The Empire of Glass
Roots: There are quotes from Macbeth and Galileo. A plethora of reference books on Galileo, Shakespeare and Marlowe are cited at the end of the book. Albrellian's dialogue is very Yoda. Braxiatel's flying island is named Laputa, after the island in Gulliver's Travels. Marlowe quotes Ovid. Titian is mentioned, as is Pearson's John and Jill.
Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor on his origins: 'Then what am I? A wanderer, my dear. A wanderer and a survivor. I am not of your race. I am not of this Earth. I am a wanderer in the fourth dimension of space and time, a refugee from an ancient civilisation, cut off from my own people by aeons of time and universes far beyond human understanding.'
He also advises Braxiatel: 'Never try to do anybody a favour. They won't thank you, and it usually goes horribly wrong.'
Continuity: Irving Braxiatel begins the Braxiatel Collection in Venice, 1609, by assembling a collection of every book banned by the Index of the Catholic Church. It has taken him twenty years to arrange the Armageddon Convention. The invitation Braxiatel gives the Doctor contains full flight details to get him to the Armageddon Convention and is fully compatible with the navigational equipment of any vessel up to and including a TARDIS. He persuaded the Time Lords of the necessity of letting the Doctor chair the Convention and personally handed him the invitation along with an explanation, but despite this the Time Lords erased his memory of the meeting when the removed his memory of the Omega affair (The Three Doctors - see Links). Braxiatel notes that if he had known about this, he would have invited a later incarnation. The area of space for a light-year around Earth is declared a no-go area for the duration of the conference in case a race such as the Daleks try to attack it. To enforce this, Braxiatel scatters defence satellites throughout the Solar System. To avoid using technology built by any race attending the Convention, he went back in time and bought the satellites off a race called the Aaev. Shortly afterwards, the Aaev were invaded and destroyed, due to their lack of defences. Braxiatel equips the Jamarians with hologram projectors so that they can move unobserved through Venice. Following the separate attempts by the Greld and Jamarians to disrupt the Convention, he glumly decides to stick to collecting in future, and establishes the Library of Saint John the Beheaded (All-Consuming Fire). He obtains Shakespeare's lost plays Loves Labours Won, The Birth of Merlin, and Sir John Oldcastle for this library. He has a robot servant named Cremonini.
The Doctor hints at his relationship with Braxiatel: 'Yes, Braxiatel is my Well, well, well.' Similarly, Braxiatel tells Vicki 'after all, we are' and then gets distracted [They are brothers see Tears of the Oracle]. The Doctor congratulates Braxiatel on following his example and leaving Gallifrey, but Braxiatel notes that he was allowed to leave [this slightly contradicts Tears of the Oracle, in which it is revealed that Braxiatel left first]. The Doctor notes that Braxiatel was always overconfident, even as a child. The Doctor has refused to let either Steven or Vicki have a copy of the TARDIS key, which has been the subject of several arguments between the Doctor and Steven; following the events of this story, he decides to give Steven a key. He drinks wine. He bears a close resemblance to Cardinal Bellarmine. He tells Steven that he knows of races that would kill him for missing an important meeting. The Doctor tells Vicki that Susan was his granddaughter, but adds, if such terms can be applied to beings like us [see Lungbarrow]. He confesses that she was the only person who really understood him and where he was going. The Doctor's exploits have become legendary to many of the races attending the Convention. His role in persuading the Time Lords to ban Miniscopes throughout the nine galaxies (as mentioned in Carnival of Monsters) is well known to the delegates at the conference, and it is for this reason that Braxiatel believed that he would be the ideal chairman. He carries a telescope, although it gets broken when Galileo hits a Jamarian with it. The Doctor and Vicki end up performing on stage in the début performance of MacBeth, before King James the First.
Prior to leaving Earth for Mechanus, Steven lived in a cramped apartment in the middle of a Hiveblock on Earth. Krayt fighters shot him down over Mechanus. He gets extremely drunk with Galileo, and is romantically pursued by Marlowe; whether or not he indulges Marlowe's dying wish of a kiss is left unknown. He uses one of Braxiatel's holographic disguises to impersonate Galileo.
Barbara once told Vicki that the Doctor isn't what he seems. She also told her about Susan. Some of Vicki's best friends were aliens, prior to her leaving Earth for Astra. Despite her attempts to deal with it, the pain caused by the death of her father still overcomes her occasionally.
The TARDIS contains ultrasonic showers.
The Armageddon Convention is designed as a damage limitation convention, since Braxiatel knew that none of the major powers would attend a peace conference; it is meant to ban the use of so-called doomsday weapons, such as cobalt bombs and temporal disruptors, which can have unpredictable and far-reaching consequences. In return for the desperate races likely to use such weapons surrendering them, the more warlike races that tend to attack them are supposed to stop using the dirtier weapons that don't differentiate between military and civilian targets. Braxiatel sent robot messengers to distribute the invitations; the Daleks and the Cybermen both refused to attend and destroyed the messengers (see Revenge of the Cybermen). Braxiatel chose Earth as the location for the Convention because it is conveniently positioned and the pre-industrial state of the natives is intended to remind the attendees that their races were young and powerless once.
