The Joy Device
by Justin Richards

Publisher: Virgin
ISBN: 0 426 20535 9


    Benny wants excitement, adventure and thrills, so she heads for the outer Rim. Clarence and a suddenly incredibly talented Jason want her not to have them, so they follow her in order to prevent any excitement, adventure and thrills coming her way. There's also a plot MacGuffin called Dorpfeld's Prism which makes you a strange combination of happy and stupid. And that's about it.

    Bernice Summerfield

    Jason Kane and Clarence.

    Braxiatel and Chris Cwej (second body) make brief appearances.

    Not much. It's all pretty self-explanatory and self-contained.

    Pg 8 "But now that so many of her actual memories were gone, had been wiped away by the organic programming that had invaded her mind." Benny lost a chunk of her memories at the conclusion of Return to the Fractured Planet.

    "She might as well be the ersatz version of herself that had been given life in the largely fictional and wholly melodramatic Adventures of the New Frontier." The in-universe, fictionalized and pulpy versions of the NAs, as first introduced in The Mary-Sue Extrusion.

    "For several months Benny had actually been dying." Revealed in Tears of the Oracle and cured in Return to the Fractured Planet.

    Pg 11 "Like the real Versailles had been. Maybe that was why the place seemed so familiar." It's actually familiar because she's been here in her personal past and the place's future in Theatre of War, but has clearly lost that part of her memory.

    Pg 12 "The arches of the mirrored alcoves and the windows were ornamented with a round symbol, a disc filled with swirling embossed lines." Braxiatel has never decorated the Collection with the Seal of Rassilon, has he?

    Pg 13 "Benny wondered whether [Cwej] found it easier to cope with his change of body than she found coming to terms with her change of mind." Chris regenerated in Tears of the Oracle as a result of radiation poisoning that he suffered in Dead Romance.

    Pg 16 "We're your friends, after all. We're here to support you in whatever way we can, in whatever way you think best. That's what friends are for." Friendship was a very specific theme in Tears of the Oracle.

    Pg 17 "And fat and balding wasn't on my list, I have to say." Chris is not entirely comfortable with his new regeneration, as made clear in Tears of the Oracle.

    Pg 31 "What a tosser. Can't even write properly." Jason is critiquing the work of another author as he is now published in his own right as a best-selling author of interspecies porn, as made clear in Beige Planet Mars.

    Pg 41 "Maybe he's read my book." Benny's sole published work, Down Among the Dead Men, was first mentioned in Theatre of War.

    Pg 98 "Records are vague. The war, you know." The war with the Daleks which happened in the wake of Frontier in Space which is also an incredibly convenient excuse (in multiple books) as to why information on this or that particular plot MacGuffin is so very scarce.

    Pg 104 "Jason paused for a moment as he drew back his arm. He took careful aim, then flung the egg-shaped stone in a high arc above the crowd in front [...] The stone caught the power-blader on the forehead as it arced down." Jason's sudden and extremely unlikely ability to do pretty much anything perfectly extends to being able to hit a target moving on powered roller-blades across a long distance over numerous other people's heads to perfection. Dr John Smith does something similar in the TV Human Nature.

    Pg 110 "I am Professor Fred Bloggs from the Archaeology Department of St Oscar's University on Dellah. Until recently, that is." Jason's cunning disguise notes that Dellah is no longer the seat of St Oscar's in the wake of Where Angels Fear.

    Pg 136 Proto-Moffattian wordplay has the key to the mystery of the Dorpfeld's Prism's location being discovered because the word 'your' sounds precisely like the word 'you're'.

    Pg 153 "You should never trust anyone from Mawaii. The i's are too close together." This is just an appalling pun.

    Pg 196 "I lost some of my memories." Again, Return to the Fractured Planet.

    Pg 225 "I assume it has no effect on my biomechanical brain." Clarence's brain is actually that of murderous People Ship C-Mel, introduced in The Also People. Clarence has recently learned of at least the name of his old identity in Tears of the Oracle, if not his deeds.

    Pg 238 "'Sorry,' said Clarence as he held Jason. 'We did good here, didn't we?' 'Oh yes,' Jason agreed. 'We did excellent.'" Bad grammar aside, this is a reworking of the last couple of lines of Remembrance of the Daleks.

