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the highest science
author:    gareth roberts
isbn:    0 426 20377 1
this guide was written by klaus pumpkin

Notes on future history: 'The Highest Science' is part of the Future History cycle ('Love and War', 'Transit', 'The Highest Science', 'The Pit', 'Deceit', 'Lucifer Rising') whose only connection is that they all take place in Earth's (and her colonies') future. This was a deliberate attempt by editor Peter Darvill-Evans to give the novels a rich universe in which to operate. Gareth Roberts took this to heart more than most and mentions, in passing, many worlds that may or may not have been referenced in other stories.

Here is a list of the worlds Gareth Roberts mentions in 'The Highest Science' (if there's any I've missed, please feel free to add). They're all circa 2680 unless otherwise stated:

Sakkrat (p.1): Fabled lost planet and home to 'The Highest Science'.
Vaagon (p. 2): An isolated Earth colony mostly devoted to arable farming (c. 5665). The colony was wiped out by the Chelonians "several generations later".
Evertrin (p.2): Home of the Ragasteen music festival (c. 2112).
Earth (p.2): Mostly harmless (c.1993).
Chelonia (p.4): Home to the Chelonians (c. 5665).
Lasty's Nebula (p.17): An obscure part of the galaxy named after an equally obscure scientist.
Naiad (p.18): Famed for its stellar conjunctions.
Menelot (p.18): Famed for its crystal quasars.
Harma (p.18): Famed for its, er, furthest reaches.
Checkley's World (p.23 & 228): Home of some particularly gruesome gene labs (c. late 2290 on).
North Gate (p.27): A series of planets where rich 'exiles' live (c. late 2300s).
Tayloe (p.30): Famed for its farmers (c. late 2300s).
Mang (p.34): Famed for its harvests.
Miradilus Four (p.38): Home to the three-eyed Toad people.
Regurel (p.50): Where the Skaas and the Vatrux had a skirmish (c. late 2300s).
Mars (p.53): Home to the lovely Ice Warriors, the lovelier Sutekh and some sweet Ambassadors. The Fendahl destroyed all life there a while back as well.
Draconia (p.53): Where Draconians come from.
Mulkos (p.53): Famed for its children.
Big J (AKA Jupiter p.55): Famed for its great big red spot.
Mordala (p.71): A quagmire planet, apparently (c. mid 2400s [?]).
Exalfa (p.73): 'A small trader - one of the inner planets.' Where Rodomonte took a block of A and Hugo got banged up (c. 2112).
Ita (p.87): Where Rosheen and Klift enjoyed a quiet moment (c. late 2300s).
Adorno (p. 89): Home to a Cultural Histories Museum (c. mid 2400s).
Alpha Centauri (p. 91): Home to monocular guys with six arms and scuzzy Whirli-Go-Rounds (c. 2112).
Heaven (p.97): A nice place, if you like mutant spore monsters (c. mid 2400s).
Sensuron (p. 133): Benny saw some megaliths there (c. mid 2400s).
Krondel constellation (p.161): Something Sheldukher took great pleasure in destroying (c. late 2300s, and how do you destroy a constellation anyway?)
Narazel (p.192): Birthplace of General Fakrid.
Riftok (p.228): One of the consortium of planets behind Checkley's World (cf) (c. 2290).
Masel (p.228): See Riftok.
Arcturus (p.228): See Riftok. Their inhabitants tend to wonder around in motorised plastic bubbles ('The Curse of Peladon'), they're the recipients of the first interstellar Transit tunnel ('Transit') and they're previous winners of the Galactic Olympics ('Destiny of the Daleks').
Hogsumm (p.229): see Sakkrat.
Atvares Minor (p.255): Location of a good kitchen reject shop (c. mid 2400s).


"An extract from Being an Account of my Discovery of the Unnamable Secrets of Sakkrat, Gustaf Urnst." Redolent of the long-winded and histrionic prose of many a Victorian 'adventurer' describing the mysteries of the dark continent and such like. It's good to see it makes a return in the 25th century.

Glastonbury: Town in Somerset. Link:   http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=349844&Y=138937&A=Y&Z=3  Famed in connection with Joseph of Aramathea and to have been visited by a young Jesus no less as well as being the last resting place of the Holy Grail. King Arthur is also said to be buried there (the tor is an island in the middle of marshlands and this could be Avalon, but it's all fiction anyway). Glastonbury Tor has since become the focal point for every hippy and pagan superstition imaginable. Nowadays, it's the site of a rock festival (as mentioned in No Future q.v.). It also has its own website at  www.isleofavalon.co.uk .

