by Eric Saward

Publisher: Target
ISBN: 0 426 20263 5


    The Doctor arrives on the Vipod Mor, where he is confronted by a man in a younger man's body, two brutal policeman, an android working as a butler and a computer with schizophrenia. He also doesn't meet the rather nasty piece of work that is the ship's captain. While there he is imprisoned a lot but somehow still contrives to nearly avert the creation of the Universe. Heigh ho.



    Prior to Pg 51, the TARDIS has arrived at Lucan's Place, a Voxnic bar on Zaurak Minor.

    Pg 58 In deep space, alongside the Vipod Mor.

    Pg 64 On board the Vipod Mor, in the ducting, typically.

    Pg 142 The Doctor tries to materialize the TARDIS in the Vipod Mor's computer database, but fails. He then leaves on Pg 143.

    Pg 144 It's a throwaway line, but the Doctor arrives at the largest library he can find.


    Pg 19 "Neither did he want his own space shuttle with or without tinted glass, speelsnape skin-covered seats and polished alloy exhaust ports." A speelsnape was mentioned in Revelation of the Daleks, and they are mentioned frequently in this novel. Authors of later Who books should note that this, and not the latterly more common 'spielsnape', must be the correct spelling as Saward presumably spelt it this way in his script for Revelation as well.

    Pg 20 "He then stowed away on board a space freighter destined for Praxis 30." The Praxis range of gases was mentioned in The Caves of Androzani as the reason for the Doctor's celery. It's not clear whether there's a connection.

    Pg 26 Another speelsnape mention.

    Pg 27 The speelsnape is now described in all its beauty: "Speelsnapes were not pleasant creatures. Weighing approximately fifty-five kilos, it is a little bigger than a large dog. But there the similarity ends. With the speed of a cheetah, the temperament of a psychopathic crocodile on a bad day, it lives only for two things: to eat, and to reproduce." A speelsnape has "teeth as sharp as scalpels and jaw muscles exercising the power of hydraulic jacks [and] it is able to chew, rip and tear its way through the body of any living thing." Furthermore "it is a very beautiful animal, with the grace and agility of a cat." There, can you picture one now?

    Pg 41 "Whatever the colour of their skin - be it mauve, purple, blue, or - of course - green - it was always completely hairless." The 'of course' here appears to be a reference to the assumption that monsters were supposed to be green, as has been emphasized in the past by such noted luminaries as Terrance Dicks.

    Pg 45 Spandau Sickness is possibly a reference to the band Spandau Ballet.

    Pg 51 "As a rule, Time Lords require far more less sleep than most humanoid life forms, usually managing to survive quite happily on three hours a day." This is broadly consistent with other information we have.

    "Now, it must be stressed that the Doctor is very moderate when it comes to alcohol, partaking of the occasional glass only at Christmas." The Daleks' Master Plan, episode 7.

    The Doctor is stated as being 900 years old, again, (while an approximation here, and updated to 900 plus later in the novel) broadly consistent with what we know.

    Pg 52 "As Peri had never been to a Voxnic bar before..." Voxnic is mentioned as an alcoholic drink in a number of the Virgin and BBC books, but this is the tome in which it first appeared.

    "Nearby, and equally content with life, were half a dozen Terileptils." We met Terileptils in The Visitation, Saward's first script for Who, on the strength of which he was offered the script editor's job.

    Pg 54 "His name was Danstop and he was a life support maintenance engineer aboard a freighter which shipped tinclavic ore from the Terileptil mines on Raaga." Tinclavic and the mines on Raaga were also mentioned in The Visitation, as well as The Awakening.

    Pg 60 "Peri understood little about the Laws of Time, but knew that when they were interfered with all sorts of unpleasant effects occurred concerning the established history of the past and future. It wasn't without reason that the Time Lords of Gallifrey had outlawed such experiments." It's possible that Peri is aware of said outlawing as a result of her experiences in The Two Doctors.

    Pg 67 "The Doctor took a deep breath and told of how, while walking in a forest of Veegal Minor, Rudolph Musk has been swallowed whole by a splay-footed sceeg, a ferocious animal with a mouth the size of a horse-box." If the Doctor is not being facetious, his meeting with Rudolph, or any trips he may have made to Veegal Minor, are unrecorded adventures.

    "Perhaps being eaten wouldn't be so bad after all, she [Peri] thought. At least she would never have to listen to any more of the Doctor's bad stories." In keeping with the relationship between the Doctor and his companion at the time (post-Season 22), they clearly hate each other. This is actually acknowledged in the text later, but does beg the question why Peri hasn't demanded to leave at the first available opportunity.

    Pg 90 "The Doctor had been a prisoner before: many, many times before. If he were lucky enough to survive his current predicament, he would probably be taken prisoner again. But never before in his nine hundred plus years had he been such a complete prisoner." Nine hundred plus years, again, fits with what we know. And, as for being such a complete prisoner, just wait till Seeing I.

