Roots: Albert is a living planet in the mould of Marvel Comics' Ego, the Living Planet. Grimms Fairy Tales (obviously), The Lord of the Rings, Terry Pratchett's DiscWorld novels. The Master-Maid is a Scandinavian folktale. Other fairytales specifically drawn on include Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Jack and the Beanstalk. The Wodewose creates numerous fake TARDISes to hide the real TARDIS, which is reminiscent of Leprechaun pot-of-gold fables. There are mentions of Donald Pleasance, Adam and Eve, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Sinbad, St. Christopher, The Chuckle brothers, Disney, The Antiques Roadshow, Hera, Argos, Jove, Star Wars, Fay Wray, Fantasia, Pulp Fiction, and P.G. Wodehouse. The Doctors cry of "It's alive" is a Frankenstein reference.
Technobabble: Anistropically aligned quantonium is a rare, but far more frequently found, substance than the inner energies of a white hole.
Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor on his childhood: 'Looking at the clouds Did you ever do that as a child? I think I did. I remember narrow-bladed grasses like a fakir's bed, and white shapes in an orange-yellow sky. I remember seeing castles.'
'I walk in present and the world lives in it. My past is my past and I will not change it to serve myself. I will not pick a past from your sour old chocolate box. I choose only the future and I choose carefully.'
Continuity: The planet Albert is a single living entity, which was created when the planet orbiting the white hole was seeded with a quantum field emitted by the white hole - this quantum field became sentient and grew to merge with the planet. The seeding partially failed, thus limiting the field to a single planet. When a colony ship from Earth crash-landed on Albert, the colonists entered into a mutual agreeable symbiosis with the planet, which fed off their foibles and tales to create a magical world governed by the rules of traditional folklore; hence, a promise has to be fulfilled, or a dire consequence will befall the person who makes the promise, and would-be tyrants, rapists and murderers are hemmed in by the constrictions of tradition and culture. Because of its quantum nature, the laws of physics on Albert are different to those elsewhere, allowing the planet to alter reality; it can mimic matter at a sub-sub-atomic level (the Vium factory Lander for example), transform humans into animals, create giants who can hear human voices, and make wishes come true. Albert has a single moon, about two-thirds the size of Earth's. The planet is designated WHO one by the crew of the Bonaventure, due to its proximity to the white hole. In order to protect itself, Albert traps seven subsequent quantum fields emitted from the white hole in force fields that take the shape of wishing boxes. These also have limited power to alter reality, which threatens the laws on Albert. One of them becomes sentient and wants to survive. The Doctor persuades it to make a change somewhere in the galaxy and live and grow within this difference; thanks to the Vium Captain's wish, this change is the curing of the Viums recessive genetic disorder. In return for this, the Vium Captain agrees to keep Albert's location a secret, although when the Doctor arranges for the other six quantum fields to return to the white hole, he seems to use them to hide both Albert and the White Hole from the Bonaventure's sensors.
The sentient quantum field can alter reality and thus grant wishes by choosing alternative pasts and futures from an infinite number, some of which are only superficially different from the main reality; failing to choose one or trying to choose too many results in madness for the wisher. The Doctor is offered realities, in which he regains his memory within the hour, regained it an hour earlier, regained it a day earlier, and one in which he knows his Father's face and his Mother's voice.
In order to learn about the locals, the Doctor sets up a stall in the market, under the alias of Doctor Know-All. Adviser, and helper; Donor in extremis. He has read Stuart Little, Dr Strange comics, Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby, and P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster novels. He watched the original version of King Kong whilst on Earth. Every photograph he took on Earth between 1970 and 1990 suffered from red eye. He used to watch Ask the Family. The Doctor's memory offers him flashes of his childhood, when he would lie on his back and look for shapes in the clouds. He knows how to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre. He has periodic brief spells when he feels sick, and almost diminished, and has had these for the last hundred years [since the destruction of Gallifrey - see The Adventuress of Henrietta Street]. In response to the wishing box's attempt to seize control of his fantasies, he is able to systematically destroy his dreams, which would leave the box and him trapped forever in a sterile mind of facts. He used to sing a song about windmills to Miranda (Father Time). He whistles Colonel Bogey (see The Talons of Weng-Chiang) and can sing the periodic table to the tune of The Modern Major General. He knows several long narrative poems, one complex enough to be considered a life form. He appears to cast seven shadows, although this may be an effect of the forces present on Albert. He kisses the Master-Maid. He drinks eight glasses of champagne at the wedding, apparently without ill effects (see The City of the Dead).
Fitz has read The Lord of the Rings, seen Forbidden Planet, and used to listen to The Goon Show. He realises that he likes, and gets on well with, horses and donkeys, and quickly picks-up how to ride one. The flying monkeys of The Wizard of Oz terrified him when he was a kid.
Anji is continuing to warm to the Doctor (see Eater of Wasps), but still considers him to be a sort of idiot savant. She has an MBA. She used to watch House Doctor, Changing Rooms and Ground Force regularly. She bought five coats to celebrate getting her first job. She has never visited Disneyland. She sings Stupid Girl by Garbage. She used to hire a cleaner to clean her flat every Tuesday. She last waxed her bikini line at the age of fifteen. She once had a friend who shoplifted lipstick from Woolworths and slipped it into her pocket so that she got the blame, and who slept with the boy she fancied at the first nightclub she ever went to - she made sure that Dave never met her.
