Decalog 4: Re:Generations

Decalog 4: ReGenerations is the thirdfourth anthology released by virgin books, and the first after they lost the license to Doctor Who. The ten stories tell the family history of the Doctor's companion Roz Forrester from the 21st century onwards, although she does not appear in person.

Continuity: Tranlis Difarallio is the author of The Gutter to the Stars: A History of the Forrester Family. At some point after the twentieth century, the democratization of technology to Second and Third World countries on Earth resulted in a number of small-scale nuclear wars. Between the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth centuries, the expansionist phase of the human race into space subsided, and human civilization entered a period of relative stability; during this time the Adjudicators began to gain increasing influence (Colony in Space, Lucifer Rising, Original Sin, So Vile a Sin). Following this period, there was a second expansionist phase, during which many of the Forresters settled on Io (Original Sin, So Vile a Sin). Following the success of the Overcities, the Empire once more tightened its hold on the colonies.

After the events of So Vile a Sin, Leabie Inyathi Forrester becomes Divine Empress, Glory of the Empire, Ruler of the High Court, Lord of the Inner and Outer Worlds, High Admiral of the Galactic Fleets, Lord General of the Six Armies and Defender of the Earth. The disintegration of the Empire eventually reduces her to a state of poverty.

The Bottom Line: A series of linking pieces in the form of a historical document, the untitled linking material works extremely effectively in bolting the anthology together.

Second Chances

Second Chances
Author(s): Alex Stewart
Recurring Characters: None
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Continuity: The Forrester family member in this story is Jack Michael Forrester, an external maintenance worker on Pellucidar Station. His wife's name is Chloe. He was a lay reader with the Church of Christ the Redeemer. He is killed when somebody shoots him with a neural stunner whilst he is connected to the datanet, but survives as an AI with the personality and partial memories of his former self. He downloads himself into a drone and travels off into space. He has children, who are in rehab.

Pellucidar Station is an orbital habitat in the L4 cluster. Recyk is apparently a building material, which as its name suggests is recycled. Neuroware is implanted into peoples skulls, allowing them to access the datanet. The Mandela is a colony ship, which has currently just passed the orbit of Pluto.

Location: Pellucidar Station, date unknown [probably before the Dalek Invasion, given that colony ships are still leaving the solar system].

Future History: Parts of London were destroyed in a war with Norway.

The Bottom Line: 'I think there's a lot more of the original Jack in you than you realize.' A solid start to the anthology, with a deceptively large amount of world-building in the background that sets the tone for the following stories.

No One Goes to Halfway There

No One Goes to Halfway There
Author(s): Kate Orman
Recurring Characters: None
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Continuity: The Forrester family member in this story is Theresa Forrester, sometimes called Terry for short. She is twenty-four years old. Her family originally earmarked several jobs for her, including industrial executive in Tanzania, overseer of a biotechnical team in the Mare Frigoris, and administrator on Pandora. Instead, she became a shuttle pilot. She drinks Virgin Mary. She learned to fly ships at Triton Pilot School at the age of nineteen. Her trainer was called Bob Magwamba. Her elder brother is director of the Charon Project, and she has a younger sister who plans to be an ecological adviser for the Antarctic Reclamation. She has a cousin named Elizabeth.

The alien probe partially exists in the lower dimensions, four through ten. Its extrusion into normal space is vegetable shaped, thicker at the back, pointed at the front, with a small stem-like protuberance at the bottom.

Location: Halfway There, date unknown [space travel has become the norm, but travel outside the solar system is relatively rare, probably placing this story towards the end of the twenty-first century. Theresa's apartment on Halfway There is huge by earth standards - see Colony in Space].

Future History: Halfway There is a rocky moon orbiting a superjovian (a gas giant). It is a way station for outbound explorers and colony ships, over eighty percent of which stop there for supplies, mainly hydrogen trawled from the gas giant. The Overlight project is under development, with test transmissions being sent to receivers on Fakawe and Fredonia. There is a prototype receiver in orbit around Mars.

Danger on the Frontier is a television programme, described by Theresa as wildly inaccurate. Vandervecken is a magazine.