    Pg 239 "'Well,' Dent said, 'if you're not having fun, then stop doing it. That's what I always say.'" Whilst this is a reworking of a line from the final scene of Resurrection of the Daleks. Maybe Dent also has an Auntie Vanessa.

    Pg 247 "'Myerson asked what it was. He thought Dorpfeld replied, "My prism."' Braxiatel reached out tentatively towards the relic. 'In fact, he said, "My prison."'" Another example the kind of wordplay that Moffat would go on to make so much of in his tenure as show-runner.


    Dent Harper, an adventurer.

    Linn Sekka, a thief and shopkeeper.

    Dr Creer, a post-death brain surgeon.

    Nikole Medak, Luggar and Powlo Vertutes, all of the Cartel.

    In bit parts, we also have Squeezer Hedges, a mafiosa-esque boss; the manager of the Hotel Xcelsior; Heath Conley; and Gunzo Macklin.


    1. Pg 93 "The genuine ones are incredibly strong and emit a perfect C-flat when you tap the lip of the opening on something." Be wary of using musical terminology if you don't know what it means. There is a note C-flat, but practically no one ever calls it that, as it's far more commonly known as B.
    2. Pg 116 One of the most ridiculous nit-picks in the history of nit-pickiness: the 'CHAPTER 8' title here is on the wrong side of the page. Every other chapter title is justified to the outside (i.e. if it's on a left-hand page, the title is on the left and if it's on a right-hand page, the title is on the right). This one seems to have slipped.
    3. Pg 205 "The gleaming white exterior of the villa towered above him as he stood at the corner of the building. The floodlights made it seem even cleaner and brighter than the daylight. A stark contrast to the deeds and thoughts that went on inside. A whited sepulchre, Jason thought ruefully." Given how much this paragraph goes on about how very, very white the villa is, you may be startled to realise that this is the villa depicted on the front cover which is many things, and quite beautiful, but the one thing it really isn't is white. Also, do we really think that Jason uses phrases like 'a whited sepulchre' in his internal monologue?
    4. Pg 222 "But then, as the stone balustrades at the edge of the balcony loomed closer, the full and terrible implication of his predicament hit him. Just as Mrs Winther hit the balustrade. The stone crumbled and broke under the pressure. The uprights were pushed away from the edge, out over the waterfall. The lintel toppled over the brink and disappeared." OK, so much has been made of just how big Mrs Winther is, and she is sliding across the floor at this point, but are we seriously supposed to think that she's big enough to shatter stone, even when in motion? This beggars belief.

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

    1. It's a different basic scale, where C-flat is, indeed, distinguishable from B.
    2. Erm. Difficult to find an in-story answer here. Like Benny, it's been drinking?
    3. Something's casting a really big shadow on it on the front cover? Nope, I've got nothing. Also, as mentioned, Jason's been so unusually competent and capable in this book, I begin to have the suspicion that it's not him at all but a simulation provided by the People to help Clarence and protect Benny, given how important she is.
    4. Not only is Mrs Winther very large, she is also incredibly dense, and thus weighs magnitudes more than it looks like she does. All the floors in the whitish villa are strongly reinforced.

    Can't find any. Everyone seems rather human here.

    The Braxiatel Collection on KS-159, which is in the process of being built.

    The planet Virabilis in the Eastern Rim, including the hotel Xcelsior and a big white/not-white villa sitting on top of a waterfall.

    Prevaria City is on the planet Prevaria, itself so close to Virabilis that atmosphere is shared between the two of them.

    IN SUMMARY - Anthony Wilson
    It's a one-joke book which, in order to make work, Richards contrives to have Benny suddenly startlingly naive and Jason as almost indescribably competent, beggaring belief on more than one occasion. Motivations are all over the place - I cannot for the life of me work out why Mrs Winther wants Dorpfeld's Prism at all - and a bizarre, light, fluffy book as the penultimate one in the entire range is a very strange choice. All that said, though, Richards does just about keep the joke working, and the plot locks together with his usual consistency. It's not going to fill you with joy, precisely, but it passes the time pleasantly enough.