    Pg 91 Tingiconcarner is apparently the highest range of mountains in the Universe. It's not clear whether the Doctor has ever been there.

    Pg 96 Yet another mention of the beautiful creature that is the Speelsnape.

    Pg 97 "On Sedgemoor Ten he had once seen a droid, half the size of the one before him, lift a hundred and fifty tonnes." An unrecorded adventure.

    Pg 99 "He had once met a droid on Haitus Eighty-Four who had claimed to be eight thousand years old." Another unrecorded adventure.

    Pg 101 "Some androids were too well built, he thought. Their faith, commitment and understanding was far greater than their mere programming and he wondered how long it would be before they made an evolutionary leap to become a species in their own right." This is, to all intents and purposes, the plot of The Also People.

    Pg 110 "Such a simple question should be so easy to answer, but not where the Doctor was concerned, as, in common with most Time Lords, he had a name which was unpronounceable to the untutored tongue." This is true (or at least, the Doctor has claimed such), but actually quite ludicrous, given that 90 percent of the Time Lords we've met have, actually, have names that are clearly utterly pronouncable (even if it was Romanadvoratrelundar), so I think the Doctor's talking nonsense, frankly. He's probably really called Fred Farquharson and is just really embarrassed about it.

    Pg 114 "Slowly Seedle reclimbed the stairs, again counting each step. And as before there were thirteen - his lucky number." It's probably accidental that Seedle's lucky number coincides with the number of lives a Time Lord has.

    Pg 115 "Although she [Peri] had been through a great deal of physical punishment since she had known the Doctor..." Entirely true when you consider the events of Season 22, which again begs the question why is she still travelling with him?

    Pg 120 "But the Doctor wasn't bothered about the few secrets he had." By Remembrance of the Daleks and Silver Nemesis, he appears to have gained a lot more secrets, thus adding credence to the suggestion that he didn't recall any of these until his sixth regeneration.

    Pg 125 Probably the worst moment of characterization of Peri ever is: "Teeth grinding meant 'beat the suspect but leave him conscious.' - which Snatch proceeded to do. Although terrified, Peri watched the proceedings with a certain academic interest, never having seen a man beaten in such a professional manner." At a time when the Doctor seems uncommonly cruel and unlikable, this makes Peri almost the same. I can certainly say that if I saw someone being brutally beaten, my reaction would not be one of 'academic interest'.

    Pg 142 "'You are mistaken, Doctor,' the voice boomed. 'Like you, I am a renegade Time Lord.' 'Oh, really? There seems to be an awful lot of us around nowadays.'" You said it! The Doctor is presumably thinking of the recent events of The Mark of the Rani, but since that time there have been oodles more.


    Vipod Mor, a renegade Time Lord and deus ex machina.

    Second Lieutenant Shellingbourne Grant (whose real name is Carlyle Dinton) is the only other survivor (other than the Doctor and Peri) of the main cast. It's never made clear what happens to him at the end; one moment he's on the TARDIS, the next he's gone. Presumably the Doctor dropped this thief, fraudster and accessory to murder off with a pat on the head, whilst muttering something about having misjudged him.

    Oliver Sneed, a brain surgeon, may well have survived, but the Doctor neither met him nor even heard his name mentioned. He probably briefly caught a glimpse of him.

    A Terileptil called Danstop.

    You get the feeling that Saward had a number of axes to grind when writing this book. Perhaps particular types of people he'd met, or particular situations he'd been in. I record them here.

    Pg 11 "When Horace's book was finally published, it was viciously attacked by the critics. This was sad, as no one had been able to disprove anything he had written. It was even sadder that the critics, blinded by their own prejudice, could not see the energy, grace and skill that had gone into the book's construction. Even if, as they believed, every word was untrue, they chose to ignore the incredible flights of imagination necessary to argue such a theory. But worse still - as they were supposedly people of education and letters - they could not see or appreciate the pure, good writing that was on the page." This sounds to me like a rant about people criticizing the previous series of Doctor Who (at this point, Season 22) and its subsequent, 'rest' period that had been the result. Apparently, Horace died two years later of a broken heart. Which is interesting, because Saward resigned a little short of two years later.

    Pg 13 What could be Eric's favourite drink, do we think? "It is interesting to note that when the joy of wine was discovered on Earth, massive, wonderfully creative civilizations followed - Egypt, Greece, Rome. When these empires crumbled, and wine became a scarce commodity, civilization sank into the Dark Ages. It wasn't until wine once more became plentiful that surges of energy known as the Renaissance occurred. Fortunately, during one of these periods of creativity, the off-licence was invented, and since then the people of Earth have never looked back."