1: The Chain is Broken

Inner Planets Music Festival: That mention of Glastonbury was not accidental then.

Chorleywood: Town (and station) in Hertforshire. All the stations mentioned are on the Metropolitan line. Link:  http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=502741&Y=196253&A=Y&Z=3  For geographiles like me, the London tube map can be found here: Link:  http://www.londontransport.co.uk/tube/images/jp_big.jpg

"These events should have been totally unconnected." Authorial voice dispassionately setting up the scene: not unlike Rod Serling at the beginning of The Twilight Zone.

The Chelonians: The first appearance of Gareth Roberts' famous bad-tempered tortoises - possibly the most successful of the new 'monsters' introduced by the NAs. They also re-appeared in 'Zamper' and 'The Well-Mannered War', as well as getting mentions in many other books.

Respect For Life Brigade: The Chelonian equivalent of our peace factions?

"spitting fire as pink as the sun." There are pink stars? Probably an atmospheric effect.

"the dim lemon wash of the emergency lighting." More relaxing than our own archetypally red lighting. There's also a lot of pink in the Chelonians' colour schemes, suggesting that they're a rather colourful bunch all round.

Faf: a Chelonian God or some other dignitary used to having his name taken in vain.

"The story of the fearsome general Fakrid and his men, who disappeared in an instant never to return..." So we know that Fakrid isn't going to make it back - an interesting opening.

"The characteristics of A aftershock." What does A stand for? We're given more clues as we go on...

"Zagrat's classic concept discod Sheer Event Shift." 'Discods' are the music reproduction format in the early 22nd century, it seems. Shame that concept albums are still around...

Mr. Peploe: An anagram of people. Why? Perhaps he's supposed to be everyman: perhaps a relation of the grey suited 'Earthman' from Meglos.

Rickmansworth: another town (and station) in Hertfordshire. Link:  http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=505687&Y=194664&A=Y&Z=3  Immortalised in the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

London Regional Transport: The main organisational body which controls the underground in London, as well as the buses and the Docklands light railway. Nowadays called simply London Transport.

Points failure: standard excuse for delays, usually meaning one of the hideously complicated network of rusty wires that controls junction points has snapped.

Chalfont and Latimer: Station in Buckinghamshire this time. Link:  http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=499657&Y=198002&A=Y&Z=3

Dimmer switch: A peculiarly eighties fashion for replacing normal on/off light switches in domestic homes with round nobs that 'dimmed' the lights. Lots of people got them, and nearly all got fed up with the novelty and went back to normal switches.

Ridiculous headlines: 'The Highest Science' was released a few years after the British had just got their first taste of the more outré tabloid headlines that the Americans had lived with for years. The Sunday Sport was the chief progenitor of this.

Corn circles: Literally, mysterious circles in corn fields. They started appearing in the late eighties, and were immediately taken to be evidence of UFOs. Various wacky scientists swore blind that they could not have been made by human hands. Sometimes, these patterns got quite intricate (as in the cover of Led Zeppelin's Remasters album). Of course, it turned out to be various jokers with nothing better to do. The joke about Russians being ten years behind any Western fad was confirmed when the first corn circles recently appeared on the Steppes.

Daily Mail: Ultra-conservative British newspaper. It's unlikely they would go with such an unusual headline, but unlikelihoods is what this novel deals in.

2: Behold Sakkrat An echo of Gustav Urnst's florid writing style (p.1), and also said by the Cell on p.31.

"The traffic that clustered and clogged the spaceways at the centre of the galaxy, where life was fun and there was money to be made, never turned its attentions to the stars beyond Lasty's Nebula". Very Douglas Adams. Let's face it, he's a big influence on this book, not least with Sakkrat doing a good job of pretending to be Magrathea; another legendary and 'lost' planet.

2680: The year this is all set in. As Lance Parkin notes in A History of the Universe (p.192), there is a discrepancy with Benny's purported 'home' time period when this was written and what was adopted subsequently. At the time, it was assumed she came from 2450, which is why Benny says that she has travelled "about two hundred and thirty years into my future" on p.35. However, Paul Cornell's original character guide for her tells us she was born in 2472 (but that's not published so we can get around it), but then Transit openly states that she's from the 26th century (p.186). So 'The Highest Science' contradicts an established fact, and it would only get increasingly more muddled from then on, before it was settled that 'Love and War' took place in 2570 (to tie in with 'Frontier in Space'). Now if only Paul Cornell had properly dated 'Love and War' in the first place.

The Goddess: Chelonians are monomanistic then. Faf (p.9) is probably a famous leader or hero.

L'Arrange boutique: French for The Arrangement. Rosheen had bought the outfit "several hundred years before".