The Bottom Line: 'Eventually they'll work it out. Every single ship that comes here dies.' A tense science fiction thriller with a grim ending, No One Goes to Halfway There is a fine example of Orman's grasp of the short story format.

Shopping for Eternity

Shopping for Eternity
Author(s): Gus Smith
Recurring Characters: None
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Continuity: The Forrester family member in this story is Jon Forrester, great grandson of Elizabeth Forrester (No One Goes to Halfway There). By the mid-twenty-third century, most of the Forrester family is working for the military or the corporations. Jon Forrester is a career criminal, and was involved in the Colonies Enterprise scam and the New Worlds Development Agency fraud. It is heavily implied that he is to be executed by the Pabulum Corporation.

Gehenna is a mining settlement.

Location: The towns of Gehenna and Rehoboth on New Zion, the mid-twenty-third century.

Future History: Jewish settlers founded new Zion, and Judaism is the predominant religion on the planet. The Pabulum Corporation is expanding throughout the galaxy, and is seeking to gain a foothold on New Zion.

The Bottom Line: 'They won't take a wolf prophet seriously.' A weird mix of comedy, thriller and romance, Shopping For Eternity is disjointed but entertaining.

Heritage

Heritage
Author(s): Ben Jeapes
Recurring Characters: None
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Roots: There are references to Gandhi and Hitler.

Continuity: The Forrester family members in this story are Chandos Forrester, grandson of an illegitimate child of Jon Forrester (Shopping for Eternity) and Billy Inyathi Forrester Obote. Chandos is descended from Billy's brother Jack; Billy set out from Earth in cryogenic suspension on board the colonial freezer ship Mandela in 2059. Billy was seconded from NASA when she set out. She is married to Kenneth Obote, who was thirty-eight when they set out; they have a daughter named Samantha Inyathi, who was nine. There is a Forrester family legend that they are related to Nelson Mandela, but this is untrue. Chandos claims to be Captain Chandos Forrester of the Federal Navy, but is actual a pirate wanted on seventeen worlds on various counts of piracy, theft and murder. Billy kills him and herself in order to save the sleepers on board the Mandela; the sleepers are recovered and revived by the New Canaan Defence Force.

Chandos claims that humans have not fought each other for centuries, although he is of course lying.

Location: On board the Mandela and Forrester's Marauders, in deep space and orbit around New Canaan, 2364.

Future History: The colonial freezer ship Mandela left Earth in 2059. New Canaan was discovered in 2173. The planet was terraformed beginning in 2185, and declared independence in 2231. The present system of Codominium government was established in 2239. Because its terraforming is incomplete, its ecosystem is highly sensitive to disruption from space, because of which it has highly sophisticated orbital defences.

The Bottom Line: A competent enough effort memorable for featuring the first truly unpleasant member of the Forrester family in the anthology. Nice to know Roz's ancestors weren't all noble and heroic.

Burning Bright

Burning Bright
Author(s): Liz Holliday
Recurring Characters: None
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Continuity: The Forrester family member in this story is Anjak Forrester. Anjak Forrester is a cadet Impsec officer, a private policeman for the Mesotech Corporation. Her partner is Aldo Lorenz. Anjak modelled her net agent on her mother Luander Inyathi Forrester. One of Lorenz's grandparents took part in a short-lived project to increase psionic ability via genetic engineering. The project caused side effects, primarily that the subjects became ravenously hungry and suffered from a rapid wasting disease and high fevers, and was suspended indefinitely. The telepathy-inducing DNA sequence that had been introduced was methylated to render it inactive in the subjects' children.

Location: Talo City on Vance's Planet, sometime during the late twenty-fourth or early twenty-fifth century.

Future History: There are water riots on Vance Planet. The Mesotech Corporation funded the colonization of Vance's Planet. They cut costs on the original habidomes, the terraforming satellites, and the strains of bacteria used to liberate water from the bedrock. Scop is a narcotic, which doesn't cause hallucinations. Mesotech are secretly dealing scop in order to keep its non-productive residents quiet. The scop has been modified. One of the terraforming satellites has malfunctioned, and developed megalomania; it has modified the scop to switch the telepathy-causing gene back on in the descendants of test-subjects and the satellite is transmitting messages on a telepathic wavelength, causing madness in those susceptible. The satellite has an arsenal of bio-weapons and other devices, which is using against the population on Vance's Planet in various strange ways.

