Roots: H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos (Howard Philips is based on Lovecraft). Live and Let Die. There are references to Peter Lorre, Allan Quatermain, Lee van Cleef, Norman Bates (Psycho), Holmes, the Cheshire Cat (Alice in Wonderland), and the various Star Trek series. Ace uses the phrase "smegging hell" (Red Dwarf) and quotes Macbeth ("Lead on, MacDuff"). There is a reference to the Rihanssu, who are the Romulans from Diane Duane's Star Trek novels (and should be spelt Rihannsu - thanks to David. A. McIntee). LeMaitre is French for "the Master" and is an in-joke, as is the presence of a character called Lt. Dietz, the name of the character played by Anthony Ainley in The Land That Time Forgot. Dr. Ingrid Karnstein is named after Ingrid Pitt, and the vampires from the Hammer Horror Carmilla trilogy.
Goofs: The TARDIS doesn't translate Creole [perhaps this is because, as noted, it is an argot - a language developed to prevent outsiders from understanding it].
Necronomicon is spelt "Necronmicon" occasionally.
White Darkness is the first of many New Adventures to feature a barely-recognizable Seventh Doctor on its cover.
Dialogue Triumphs: 'I disapprove of killing at the best of times, Ace, but, and this is vitally important, you must never kill anyone with a role in recorded history if you can possibly avoid it.'
Continuity: The Great Ones on Earth were driven into hibernation millions of years ago, by "The unarmed predators who hunted with one huge fang and the touch of decay" [the Fendahl]. By this time, the "reptile men" (Silurians) have gone into hibernation and the augmented ape ancestors of humanity are hiding in the deepest caves they can find. The Star People who suffered the wrath of their genetically engineered servitors are probably the inhabitants of Planet 5, i.e. the creators of the Fendahl (see Image of the Fendahl) [it is implied that there are multiple Great Ones driven into hiding by the Fendahl, but given what is later revealed about the Great Old Ones in All-Consuming Fire, Millennial Rites, and Divided Loyalties, it seems likely that only two are present on Earth at this time - Cthulu, seen here, and Dagor, worshipped by the Silurians]. Their physical bodies remained on Earth, whilst their minds were trapped in the Vortex and can only be reunited with their bodies when the stars are correctly aligned - the tidal forces of the stellar masses in conjunction are sometimes sufficient to tear a hole in space-time and open a pathway to allow their minds to return to their bodies.
Because the universe is constantly expanding and contracting, the stars never quite return to the configuration they were in when the Old Ones went into hibernation, so they need assistance from their followers to attract the attention of their bodies' autonomic instincts and allow them to compensate. The third part of their form exists in the outer dimensional planes, where the Doctor speculates they originate from [again, see All-Consuming Fire and Millennial Rites]. They cannot be killed in this dimension. The Great Old One here [Cthulu - see All-Consuming Fire] sleeps beneath Haiti. They know of the Time Lords and consider them a threat. The Necronomicon, written in Eocene and with original illustrations by Roerich, tells of the Great Old Ones and contains instructions for raising the dead (see The Banquo Legacy). Alistair Crowley possessed a copy, which he gave to Doctor Howard Phillips in lieu of payment for an ulcer operation.
There are many planets with carvings similar to those shown in the Necronomicon, and on each of these planets there are legends of ancient beings that ruled everywhere before dying out, and that they might return - these are the Great Old Ones. The museum on Haiti contains carvings at least fifteen million years old, which the Doctor notes were carved by visitors to the planet. The Doctor states that nobody knows anything about the Great Old Ones, including the Time Lords [he's exaggerating for effect - see All-Consuming Fire and Divided Loyalties]. Unable to conquer physically whilst hibernating, they influence the minds of their followers to do what they want them to. Mescalin opens the higher centres of the human brain, which the Doctor says they aren't ready to use, allowing them to access the non-Euclidian dimensions associated with the Great Old Ones and thus contact them. It is presumably the power of the Great Old One that extends Mait's life span to approximately one hundred and seventy years. Contact with the Old One through the enhancer allows Mait to draw on its excess life force, although the Doctor notes that the human body can't cope with this for long. Cthulu has been charting the progress of all who enter the vortex for aeons.