Checkley's World: I need to check this to make sure, but isn't this where Old Sam nicked the baby Kadiatu from? (qv ?) (Text submitted by Paul Andinach) Definitely not. Brigadier Yembe Lethbridge-Stewart (not Old Sam) stole the baby Kadiatu from a research and development centre in Leipzig, Germany, Earth. ('Transit', p.124)

"eight twelves..." The time of the train, silly.

McDrone Systems:

New Boston city: on Earth, apparently. Perhaps a result of some rebuilding after the many attacks and worldwide destructions (Daleks? Ice Warriors?)

3: What's A Nice Girl ...like you doing in a place like this? (and how do you like your eggs in the morning?) This, for many people, was the first proper introduction to Benny-as-companion after her 'side-lining' in Transit.

Notes on Benny and violence: Benny's first three books show she is an enthusiastic user of guns and her fists. In Love and War, she always carries a gun and is a crack shot. Her first scene in the Highest Science features her getting drunk in a bar and punching someone out, as well as musing that the TARDIS only lacks three luxury items: alcohol, weaponry and duvets. She also has "no qualms whatsoever about firing this" (p.197) when she steals a gun from Sheldukher and asserts "even if they get me, I'll go down fighting" (p.201) when confronted by the Chelonians.

This aspect of her character is much lessened as time goes on, partly because of the introduction of the much more violent New Ace. This could also be a rare example of genuine character progression, as Benny learns from the more pacifistic inclinations of the Doctor and is repulsed by Ace's overt militarism (which she had riskily rejected when she was a child). She is also revolted by her murder of the soldier in Just War, and, as an outside influence, by the ongoing frock and gun debate then in effect, a term coined by Gareth Roberts. Marriage can also have said to have 'mellowed' her until, by the time of the Benny NAs, she's just as much a solving by her wits pacifist as the Doctor, and almost obsessive about her frocks.

One inconsistency that was never really ironed out was whether to refer to her as 'Benny' or 'Bernice'. She is described as 'Bernice' through the Highest Science, despite being referred to as 'Benny' throughout Love and War and Transit

Pure M3 variant: An ingredient of the drink kronka, apparently, but I've no idea what it is.   (Text submitted by the Editor) Rocket fuel.  Check 'The Ambassadors of Death'.

The Everywoman Guide to Hassle Free Space Travel: more Douglas Adams.

Van Winkle worlds: named after Rip Van Winkle, the star of a Dutch fairytale who sleeps for a century. The fairy tale was adapted by Washington Irving as a comment on the changes wreaked by the American Revolutionary War.

Virginia Woolf: nee Stephen (1882-1941). Bloomsbury group novelist, whose work includes Between The Acts, Flush, Jacob's Room, Kew Gardens, and Night and Day, although she's chiefly remembered for Mrs. Dalloway, To The Lighthouse and Orlando (and was the inspiration for the title of the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). Along with Sylvia Plath, was a proto-feminist writer whose work has undergone more revisionist thinking than Chairman Mao.

Fortean Flicker: the McGuffin of this particular story (if you want to know what a McGuffin is, check out the Alfred Hitchcock Bewildering Reference Guide). Named after American Charles Fort, who made a lifetime examining strange phenomena and who thought that a lot of science's rational explanations were incapable of answering every question thrown up by the universe. He wrote a number of books on the subject, published in the early 20th Century, and thereafter any unexplained phenomena became known as a 'Fortean' event. He was also the inspiration for the magazine Fortean Times, who offer this information on their home page Link:  www.forteantimes.com  "His dictum 'One measures a circle beginning anywhere' expresses his philosophy of Continuity in which everything is in an intermediate state between extremes."

Carry outs: 20th Century reference from when pubs tended to close at 11pm despite the fact that most revellers are just getting going. The pub could sell cans and bottles of alcohol (at typically exorbitant prices) to those who wanted to continue the party elsewhere.

"A spaceport is a spaceport is a spaceport" paraphrasing Gertrude Stein's "a rose is a rose is a rose, and by any other name smells just as sweet". (Text submitted by Paul Andinach) Conflating two seperating quotations here. Gertrude Stein wrote "rose is a rose is a rose". William Shakespeare wrote "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".

Zero nine six two by eight six five five six five: The Location of Hogsumm AKA Sakkrat, using the same form of co-ordinates as seen in Tom Baker-era stories (no surprise given the author).

The Ministry of Expansion: It's interesting that the Chelonians use the term 'ministries', with their Orwellian and Pythonic resonances.

"scuttling clypes" Presumably, a native (and much disparaged) form of life on Chelonia.

