Roots: All the chapter titles reference Frank Sinatra songs. GM plants. On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Moonraker (the cable car scenes). Apocalypse Now ("I love the smell of DNA in the morning"). There are references to Bambi, Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Duncan Edwards, the Jolly Green Giant, Einstein, Beethoven, Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront, Miss Marple, Ford Zephyrs, Flash Gordon, Dr Kildare, Rider Haggard, Gone with the Wind, and Metropolis. The Doctor hums a passage from Caprice Viennois.
Dialogue Disasters: "The e-mail of the species is more deadly than the mail."
Dialogue Triumphs: "They think you're just eccentric, or else a simpleton."
"While time is a fine teacher, she eventually kills all her pupils."
Continuity: The Raab are a plant species that originated billions of years ago in the Odonto Ceti region. They can grow up to five hundred metres long. They travel through space and land on barren asteroids or small moons, the impact scattering their seeds. A handful of the billion seeds survive and grow, consuming all of the sustenance in the area, eventually growing big enough to fire their shoots off into space, out of the low gravity. They are very susceptible to gravity: a Raab landing on a planet becomes trapped, its seeds unable to escape and growing on the planet instead, eventually consuming everything until they die out, rendering the planet barren in the process. They are incredibly rare. Two land on Drebnar within decades of each other. The Frontier Worlds Corporation has been experimenting with Raab DNA to improve longevity: the side-effect in humans is affected mental processes, with different subjects having different presentations (including short-term memory loss, psychopathy and depression). The longevity involves bodily regeneration, each successive regeneration creating more and more Raab tissue in the subject. The Darkling crop is wheat deliberately infected with Raab DNA to improve efficiency. The Raab are vulnerable to weed killer.
The colonists on Drebnar are humanoid: Compassion says they aren't human but Drebnarian, and it isn't clear if she's being pedantic or not. The bipedal robot that Sempiter originally built to house his intelligence is bipedal and is programmed to mimic human body language. Heredity neurological diseases found on Drebnar include Ankylocerebrosis, Paldanquinous aetuldeteriorosis and Javelwatter's Disease. Anmart is a settlement on Drebnar.
Drebnar has at least two thousand four hundred and seventeen species on Drebnar, and only twenty-six percent of the planet has thus far been surveyed. Leppos are cat-sized, rabbit-like quadrupeds on Drebnar. They are preyed upon by large-headed fish that increase the flow of blood to their foreheads to melt the ice above them, causing their prey to fall into the water; the fish were artificially altered by Raab DNA during experiments by Frontier Worlds. A plant species similar to Lotus corniculatus is also native to Drebnar.
Falling off a building, the Doctor dislocates his right shoulder and sustains heavy bruising to his chest and abdomen, bruising to his gluteus maximus, a possible cracked rib, and lacerations to his lower back, upper legs, and palms. He pops his shoulder back into the joint. He goes undercover with a job in Reddenblak Corp's Market Intelligence Group after he fails a job interview at Frontier Worlds. He arranges accommodation for Compassion and Fitz on the edge of town. He is familiar with the Raab, having once shown an illustration of one to a female former companion. He carries an identity card from the Tufty Club, dated 1968. His current sonic screwdriver is a spare that rolled under the TARDIS console and got lost two incarnations ago. He again adopts the alias Dr. James Bowman (Seeing I). He carries a yo-yo and a fountain pen. He can't play the piano. He later impersonates the late Klenton Dewfurth.
Fitz goes undercover, taking a job at Frontier Worlds as head scientist Griz Ellis's PA, a role that involves testing Salmonella samples. He adopts the alias Frank Sinatra from the planet Creal for the role. He still smokes. He once visited Salford. He has learned rudimentary pick pocketing skills. He has a sexual relationship with Alura whilst on Drebnar: Kupteyn kills her. Fitz later lets Kupteyn fall to his death. As a result of being Remembered in Interference, his DNA is not human-typical. His Aunt Beryl had a canary called Joey, which he and his mum used to look after during her annual holiday in Skegness. Fitz used to have a Meccano set. He and his family once took a holiday to the Isle of Wight in their Hillman Imp, and got lost in the New Forest when his dad insisted on taking the Hythe link. He had a solitary school friend named George Cullen whilst at St. Edwards' Primary School. The neighbouring Bennetts used to mock his dad's accent and the Krappers wouldn't even acknowledge him. Fitz has been to Whipsnade Zoo. He wears y-fronts.
Compassion also goes undercover at Frontier Worlds, under the alias Nancy Sinatra, Fitz's sister. She wears her red hair in a ponytail and may have put on weight. She hacks into the Frontier Worlds' computer systems. She sustains a gash over her right eye here. She kills Griz Ellis with an axe. It is implied that she is starting to "tune in" to the Doctor's sense of morality thanks to her receiver and that the TARDIS is changing her...
Broad spectrum Tuckson-Jacker pulses from Drebnar weather control system pull the TARDIS to the planet.
Links: Fitz recalls Chairman Mao's little red book (Revolution Man) and the garden centre at West Wycombe (The Taint). The Doctor recalls living in the South of England (see, amongst others, Cat's Cradle: Warhead, Warlock, Warchild, and The Dying Days).
Future History: The Frontier Worlds Corporation oversaw the colonisation of Drebnar and specialises in biotechnology. Reddenblak Corp is a rival corporation. At this point in time, Drebnar is primarily an agricultural colony and has a population of about five million. It supplies seventy percent of food to the other planets in the solar system. Dewfurth and Sempiter founded Frontier Worlds.
Unrecorded Adventures: Fitz and Compassion have been working for Frontier Worlds for two months at the start of this story.
The Doctor has met Boswell, Dodie Smith and Arethra Franklin. He once talked to Fritz Kreisler about Tambourin Chinois and Beethoven. He again recalls taking lessons from Harry Houdini.
The Bottom Line: Enormously unoriginal, with plot elements from both The Seeds of Doom and The Seeds of Death, Frontier Worlds drags interminably. It's at least one hundred pages too long and suffers from a dearth of unmemorable supporting characters. The regulars however, work rather well, especially Fitz, who gets a great deal of first-person narrative.