    Pgs 18-19 "Of course, there is no virtue in being poor. Anyone who has tried to secure a small loan from a bank, without collateral, is only too aware of how managers of such establishments view those sorts of requests. To be able to borrow money requires that you have some, in one form or another, which somehow seems to make the loans side of banking rather redundant."

    Pg 22 "Now, it should be understood that psychiatrists and their camp followers are very touchy when it comes to having their methods criticized. Why this should be a complaint common to all psychs is yet another great mystery. Paranoia is the most common psychiatric condition known, yet it is most prevalent in the profession committed to understanding and eradicating it." This is the beginning of a rant which lasts for just over two pages about psychiatrists and psychoanalysts.

    Pg 42 "How he was nominated for his captaincy is interesting only in as much as it is a good example of how being in the right place at the right time, then bending events to your advantage, can bring about the elevation of an incompetent." Maybe I'm being extremely harsh here, but the description of Slarn is as a vicious, nasty, vindictive, overweight, demanding and selfish person, prone to temper tantrums and a childish determination to have his own way, as well as someone who started, in essence, as a tea-boy and worked his way up through the entertainments section of the spaceship workplace, and has now been promoted beyond the level of his own incompetence. In this, and in the antagonism which we know had arisen by this point between Saward and his closest work colleague, leads me to suspect that Slarn is a not-particularly-flattering analogue of one John Nathan-Turner.

    Pg 104 "'Just keep your hands where I can see them,' he urged, 'otherwise you'll be joining him.' The Doctor raised his hands and Grant started to search him. It wasn't so much the indignity of having the contents of his pockets examined which offended the Doctor, but the dreadful hackneyed cliche Grant had just uttered. A noble machine, a triumph of engineering had been destroyed, and all its assassin could do was grace the occasion with a line lifted from the most threadbare of literature." Saward has a point, obviously, but see also Pg 132, where the Doctor says "And neither will you get away with your despicable plan!" and think of pots and kettles.

    Pg 109 "Seedle grinned, exposing his disgusting teeth. 'Collusion is a state of mind, Miss, not a physical presence.'" The very personalities and approach of the two policeman is a rant in and of itself.

    One is left, then, with a picture of Saward as a man who feels that his genius for both plot and dialogue is under-appreciated, but most of his work is written under the influence of alcohol. Someone who has never been able to earn enough money even to qualify for a small bank loan. Someone who has seen far too many psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, and hates them, not to mention policemen, who are also hated. Someone who bitterly objects to criticism and is hugely resentful of those he feels are above him in the chain of command but shouldn't be. Not exactly a pretty picture.

    It would be churlish of the Cloister Library to rail against continuity contradictions between this novel, written in 1986, and a series of books which started years later, featuring a Doctor and companion team which had yet to be invented or even dreamed of. So here we go. That said, there are also one or two other areas where contradictions have occurred between this story and previously broadcast tales (including the really famous contradiction between this tale and Terminus, a story which Saward actually script edited) for which no such excuses can be given. These are also gleefully recorded below. In Saward's defence, you get the feeling that it's not that he had forgotten, or that he didn't research; it's quite simply that he appears not to have given a damn.

    1. Pg 12 "Whereas the Milky Way can only boast of two planets inhabited by intelligent life-forms..." OK, numerous books since the publication of Slipback have given us more inhabited planets even in our own solar system (think Venusian Lullaby as a starting point), but at that point Saward didn't know that, and you're prepared to say 'OK - us and the Ice Warriors'. Until, on Pg 14, you discover that "The other inhabited planet of the Milky Way, Snibbets 9, never did invent wine." So what about the Ice Warriors, then?
    2. Pg 22 A conference of psychiatrists, for reasons which remain obscure, cause a 40-day flood in the past of a backwater little planet: "As the delegates boarded their starship, the flight computer informed them that its sensors had just picked up a small, drifting vessel. Further investigation showed it was the ship built by the farmer. On its bow was emblazoned the name SS Ark. It is interesting to note how the intrusion of alien life-forms can affect not only the ecology of a planet but also its history and myths." Except we establish in Timewyrm: Genesys, that the Noah story was a metaphor for a lengthy space voyage, and not what is described above at all.
    3. Pg 26 "The hall bustled with excited chatter. Although the chairperson worked his gabble up and down with the speed of a racing piston in a runaway engine, he was unable to obtain order." Surely this should read 'gavel' (a small hammer used by Chairpeople and others in authority) and not 'gabble' (the act of speaking very quickly)? Somehow, this contrives to suggest that 'gavel' is a word that Saward has heard but has never seen written down (I once received a letter containing the phrase 'suffisive to say', to give a similar example). Let's think about that for a moment: the man who script edited Doctor Who for nearly six years, and wrote, co-wrote or ghost wrote several of the adventures in that time, was not well-read enough to have ever come across the word 'gavel'. Now, that's scary.
    4. Pg 129 "Never in all his experience had the Doctor met a computer with a thriving dual personality." Well, never unless you count his experiences in The Face of Evil, that is.
    5. Pgs 142-143 This one's the big one! "'This journey must take place,' continued the voice. 'The computer has made a mistake in her calculations. She will not arrive where she intends. [...] The ship will materialize at the heart of the monobloc and explode [...] In turn, it will originate the largest explosion the Universe has ever known. Without it, none of us would have ever existed.' The Doctor was overwhelmed. 'And I was going to stop the Big Bang...'" Except that it was the Terminus ship that caused the Big Bang, as all of us who watched Terminus are well and truly aware.