It is illegal to broadcast from a broadcast-quality holocam without a license, but not to own one. Cholera-X is breaking out on Vances Planet, including the mining town of Haberville. It is caused by a bacterium and leads to massive dehydration. Geloderm is used to treat skin wounds.

The Bottom Line: A macho tale of drug abuse, sentient satellites and riots, Burning Bright feels very much like a spin-off from the New Adventures and works wonderfully.

C9H13NO3

C9H13NO3
Author(s): Peter Anghelides
Recurring Characters: None
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Roots: The title, as rendered in the original book is C9H13NO3, which is the chemical formula for epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline.

Dialogue Disasters: 'I don't know what kinda sick freak you are, mister, but you ain't my dad.'

Continuity: The Forrester family member in this story is John Forrester. The Forresters have established Forrester Industries by this period. John Forrester has been directing Zukovec's work to provide himself with a new body in the form of a NuSynth.

Location: Callisto Penitentiary and the Moon, c2878AD [mention of the Sons of Earth sets this story in the same period as The Power of Kroll, dated 2878 by Lance Parkin's A History of the Universe].

Future History: There is a penitentiary on Callisto, staffed by synthumans. Synthumans can pass for humans, until they move around. The Sons of Earth are fighting for independence from the Frontworld Corporations on all the major frontier worlds (The Power of Kroll). Pureblood human families include the Xhosa (including the Forresters), the aristocratic Goslings from mid-Europe, and the Scandinavian Moranis. The Moon has been colonized. Zukovec is the prison doctor at Callisto Penitentiary; under orders from Frontworld Corporation, she has been conducting genetic research on pureblood prisoners, ostensibly to improve the synthumans, but actually to develop genetic weaponry. Zukovec is the public face of Forrester Industries. Zukovec worked on NuSynths, advanced synthumans that can pass for human. A human mind can be downloaded into a NuSynth shell. Zukovec has developed a virus that is lethal to humans but that can be carried by NuSynths.

The term Frontworld is used to describe both a specific corporation, and as a generic term for the corporations with interest on the frontier worlds. It isn't clear whether the synthumans are androids, clones, or a combination of the two.

The Bottom Line: A bit dull really. There are some nice science fiction ideas here and a reasonable twist, but the central characters aren't interesting enough to hold the attention. The use of first person narrative however lifts the story somewhat and is a format that Anghelides will return to with moderate success.

Approximate Time of Death

Approximate Time of Death
Author(s): Richard Salter
Recurring Characters: None
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Continuity: The Forrester family members in this story are Gareth Forrester and his son Mark. Mark Forrester is head of Chaba-bug Farming Interplanetary (CFI); he is known for taking holidays that last for months and is bad at being interviewed. His wife's name is Celia. His father Gareth took his business back to Io, due to economic pressures that meant it wouldn't survive out on the colonies. Mark resents this, feeling that his family has abandoned the colonists, and hasn't spoken to his father in over a year as a result. Chaba-bugs are found naturally on Jedharon, and prey on cajuna, a species of beetle much larger than chaba-bugs. They produce a liquid that keeps their prey in an edible state for up to five years; CFI use this to preserve food for the outer colony worlds.

Lyro-joraphide is a lethal poison.

Location: The city of Paris Four on Jedharon, the twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth century [the Overcities now cover the surface of Earth (Colony in Space, Original Sin)].

Future History: The Yousaki colony on Frampton 7 is interested in CFI's products. The company's three major customers are the Treygis, Homor and the Washington Colonies. The Galactic Freight Company is attempting a take-over of CFI; GFC boss Xavier Yolande had Mark, Celia, and Mark's deputy Harry Porin murdered by Mark's bodyguard John Loader one year earlier, and used faked interviews and footage to convince the population that they were still alive. They treated the bodies with the liquid produced by chaba-bugs, to stop them decaying until after the need to produce them.

