Oh No It Isn't!
by Paul Cornell

Publisher: Virgin
ISBN: 0 426 20507 3


    Bernice Summerfield is settling into her new position as Professor of Archaeology at St Oscar's University on the planet Dellah. However, her first assignment takes her on a remarkably odd field trip, consisting of pantomime horses, seven dwarves and a talking cat...

    Bernice Summerfield.



    Pg 4 "Every year, a nearby world would align itself to, or be annexed by, the Earth's 'Empire'. The Earth Empire was seen throughout the NAs, culminating in So Vile A Sin.

    Pg 5 "The Galactic War, in which the humans and their allies struggled with an alien species that fundamentally disagreed with them" These aliens are the Daleks, as mentioned in several NAs. We see the effect the Dalek war had on Earth in The Sword of Forever.

    "Krytell himself, greatest of the many entrepreneurs who had profited from the Galactic War" Krytell shows up in Ship of Fools.

    Pg 6 "The gods had extracted but one price: the needle of the spaceport made it rain much more often than it had." The references to constant rain on Dellah were usually forgotten in later Benny NAs, except for Another Girl, Another Planet. However, it's possible that the rain is most severe in autumn (mentioned further down the page). The reference to gods here is almost certainly coincidence.

    Pg 7 "Her head of department, Dr Follett, an aged reptilian who purposefully didn't regulate the cloud of chlorine that surrounded him" We meet Dr Follett in the Dragons' Wrath and he continues to show up throughout the Benny NAs.

    "Bernice's contract of employment for taking up the Edward Watkinson Chair of Archaeology." We actually see Edward Watkinson in Tears of the Oracle.

    Pgs 7-8 She had a title for the new work: So Vast A Pile [...] If the Publishers got too concerned, she'd just tell them she'd had a system crash and lost the manuscript. Or something." This is a reference to Ben Aaronvitch's supposed system crash resulting in the delay of So Vile A Sin (which was finally published the month before this).

    Pg 9 "Your Head of Department also wishes to remind his staff about the later field trip, only, he emphasizes, accommodating two students, which -" This is the field trip later seen in Beyond the Sun.

    Pg 10 "The celebrity burglar known as Cat's Paw had been briefly thought to have been responsible for a burglary in Rigg College Halls" We meet Cat's Paw in Ship of Fools.

    Pg 21 "Hmm. Knowledge above all, as they say." This is a bit of subtle foreshadowing for Dragons' Wrath.

    Pg 23 "He keeps making Chelonian jokes which, since I have some personal experience of that species, I suppose I should complain about." The Chelonians are giant turtles, first seen in The Highest Science, which is where Benny met them.

    Pg 24 "At the end of the day, all things considered, that sounds like The Last Chance Saloon for any title hopes." This probably isn't a reference to The Gunfighters, but you never know.

    Pg 25 "'We,' he whispered in my ear, 'are on a mission from God.'" God is the People's computer in the Dyson Sphere, first seen in The Also People. We don't actually see him or the People here, only their agents, but they're reintroduced to the Benny NAs and appear in later books, from Down onwards.

    Pg 31 "I was conscripted, straight out of the Academy [...] I bailed out of a troopship on the way to a battle, joined a dig by faking my qualifications" This was mentioned in Love and War.

    "I gained my doctorate on the run, through experience." Benny actually got her doctorate in Return of the Living Dad.

    Pg 72 "She dreamt of when she was very young, in the house of her mother and father, before her world was invaded by aliens" These aliens are the Daleks, as mentioned in Love and War.

    Pg 106 "This Vizier had definitely not just popped back from a day trip to the home counties on Earth where her real father ran a restaurant." Return of the Living Dad.

    Pg 120 "Two of these lads were decidedly girlish. There had been times in her life when that wouldn't have been too much of a problem" In All-Consuming Fire, Benny mentions that most people in her time are bisexual.

    Pg 157 "It would be good to go into their bedroom, to tell Dad not to go off to war, to tell Mum not to run back out of the attack shelter to pick up the doll, which her screaming daughter had dropped." Love and War.

    Pgs 180-181 "Wolsey looked around the cave to his right, leaning his weight on his right front paw, holding the gun in his other hand." There's a very funny scene where the events of the front cover are meticulously established, including Bernice and Wolsey pausing for a moment before it all vanishes.