"adrenal-amyl": Presumably a Chelonian mix of the stimulants adrenaline and amyl nitrate.

New Oslo: See New Boston.

"- the Highest Science!" Hence the name. We're also now up to date with all the information in the back cover blurb.

The Archive Tower: A building on Gallifrey. One can only wonder how big it is.

"the grey fire in the Doctor's eyes". What colour are the Doctor's eyes? (Text submitted by the Editor) Opinion is divided on the subject.

"Ten times the size of Big J." Jupiter presumably, which makes Sakkrat one hell of a big planet. I'm not an astrophysicist, but wouldn't the gravity on this place be unbearable?

"There are ten times five to the eleventh power planets in the galaxy." With my woefully inadequate maths 'o' level, I make that 488,281,250 planets. I thought there'd be more somehow, what with there being a hundred billion stars. (Text submitted by Paul Andinach) "Ten times five to the eleventh power" is also an odd way of putting it; most people would use "five times ten to the eighth power" to express the idea of 500,000,000 planets. Perhaps he meant "five times ten to the eleventh power", which is a somewhat more reasonable 500,000,000,000.  (Text submitted by the Editor) As of October 2000, 50 planets have been found orbiting other stars.  None of them have been directly observed.  The rough estimate that there are 100 billion stars in the galaxy fails to clarify that 90 % of these stars are smaller and dimmer than our Sun.  Of the eleven stars within ten light-years of the Sun, only two are visible with the unaided eye.

"BBC2 on a foggy night." The BBC's second channel (and the third to be started in Britain, after BBC1 and ITV) promoted from the beginning as an 'alternative' station and home to more esoteric programming. Primarily the but of 'poor reception' jokes until Channel 5 came along.

Pea-souper: a London colloquialism for a particular dense fog. So named because they share something in consistency.

"When do I get to meet some monsters?" Benny has had two adventures so far, and has had to deal with the Hoothi and the Cake Monsters. The Chelonians are right around the corner... So much for the NAs supposedly being too mature for monsters.

Captain Millennium: What looks to be a modernised Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon-type show, although the scene where "the Captain's lovely young assistant trapped at the mercy of a giant robot" seems to be echoing a similar scene with Sarah-Jane in 'Robot'.

Charlie Parker: (1920-55) Born in Kansas City. Otherwise known as 'Bird', Parker was one of the great jazz saxophonists of his era (40s-50s) who pioneered 'bebop' music with all its intricate improvisations. The seventh Doctor is a big jazz fan, as established in 'Silver Nemesis', although he also likes soul - particularly the Isley Brothers - as established in 'Love and War'.

"Oh, of all the planets in all the galaxies, they had to walk in to this one!" Paraphrasing Rick from Casablanca. It seems the Doctor already knows of the Chelonians. Well he met them in 'The Well-Mannered War' for a start, although those ones were a lot friendlier than these 'uns. (Text submitted by the Editor) I disagree.  'The Well-Mannered War' hadn't been written yet, and the Black Guardian in it observes the out-of-order manifestations of Missing Adventures.  As the Eigth Doctor realises in 'The Blue Angel', somebody is rewriting his history and adding to the adventures of his past selves.  This gives the lie to the Doctor's line: "They're always ranting and raving about some military accomplishment or other" (p.70), but then 'The Well-Mannered War' did take a somewhat 'controversial' attitude to continuity.

"Oh put a sock in it": the front cover, although in the image the Doctor doesn't have his duffel coat on (and he must be feeling pretty proud of himself as his head is rather inflated, although is neck seems to have disappeared).

Travellers, Jan, Hoothi: Characters from 'Love and War'.

Block of A: More clues. Obviously an hallucinogenic drug. It comes in resin form and needs a pipe to smoke it properly, although it can be simply swallowed (p.145)

"And real chocolate instead of the ration card stuff": Suggesting that, in Benny's time (presumably her childhood), there was rationing owing to the Dalek Wars.

"Malver, and Tomm, and Marie": Presumably, childhood friends of Benny. I don't know if these have been mentioned anywhere else.

"An attractive woman dressed in old-fashioned clothes. Denims were concealed under a long woollen coat": A description of Benny and her clothes. It's unclear whether Sendei thinks her clothes are old-fashioned because Benny's from 200 years before or whether she is dressed in what we would call 'modern' apparel (Benny being a fetishist about the 20th century), as denims and woollen coats are hardly unknown to us.

"What a clever little Doctor you are": This is paraphrasing something I'm sure, but I don't know what. Alice in Wonderland, maybe?

Thermos: A heavy bottle-like device with lots of delicate reflective stuff inside used to keep liquids (esp. tea and soup) warm. Capitalised because it's a trademark.

