Roots: There are numerous references to eighties pop culture, including Paul Daniels, Paul Newman, Trevor McDonald, Princess Diana, Tom Cruise, Anne and Nick, Radio Two, Radio Four, Metal Mickey, Scooby Doo, That's Life, Buck Rogers, Star Trek, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Star Wars, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Where the Wild Things Are, The Muppet Show, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Spitting Image, Teen Titans (and George Perez), Batman, NME and Smash Hits. There are numerous references to pop stars, including David Bowie, Adam Ant, Kate Bush, The Beatles, Marillion, Phil Collins, Guns 'n' Roses, The Communards, A-Ha, and Paul Hardcastle's Nineteen, (The soundtrack list at the end includes most of these artists, plus various others such as Prince). The Doctor has several Blue Peter Annuals and quotes Blackadder. The Supremacy is reminiscent of Blake's Seven's Liberator [an abandoned alien ship with a sentient computer]. Mr Gibson is effectively a Transformer. The Needle was first seen in Lance Parkin's out-of-continuity thirty-fifth anniversary novel The Infinity Doctors.
Goofs: There is some confusion over Miranda's age - she seems to age about fourteen years between the early and late nineteen-eighties!
Continuity: During the early eighties the Doctor owns a converted farmhouse in Greyfrith, Derbyshire [it is not explained how he paid for this - he may have used the money he was given at the end of Endgame, or accrued more since then]. Once he adopts Miranda, he decides to improve his situation in order to be able to provide for her; he makes millions of pounds as a business consultant, beginning by advising the landlord of the Flying Saucer in Greyfrith to start selling bottled water and change the name of his pub to The Dragon. He is in high demand and is listed as one of Time magazine's top fifty people of the decade. He buys a house in Kent, where he raises Miranda [Possibly the Kentish house seen in Andrew Cartmel's 'War' trilogy and in The Dying Days]. He drives a Trabant, keeps bees, and makes his own lemonade. He has more flashes of memory, and can recall that Martians are green - he also recalls some Martian (Dass hunnar, ssli hoossurr), although he apparently doesn't know what it means.
He tells Mrs Castle that he has a photographic memory (he can recall every single line of Shakespeare and can hum every tune he's ever heard), can speed-read, has perfect pitch and has an astounding grasp of symbolic logic. He also plays chess against (and beats) all of the members of the school chess club simultaneously. He has never played snooker, but manages to pot all the balls (including the cue ball) with one shot. He is trying to replace his sonic screwdriver [which he has lost since The Turing Test], but so far the prototype is the size of a small suitcase - he uses this "sonic suitcase" on several occasions, until it is destroyed. He fixes Deborah Castle's Ford Cortina. Because his (and Miranda's) body temperature is lower than that of a human, his breath does not steam in cold air. He is able to resist the effects of Sallak's mindeater, although it is not explained how [possibly in the same way he resisted Skagra's attempt to steal his mind during Shada (TV)]. He again mimics people's voices, as he did in The Celestial Toymaker and The Invasion of Time, and he teaches Miranda how to do this. It is hinted that he has been seeing Deborah Castle, although whether he has been sleeping with her is a question deliberately left unanswered. As in The Burning, the Doctor kills or causes the deaths of his opponents; he allows a guard to be shot to pieces in his place, telepathically convinces his sadistic interrogator's heart to stop beating, and transforms Ferran's troops into roses. He is present in Berlin at the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Time Lords have milk teeth [since the Time Lords of the future seems to reproduce sexually and clearly have children, we can assume that the Pythia's curse was indeed lifted with the birth of Leela and Andred's child in Lungbarrow]. Miranda says that she doesn't metabolise alcohol and can thus drink beer without getting drunk [Susan also mentions this in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Since the Doctor gets drunk in Slipback and Transit, we can assume that this is a result of his half-human nature. See also The City of the Dead, The Year of Intelligent Tigers]. As with both Susan and the Doctor, Miranda can control her metabolism, for example increasing her adrenaline production. She can see in the dark.
The TARDIS' outer shell is fully regenerated, even down to the writing. The light on top of it starts flashing and it once more hums when touched. The Doctor's symbiotic link with his ship seems to still be functioning, at least to a degree.