The TARDIS library contains copies of Three Men in a Boat, Stones' Justice Manual, a lost work by Sophocles, and Delia Smith's Cooking Dictionary Book Thirty Four: Xylocarp to Zwieback. It also contains five copies of Life and Likings of a Lobster, all from different public libraries. It also contains an untitled tome detailing the Doctor, Anji and Fitz's adventures on Albert, presumably provided by the planet when they leave. It is implied that the TARDIS has a mechanism that prevents it from drawing the attention of passers-by wherever it materialises (see The City of the Dead). There is a cupboard full of hats in the control room, including a large black Stetson. It is hinted that one of the wishing boxes ends up in the TARDIS library.
Dave was a big fan of pulp fiction novels. It took Anji three months to introduce him to her Mum.
The Vium are an insectoid race and consider Wagner to be a composer of quick ditties - their popular hits last upwards of eight hours. They live in hives, and belong to klatches. Despite what many humans believe, they don't have a hive-mind mentality; they just have a lot in common and don't tend to talk much. They are very pragmatic, even going so far as to drill holes in their exoskeletons to allow them to interface with human muscle-reading control systems, since this is cheaper than building a second set of controls. They suffer from a fatal recessive genetic disease that is undetectable until they are already near death, and travel partly in order to try and find a cure. The disease is eventually cured instantaneously in all Vium when the Vium Captain uses the sentient wishing box to remove it from his people. Vium biology is not DNA based. Viuma has three small moons. The Scarlet Sea on Viuma is a 438,000 cubic metre body of lukewarm saline.
The Abanak are a large, pink hippopotamus-like race, with a reputation for being friendly and trustworthy. Any Abanak who tarnishes their friendly reputation faces severe repercussions from their courts. Most of the Abanak on their home planet hibernate during the winter. They are vulnerable to blows to the left side of the head just above the ear and to the jaw muscles.
The desolate planet Albraxiz has seas of hydrochloric acid, which mould its sapphire beaches into smooth gems.
Links: The Doctor's catching of the brides bouquet prefigures his marriage in The Adventuress of Henrietta Street. His brief spell of illness also foreshadows the events of that novel. The Doctor says that he is immortal on his father's side, barring accidents (The War Games, The TV Movie). Anji recalls seeing the Doctor ride a horse on Hitchemus (The Year of Intelligent Tigers). The Doctor mentions the Kulan's attempted invasion of Earth (Escape Velocity).
Location: The planet Albert, c2890 [Alex calculates that if the Doctor was involved with the mining companies during the 2780s, he must be at least a hundred, maybe a hundred and ten].
Future History: The planet Titan is being oceanoformed and has whale ranches. Space mining is big business, both for individuals and corporations. Lone space miners, such as Brok, use ships powered by fusion drives, which are notoriously dangerous. Miners search for exotic substances such as Strange Matter, squarks, and Hydrogen 3, rather than minerals. The crew of the Bonaventure works for Trinary Corp, and includes Humans, Vium, and Abanak, with each species having its own Captain. Aldebaran is famous for its banks, there is a DisneyMoon theme park on Earth's moon, and Zero-Rad day is an annual celebration on Earth. By this time, the ancestors of cougars and lions on Earth have been genetically altered to go into allergic shock at the taste of human flesh. Trade courts do not recognize paper. Foxes are hunted throughout the Kursaal system (Kursaal).
Unrecorded Adventures: During his stay on Earth, he Doctor spent some time in Lancashire during the 1940s, and it is suggested that he encountered aliens from Antares 5. He once threatened a man with a pet rat, who had been spreading the plague - the Doctor needed the antidote to cure a friend. The rat, which may not actually have been a rat, danced to a penny whistle. [Sebastian had two pet rats in The Banquo Legacy, which this may be a reference to. The plague does not fit in with that story, but it is possible that he is misremembering]. The Doctor asked Freud about his phobia to silverfish, but Freud wouldn't tell him what he said about them whilst under hypnosis [this is probably a reference to Cybermats]. Nuns taught him how to do Trapunto. He visited a garden in Highgate in 1936.
Q.v. Magic vs Science, The City of the Dead.
The Bottom Line: A magical novel in every sense of the world, Grimm Reality is a marvellous piece of work filled with wit and overflowing with ideas. The regulars are handled well, with the Doctor embracing his role as a fairytale hero, Fitz bravely letting the Princes escape from the lethal hut whilst he remains behind to face it because that is what the Doctor would do, and Anji allowed to be more than just a generic companion role by the nightmarish situation in which she finds herself trapped. In addition, the supporting characters are uniformly excellent, from the pragmatic but ultimately honourable Vium Captain to the Doctor's temporary companion, Inexplicable the Gnome. It is especially amusing however to see the Doctor from Alex Volpes' point of view - the Time Lord's usual manic energy and childlike enthusiasm, rather than inspiring the trust that he usually receives, makes Volpe consider him to be an untrustworthy lunatic!