Strange England
by Simon Messingham

Publisher: Virgin
ISBN: 0 426 20419 0


    The TARDIS crew arrive in what is apparently an idyllic Victorian house, which then turns evil and pretty much tries to kill everyone. And, with one or two notable exceptions, it succeeds.

    Seventh. There's also a very strange appearance of the Third.

    Ace and Benny.


    Pg 7 A clearing in the woods by the house, just after Ted, the gamekeeper, has been eaten by a tree.

    Pg 192 The remains of Galah's TARDIS arrive in the house.

    Pg 230 On an asteroid in the Sol system.

    Pg 270 London, near the Houses of Parliament, 1873 (Pg 274).


    Pg 6 "Ted tripped and fell against a tree that swallowed his right arm up to the elbow." It's like The Mark of the Rani in reverse.

    Pg 7 "The problem was, after three trips of rare tranquility, Ace was getting trigger-happy. The Moscow City Carnival of 2219 had been dangerous and fun." Presumably some time has passed since Blood Harvest.

    Pg 10 "Lemonade to drink and cucumber sandwiches to eat. A good solid game of village cricket." Black Orchid.

    Pg 11 "She had uncomfortable memories of another time and place that was totally unreal." If we're talking VR environments, then it could be about two in every three of the NAs thus far, but we're betting she's specifically referring to Conundrum here.

    Pg 13 "She prided herself on being the outdoors type and longed all of a sudden for the open space of Heaven." Love and War.

    Pg 14 "Despite their new-found bonds of friendship with each other..." In the wake of No Future.

    Pg 20 Reference to Cybermen.

    Pg 22 "He looked as if he was trying to put himself into one of those self-induced trances his species was capable of." Terror of the Zygons, amongst other references.

    Pg 34 "It reminded her of Bubbleshake." The Highest Science.

    Pg 43 As lots of people start to die: "Dinner is nearly ready, Doctor." How very Ghost Light.

    Pg 45 "You're not aliens disguised as humans are you? I've seen that one before." No Future.

    Pg 57 "You know, at first I thought it was a Timescoop again." The Five Doctors. And see Continuity Cock-Ups.

    Pg 60 Reference to Daleks.

    "Even cracking the ice on some sophisticated security system was better than an insect in the throat." Aside from this being a very odd turn of phrase, ice is a reference to hacking into computers, first mentioned in Cat's Cradle: Warhead.

    Pg 76 "This is as bad as the rations they dish out to the Auxies." With whom Ace spent three years, ending in Deceit.

    "'I'm from Perivale.' 'The village in Middlesex?'" Ghost Light.

    Pg 78 "'But they are clothes for men.' Ace grinned at him. 'Don't worry. I've done this before, too.'" Ghost Light.

    Pg 79 "He turned and looked. Ace was fast asleep in the chair." Ghost Light.

    Pg 90 "Abruptly, he picked up a pair of silver spoons and began playing them on his knee." Time and the Rani et al.

    Pg 97 "Strange to dream of Jo. Jo Grant. Little, fragile UNIT Jo." Terror of the Autons and thenceforth.

    Pg 98 "Sarah? But hadn't she been...?" Sarah Jane, from The Time Warrior and far too many others to mention.

    Pg 105 "'I heard a cry' 'That was me.'" The Robots of Death.

    Pg 158 "She felt the same disorientation she had experienced in the Land of Fiction." Conundrum.

    Pgs 168-169 "I knew those trapeze lessons with the Venusian State Circus would come in handy one day." Sounds very like what the Third Doctor used to say, without actually quoting him.

    Pg 181 "He even spotted a familiar looking ormolu." Like the clock in the TARDIS at the beginning of the Doctor's travels, all those years ago.

    Pg 182 "Have you never wondered that you might be making things worse? The more you interfere with the timelines, the more problems you set up further along the line." A reference to the Doctor being on a treadmill, which was one of the fundamental principles of the NAs, first alluded to in Deceit.

    Pg 202 "Of course, a TARDIS! It can construct any landscape it wants, can't it Doctor?" Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible.

    Pg 233 "We were at the Academy together, a very long time ago." If the Time Lords had wanted to prevent interference in the universe by their own people, they really should have just timelooped everyone who was at the Academy with the Doctor.

    Pg 234 "You remember that time when the TARDIS went funny after the business with the Timewyrm?" The Timewyrm series, Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible, Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark and a final resolution, of sorts, in Deceit.

    "You know, the ones I put on when I met Jared Khan." Birthright (which, incidentally, you will not find in the list of previous NAs at the back of this book).

    Pg 240 More references to linking with the TARDIS (Birthright) and the TARDIS being inside-out (Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible).

    Pg 244 "She remembered the planet Lucifer and the problems they'd had there." Lucifer Rising.

