Option Lock
by Justin Richards

Publisher: BBC
ISBN: 0 563 40583 X


    Seven hundred years ago, a group of creatures came to Earth, nearly dead. Trapped in the minds of the descendants of those who first encountered them, they seek for a way to become whole again. And so begins a plot which encompasses the entirety of the world's political and nuclear stage, and beyond. So why, then, is the Doctor so interested in a series of paintings?


    Sam Jones. She also appears here out of her ongoing continuity, apparently some time after she has left the Doctor.

    Pg 5 Henry Tanner hears the sound and sees the flashing lights here, as the TARDIS arrives in Abbots Siolfor, but from the Doctor and Sam's point of view, it doesn't happen until page 7.

    Pg 265 On Station Nine.


    Pg 6 "The flames of the everlasting candles guttered and shook as if caught in a storm." The TARDIS is lit by everlasting candles, just like the everlasting matches of Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks and Kursaal.

    Mention of the Prydonian Seal, which over-decorated the TARDIS console room in the Telemovie. This paragraph is actually a rather lovely description of the TARDIS interior.

    Pg 7 "as an antiquated vinyl record ground to a halt on its turntable." The Doctor was also listening to a vinyl record in the Telemovie. Has the man not heard of iPods?

    The "ancient television monitor" is consistent with the Telemovie too.

    "During this time, Sam had tried to grow her hair (successfully) and quit biting her nails (less so)." Many comments were made about Sam's nail-biting in Kursaal. It would be churlish of me to point out that it's not hard to grow your hair; you just... don't cut it. Stopping biting your nails, however, requires willpower.

    "The Doctor tossed aside his copy of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and swung his feet off the footstool." This continues the rather subtle theme of the Doctor's newfound interest in Victorian literature from The Time Machine (The Telemovie), Sherlock Holmes (The Bodysnatchers) and Strand Magazine (Genocide).

    "Why does this always happen when I'm reading?" The TARDIS has gone wrong again, as it did in The Telemovie.

    Pg 8 "CRITICAL ARTRON ENERGY DRAIN" is like 'CRITICAL TIMING MALFUNCTION' in the Telemovie, and the information is given to the Doctor in exactly the same way. Artron Energy was first mentioned in The Deadly Assassin.

    Pg 13 "She [Dorothy Frances Gurney] had the most wonderful begonias, you know." This may be a sly reference to the 'Lovely flowers, begonias' line in Remembrance of the Daleks.

    Pg 16 "'Pickering?' the Doctor asked, in a voice that suggested he enjoyed a good picker when he got the chance." It's not continuity, but it is, to my mind, an utterly incomprehensible line. What, exactly, does it mean?

    Pg 17 "'Not unless you've signed the Official Secrets Act.' The Doctor smiled too. 'Several times, though usually against my better judgement.'" The Doctor being a signatory was specifically mentioned in Time-Flight. One is forced to wonder what name he actually used when he signed it.

    Pg 23 "The first morning of their visit, Sam had set off almost before dawn to jog a couple of miles round the grounds." This is fairly consistent with her claim that she runs 'three miles a day, no excuses' in The Eight Doctors, although she appears to have relaxed the absolute stipulation of the distance a little now.

    Pg 34 "The moon was practically full, shining down from a cloudless sky and illuminating the courtyard. Sam flinched as unwelcome half-memories crowded in on her." Kursaal.

    Pg 36 "Sam clapped an arm across her chest. But if she was trying to hide the fact that she was standing in front of him dressed in nothing more than a wet T-shirt, the gesture had the opposite effect." Sam in a wet T-shirt must feature in some fan's dreams. No? Oh well, suit yourselves.

    Pg 39 "'The Visitation.' The words were underlined at the start of the short sentence. Then the entry itself: 'Tonight the Devil came to us.'" A harsher man than I might suggest, given the capitalisation of the word 'Visitation', that the next bit of the diary reads: 'And his name was Eric Saward.'

    Pg 45 "In fact, he was forced to admit, the whole enterprise was really rather boring in comparison with his usual investigations." The Doctor's utterly wrong: excepting Alien Bodies, this is the best thing we've had since the BBC run started. Back to basics and just what we needed now.

    Pg 61 "'The SAC Underground Command Post at Offcutt, the NORAD Combat Operation Centre under Cheyenne Mountain, the National Military Command Centre at the Pentagon, the PAVE PAWS, DEW and BMEWS early-warning installations. That's six. Add in the Nightwatch plane and that makes seven. Looking Glass takes it to eight.' He was looking Kellerman straight in the eye. 'The eight installations from which we would run the offensive and defensive operations of a nuclear war. I think that is more than enough.'" It's not continuity, but readers may be interested to know that this is all absolutely true in the real world. Station Nine, here, remains an unknown.

    Pg 70 "Sam had found it difficult to refuse the offer, though she had worried she might see posters of herself pinned up outside the local police station. Just what she needed to impress Pickering: 'Have you seen this girl?'" many years later, this became one of the plot points of Aliens of London.

