Roots: There are references to the British Museum, the Bible, Darwin's On the Origins of Species, The American Journal of Archaeology, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Eros, Tarzan, Trotsky, Alexander the Great, Troy, Hamlet, Scooby Doo, Star Trek, and Pavlov. Death's hourglasses from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels probably inspire the concept of hourglasses measuring people's lives.
Continuity: Sabbath's employers are revealed to be the Council of Eight, eight crystalline beings that evolved at the very end of time. They draw energy from predicting events, but only if those events come to pass. The crystals released at the dawn of time in Timeless act as transmitters, allowing the Council of Eight to map out events within the universe. The crystals don't fit in with the periodic table or established crystallography, belonging to a hitherto unknown eighth crystal family. The Council's existence is a paradox; the energy that allows them to exist comes from the death of history, which provided the energy they needed to save the eight archetype crystals at the end of time that in turn allow them to seed the universe with crystals at its very beginning. Octan plans to break this cycle by predicting the destruction of human history, by destroying Earth with the star-killer before mankind evolved. The Council is based in the Vortex Palace, an artificial construct located within the Vortex. The creatures inhabiting the Vortex objected to its presence and were driven out (The Slow Empire, Anachrophobia, Timeless). Earth is the Council's touchstone for history, because of all the planets in the universe it has the best-defined timeline from start to finish. The Vortex Palace contains hourglasses for various people, which count down their lives. If an hourglass is destroyed, that person ages to death. The Vortex Palace is powered by the Schrodinger Cells; these are Cells in which humans removed from time and space are trapped and the potential energy of lives left unfulfilled provides energy. Cell eight contains everything, the possibility of alternate time lines that had to be removed to allow a single timeline that the Council could accurately predict. Once a cell is opened, the timeline crystallizes around the person inside and the energy is no longer available; the opening of the cells eventually destroys the Council except for Octan, who accidentally causes his own destruction, and Soul (Q.v. The Doctor's Origin post-The Ancestor Cell).
The Doctor is a Rogue Element, who exists outside of the normal laws of space and time and flies in the face of cause and effect, creating unpredictability. Sabbath was recruited because he is an element of complete and utter predictability that itself affects the Doctor. There are other Rogue Elements, although they are not of the same calibre as the Doctor (see The Adventuress of Henrietta Street). The Doctor's companions also act as limited Rogue Elements, having been contaminated by their travels with the Doctor. The Council have been organizing the deaths of several of his companions in attempt to limit the damage they cause; these include Harry (Wolfsbane), Mel (Heritage), Ace (Loving the Alien), and Sarah Jane Smith (Bullet Time). This hasn't always worked as they intended, as the cases of Harry and Ace prove. They also arranged the death of Samantha Jones, who became an eco-campaigner after she left the Doctor in Interference: Book Two and who died of a drugs overdose. Octan also mentions a political activist gunned down whilst giving a speech, although it isn't clear who this is a reference to [in addition to which, the restoration of the multiverse that takes place here casts all of these deaths in doubt, making it unclear whether any of these companions actually died]. Jo is also removed from space and time and placed in a Schrodinger Cell whilst travelling down the Amazon with Cliff, but this removal is negated when the Cells are opened (see The Green Death). It is suggested that the Doctor's second heart withered not because of the destruction of Gallifrey, but because of Octan's failed attempt to create an hourglass for him (The Adventuress of Henrietta Street).
The Time Agents are sent by the Council to prevent temporal divergences and ensure that history follows the path they have predicted. The Agents are apes like those used by Sabbath to crew the Jonah, but exposure to the Time Winds has affected their evolution, turning them into mismatched hybrids.
Octan built the Jonah. He fitted it with a chameleon circuit, but it requires some fine-tuning. Sabbath was initiated into the Service in 1762 at the age of twenty-one. He was not supposed to survive his initiation, having started to worry senior members of the Service, but was rescued and recruited by Octan and the Council of Eight to act as a totally predictable counterpoint to the Doctor. He didn't hear from them again for almost twenty years, until they approached him at St. Cedds college (see Shada (TV)) and warned him of the Doctor's impending arrival (The Adventuress of Henrietta Street). He has grown fond of the Doctor since their first meeting. Octan selected Sabbath's crew, and although the Apes have obeyed Sabbath thus far, their first loyalty is to Octan. Octan had Juliette removed from space and time and placed in a Schrodinger Cell because she was never meant to leave London with Sabbath (The Adventuress of Henrietta Street); he caused Sabbath to forget her, until the Doctor reminds him about her. The increasingly defiant Sabbath, furious at being used and manipulated by Octan, finally commits suicide with the Vortex Gun after the Doctor has tricked Octan into making a different prediction, initiating the final defeat of the Council and the destruction of the Vortex Palace.
Miranda has a daughter called Zezanne. Zezanne's father had black hair, but is now dead. Miranda is much older than when the Doctor last met. She has long since sorted out the Factions and the Houses and united the Empire (Father Time). She commits suicide when Octan tries to use her to exert control over the Doctor by smashing her own hourglass, which ages her to death in seconds.