The Earth Empire is currently losing its grip on the colony worlds (The Mutants). The Overcities now cover the whole of Earth (Original Sin). There is an Inter-Colonial Relations Bureau. There are Adjudicators on Jedharon. Under Adjudicator law, criminals placed under arrest do not have the right to remain silent and do not have the right to representation until after charges have been made.

The Bottom Line: Rather good murder mystery, although the convenient arrival of the adjudicators at a critical moment is a bit deus ex machina.

Secrets of the Black Planet

Secrets of the Black Planet
Author(s): Lance Parkin
Recurring Characters: None
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Dialogue Disasters: The emovie dialogue, as intended ('I heev you nah').

A notable example of the emovie dialogue is 'I haven't got wings, I haven't got a plan, but I have got this service-issue grappling hook and line' - A line also used by Roz in Cold Fusion (presumably, she's quoting the film).

Continuity: The Forrester family members in this story are Kent Forrester and his brother Troy Inyathi Forrester. Troy is an emovie star. Kent is twenty-four years old. The Forresters claim that they can trace their ancestry back to the early twentieth century. The Forresters have now joined the Elite of the Imperial Court on Io (So Vile a Sin). Mandela was one of the first emovies, and was made eight years earlier with an eight million rand budget. Troy is involved in a remake. In exchange for his help on remaking Mandela, Kent insists that his research status be upgraded to Ultrablack, rather than Infrablack, which he is due to become anyway. Troy owns an antique pistol from the twenty-third century.

Location: The Umtata Reclamation Area and Pretoria Township, Earth, during the twenty-eighth century (the twentieth century is eight hundred years earlier).

Future History: It is widely believed that the Forresters are directly descended from Nelson Mandela, and according to legend George Forrester, Mandela's nephew, fought with him in the Battle of Trafalgar. In fact, the Mandela line ended in 2157, wiped out by the space plague that ravaged the planet (The Dalek Invasion of Earth). The first actual record of a George Forrester is from 1st October 2765, the date on which the first edition of the Forrester Family History was published. The Terra Genealogica contains records of family trees. All private family records of genetic relevance have automatically been logged with the African government since the Racial Data Act of 2596. Panafrica have rewritten history to their own agenda, so that people believe that Mandela introduced apartheid to oppress the white population, thus leading the population of Africa to believe that the Elite has always existed. They also use subliminal messages to pacify their workers and customers. Following Kents discovery of this, Charlotte Rohihlahla murders Troy, who kills her in return; Kent served twenty-seven years for the murder, and became the focus of the international Free Kent Forrester campaign.

A new edition of the Forrester Family History is published in 2954.

The shantytowns surrounding the Overcities, the mining zones, and the sea-and-sun farms are lawless places, which the Adjudicators are afraid to enter. Attempts to control them have included sending in troops and compulsory sterilization of the female inhabitants. Travel permits are required to leave the townships. Xhosa oral narratives still survive in the shantytowns.

Travel permits are required for any travel. The Climate Reclamation Project has been underway for three years, with old weather patterns being imposed on the Transkei. [Cloned] pandas are being released into the wild as part of the project. Lions have also been reintroduced, although they have been genetically altered to make them vegetarian for practical reasons. Taxi cabs, moving pavements, infotainment consoles and toilets are all fitted with synthetic personalities. There is a Xhosa Research Foundation. Earth has a President and there is still a Pope. The President is usually left to run Earth without interference from the Empress, the Court and Military.

Matthew Rohihlahla was one of the Data Barons, who made their fortune on the backs of information empires that stretched across the galaxy. Rohihlahla founded the company Panafrica. Panafrica employs almost twenty percent of the African population, and has offices in a million cities on a hundred thousand planets. Africa has a better standard of life than Europe, America and Australasia, and is catching up with the Southern Chinese Union (Cold Fusion) and the Moon.

Emotional induction technology is used in making emovies.

The Bottom Line: 'I want to get as close to the real Nelson Mandela as I can.' A superb story that illustrates the fluid nature of history, and how it can be manipulated to exploit people. Parkin is on top of his form here, making a short story feel as important and weighty as a full-length novel, and beautifully evoking the dystopian future of the early days of the Earth Empire.