Gimcrack: I think it means pompous, but I'm not sure. (Text submitted by Paul Andinach) It means "showy, but cheap and flimsy".

(Here's another word for you: "dictionary". It means "useful thing for a bewildering guide writer to own".)

Brugg guano: (Text submitted by Paul Andinach) "guano" is bird dung. I don't know what a Brugg is, and I'm afraid to speculate.

riggers: Derived from the act of 'rigging' the music charts (by buying records or fiddling figures) in order to boost a band's performance. What with things like playlists, it's virtually happening today, so it's a wonder that Benny is so surprised by the practice (p.90)

"What a snorter of a still": 'snorter' is a modern colloquialism for something that is very good indeed. Often used in cricket.

"Slon Matyre of Zagrat: 'It's up to the individual cat to interpret our lyrics. Sometimes I feel like an agent for a higher power, dig? Like the words and music are coming to me from a far-out dimension. It's an epic whizz": Could be more-or-less spoken by any band that's taken drugs in the history of rock 'n' roll. 'Our lyrics mean whatever you want them to mean' has been a standard disclaimer used by bands since Bob Dylan who don't want to get too intellectual about their words yet still want them to be taken seriously. With the arrival of Acid Rock and bands like The Grateful Dead and the Pink Floyd in '66-'67, music became an 'enhancement' of drug taking. With the altered perceptions offered by music, it often felt to musicians reaching for a more instinctive sound (i.e. lengthy jams) that music was a collaborative effort between them and the audience: a true communal experience, which is what the first genuine 'festivals' such as the Technicolour Dream and the Carnival of Light aimed to promote. In reality, of course, the band and audience where just on the same drugs. These gatherings mutated into the big outdoor festivals of the '70s (Woodstock being the chief progenitor; Altamont was merely seen as a 'bad trip'). 'Cats' could be a reference to Keith Richards (the only human being alive who still uses this term of endearment) who, with the Rolling Stones, pretty much dominated this festival market.

While there is always drugs in music, you will always get pop stars wittering on about these 'communal' experiences. At the time of 'The Highest Science', drugs had just made a big come-back into the British music scene after a few years of abstinence, thanks to the Acid House explosion crossing over into 'indie' rock music and spawning the unashamedly drug-addled likes of the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses. Roberts may have been referencing a wildly reported interview with New Order singer Bernard Sumner (which was published in the Melody Maker a few years before the Highest Science came out), in which he stated, in all seriousness, that he had an aerial in his head which picked up the thoughts of his fans.

Chiclet: Hardly PC derivation of 'chick', i.e. woman.

7: Mind like a Sieve: Of being forgetful.

Twikka bars:


"A mahogany hatstand in a mile long white corridor":

"Something about rolling words about on his tongue (particularly ones with lots of rs in) appealed too much to him": A reference to Sylvester McCoy's shall we say enthusiastic rendering of the letter r ("It has a grrrrrraveyard stench").

Solar cola:

"He could only hope that his Chelonian captors... hadn't cut off his legs or anything. After all, it would take ages to grow another pair": Suggesting that Gallifreyans can 're-grow' limbs, in addition to the regeneration process.

"An artist... had provided a holographic picture of a ruined temple on the flipside": Echoing the pictures of the Pyramids included in the sleeve of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

Headster: a derivation of 'head' music, from 1966-67, when music became less about short, sharp blasts of creative delight and became soundtracks to drugs experiences, with all their attendant length, weight and vapidity (for those who weren't on drugs). See Ian McDonald's Revolution in the Head - The Beatles Records and the Sixties for more information. While Molassi is a Headster, Rodomonte is a Freakster, which derives from the late sixties and was an alternative names for hippies. Freak music was coined by Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention (their first album was called Freak Out) and was basically just an extension of 'head' music but with a better sense of humour. The chief difference was that while 'Heads' were on acid, 'Freaks' were on dope.
"Most of their other discods were about elves and warlocks": Referring to the somewhat embarrassing practice of using Tolkien-esque rubbish by po-faced seventies rock bands. Yes and Queen produced a few corkers, but none can match Led Zeppelin's Ramble On from Led Zeppelin II ("And Golem the evil one stole her away"). Very useful to remember if you're ever thinking of taking Robert Plant seriously.

8. Deadly Weapons: The name of a supremely bad film starring Chesty Morgan. Her gargantuan tits are the deadly weapons in question, by the way. Whether Gareth Roberts meant to reference this is debatable, but this is the sort of information I possess, folks.

