The Man in the Velvet Mask

Roots: Monsieur le 6 announces 'I am not a number', in a nod to The Prisoner (also called number 6 of course, although de Sade really was referred to as Monsieur le 6 when in prison). de Sade's Les Infortunes de la Vertu is mentioned. De Sade's library includes works by Shakespeare, Voltaire, Diderot, Laclos, Richardson, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Rabelais, Moliere and Madame Radcliffe. The Masksmasters' guises include Robin Hood, Kali, Jack Frost, Coyote the Trickster, Doctor Faustus, the Wandering Jew, Janus and Don Juan. There are references to Frankenstein and Atlantis. The Doctor hums Jerusalem.

Dialogue Triumphs: 'Truth, like many things, is relative.'

The Doctor reflects on his failing health: 'This was selfish and it bothered him. He hoped that it was a symptom of his illness and not of his self. He hoped that, when the change came upon him, he would be reborn a better person, cleansed of this stain.'

In an exchange with Robin Goodfellow, the Doctor discusses the purpose of certain laws - Goodfellow: 'Laws tend to serve the interests of their makers.' The Doctor: 'Most of the time, yes. Occasionally they exist to protect the weak.'

Continuity: The Masksmasters of the Pageant can alter reality using their machines, and are apparently extra-dimensional in origin. They grow machines and wear masks to give themselves identity. They are ruled from, or dwell in, Pageant's Heart. Interested in the relationship between individual psychology and the historical dynamic of Earth, they set out to study it, lead by artist-scientist Goodfellow. The Project was designated Orbis Tertius. They removed Earth from space-time c.1794, transported it into a pocket universe and reconfigured it, rebuilding it within a machine that could regulate and control the physical nature of the world. They were particularly interested in de Sade, who was renowned as a quirk of his era for his philosophies; they created Minski as the system operator and programmed him with an epistemic code based on de Sade's philosophies and ideals - they miscalculated however, and de Sade's epistemic code corrupted the system, causing Minski to become corrupted, develop independence and seize control of the machine. Following the intervention of the Doctor, they reverse the machine and restore Earth to its proper place in real-time. The Doctor warns them that any further such experiments will be ended swiftly and efficiently, as will the Masksmasters [presumably by the Time Lords]. They refer to Earth as planet D-zero-two-R-L. They are not malevolent by nature, and did not expect the experiment to hurt the humans - they just wanted to see how they would react if history was different.

In the altered reality created by the Masksmasters, the French Revolution never ended and First Deputy Minski ruled single-handedly for ten years and had the Bastille rebuilt. In this reality, the original text of the Marquis de Sade's play Justine survives as The Misfortunes of Virtue. Minski is a mass of engineered biological tissue mimicking a human, but his internal organs are not an exact replica - he has no heart. Minski's maggots are engineered machines with organic components. They infect humans and feed on nervous tissue and cerebral matter, traveling to the brain and feeding as they go. By the time they are fed, all the important parts of the nervous system are infected with their secretions. The maggots die within a few hours, but they leave traces of their engineered DNA within the victim's nervous system, leaving the victim susceptible to Minski's control - he intends to sue this to control the world. Their engineered DNA can be passed through sexual contact and through generations.

The Doctor knows that he is nearing the end of his first incarnation (The Tenth Planet) and is becoming increasingly unwell. He has known that "the Change" is near for months and has been resisting it - he fears it more than death since it will destroy part of his self forever and he will have to live with that knowledge. He only has one heart at this point, but knows that he will gain another when he regenerates for the first time. It is implied that he deliberately abandoned Steven on the planet of the Elders and Savages (The Savages) because he wants to be alone when he regenerates - he tells Dodo at one point that she should also leave. The TARDIS "calls" to him [telepathically] when he is separated from it.

Despite having French blood, Dodo cannot speak French, having spent most of her French lessons behind the gym learning how to kiss. She considers herself unattractive ("I'm short, I'm dumpy and I have bad teeth"). She can play the piano, but not very well (see The Gunfighters). Whilst in Paris, she changes her name to Chaplette in order to blend in. She drinks wine. Dodo has few coherent memories of her life before meeting the Doctor, presumably because she didn't much enjoy it and has got caught up in the excitement of traveling. She is a virgin, until she has sex with Dalville. Because Dalville was infected with Minski's virus, Dodo becomes infected and will pass it on to her future lovers and children, although once Minski is killed and the world machine reversed, it will never have an effect. She accepts the virus, since she wants to take something of the alternate reality with her. When she was young, she climbed a huge knarled oak in the park and fell from it, cutting herself. The same year, a boy from another school had also climbed it and fallen, breaking his neck. Dodo's mother had banned her from climbing and complained to the council, which had the local trees chopped down in 1957. Forced by circumstance to join Fantomas' traveling players, she adopts the role of Sophie.

Links: The Doctor recalls being separated from the TARDIS in China (Marco Polo). The Doctor has known that he is nearing the end of his first life since his last meeting with the Toymaker (The Celestial Toymaker). There are references to the departure of Susan (The Dalek Invasion of Earth) and Steven (The Savages). Dodo offers to play The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon (The Gunfighters). Dodo notes that she once almost killed the entire human race and there are references to Monoids and Refusians (The Ark).

Location: Paris, 1804, in an alternate reality in a pocket universe created by the Masksmasters of the Pageant, which is undone at the end of the novel; the Pageant, date inapplicable.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor was separated from the TARDIS in the fourth universe (see The Edge of Destruction).

The Bottom Line: There are gaps in the air. A remarkable, imaginative and often horrific piece of work, made notorious for leaving Dodo with an STD. Dodo gets more characterisation than she ever did in the TV series, and the Doctor comes over particularly well, with his impending regeneration looming over him throughout.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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