Jones could run. Three miles, every morning, without fail. Almost." The 'almost' covers a multitude of sins here, since Sam's three miles every morning has been on and off since before Seeing I which was three years ago.
    9. Pg 120 "The Doctor was a tall man." As City of the Dead makes clear, neither this incarnation of the Doctor, nor Paul McGann are particularly tall; they're both about the same height as Sylvester McCoy, which is not very tall at all.
    10. Pg 138 "One man staggered back clutching the hole in his suit where the flechette had entered, scrabbling at the wound with the thick fingers of his gloves as if he knew he had only moments before it detonated inside him." Erm, the man has, presumably, seen these weapons before, so 'as if he knew' is ridiculous: he did know.
    11. Pg 141 "The Doctor staggered forward as the rifle butt collided with his kidneys." OK, this one's really nit-picky, but, given what we learned about the nature of the Doctor's internal organs in the Telemovie, where are his kidneys?
    12. Pg 185 "She doubled up and wretched violently." Poor old Sam. Undoubtedly she meant to 'retch', but she didn't; she 'wretched".
    13. Pg 217 "Another war did break out between the two planets. But the doomsday weapon, self-evidently, was never used." The Doctor doesn't actually mean 'never used' here; he means 'only half used' or 'never completed'. Whichever one he meant, however, what he said was wrong.
    14. Pg 256 The end of the plot collapses into meaninglessness: "With help from the Doctor and Lunder [Moslei] managed to remove his helmet." On every single other occasion that this has occurred, the radiation infected victim has pretty much instantly dissolved. Moslei doesn't for the simple reason that he is about to make the ultimate sacrifice and he has to stay alive until then. And it gets worse...
    15. Pg 260 "'It doesn't matter,' the Doctor said. 'None of us can go back now.' [...] 'We can't use the Link: the moment Julya moved Janus Prime's moon from its fixed position, the delicate hyperspatial balance shifted. The Link was just an accidental side effect of the half-completed conjunction, remember. Now it won't lead anywhere.'" The Doctor then goes on to say that they could all have escaped in his TARDIS, but they went to the Link site instead and there isn't any time now. You might have thought, given what he knew, that he might have mentioned the idea of going to the TARDIS beforehand, rather than, say, after they haven't done so, in the circumstances.

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

    1. It's actually two separate and distinct thoughts overlaid in his head simultaneously: he's actually thinking so fast that it's the realisation of the appearance of the spacesuited figure to which he is referring, but the thoughts get muddled in his brain. Gosh, I wish my brain worked that fast.
    2. Despite her experience on Kursaal, Sam still occasionally convinces the Doctor to take her to theme-parks.
    3. Nwakanma had very bad lessons in grammar before he became a soldier.
    4. It's almost bluffed past, but not quite. Let us just assume that she can recognise it written down, but couldn't actually say it to save her life. [Ironic, in the circumstances.]
    5. The Doctor's trying to cunningly imply he's been on a deep-space transport of late, and not in the TARDIS. He obviously changes his mind about being secretive later as he fairly soon takes Julya into the TARDIS anyway.
    6. This is down to Faction Paradox, who, by changing the circumstances of the Doctor's third regeneration, have put the Doctor in a constantly altering loop of mental perception in which he is: a) scared of spiders as a result of going to Metebelis 3; b) not scared of spiders, despite having gone to Metebelis 3; c) Metebelis where?; d) Spiders? What spiders? Talk to me about junkyards; e) Dust Dust Dust Dust Dust Dust Dust. On a quantum level, at any one point in time, he could be any of these, but only when you ask a question about spiders will you actually get an answer. Sort of Schrodinger's Spider, if you will... OK, please yourself.
    7. In the first throes of radiation sickness, Sam is muddling people up. Silly girl.
    8. She's still delusional and is trying to make herself feel better. Or she's been trying to get back into her old routine of late.
    9. Lunder can look him in the eye because the Doctor is standing on something concealed that raises his height. Either that or, for the purposes of this adventure, the Doctor is dressed in six-inch stiletto heels.
    10. Lunder has, for whatever reason, forgotten that the soldiers know the way his guns work.
    11. It doesn't matter. The book doesn't state where he was hit. He could have been struck on the back of the head if that was where his kidneys were. The only reason to mention it, though, is that assumptions shouldn't be made about his internal organs. And, strictly speaking, unless the rifle actually cut him open, it doesn't actually collide with an internal organ.
    12. She's so disoriented by the radiation sickness now, her ability to spell has collapsed. Much like the author's, one assumes.
    13. Carried away in his excitement, the Doctor stumbles over his words.
    14. The radiation on Janus Prime has a strong sense of melodrama.
    15. It's a blatant excuse to allow Moslei to make the ultimate sacrifice and it's damned annoying, but if we must justify it, we'll just have to say that, briefly, the Doctor forgot. Or perhaps he also has a strong sense of melodrama.

    FEATURED ALIEN RACES
    Janusians: damned big spiders.

    Spidroids: damned big spiders which have been cybernetically enhanced.

    FEATURED LOCATIONS
    Janus Prime, with its faintly glowing blue sand. Areas include the Janusian ruins and Zemler's base.

    Menda, on the opposite side of the sun to Janus Prime, with its new colonists. It has a base around the Link and a town called, imaginatively enough, Newtown.

    IN SUMMARY - Anthony Wilson
    It's another (albeit nonsensical) cracking SF concept and, like Vanderdeken's Children before it, succeeds by ignoring any attempt at characterization of the now indescribably bad Eighth Doctor and the unerringly irritating Sam. By just having them get on with it and not really think or talk about themselves, it's miles above many of the books around it. Unfortunately, Sam and the Doctor aren't the only ones without characters, as practically everyone else in the book is a cliche of the worst order, and bad guy Zemler, who is almost described in the narrative as enjoying pulling the wings from flies, is the worst of a really bad bunch. Dialogue is contrived beyond belief to allow characters to reach the point of saying something meaningful or 'funny', including one conversation, between two characters we've not seen before and won't see again, which only exists to 'amusingly' reiterate Sarah-Jane's 'biggest bang in history' line. It's filled with wonderfully gruesome imagery: people melting, spiderlings crawling all over the Doctor, so it ends up being a book that, had you been watching it on television, would have benefited from having the sound turned down. The villain's laughably banal, the characterisation is non-existent, so sit back and enjoy the glowing blue scenery, the big spiders and some genuinely tense moments. Just don't listen to the words.