Rescue Mission

Rescue Mission
Author(s): Paul Leonard
Recurring Characters: None
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Continuity: The Forrester family members in this story are siblings Abe and Callie Inyathi Forrester. Callie is ten. Their father Nelson claims that the Government took his rights as Baron of Io away from him, forcing him to eke out an existence on Claathi. In a desperate attempt to escape Claathi and pay for treatment for his sick wife, Nelson sells his daughter to local sadist Altair Born Johanesson, who turns her into a sex slave and killer; when her Abe tries to rescue her, he is subjected to the same fate. When they try to escape, Callie is forced to murder Abe. The old Baron of Io, who learns that a member of his family has been sold into slavery, eventually buys Callie's freedom. Her sick mother died anyway.

Claathi is a tiny strip of habitable land that forms the coast of the Crater Ocean on the planet Claathi. The Claan-Aya rises behind the Claathi, on top of which is the Viuyaan, which means Long-Dead in the local language. Humans call the Claathi Mu-Ntu, or Humanss Coast. Towns on the Claathi include Mkambati, Dzelo, and Kami, which has a spaceport. Claathi has two moons. The native Claathi are soft-skinned and mostly aquatic. Their biology is such that they don't understand the concept of brother and sister.

Location: Claathi, on the planet Claathi, [the thirtieth century].

Future History: MurComm produces entertainment programs. A fgan is an Alpha Centauran instrument. Erstadt and pzazzy are street words used in the Overcities on Earth.

The Bottom Line: A grim horror story that slightly over-eggs the pudding by heaping one too many atrocities on at the end. Still, Rescue Mission leaves the reader feeling discomforted, which is to Leonard's credit.

Dependence Day

Dependence Day
Author(s): Justin Richards and Andy Lane
Recurring Characters: None
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Dialogue Triumphs: 'I suppose that when people have sufficient food, they have less need of leadership.'

Continuity: The Forrester family members in this story are Leabie, Thandiwe and Gugwani Forrester (So Vile a Sin). They have been reduced to living in poverty in the Summer Palace, along with their retinue and guards. Gugwani is captured by a cannibal gang when she leaves the Palace in search of food; in accordance with Leabie's instructions that neither she nor her daughters are ever to be captured alive by the cannibal gangs, the Landsknechte Marines shoot her from the safety of the Palace and her corpse is eaten by the cannibals. Leabie becomes infected with the Cimliss virus, and starts to change into one; she sets off alone into the wasteland, hoping to unite the remains of her people against the Cimliss. Difarallio notes that she is no longer a Forrester as a result. Thandiwe escapes in Difarallio's ship, becoming the new Empress by default.

Tranlis Difarallio is from Omphalos Prime, which Leabie describes as a cold, purple world. He travelled to Earth to write the final chapters of From the Gutter to the Stars: A History of the Forrester Family. His ship contains the small robotic vehicle in which Jack Forrester left Pellucidar Station (Second Chances), and the remaining fragments of the escape pod in which Jon Forrester returned to New Zion (Shopping For Eternity). He has traced the Forresters as far back as a town called Tower Hamlets on Earth, from before space travel became a reality. Following Leabie's transformation, he is relieved that the Forrester line is almost ended, as his task is now complete; he attempts to murder Thandiwe to end the line once and for all, but she kills him in self defence.

The Cimliss are orange skinned with only lumps and undulations for features. They are listed as traders. They arrive on Earth following the collapse of the Empire to hand out food to the starving population. They are exerts in bioengineering, but are not known for their compassion; they invade planets that have reached low points but which might be profitable in the future, by using bioengineered food to transform the population into more Cimliss.

Location: The Empress' Summer Palace on Earth, 2987 [five years have elapsed since Leabie became Empress].

Future History: Within five years of becoming Empress, Leabie dismantled the Empire, granting independence to every planet whether they wanted it or not. Earth was abandoned as the Overcities fell out of the sky, and the remaining population descended into barbarism, with the surviving humans turning on the aliens as sources of food.

The Bottom Line: 'So it is finished.' A fine end to the anthology, which wraps up various loose ends from So Vile a Sin and brings fictional author of the linking material Tranlis Difarallio into the story of the Forresters. It isn't a happy ending, but it is a memorable one.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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