The Mary-Sue Extrusion
by Dave Stone

Publisher: Virgin
ISBN: 0 426 20531 6


    The Dellahan Faith virus has escaped its quarantine, and Benny may have the key to stopping it. Unfortunately, she's not exactly herself at the moment.

    Professor Bernice Summerfield, kind of.

    The book is entirely presented from the point of view of a Stratum Seven operative investigating what happened in the wake of the Dellahan collapse in Where Angels Fear. As such, Benny is practically a guest-star in her own book.

    Jason Kane.


    Where Angels Fear

    Pg 1 "It's those soddy little sons of fun at the New Frontier Adventures yet again ..." Dave Stone writes himself the opportunity to be sufficiently meta to critique and comment upon his own work and that of the whole NA oeuvre.

    Pg 2 "Erratic and idiosyncratic grammar, lurching descents into circumlocutory chattiness, utterly unrelated infodumps coming in from far left field, the fact that the whole thing falls apart spectacularly at the end..." At least he has the courtesy to begin with his own books. I think. The last clause does feel like it's channeling Paul Leonard.

    "I didn't take the edit-package's advice. I'd have had to spend half a day, as it merrily changed all the 'fucks' to 'funks' and so forth." Commentary on now ex-editor Rebecca Levene, who had the swearing considerably toned down once she came on board, soon after Transit.

    Pg 6 "Pandora's daughter subsequently goes off with the Greek version of Noah, but that's not strictly relevant here." The Mesopotamian version of Noah was Utnapishtim, who appeared in Timewyrm: Genesys. But that's not strictly relevant here.

    Pg 7 "Extract from Down Among the Dead Men" Benny's ubiquitous book, first mentioned in Theatre of War.

    Pg 11 "I suppose I might have been a little hard on God." The opening section of the prologue, here, is a reworking of Benny's final diary entry in Where Angels Fear, although with some alterations (which are actually explained in the plot).

    Pg 12 A summary of the events of Where Angels Fear, including reference to James Harker, Maa'lon, Clarence and the People's gods.

    Pg 18 "There's a hell of a lot of rivalry between them and the hypercity Adjudicators." We first met the Adjudicators in Lucifer Rising, and Chris and Roz were members of said august order.

    Pg 36 "The intercorporate multiplexes do not operate upon the same level as the monolithic corporations of before the War." The War in question is that with the Daleks in the wake of Frontier in Space.

    Pg 44 "'I prefer the term time traveller,' I said. 'Really?' Volan raised an eyebrow, a trifle sardonically. 'I was under the impression that you people considered that something of an insult. Far too many connotations with gibbering idiots in floppy scarves, elderly Victorian gentlemen in wire-framed spectacles, stovepipe hats and so forth.'" Respectively, the fourth, first and second Doctors.

    Pg 45 "Nothing out of the ordinary in that, as so many records were lost in the twenty-first century social and geopolitical Collapse." That's no way to talk about Torchwood. More seriously, the Discontinuity Guide tried to work out what happened to America in the twenty-first century, as the US seemed to have little or nothing to do with that century as portrayed in the second Doctor stories. They suggested some kind of disaster. Here, as the book demonstrates later, Stone has applied it worldwide. It may, in that circumstance, tie into The Enemy of the World, which showed a quasi-Dystopian future in 2018. (Ironic, I realise, in the current US political circumstance, that the de facto ruler of the world in 2018 in that story was Mexican.) To be fair to Stone, it's made clear later in the novel that a lot of the lead character's past as he records it has been deliberately altered and distorted, so anything he says about it may be untrue.

    Pg 59 "Four months before, the planet Dellah had undergone a global revolution and shut itself off from the galaxy at large." Where Angels Fear. Given that another couple of months pass in this book as well, the time lapse between events in Benny books at the moment is very large.

    "What scraps of information we had suggest that, while the violence on Dellah had been directed against off-worlders in general, its primary target had been the campus of the University of St Oscar's, an autonomous and interstellar-based concern operating under fief from the Sultan of Tashwari, a relatively minor province." This isn't quite what we saw in Where Angels Fear, but, again, this is quite specifically stated as incomplete information, so that makes sense. We met the Sultan, briefly, in Where Angels Fear as well.