The bearded old friend of the Doctors who appears on a screen in a secret room in the TARDIS and whom the Doctor occasionally confides in is clearly meant to be the Master [this is intended to tie in to Scream of the Shalka, in which the Master travels with the Ninth Doctor in an android body. Presumably, this version of the Master became trapped in the fabric of the TARDIS following the events of The TV Movie and is not the version that appeared in The Adventuress of Henrietta Street (Q.v.: The Master - Prime Time)].
The Doctor builds some tracking devices to allow Trix, Fitz and himself to locate the transmissions caused by the Time Agents' interference. He drinks beer and whiskey and as usual enjoys Earl Grey tea. He lifts a heavy lectern with ease (see The TV Movie). He carries a carpet bag, which may be dimensionally transcendental. The Doctor automatically distrusts Patterson because his beard makes him look saturnine and sinister, a reference to the Master.
Fitz adopts the unlikely alias of Horatio Sponge O.B.E. He has a digital watch, of which he is very proud. It is again implied that Fitz can no longer recall the events of The Ancestor Cell (see Escape Velocity).
Whilst in 1485, Trix adopts the alias Lady Beatrice and claims to be married to Sir Gerald Fitz-Kreiner. She also adopts the elaborate disguise of the elderly and buxom Miss Crystal Devine. She is a great believer in Sod's Law.
The Princes in the Tower are rescued from their historical fate as a result of events here, and are placed in the care of Anji (see Timeless). The Doctor places two skeletons under the stairs in the Tower in time to be discovered in 1674.
A Vortex Gun fires a pellet of pure temporal energy that rips apart whatever it hits and rips it apart, dispersing it to the Time Winds and hurling it into the Vortex.
Sometime Never... establishes a new explanation for the Doctor's origins in a universe without Gallifrey or the Time Lords. During the destruction of the Vortex Palace, the Doctor gives Council of Eight member Soul some of his life essence to allow him to survive. Soul, along with the Doctor's granddaughter Zezanne escapes in the Jonah, which materialises in a junkyard in Totter's Lane in 1963, and the cloaking device built by Octan works properly for the first and almost the last time, disguising the Jonah as a Metropolitan Police box. Both Zezanne and Soul are left amnesiac, but Zezanne recognises something of the Doctor in her companion and assumes that he is her companion, just as he believes himself to be the Doctor, having absorbed something of the Doctor's memories and personality along with his life essence...
In addition to all of this, Soul has with him the star-killer, a weapon built by Octan for the purpose of destroying stars. Octan refers to himself as the Alpha and Omega, and the star-killer folds up to resemble a clenched fist; the black eye with a white iris that witnesses the destruction of the Vortex Palace and tracks the progress of the star-killer is clearly a Dalek, thus offering a new explanation for the Hand of Omega and the events of Remembrance of the Daleks in a universe without Gallifrey and the Time Lords.
Of course, with Schrodinger Cell 8 opened, the multi-verse, and thus the possibility of alternate timelines, is restored, leaving the question of the significance of this new origin open to speculation...
Links: Miranda first appeared in Father Time. The Doctor visits Lionel Correll and there are references to Siberia (Time Zero). The Council of Eight released their crystals at the dawn of time in Timeless and Kalicum is mentioned. The Doctor's handkerchief was stained with Sabbaths blood in Timeless. There is a reference to the TARDIS fault locator.
Location: The Tower of London, August 1485; The Institute of Anthropology, London, Autumn and Winter 2004 (the exhibition opens on 31st January 2004); The University of West London, Summer 2001; South-Eastern France, 17th May 1837; Italy, 1564; New York, 2004; a space station at the very end of the universe; the Vortex Palace in the Time Vortex; somewhere along the course of the Amazon, 1972; and Totters Lane, Shoreditch, London, 1963.
Future History: Species present at the very end of the Universe include the Solarii. Korsann's species is not named, but he is reptilian and exudes a green mist. The station operated by Korsann, Ashtek and Singleton contains a 'complete' history of humanity.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor witnessed a Time Agent in Devon in 1624 and locates another piece of the crystal skeleton on a New York street in 2002.
The Bottom Line: Sometime Never... is well written and achieves a great deal, tying up several plot threads from recent novels, finally revealing who Sabbath's employers are and killing Sabbath himself off for good. Unfortunately, the intention to reveal that said employers were the Daleks wasn't permitted by the Nation estate, resulting in the rather anti-climactic revelation that the masterminds behind the last two and half-years worth of novels are some people we've never heard of or seen before. Nevertheless, it just about works and provides the opportunity for the range to move on to something more interesting, although the final twist at the end, concerning the Doctor's new origin, feels like a gratuitous attempt by Richards to stick two fingers up at those fans that have vocally complained about the direction of the series ever since he took over as editor!