    Pg 213 "The People were humanoids, basically, who lived in a Dyson Sphere" We get a summary of the People and God, mainly from The Also People.

    Pg 214 The group which has Bernice as an agent is here the Tiny But Interesting Interest Group (its name changes between here and Ghost Devices).

    "But the People are forbidden to interfere in the Milky Way. The greater powers of the universe agreed that strategically -" The 'greater powers' are the Time Lords, who have a non-aggression treaty with the People. We hear more about this in later books, including Walking to Babylon, Where Angels Fear and Dead Romance.

    Pg 224 "'A vessel which would actually be bigger on the inside than the outside -' She stopped and glanced at Wolsey, as if to make sure everything was OK. He nodded impatiently. 'I think you got away with it.'" This is a sly reference to the new state of affairs in the Virgin novels, which couldn't directly reference Doctor Who elements.

    Menlove Stokes, who previously appeared in The Romance of Crime and The Well-Mannered War. He has hair here (see page 14) although he was bald in earlier books.

    Professor Arthur Candy appeared in Decalog 3.

    The Sultan of the Tashwari, who reappears in late Benny NAs, including Where Angels Fear.

    Joseph the Porter is introduced on page 9. He pops up in virtually every Benny book from this point on.

    Michael Doran (who later become Matt Doran in Deadfall).

    The Department of Advanced Research is introduced on page 15. We see more of this throughout later NAs.

    Hettie Bonistall, Lucinda Pargiter, joint occupiers of the Chair of Etiquette.

    Professor Warrindar, Head of Psi is a Pakhar male. He's mentioned in Deadfall.

    Professor Ferdinand Archduke, specialist in Obscure Theatrical Forms. He reappears in Dragons' Wrath.

    Benny's students are: Michael Doran, Polybus Arex, Anne-Marie Rose, Ockjin Fuleep, Jayne Waspo, Vitor Pluse and Marjorie Marjorie. Polybus Arex, Ann-Marie Rose and Marjorie Marjorie turn up briefly in Dragons' Wrath, while Michael Doran, Jayne Waspo, Vitor Pluse and Marjorie Marjorie turn up in Deadfall, with only one name change.

    Professor Epstein, specialising in Chelonian Literature.

    Professor Owl, a cosmologist is mentioned in Ghost Devices.

    The Grel, who appear throughout the Benny NAs and elsewhere, including a mention in Earthworld.

    Professor Otterbland, head of Zero Interest Philosophies.

    Professor Singh, Theoretical Physics gets mentioned in Ghost Devices.

    Professor Janes, Space Vehicle Recognition.

    Professor A. J. Wagstaff, History.

    Professor A. J. Blandish, History.

    Captain Balsam, navigator Aurum and Lt Salvistra (the King and his daughters in panto land). The Lieutenant formerly known as Prince Charming (we don't find out his real name).


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

    The Goll, natives of Dellah. We don't get much of a description, although their females have a physique particularly suited to bodyguards. They have fundamentalists.

    The Ootsoi are mentioned on page 13. They also appear in Deadfall.

    One of Benny's students is a Lucidian, with golden skin and a freedom ring in his nose.

    Another student is a Maldean, a vastly chested sports student.

    A third is a Linnerkerist, although it's not clear if this is an alien race or a cult.

    The Grel, humanoid aliens with bulbous heads and tentacular faces. They search out information and wield data axes, which can absorb information directly from someone's brain. They often use statements like "Good fact".

    Professor Warrindar is a Pakhar, a rodent-like race first seen in Legacy.

    The Perfectons, blue humanoids with six multi-jointed fingers on each hand. (See page 148 for a full description).

    Dellah, The Winton, the Grel ship, Perfecton, Autumn 2593. The panto scenes all take place on The Winton.

    IN SUMMARY - Robert Smith?
    At the time, Oh No It Isn't! was a bizarre choice of novel to launch a new line of books. However, it's a fantastic book which improves greatly upon rereads and surreptitiously sets up a number of elements of the Benny universe, without belabouring the point (sadly most of them get ignored by subsequent books). It's also very, very funny. Benny's decision at the end to sacrifice the humanoid Wolsey she's come to grow and love is heartwrenching. This is a fabulous novel.