The Doctor sets a course for Key West to give himself and his companions a tropical holiday, but forgets to allow for minute changes in the calendar that affect the Earth's rotation and they arrive in Haiti instead. His eyes possibly change colour - they appear either blue or grey. He exchanges his usual costume for a battered white fedora with paisley hatband, glistening silk shirt, green silk cravat, and wrinkled cream-coloured linen suit. He also wears Cameca's brooch pinned to his lapel (The Aztecs). He can pick up the psycho-spoor left by Mait's poorly constructed focused neuro-pattern enhancer, which he says he only usually hears when he is close to a group of telepaths (see The Pirate Planet). The Doctor is familiar (although uncomfortable) with the Necronomicon, and can read Eocene. He hypnotizes Mortimer to make him stop the Wete Mo Nan Dlo ceremony and tells Ace that he was taught to do this by "a very good teacher... until he took a wrong turning on one of the roads of life that we walked" - this is presumably a reference to the Master (see The Dark Path). He briefly wishes that he had built another K9 [following the destruction of K9 Mark IV in Search Out Space - see Dimensions in Time and Short Trips and Side Steps: Storm in a Tikka]. He carries a small probe capable of detecting psychic energy.
Ace swaps her combat suit for black trousers, knee-length boots, silver waistcoat, black silk shirt, and a floor-length black duster coat. She carries a blaster in a low-slung holster, a knife in her boat, a rectangle of toughened Kevlar strapped to her forearm, and, possibly, several grenades. She says that even during the Dalek wars she hasn't seen death as unpleasant as that inflicted by the Secte Rouge. Ace tells Petion that she has fought in more battles than he would believe. She builds a machine gun using parts from the armoury, which is fully automatic, has fairly rapid fire, and contains bullets with her own home-made explosive in the hollow tips.
Bernice has cut her dreadlocks off (Lucifer Rising) and wears a multi-pocketed safari jacket over khaki trousers. She has visited Veltroch (see First Frontier and Mission: Impractical) and Exo Three, where she has seen carvings similar to those shown in the Necronomicon - those on Exo Three are carved into the rock of some tunnels and are millions of years old, and the ones on Veltroch are carved onto a globe and are at least three billion years old. She has holographic recordings of these carvings in the TARDIS. She nearly gets turned into a zombie and also gets threatened by Nazis with truth drugs that will leave her severely brain damaged. Benny once got lost in a castle on Khul. She adopts a "passable" German accent. Benny has nightmares about Daleks (see Love and War). She has visited the Eye of Orion (The Five Doctors).
The TARDIS key doesn't work for Petion [the Doctor has switched the isomorphic controls on]. The TARDIS has first aid kits, even the most basic of which contains an anabolic protoplaser. The TARDIS also contains a lateral molecular rectifier. The HADS (The Krotons) has an emergency manual override control, which the Doctor tells Ace is the best way of getting his ship to respond to her. The TARDIS telepathic circuits don't translate written German for Benny [see Escape Velocity].
Occult books in Mait's collection include The Book of Dzyan, The Book of Eibon, The Golden Bough, Ludwig Prinn's De Vermiis Mysteriis, and The Beginner's Guide to the Necronomicon. Under the influence of the Great Old One, Mait is able to construct a focused neuro-pattern enhancer using parts available on Earth in 1914, which acts as an external focus for the electrical fields generated by the brain and directs them at a receptive machine or conditioned brain elsewhere, thus allowing non-telepaths to communicate by thought-waves. Poorly constructed models leave lots of psycho-spoor (see The Pirate Planet). The Doctor notes that if he tries to blow up the gigantic enhancer in the Great Old One's temple, the resulting explosion would probably destroy the Caribbean, so they presumably store energy as well.
Veltroch orbits the star Fomalhaut, approximately seven parsecs from Sol.
Links: The Doctor finds his Sixth incarnation's umbrella in the TARDIS wardrobe room, as well as Victoria's parasol. He kept Cameca's brooch in his pocket until after Ian and Barbara left him (The Aztecs, The Chase). The feeling that the presence of the Great Old One gives the Doctor reminds him of the Dark Tower (The Five Doctors). Ace notes that she has seen injuries inflicted by "big cats", which is probably a reference to the Cheetah People (Survival). Benny has heard of Davros. The Brigadier and Bessie are mentioned. Earth Reptiles are mentioned (see Love and War). Benny wonders what a racist marine would make of a Draconian (Frontier in Space) or a Centauran (The Curse of Peladon, The Monster of Peladon).
Location: Haiti, 1750 and c.1914.
Future History: The Nobel Prize is still awarded in the twenty-sixth century. Another prize awarded for research is the Magnees. During the twenty-seventh century, a Haitian deciphers the Rihanssu language, allowing a peace treaty to be drawn up and thus ending an interstellar war with Earth.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has visited Haiti before. The Doctor has seen the use of datura-related psychotropes to turn people into willing slaves on company planets run by the Usurians (see 'The Sun Makers'). The Doctor and two companions encountered the Efik - the most notorious tribe of slavers on the Slave Coast, and were forced to take the calabar test.
Q.v. Benny's Birthday, Love and War.
The Bottom Line: Promising debut from McIntee, which introduces the concept of the Great Old Ones and features some great characterisation, both of the regulars and the guest cast. The historical detail is used to great effect, and the multiple villains are sufficiently interesting.