    Pg 71 Brief reference to Sam's place of growing up: Shoreditch.

    Pg 74 "He reached for a book, apparently at random, and flicked through it. 'Mind you, this one's a bit boring,' he said a few seconds later." Identical to a moment in City of Death and similar to a moment in Rose.

    Pg 166 "'What happens,' he asked, 'if we tell the world the truth?' For long seconds no one spoke. The silence was broken by Marion Hewitt. 'That depends on how much of the truth you're advocating, Mr President.'" A glorious depiction of the world of politics in precisely three sentences.

    Pg 171 "I think I must have seen my six impossible things before breakfast." In The Five Doctors, the Doctor claims to believe 'like Alice, three impossible things before breakfast'. In both cases, it's a quote from Alice in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Inevitably, Richards gets it right - it actually is six things and not three - and Terrance Dicks got it wrong.

    Pg 173 "'Where be your gibes now?' the Doctor asked the final compartment." We love it when the Doctor quotes Shakespeare. For the record, it's Hamlet Act V, Scene 1.

    Pg 190 "The Doctor looked back at the soldiers. 'No, they won't shoot us,' he decided. 'We're in Britain.' He nodded to punctuate his argument. 'Right then -' he stretched his arms up behind his head, making it look as though he was obeying the instruction - 'when I say run...'" Coupled with one of the Doctor's greatest (and, sadly, incorrect) assumptions ever is one of the most famous continuity references of all time.

    Pg 206 "'Dark things are happening, Captain Pickering.' His voice was edged with a hint of anger. 'Evil things. And evil must be fought.'" Another quote straight from that old favourite, The Moonbase.

    Pg 209 "Then he said, 'Be seeing you,' as if this were a joke, turned and left." It's a reference to either The Prisoner or Babylon 5, depending on which one Pickering's been watching recently.

    Pg 219 "The Doctor was already on the bike, hand on the throttle." The Doctor steals another motorbike, just as he did in the Telemovie.

    Pg 221 When suddenly surrounded by the military around the TARDIS: "The Doctor sighed, and pocketed the key. 'Not again.'" I'm not at all clear to what this 'again' refers.

    Pg 229 "Another image had sprung up over the central part of the map. It was a circular emblem with a stylised eagle in the centre of it. Around the edge was an inscription. It was the seal of the President of the United States of America." It would appear that there's a camera in the White House, but it's just possible that it is, instead, focussed on a copy of Vampire Science.

    Pg 248 "The Doctor had nodded a sympathetic welcome and muttered something about having been seconded to a UN body a while back for scientific and military work." Spearhead from Space et al.

    Pg 249 "'You'd prefer Latin?' the Doctor asked with a slight smile." This is a very subtle reference to the frequent mention of that language in Kursaal.

    Pg 260 "'I suggest you accept that post in Washington,' the Doctor retorted without looking up. 'When it arrives, that is. I know it's an upheaval and the children are at a critical point at school, but they'll do well in the long run.'" The Doctor's new-found ability to look into the future of others' timelines, as seen in the Telemovie.

    Pg 267 "My whole life has been a rehearsal for this moment, so I'm not going to let you prevent me, I'm afraid." It's possibly a deliberate allusion to the cliffhanger at the end of episode three of The Caves of Androzani, but it might not be.

    Pg 276 "'Tell me,' he croaked, 'tell me that free will is not an illusion.'" One of Pickering's command codes, just happens to be the most famous quote from Inferno.

    Pg 280 "How do you explain the years you've gained in a month?" This is subtle foreshadowing of the aging of Sam which will soon occur during Seeing I but which will have no noticeable effect on her personality.

    "She asked me whether I was still with the Doctor, hoping, I think, for a more interesting answer than the one I was prepared to give." At this point, the EDA writers didn't know how or when Sam would be written out, although Richards clearly ensures that we know whereabouts she's going to end up. She'll eventually be dropped home in Interference book II.


    Vast numbers of descendants of the original six people infected by the Khameirian essence appear, and many of them die. Survivors would appear to include: Henry Tanner, Pete Kellerman, Mrs Allworthy, Paul Sargent, Andrew Price and Manuel Estevez.

    Penelope Silver, despite claiming to be a distant cousin for Norton's, appears to have no part of the Khameirian essence inside of her. She's pregnant.

    In Krejikistan: Lt. Ivigan, Sergeant Kosimov and General Orominsk.

    Richards invents a completely new American government for the purposes of this novel, none of whom ever appear again. They include: President Dering; Vice-President Jack Michaels; Special Agent Don Hallett; FBI Director Neil Ansty; Agent Reese; General Howard Kane, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; Harold Horner, Secretary of Defense; and Marion Hewitt, Secretary of State.