The UFO spotters have heard tales of UNIT, although they don't know the organisation's name. They have reports of UFO sightings in Wilmslow, Glossop and St. Helen's in 1967, plus a more recent sighting in Brentford.
Humans have a natural reaction to the "almost imperceptible differences that come from materials that weren't mined, refined or synthesised on Earth" - this reaction manifests as symptoms of unease, and the Doctor has been experiencing a similar feeling all the time that he has been on Earth.
Zevron's people use highly advanced technology, including mindeaters (cybernetic worms that totally remove the memories of their victims - this is reversible providing the mindeater is retained), and transmutation technology, which allows them to transform matter, synthesising gemstones and silk for example. They claim not to be human, but when Sallak is blood-tested in prison, this appears not to be the case. They have the death penalty. Whilst in the twentieth century, they use contemporary weapons (possibly created using the transmutation technology) so as not to dishonour the warriors of the era. The Doctor uses this technology to transform Ferran's men and equipment (plus the surrounding tower block) into a mass of roses. They also use Time Travel technology, purloined from various sources [presumably including the Time Lords], which they have only recently acquired prior to Zevron and Sallak's arrival in the 1980s. They are also capable of creating semi-sentient android duplicates of people (Ferran creates a duplicate of Miranda called 'Cate' for short). They have transmat technology, but seldom use it due the cost involved. They have succeeded in gaining limited access to the Librarinth, a vast depository of knowledge left by the Time Lords. The Librarinth is a city on the surface of the needle, a vast construct built by the Time Lords and with a black hole at one end.
Miranda does not know that she is not human until Ferran tells her; she knows she is different from her friends however, not least because she has two hearts. Additionally, she has no interest in her friends' past times such as smoking and drinking. She has a very high IQ and can swim faster than anyone she knows (although Ferran manages to outrace her). She is also capable of sex, suggesting that female Time Lords from the future at least have compatible sex organs to humans.
Mr. Gibson is a shape-shifting robot that can appear as either a huge robot or a Volkswagen. He has encountered the Doctor before (see 'Unrecorded Adventures').
The Supremacy was abandoned when Ferran's people found it, although it has self-repair mechanism. It was built by a race long gone and who may never have existed [so it may a relic of the Time Wars mentioned in Sky Pirates!, or was possibly built by the Ferutu from Cold Fusion]. It is four kilometres long and one kilometre in diameter, with one thousand floors, and is controlled by a [sentient] computer. Ferran's people are still exploring it. Its engines are sufficiently powerful that if they explode in proximity to Earth they would destroy all life on the surface. Ferran says that the metal it is made out of is called Kladenium, probably named after Ferran's own Faction (Klade) [It could have course have been built by the Daleks (see below)].
Little is revealed about the Hunters, except that they are humanoid but don't quite look human. As a rule, they prefer not to kill, but they carry pocket sized 'nukes'.
Links: The Doctor mentions Alan Turing and Graham Greene (The Turing Test) (both of whom have recently died) and visits the now very old Betty Barstow (The Burning). The UFO spotters have heard stories of 'plant men' [which may be a reference to the Krynoids (The Seeds of Doom)], 'robot men' [possible a reference to the Cybermen (The Invasion)], spaghetti men [The Axons (The Claws of Axos)], and "turtle men" from beneath the sea [The Sea Devils]. When his sonic suitcase is destroyed, he notes that it feels like he's lost an old friend, which recalls the destruction of the original sonic screwdriver in The Visitation. He has told Miranda stories of a world were the ants and the moths are at war (The Web Planet and Twilight of the Gods (MA)) and an Empress in a jar (The Scarlet Empress). There is a reference to the Brookings Report (Red Dawn). Ferran's search for historical records of the Doctor's activities of the period includes incidents in Baghdad (Interference), at the Lloyds building (Bullet Time), Waco, the Martian Invasion (The Dying Days) and the Kulan invasion (Escape Velocity). The Doctor's visions inside the Supremacy's time engines include a Dalek and the First Doctor, a swarm of wasps (Eater of Wasps), Scarlette (The Adventuress of Henrietta Street), Albert (Grimm Reality), a man with a clipboard on a battlefield (Anachrophobia), Mr Saldaamir, who has appeared in several of Lance's other books, including Beige Planet Mars, and a man based on actor Ian Richardson, on whom Lance bases one character in most of his Doctor Who novels.