"'Liquorish castles in ivory skies, Spinning top girl with whirligig eyes'": Deep Space lyric. Sounds more Syd Barrett than Roger Waters. (Text submitted by Paul Andinach) Sounds to me like a ripoff of the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with

"Food refrigerators that destroyed the eco-system of their homeworld": Green matters were all the rage in the early nineties, but I think it's a bit of an exaggeration to say that CFCs from fridges did as much damage as is suggested here.

"When I had my first implant... my old woman said to me." The classic voice of the average Tommy or Grunt, as seen through the ages in a million and one satiric books and films. Similar in style to the shouting Vogon guard from The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and some Spike Milligan (you can easily picture him doing the voice) and Monty Python sketches as well as Corporal Jones from Dad's Army.

Buf: the Chelonian equivalent of Larry?

"The dog kicks the cat, the cat kicks the budgerigar":

Amersham: Town and station in Buckinghamshire. Link:  http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=496734&Y=198650&A=Y&Z=3 . It is also, according the back cover blurb, the birthplace of Gareth Roberts.

Aldgate: I don't know where this is as Streetmap doesn't recognise it. Presumably in the commuter belt somewhere, unless it's mis-spelt. Actually, looking at the tube map it's in East London and is indeed at the other end of the Metropolitan line.

"Basically, we was shitting bricks": Who'd have thunk nice old Gareth Roberts would indulge in the Virgin proclivity for "colourful turns of phrase"? Of course, even the BBC Books use this word now and then, and quite rightly.

"Witcher thinks there's been a nuclear holocaust and we're the only survivors": Oddly, there was an ITV drama series from 1998 called The Last Train about the occupants of a commuter train who are 'frozen' to escape an apocalyptic event and wake up in the future not knowing where they were. Would it be petty to suggest that the following scene owes more than a tad to the 573rd meeting of the colonisation committee of Fintlewoodlewix? (Text submitted by Paul Andinach) But a far more likely thing for the commuters' scenes to be homaging
is Terry Nation's Survivors.

"brave new world": Aldous Huxley novel.

"It'll be like Raquel Welch in that film with the dinosaurs": 1,000,000 BC as it's otherwise known.

PTA: Parent Teacher's Association. A group of worthy parents who regularly harangue their schools whenever they feel their children aren't getting enough preferential treatment.

"You savvy?": Pigeon English for 'do you understand?'

"The Ivans": derogatory name for Russians, similar to 'Jerrys' for Germans.

"Don't be such a plonker": Term of abuse popularised by theTV sitcom Only Fools and Horses, relating to a person being less than intelligent. May have something to do with cheap spirits ('plonk').

"It's like something out of that rubbish they used to put on after Grandstand." That rubbish being, of course, Doctor Who.

"He simply hadn't had time to lay one of his spectacular contingency plans or clever traps. It was like the bad old days again.
And just like in the bad old days, it was coincidence rather than cleverness that saved the Doctor": Apart from the fact that time is not an issue in most of the Doctor's contingency plans (he usually sets them up in his future), you could write an essay about this little summation of the Seventh Doctor. The general thinking these days is that the Seventh Doctor was the Dark Doctor: a manipulator, a destroyer of worlds. That he was a character barely recognisable from what had gone before. Whether this is true is incredibly debatable - he didn't indulge in that much manipulation and his 'contingency plans' were more than likely to go wrong than right - but the general feeling is that the Seventh Doctor was a step too far.

Here, Roberts nails the reasons why he rather likes the Seventh Doctor, although in a distinctly unfair way. It's a bit cheeky to condemn previous Doctors for saving the day through coincidence in an entire novel about chance. The Doctor has always been clever, to varying degrees, and the fact that he's just done a very stupid thing - disarming the eight twelves - is something the present author seems to be unaware of. This sort of authorial grandstanding is one of the main reasons why a lot of people are not fond of the Virgin books, and the fact that Roberts is wrong on just about every point here does not endear him to the reader.

10: Death of a Salesman: Play by Arthur Miller.

Mif: Another Chelonian leader or hero.

"McArty led the third campaign against the Iguanaoids in the Koftan War." Squint at this and it could be a reference to General McArthur's bordering-on-the-insane efforts in the Korean War in the 1950s.

Snooty Cow: A supposedly affectionate nickname indirectly applied to Benny on Sensuron.

"Ninja Turtle things": AKA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a late eighties comic book, cartoon, film series and attendant paraphernalia about four pizza-guzzling, Italian artist-named, 'cowabunga'-spouting giant kung-fu turtles. It's a good job that Gareth Roberts made reference to the Chelonians' similarity first, otherwise he may never have heard the end of it.