    Pg 60 "The place [St Oscar's] had seemed to have concentrated upon the arts and the softer sciences - and, if that had been a cover for harder research by somebody or other, weapons R&D, say, then I couldn't find so much as a sniff of it." Except that, if you've been paying attention, you would know that St Oscar's also contained the Advanced Research Department, a plotline which was set up in Oh No It Isn't!, was touched upon in Dragons' Wrath, Mean Streets and The Medusa Effect and will be finally resolved in Tears of the Oracle.

    "There were strong indications that she [Benny] had been working for several heavy factions as a double agent." She wasn't, but the implication is that this could be the Time Lords or the People from The Also People et al.

    "There was no recorded trace of her life before she arrived at St Oscar's one term, seemingly out of midair." Because she's out of her own time zone and the Doctor dropped her there in The Dying Days.

    "Then the names leapt out at you - a tracery of references and connections, running back and forth through the last five hundred years of galactic history, from the starting point of some forgotten little planetary backwater taken out and sterilized in the last big War." All of the NAs which had Benny in them, basically. The little planetary backwater was her birthplace, Beta Caprisis, as established in Love and War and the last big war was, again, the Dalek War which happened in the wake of Frontier in Space.

    Pg 61 "The first was a copy of Summerfield's book." Down Among the Dead Men, again, as established in Theatre of War.

    Pg 62 "Summerfield, it seemed, was something of a minor star in these tales of outworld life. Each of the copies I currently had seemed to be by a different hand, none of them exactly literate, and they couldn't seem to make up their minds whether they were adventure stories, murder-mystery stories or some half-baked bastard hybrid of the two." OK, that was quite funny. A pretty fair description of the Benny NAs.

    Pg 63 "In an alcove of the Starfire Lounge, Bernice Summerfield nursed her Maldovian boilermaker and scowled." There then follows a seven-page rewritten summary/parody of Ship of Fools, done very badly, in a perfect demonstration of the maxim that just because you can do a thing doesn't necessarily mean that you should. All the names are reworked except for the Titanian Queen, which was the name of the ship that Benny travelled on in that story, and the name of the detective, Emil Dupont. It's actually excruciatingly bad.

    Pg 96 "A bunker on the Moon, an emergency storage facility for Earth's DNA, lost and forgotten. For thousands of years. [...] Some of the samples were still viable. Miss Summerfield dug them up." This is possibly the bunker on the Moon from Eternity Weeps.

    "Gods woke up and walked and razed the university to the..." Where Angels Fear.

    Pg 97 "She's in Heaven and with God. I saw her go, lifted up within the arms of an angel." The angel in question is Clarence, and this happened in the last few pages of Where Angels Fear.

    Pg 122 "She wired the pack into the socket behind her ear." Reminiscent of Warriors of the Deep.

    Pg 145 "The apparition stumbled to its feet and beamed around itself with the cheerful, drooling, self-important idiocy of a complete and congenital idiot." Stone's treatment of someone with extreme learning difficulties is uncomfortable at best and downright offensive at worst. Yes, one might argue that he's making some clever point about the inbreeding of the Hapsburgs: Charles II, the last of that line, who had only 32 individuals in the 64 people who made up his direct ancestry (one of whom appears no less than five times), and thus suffered hugely from congenital disorders may well be the precursor, but the fact that he seems to think that we'll find this funny is unforgivable. Then there's the description 'congenital idiot', which, by this point, was frequently being used (mostly on rec.arts.drwho) to describe the eighth Doctor in the EDAs, who seemed to have simply no idea whatsoever. And then Stone goes and calls this poor guy Jimbo, which is how Jim Mortimore signs himself off, so it just becomes bloody rude. Yes, Dave, because you're so much more creative and clever than the guy who wrote Blood Heat and Eye of Heaven. I lost a great deal of sympathy and support for Dave Stone whilst reading this book. OK. Rant over. Back to your normally scheduled list of continuity references.