Laputa, the flying island constructed to host the Armageddon Convention, recognises the biomorphic code of each delegate, allowing them to enter the island unmolested. The island is covered in jungle plants transplanted from South America, since Braxiatel wanted the island to be picturesque. Envoys are forbidden from fraternising with the natives. The envoys' spacecraft are parked on the Moon, but all are empty; the Ice Warriors have a base near the North Pole, the Krargs are based in the Sahara, and the Vilp are hidden in an underground base. Due to an error on behalf of the Jamarians, Cardinal Bellarmine, who believes that the alien envoys are angels, eventually chairs the Convention and he determines the rules of his putative war in Heaven by drawing inspiration from the Bible! As a consequence, under the terms of the Convention, plague, poison and Sunblasters are all acceptable.
The Sontarans drink rakeshla to celebrate the return of victorious warriors. At the decree of the Sontaran Imperator, Sontara's solar system was reorganized so that Sontara is orbited by its sun.
The Greld are intelligent arthropods the size of a human, but shorter and broader. They have three pairs of walking legs and two pairs of crab-like manipulatory appendages. Their shells are mottled dark red and they have four stalked eyes, which emerge from the tops of their shells. They have a pair of leathery wings that fold up into a wing case on their back, and they can fly in Earth's galaxy. They are a very sensuous race and are very liberal about sex - they enjoy physical pleasures with non-Greld. Their home planet orbits the star Canopus and they primarily deal in technology (mainly weapons) (see Original Sin). Because they are arms dealers, they want the Convention to fail, since it would affect their profits. Because of this, they decided to sabotage it. The Greld were responsible for the abduction of the New Albion colonists, whom they surgically implanted with the components of a meta-cobalt bomb, mined locally, and hypnocontrollers. The hypnocontrollers were designed to guide the colonists to Laputa, and can also regenerate flesh and control pain in order to ensure that the colonists survive long enough to fulfil the Greld's plans. The bomb requires a fusing unit in order for it to be detonated, which was implanted in Marlowe. Marlowe's hypnocontroller was removed by a surgeon following a sword-fight, but Albrellian hypotheses that it must still have exerted an effect on him in order to lure him to Venice at the appointed time.
The Jamarians are tall and very thin humanoids with mottled, lumpy, blue skin, a horn protruding from their forehead, and a single red eye. They have a reputation for stupidity, Braxiatel noting that he might as well have hired Ogrons to help him arrange the Armageddon Convention. Despite this, they are intelligent enough to see the advantages made available to them by the Convention, and decide to sell the design specs of the unattended spaceships of the envoys, parked on the Moon, to the highest bidder.
In addition to the Greld and the Jamarians, races attending the Armageddon Convention include the Oolian, Jullatii (Original Sin), Dentraal, Ontraag, Devgherrians, Ellillians, Sontarans, Rutan, Krargs (see Shada (TV)), Vilp, Ice Warriors and Chelonians. The Vilp use telepathic data storage units. The Rutan have previously used plague bombs to attack the Sontarans.
Christopher Marlowe uses the alias Giovanni Zarattino Chigi. Shakespeare absorbs the information about the alien spaceships from the Vilp telepathic storage unit purloined by the Jamarians, but the information is lost when he is takes a tablet provided by Braxiatel, which removes twenty-four hours worth of memory form the mind of a human [similar to the drugs used by the Time Lords - see Dead Romance]. Cardinal Bellarmine and Galileo are also given these pills. Braxiatel restores Shakespeare's memory on his deathbed.
Links: The Doctor is returned to the TARDIS at the start of this story, following the events of The Three Doctors. The Time Lords erase his memory of those events, leaving him with nothing but a fading impression of a Dandy and a Clown. He nearly tells Shakespeare that he saw him on the Space-Time Visualiser, but catches himself in time (The Chase). Shakespeare in turn asks him if he has a younger brother, tall with curly brown hair, who helped him with the first draft of Hamlet when he sprained his wrist (City of Death).
The Armageddon Convention was first mentioned in Revenge of the Cybermen. The Doctor has already caused Miniscopes to be banned, which is mentioned in Carnival of Monsters. Braxiatel knows of the Meddling Monk, and heard that he headed for Earth when he left Gallifrey. Vicki mentions meeting him in 1066 (The Time Meddler).
Vicki notes that there were no oceans on Dido, at least within walking distance of the spaceship, and has a nightmare about Barbara's shooting of Sandy (The Rescue). The Doctor cautions her that the sea might be acid, which is probably a reference to The Keys of Marinus. He also mentions Chesterton. He tells Steven that Marco Polo described Venice to him as one of the most repressive states that he'd ever known (Marco Polo).
Location: New Albion, July 1587; Deptford, near London, August 1592; Venice and London 1609; London, April 1616.
Future History: The Doctor notes that Venice had sunk beneath the sea long before either Steven or Vicki's time.
Unrecorded Adventures: Since The Time Meddler, the Doctor, Steven and Vicki spent several days in Spain during the time of Torquemada and were nearly killed by the Inquisition (see also Managra). The Doctor was once taught how to sail by Edward Teach.
The Bottom Line: A hugely entertaining pseudo-historical romp, which manages to be packed with continuity references without becoming over indulgent. The scenes between the Doctor and Braxiatel are delicious, and Steven's friendship with Marlowe is touching.