"Doctor Spock": authority on all things paediatric. Wrote many successful books on the subject of rearing infants. However, Witcher probably means Mister Spock, floppy-eared occupant of the Starship Enterprise.

Jeremy Beadle: Television presenter and all-round annoyance. At the time, he was presenter of Beadle's About, a reprehensibly popular show akin to Candid Camera in which elaborate practical jokes were played on members of the public, the end of which would always feature Beadle entering the scene, usually wearing a pointless disguise. He would then reveal himself, whereby the object of all this badinage would tend to good-naturedly swear the air blue and promise revenge on whatever family members and/or work mates had foolishly written in to the show.

Bizarre West Country Accent: West country: area encompassing the south west of England including Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. The accent of the area is much associated with dim-witted yokels, which is probably down to the popular singing group The Wurzels more than anything. Doctor Who provides a rich seam for those seeking examples of this, with dear old Pigbin Josh from the Claws of Axos ("Ooh arrr?") and Unstoffe from the Ribos Operation ("That be scringe-stone!") offering up fine efforts.

remedial: Possibly an official (certainly derogatory) designation for those from less advanced civilisations.

Headster-time blouson: ?

deep purple: a not-so-subtle reference to the band of the same name.

"Rodomonte picked up a football sized rock...": I couldn't let this go without commenting. A football, in British terms, is spherical and about 8 inches in diameter. One made of rock would be bloody heavy. Goodness knows how Rodomonte thinks he can use it as a weapon or even carry it in one hand, as he does further down the page.

"All the stiffs, straights, and squares, hippies, heavies and hardcases": All terms used in the sixties and seventies. Stiffs, straights and squares were terms levelled by hippies at those who weren't a part of their scene. Heavies could mean those who got into heavy metal, although it also means the strong-arms who accompany gangsters (as in the 'heavy mob'). Hardcases was a term for the more psychopathic members of society, referring to their thick shells (not the Chelonian sort).

The fruit-corner yoghurt: The Doctor is being overly disparaging of what is one of our greatest technological triumphs here. A plain yoghurt with a bit stuck on to one corner containing lots of fruity goodness, forcing you to mix it yourself. One of the greatest inventions since Smiths' introduced crisps containing that little blue packet of salt that, no matter how much you shook them, would never coat the crisps evenly.

"Why had he never got round to building another sonic screwdriver?": Because Eric Saward and JNT had decreed it (cf 'The Visitation'). However, just wait 'til 'The Pit' and it will seem as though it had never been away...

"Unlike some of his old friends, she was not the sort of person to go stumbling helplessly into holes": Leaving aside the fact that Benny also ends up in a hole in 'Transit' (from where she delivers her infamous "Maybe time travel fucks with your mind" comment), off the top of my head, I can think of only Sarah-Jane in 'The Five Doctors' (well, it was supposed to be a hole) and Harry in 'The Sontaran Experiment'. There must be more.

Blue gemstone ring: I'm not sure if I can remember any other references to this. (Text submitted by Paul Andinach) The first Doctor used to wear a ring with a blue gemstone. There are a number of NAs in which the seventh Doctor is wearing the ring again as if he never took it off, and they're all by Gareth Roberts. Funny, that.  (Text submitted by the Editor) The First Doctor was forced to pawn it for clothes in 'The Reign of Terror', although he got it back.  He used it to open the TARDIS door in 'The Web Planet' and to hypnotise Dodo in 'The War Machines'.  It didn't fit the Second Doctor in 'The Power of the Daleks' and was lost.  The Seventh Doctor found it again in the DWM comic strip 'The Chameleon Factor' (DWM 174.)  You'll find it on the cover of 'The Infinity Doctors'.

"The excavation work at the Heavenite observatory": 'Love and War'.

"Pointing a gun at the Doctor in a tunnel somewhere": 'Transit'.

"Bernice's aura had been restored:" very New Age.

"It's budgerigar time again": See p.109.

Gaf: Yet another Chelonian swear word, this time the equivalent of 'hell'.

The Time of Blood: Chelonian PMS?

"I've crossed the timelines so many times in the TARDIS that I'm extremely sensitive to temporal disturbances": cf 'City of Death'.

Nazmir: Fakrid's family name.

"All roads lead to Rome": Ancient Roman proverb, celebrating their skill at road building and the fact that, because theses roads tended to spiral outwards from Rome as the empire was built, so any road taken would eventually lead to the capital. A bit logically confusing to islanders such as the British.

"First law of space-time travel: avoid voids": as seen in 'The Mind Robber' and 'Warriors' Gate'.

"It searched for the mind of Professor Bernice Summerfield. There was an odd psychic reverberation whenever that name was used. Something about it was false and assumed": Referring to Benny's made-up Professorship.