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

    1. From the point of view of the authorial voice, the term 'Milky Way' is actually used only to refer to the Solar System, the Venusians are long dead and he doesn't know about them and, for reasons known only to him, Mars is known as Snibbets 9. This is further backed up by the fact that I can be fairly sure that the Ice Warriors have never been seen to be drinking wine.
    2. I'm not sure why I'm bothering, as this off-hand flippant comment is so clearly tongue-in-cheek, but it's clear that, while the Noah on Earth was in fact a legendised version of space travel, on some other planet (given that Earth is not specifically stated as the location of this event) a bunch of psychiatrists did indeed cause a flood which caused a farmer to build a ship called the Ark. What an unbelievable coincidence.
    3. The gabble, is, in fact, a device for restoring order on some planets. Like a gavel, it works by making a loud noise, but rather than simply by banging two pieces of wood together to achieve said noise, in this case an enormous squawking sound is created by pump action: whenever the chairperson presses the lever up and down at speed, a mild electrical current (caused by a set-up not dissimilar to a van der Graaf generator) is passed through a wire on which are perched twelve speelsnapes, who all protest loudly at this treatment.
    4. The Doctor's being really pedantic here, as Xoanon in The Face of Evil had more than two personalities (I think it was four at least), and so the word 'dual' just about gets away with it.
    5. When the ship in Terminus attempted to eject its fuel, the Vipod Mor unfortunately materialised in the exact same spot. The resulting explosion igited the fuel and caused the Big Bang.

    The Captain is a quartz-based life-form, not given a race-name as such. These creatures have tiny, purple, almond-shaped eyes, tiny mouths and three rows of very sharp teeth, despite being unable to eat meat. They are shorter, stockier and more muscular than your average human. Skin tones vary, but the skin appears in nodules the size of small turnips. They are hairless. They also appear to be able to put on scary amounts of weight. Orlous Moston Slarn also has (a trait that it would appear is unique to him) the ability to cultivate any illness in his body and pass the infection on to others without contracting said illness himself.

    A three-headed Vospodian. Strangely, the sense of this throwaway reference (on Pg 52) is that not all Vospodians are three-headed. It may well be that Vospodians can have any number of heads.

    A group of Ninson Warriors

    Some Terileptils who, we learn, venerate poets and circus clowns.

    Droogniks, with purple-crested, constantly nodding heads.

    A Maston, from Sentimenous Virgo, in the galaxy Delta Marvel, and, with the exception of the one that appears here, wiped out half a million years ago. Not a nice piece of work. If nothing else, when they become excited, they emit a smell not unlike that of rotting flesh. When they mate, the odour kills any other creature within a hundred metres. I don't know about you, but, for me, that was rather too much information.

    The computer has a bunch of semi-sentient robotic drones working for it.

    Voltroxes are mentioned on occasion, but never seen. Peri is briefly mistaken for both an Algolian and a Migarian midget.

    The ship Vipod Mor, currently flying around the galaxy of Stretna Streen (which appears to have been named after Gretna Green for no conceivable reason other than perhaps it was where Saward was living at the time).

    Also Lucan's Place, a Voxnic bar on Zaurak Minor ('considered by some to be the seediest planet in the galaxy'.)

    The largest library that the Doctor can find, possibly Carsus (see Spiral Scratch).

    IN SUMMARY - Anthony Wilson
    The style owes much to Douglas Adams, and, as a result of this, like Adams' own books, the best section of the book is the first bit, long before the Doctor turns up, filled with fascinatingly silly asides. It's hugely entertaining. And then it falls apart. The Doctor arrives, is mostly held captive, fails to achieve anything, and even manages to avoid meeting the villain of the piece, which is unforgivable. Finally, after he's nearly buggered up the Universe, a Deus ex Machina arrives and sends him away. And that's it. Typically, Saward is still more interested in telling tales about characters he created, and you can feel him sometimes going 'There was a lead character around here, somewhere, wasn't there? Remind me, someone? Ah, yes, there he is. I'll just lock him up for a few pages, shall I?' It's a shame, as there are loads of good ideas here which, in essence, don't go very far. Perhaps it's a consequence of the original format of the story, but it could have been so much more with as much care to the plot as was given to the style.