    Others in America include: Jimmy Reading; Harry Pringle of USAF; Andy Summers; the Bag Men (who carry the nuclear codes in a briefcase, handcuffed to them at all times); Colonel Atkins and Captain Sanders on Looking Glass; and Angela Palmer, the President's make-up artist.

    The military in England include Major Hayward, a couple of soldiers just obeying orders and a lady of a certain age checking the guest list.

    Others in England include: Van driver Steve Fisher and UN delegates Geoff Harrisson, Janet Timms and Helene Buchier.

    On Station Nine: Zina Cherschky, Pierre Latour.


    1. Pg 89 "All the members of our group are descended from the same six people who formed the initial society under Matthew Siolfor back in the thirteenth century." OK, all of this we can accept, and, indeed, it makes sense. What does not is the fact that every member of the brotherhood that we meet in the present day, almost seven hundred years from the original founding of the society, has a name which is related to the names of said original members. Indeed, Richards goes to great pains to explain how all the modern names are connected to the old-fashioned ones. It beggars belief that, from six different men over seven hundred years, not a single family would have had any daughters because, had that been the case, there would be brotherhood members with names that were not connected to those original six men. And there aren't.
    2. Pg 191 Sadly, amidst the numerous wonderful examples of word-play with the words 'option' and 'lock', this happens: "Pickering didn't say anything. He knew he had was locked in, had no option."
    3. Pg 207 "'By hook or by crook, no doubt.' The Doctor looked blankly at Sam. She shrugged, having no idea what Pickering meant." Sam, I understand, but the chances of the Doctor having never heard this very standard British phrase, particularly having lived in London for numerous years in the 1970s, is bizarre and unlikely in the extreme.

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

    1. Some of them intermarried, which would explain some of it. Presumably there are numerous cult members with non-connected names and we just don't happen to meet any of them. It smacks of Richards being just a little bit to clever for his own good, however.
    2. Pickering's upset and worried, which is affecting his ability to think coherently.
    3. It's one of those phrases you know is also supposed to be a quote from something and neither of them knows Pickering's referring to the Prisoner.

    Khameirians. Their will to survive is unparalleled. They look remarkably like gargoyles and hail from the Antares sector (or, at least, so the Doctor thinks). They are at war with the Yogloth.

    Yogloth: At war with the Khameirians, they fly slayers and are great ones for absolute economy of effort.

    Locations are only recorded when they are visited for the first time.

    Pg 1 The Khameirian meets its unfortunate fate in the vicinity of Rigellis III.

    Pg 1 Then it crashes to Earth in the grounds of the house at Abbots Soilfor, sometime in the early thirteenth century.

    Pg 5 Abbots Siolfor, late Autumn 1998AD (it's getting dark by 3.30, and Sam's visit a month later is described as early Winter), starting on a Saturday. All subsequent locations are within the same time zone.

    Pg 5 The Nevchenka Nuclear Missile Installation in the fictional former Russian satellite state of Krejikistan.

    Pg 6 Lecture Hall, CIPA.

    Pg 18 Rogers Street, by the Cambridge Side Galleria, Boston, USA, and environs.

    Pg 43 The Oval Office, The White House

    Pg 69 The White Lion pub in Abbots Clinton, which, we are told, serves 'indifferent' lunch.

    Pg 89 Flying across Europe, en route to Krejikistan.

    Pg 118 A satellite monitoring station somewhere in the US

    Pg 129 NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command)

    Pg 132 Nightwatch, the National Emergency Airborne Command Post.

    Pg 145 The Looking Glass plane.

    Pg 147 Station Nine.

    Pg 163 The Chapel, known also as Lord Meacher's Clump. Final resting place for the Khameirian spaceship.

    Pg 205 Pickering's flat in London.

    Pg 279 Back at the house in Abbots Siolfor, a month later in Earth time, but years later in Sam's (after she's left the Doctor, it would appear). Described as early Winter (so possibly 1999).

    IN SUMMARY - Anthony Wilson
    The switchback-style of writing, from Agatha Christie-esque evil goings-on in rural England to massive events played out on a world nuclear stage should be disorienting, but it isn't, and it actually keeps you continually on your toes. It's a fantastic little mystery - very Justin Richards - and the trick with the painting, where all the clues are given to you but you just don't work it out, is quite marvellous. There's also something quite amazing, and quite terrifying, about the fact that someone can create nuclear destruction by, in essence, adjusting the vertical hold on the monitor. With a cleverly constructed and tight plot, a bearable Sam, a functioning yet wonderfully - rather than irritatingly - eccentric Doctor, it's great. If there is a problem, it's that, too frequently, the plot requires the Doctor not to attempt, say, the prevention of a nuclear holocaust, so he just sits there and lets the rest of the world sort it out, but this remains forgivable because, when he is in action, he's really good. Best thing about it, though, is the writing itself, the actual words on the page, which are artfully constructed and often quite beautiful, particularly the chapter ends which provide the title for the next chapter. In some ways, then, it may not be Richards' best book, but, in the writing and use of language particularly, it's probably his best novel.