"Teleportation was a technique Chelonian scientists had yet to perfect. Certainly no parasite had mastered it before": contradicted by 'The Seeds of Death' (c. late 2000s or mid if you believe Lance Parkin).

"He was reminded of the old adage of killing two parasites with one disintegrator": What we would do with birds and stones.

"I ran Taunton for two weeks in the eighteenth century and I've never been so bored": A missing adventure? Taunton is a town in Somerset Link:  http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=322485&Y=124376&A=Y&Z=3 , and possibly where the Doctor acquired his West country accent (cf p. 135).

Sensualist: A philosophical precept where by you experience as many things as possibly without moral prohibitions. Much criticised by Plato but nevertheless taken up with wilful abandon by various17th Century English enthusiasts such as Hobbes.

Bouncer: Large bulky chaps who work as doormen for clubs or pubs. Their job is usually to not let people into the venue (usually for reasons of attire - hence the Doctor's comment about his tie) and throw out anyone who manages to get in ('bounce' them).

"Libida, Queen of the Virenies": The evil enemy of Captain Millennium, from the video the Doctor watched on p.61. If you've been paying attention.

"Zagg a Raath", "Mthuluhu", "Kllatun": sub-Lovecraftian bollocks, obviously made up by the Doctor; maybe corruptions of Jagaroth from 'City of Death', Cthulhu from Lovecraft's stories and Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still respectively. It's refreshing to know the Doctor doesn't take that stuff too seriously either although it hasn't stopped various authors introducing such elements since (cf 'All-Consuming Fire', 'Taking of Planet 5' etc. etc.)

Temporal Fluctuations: Upon witnessing the unshielded Fortean flicker Benny sees various "unbelievable things": "herself with layered blonde hair" (Benny goes blonde in 'Just War', but it's hardly 'layered', suggesting a more bimbo-ish cut); "the Doctor dressed in a stiff creased corduroy suit with a placard that read EAT MORE PROTEIN around his neck" (I don't know if this is anything to do with this, but Boy George set up a record label called More Protein at this time); "her mother and Sendei, both aged seventy, sipping tea over the TARDIS console (Benny's mother died when she (Benny) was a girl on Beta Caprisis, cf 'Love and War').

"A very Fortean dream about a budgerigar that could predict the outcome of races a day in advance": This seems very familiar, but I can't place it. Is it a joke? Is it a short story or a film? The following episode is again reminiscent to the similar scene set on the beachfront at Southend from The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with a dash of the Red Dwarf episode 'Confidence and Paranoia'. (Text submitted by Paul Andinach) It's a film: Carry On At Your Convenience.

"I once had to convince a deranged dishwasher that it didn't really want to take over the universe": Could be a missing adventure, or it could be a reference to the multitude of computers the Doctor has faced over the years (cf 'The War Machines', 'The Green Death', 'The Face of Evil' etc. etc.).

"There really had been too much temporal distortion in his life of late": Er, 'Time's Crucible' I suppose but what else? 'Exodus', maybe?

"A faulty kronos element": A reference to 'The Time Monster'? The Chro- prefix gets used a lot in Doctor Who, because it means time in Greek.

More notes on Benny and violence: In this story, it is Benny who takes the initiative and destroys the cell after the Doctor decides he can't do it (see p.33). It is interesting to note how their positions are virtually reversed in 'The Also People', when the Doctor gives her the choice to decide whether to kill Kadiatu, who's also a product of genetic labs (see 'Transit'). In that instance, Benny cannot do it and chooses a solution which will keep Kadiatu alive but possibly dangerous whereas the Doctor gives every indication that he would be capable of killing Kadiatu ("He fervently hoped that Bernice would be enough to tip the balance. Otherwise he was going to have to kill Kadiatu after all."). More evidence of Benny's slowly changing character as the books go on.

Tofu: According to Britannica.com, "a soft, bland, custardlike food product made from soybeans. It is an important source of protein in the cuisines of China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia."

"The cacophonies of Traal": Perhaps a nod to the place where the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast resides.

Nim: Yet another Chelonian hero or leader. Got a colourful language, haven't they?

"I may think up a way around the problem one day": This Scroedinger's Cat ending was considered somewhat controversial in its day. It was eventually resolved, of course, in Paul Cornell's 'Happy Endings'.

"A raucous bellowing and chuffing sound": It's more accurate than wheezing and groaning, you've got to admit.

Mexican wave: The act of a crowd in a circular stadium creating a rippling effect by standing up in progression. Popularised at the Mexico 86 World Cup, which also gave it its name.

Copyright Klaus Pumpkin 2000