    Pg 148 "In the name of Malon and His Brethren." The main villain from Where Angels Fear, but see Continuity Cock-Ups.

    Pg 158 "I gather that it used to rain all the time on Dellah - the result of the Sky Pylon, a vastly extruded, monomolecular cable that physically connected the planet to its orbital space station and disrupted the weather patterns." The Sky Pylon, introduced in Oh No It Isn't!, has now been destroyed.

    Pg 160 "Various other items of a generally personal nature, a littering of yellow paper scraps and so forth." Benny's post-it notes for her diary, established way back in Love and War.

    Pg 162 "And for hours after we left the space station Rebecca just piloted the ship in a stony silence." Not to give too much away about the plot, but Rebecca was the doll that Benny dropped in the evacuation from Beta Caprisis when the Daleks came, which caused her mother to go back and collect it and thus get exterminated. The name of the doll was established in Love and War, although it was briefly renamed Molly in Parasite.

    Pg 164 "I didn't desert from the Military Academy out of fear or cowardice." As established in Love and War.

    "We were fighting a race that razed planets for the simple reason that they could." The Daleks, and the war in question, once again, is the one that began following the events of Frontier in Space.

    Pg 166 "My father had long since gone - I didn't even have a memory of him." Again, as established in Love and War, although we would eventually meet Admiral Summerfield in Return of the Living Dad.

    Pg 179 "You've been kept on cryogenic ice since then, here in the good old Festival Hall facility." The brutalist architecture that is London's South Bank has been repurposed many times in Doctor Who history. Here, it appears to be some sort of scientific research facility. By Frontier in Space - to which there are lots of mentions in this novel, one way or another, so I think this one's deliberate - it's a prison.

    Pg 182 "I opened my eyes. That was the first surprise - the fact that I had eyes to open." This is an almost direct quote of a line in So Vile a Sin, to whit: "FLORANCE opened her eyes and found she had eyes to open" which comes from Pg 12 of that book.

    Pg 183 "You have to remember that I came from a time when body-swapping or even body-bepple wasn't even so much as a workable concept." Body-beppling, where you change your appearance, was introduced in Original Sin.

    Pg 188 "And a calendar intended for the Sloathe market." Sloathes were introduced in Stone's own Sky Pirates!, sadly.

    Pg 195 "I was on the Squaxis border, and I know for a fact there wasn't a Rebecca there - and I know for a fact that in the Dagellan Cluster it was me." The Dagellan Cluster was the setting for the bulk of Death and Diplomacy.

    Pg 205 "Nothing lived or moved down there. Nothing moved or sang." Alongside the awkward repetition of the word 'moved', this is also an awkward repetition of a rather better sequence in Stone's own Sky Pirates!, to whit: "Nothing moved here. Nothing sang. Nothing played the spoons after they prevailed upon the Doctor to stop it." (Pg 189)

    "On the very edge of the plain was the crashed wreckage of a ship. It was of some alien design, vaguely reminiscent of a tungsten and polymerized ceramic squid." In both description and in the picture on the cover, Benny appears to have travelled to Beta Caprisis in a Shadow vessel from Babylon 5.

    Pg 206 "'Good afternoon,' she said. 'My name is Rebecca, and this -' she vaguely held up the doll for our inspection '- is my friend Bernice.'" An almost exact rendition of how the Doctor, particularly the seventh, used to introduce himself and either Ace or Benny during the NAs; the doll, obviously, is a version of the one from Love and War - it can't be the original, as presumably that got incinerated with Benny's mother.

    Pg 222 "Fortunately, finding Wolsey was the trigger for the Mary-Sue procedure I'd had done. I found him and went dormant." Rewriting your own history in order to escape from someone tracking you preempts the television version of Human Nature, whilst not actually referencing the book version of the same story.

    Pg 235 "It was a fraction of a second after that, that I turned and rabbit-punched the thing that had once been a Thing that was in some way still Emile in the face. The light died in his eyes and he hit the ground with a thump." Like City of Death, the whole story is won by punching someone in the face.