Location: Greyfrith, Derbyshire, during the early 1980s; London, the Doctor's house in Kent, and a Northern city [Manchester] during the mid 1980s; Berlin, NASA, and aboard the Atlantis space shuttle and the Supremacy in geostationary orbit above India during 1989.
Future History: Millions of years in the future, the surviving Time Lords somehow instigate a cataclysm that drains the Universe of energy and leaves whole galaxies [including Mutters' Spiral] uninhabited and uninhabitable. This also wipes out sections of the timeline. The Time Lords then establish an oppressive and tyrannical empire to maintain control over the surviving worlds and ensure that the Universe's now-scarce resources are not squandered. For a thousand years the Emperor reigns over the whole Empire, controlling time and space travel via a ruthless secret police force and crushing rebellion before it happens. They treat the other races as playthings. Zevron's people appear to practice racial purity, and refer to other species as "Groups" - they include a race of shape shifting goblins [possibly Trigellans from The Spectre of Lanyon Moor] and a race of robot gangsters (Mr Gibson's people). There is a Senate, which the Emperor controls through fear and allows infighting amongst the Senators. One such Senator is Zevron, leader of Faction Klade. Zevron's mother, another Senator, helped to create alliances between the warring factions, hoping to unite them against the Imperial Family; when this rebellion was discovered, Zevron's mother was executed, sparking off a fifteen year civil war and beginning a blood feud between Zevron's family and the Royal Family. Many of the Imperial Family are slain, although some fled into the depths of space and time and are systematically hunted down by Zevron, who becomes Prefect of the new alliance.
The baby granddaughter of the Emperor is taken back in time to the twentieth century by a bodyguard and a nurse, and becomes known as the Last One. Zevron travels back in time with his deputy Sallak to find the Last One, but thanks to the intervention of the Doctor Zevron dies in the past. Several years later, Ferran (Zevron's younger brother and the new Prefect) travels back to finish the blood feud and kill the Last One and also to rescue Sallak. He returns defeated and with Sallak dead. Twenty years later still, he returns to the twentieth century in the time ship Supremacy, by now having become as corrupt a ruler as the Emperor had been. The Factions and Houses are at open war with each other and the entire system is on the verge of economic and social collapse. The Last One, who returns with him to become Empress of the Universe and to rule peacefully alongside him and prevent anyone else from becoming a tyrant, convinces Ferran of the error of his ways.
[Klade is of course an anagram of Dalek, and Falkus, the planet referred to as the location of a past encounter between the Klade and the Doctor, is the artificial satellite of Skaro described in Doctor Who and the Daleks Omnibus. Draw your own conclusions...].
Miranda's German 'fling' goes on to make a film about his life, which includes his night spent with her. It wins the Best Foreign Non-Interactive Film Oscar in 2017.
Unrecorded Adventures: During his time on Earth, the Doctor played chess in Stalingrad in 1951. He also spent some time in East Germany, where he obtained his Trabant. Iris Wildthyme visited the Doctor at his house in Kent during the early 1980s, and attempted to restore his memory; she only confused him further and she eventually left in a huff. In May 1976, he was in England, spending time with Claudia ("a friend"), although he spent much of the sixties and seventies travelling, including a visit to India in 1962. He has visited St. Louis in Missouri three times, looking for some clue as to who Fitz is. He has taken part in the London marathon at least once. When telling Debbie that his friends are dying of old age, he mentions 'Salvador' and 'Irving'.
The Doctor has visited Zevron's time period before [and possibly after], and encountered the Prefect and Sallak on the planets Galspar and Falkus [the Doctor who encountered Zevron and Sallak on Falkus appears to have been the Seventh, accompanied by Roz Forrester and Chris Cwej]. During one such encounter, they used a mindeater on him, but his mind was strong enough to resist it. He also encountered Mr Gibson's people, and liberated the slaves on his planet - Mr Gibson panicked and dropped a nuclear device into the volcano beneath his palace, accidentally killing his mate and all his allies in the process, for which he blames the Doctor.
Q.v. Time travel.
The Bottom Line: Another excellent novel from Lance Parkin, mixing an expert blend of character and action, although Ferran falling in love with Miranda is rather clichéd. The Doctor as the personification of Thatcherism is an interesting solution to the problem of how the Doctor survives financially in the eighties.