    Pg 267 "I believed in a state of pure and absolute goodness in which no evil could exist." The Happiness Patrol, kind of.

    Pg 268 "Ashes to ashes." Remembrance of the Daleks.

    Pg 269 "Well old girl, once again we save the artificial universe as we know it." There was a lot of VR in the NAs, but this is the first time that it's specifically stated that the characters themselves have noticed.

    Pg 276 "The Doctor pulled three juggling balls from his pockets and threw them into the air." The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.



    Charlotte and Robert Aickland. Everyone else from the House winds up dead, or never existed in the first place. Actually, Charlotte didn't exist in the first place either.

    Bert and Madge Robbins. Everyone else from the real world winds up dead as well. Happy book, this one.


    1. Pg 52 "'The good old Encyclopaedia Britannica,' he laughed. 'So they did get it off the ground. I was wrong.'" For one, the sentence itself makes no sense - how can it be 'the good old' if he didn't think it was ever going to happen? More to the point, how can the Doctor, who lived 5-odd years in the 1970s (or '80s), don't forget, not know that the Encyclopaedia Britannica was ever published?
    2. Pg 57 The reason that the Doctor doesn't think it was the Timescoop: "These people haven't lost their memories." Except the Timescoop didn't remove memories, so far as I can remember.
    3. Pg 72 "After a bowl of hot soup Ace was feeling more like a human being and less like a wet rag. She sat gracefully in front of the roaring fire." OK, it makes sense as it reads, but surely that should read 'gratefully'.
    4. Pg 93 "'I think,' he said gravely, 'we should find everyone and get them all together.'" It's a great idea, and would make perfect sense. Four pages later, however, he sends everyone to bed alone.
    5. Pg 97 "The clock chimed midnight. The fires outside continued burning. The sounds and whatever creatures made them also continued. All was still in the dining room. Bernice and the others had gone hours ago." Except that, nine pages ago, Bernice was just arriving for dinner at 10:00, and it's midnight now. So how could they have gone 'hours ago'?
    6. Pg 129 "Charlotte pointed at some moth-eaten, stuffed animal heads bolted to the walls. 'What are these?' she enquired. 'Tropies,' came the reply." Trophies, surely?
    7. Pg 181 "The clocks all displayed different times on their faces" So why do all the clocks on the front cover show the same time?
    8. Pg 184 "Ace's fingers had stopped being a distraction. They still felt like a bunch of swollen bananas but at least the pain could he ignored." Say what?
    9. Pg 226 "The House only changed when we arrived." This is the big one. The entire principle of the set-up of the novel is that the Doctor and his companions made the House react the way it did, began the process of change and 'killed' all the inhabitants. Except that, way back on pages 5-7, Ted the gamekeeper is terrified and then killed in the minutes before the TARDIS arrives. So what killed him?

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

    1. He's already got his suspicions about the place not being real, and is testing the water to see if anyone contradicts him. Yeah, I don't buy that either.
    2. The Doctor is referring to the new, more exciting Timescoop 2.0.
    3. She is, indeed, sitting gracefully. For all we know, she might also be grateful. But we're not told this.
    4. It's all part of his deeper plan. Bloody stupid, though, because lots of people die as a result.
    5. Time has been speeding up, but for dramatic reasons, it's decided to slow down drastically again for a bit.
    6. The Quack has given his heads the collective name of "Tropies".
    7. This occurs several pages before the Quack becomes the monster on the cover. Presumably the clocks synchronised by that time.
    8. The pain in Ace's fingers is so intense that it's making her mix up her words.
    9. The effects of the TARDIS were felt before it arrived. But, really, this is shockingly bad.

    Aside from a member of the Doctor's own species, none, as most of the characters are either from Earth or fictional.

    Pg 68 Wychburn and environs, in Devon, 1874 (pg 172).

    Pg 157 A flashback sequence to 1868 AD.

    Pg 229 An asteroid in the Sol system, 1873 AD.

    Pg 224 The House, where the bulk of the action takes place, transpires to be a TARDIS, where the Architectural Configuration system has got way, way too big for its boots.

    Pg 270 London, near the Houses of Parliament, 1873 (pg 274).

    IN SUMMARY - Anthony Wilson
    It starts well, it really does. The opening pages are great. But then the body horror begins, and it feels like 200-odd pages of runaround with barely a hint of plot. The whole thing transpires to have been a VR environment, which has, essentially, allowed the author to write things 'because I say so'. They're not even particularly good things. The explanations are a mess - the House's response to the arrival of the Doctor's evil is to shove a large insect down the throat of a small child, for example - and the Doctor is characterized very badly indeed. There is some nice work here, particularly the character of Garvey and the final fate of Rix. More of that and less blood, death and gore could have saved it. In the end, it's like a poor man's Gormenghast if the house was going to eat you. Give yourselves a treat: get that book instead.