    Pg 240 "You feed some drugs to a laboratory rat and, two hundred generations down the line, the monsters start being born." This is a line which will be recycled for the back cover of Dave Stone's next book, Return to the Fractured Planet. There's nothing like re-using your own material.

    The Sultan of the Tashwari on Dellah, from Where Angels Fear.

    Emile Mars-Smith, who first appeared in Beyond the Sun.

    A kind-of (I can't bring myself to say 'quasi-') telepath called Mira, a friend of Jason's, last seen in Ship of Fools.

    The unnamed narrator of the book.

    Rebecca, who does not actually exist.

    Two assasins: Mara Lutace Grabor and Simonon Leviticus Sleed, both from Squaxis.

    Stand-ins for the 5 heads of the Pseudopod Corporation and their leader, Michaels-Presteign Volan Tiberius, or Volan for short. There is an alternative Volan on Thanaxos as well, but he's a bit of a slimy customer.

    Liau Mei Chang, a secretary with slim fingers.

    Sela Dane, a journalist.

    A footman called Gnatbeadle.

    Field Marshal G'ran.

    Kimo Ani, some kind of cyborg although it's not entirely clear.

    Dr [name withdrawn from manuscript].

    Before beginning, I should note that the book is specifically and deliberately written from the point of view of an unreliable narrator who admits that he has deliberately changed many of the details of what happened and especially his own past, so this section's difficult to do with any measure of accuracy. Still, it helpfully gives us - and Stone - a useful get-out clause for anything that doesn't work.

    1. Pg 79 "Two years before, the dogboys had been soldiers in the proper sense of the word - soldiers of the Emergency Military Government that had taken control of Britain, as a whole, in a last-ditch attempt to hold things together." This rather flies in the face of a lot of the second Doctor stories about the 21st century.
    2. Pg 148 "In the name of Malon and His Brethren." It was Maa'lon back in Where Angels Fear.

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

    1. It's either connected to what was going on in The Enemy of the World or, more likely, a function of the unreliable narrator.
    2. This is from the transcript of a speech. Presumably, the person doing the transcribing didn't have immediate access to a copy of Where Angels Fear.

    A Vononian, with a big single eye and a brood of ambulatory pupae.

    Thanaxons, with slate-grey skin a Cornish-pasty foreheads. Yes, the prose does actually describe them like that.

    A Draal, "a kind of bipedal arthropod, it's [sic] body and limbs covered with a jointed, crab-shell carapace." Presumably, they are also bad at grammar.

    A Drolag from the Cool Stars; Spindlekings; and an Oroborous Worm (although that's not actually how you spell "Ouroboros".)

    Dr [name withdrawn from manuscript] looks like a humanoid cross between a rat and a guinea pig, with elongated, yellow incisors.

    The entities that were the People's gods, which first appeared in Where Angels Fear, now known as the All-High Gods.

    Pognophores, a bit like slugs.

    The Moon, including a bunker at which Benny had once been.

    A ship called the Star of Afrique.

    The planet Thanaxos and specifically its capital, Rakath.

    Dellah, including St. Oscar's University and Tashwari.

    The Habitats of the Proximan Chain.

    Beta Caprisis.

    An unnamed planet on which Emile Mars-Smith is hiding out.

    IN SUMMARY - Anthony Wilson
    Agonising. Okay, the placing doesn't help, as it comes immediately before the best first-person-unreliable-narrator-which-barely-features-Benny book that you're ever likely to read in Dead Romance, but, to be honest, even without that, it would still be awful. It does open with real promise and then goes downhill with a speed that you really wouldn't believe possible. The Dave Stone parodying Dave Stone - Dave Stone squared, if you will - is actually even worse than you might imagine, whilst the treatment of people with learning disabilities is actively offensive, made even worse by the fact that I think we're supposed to find it funny. It's an interminable slog to get through - I read five other books midway to avoid returning to this one - and it only improves, albeit very marginally, when Benny turns up. On page 215.