Roots: Zebulon Pryce is reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs). There are quotations from Yeats' The Second Coming and Marinetti's The Manifesto of Futurism. The Doctor mentions Gandhi. The INITEC bots are reminiscent of Robocop. The Rolling Stones are still popular in the thirtieth century. Benny asks where the Doctor was on 22nd November 1963, the day Kennedy was assassinated (see Who Killed Kennedy and Rose). Bertrand Russell is mentioned. The planets Murtaugh and Riggs Alpha are references to the Lethal Weapon movies. An adamantium shell, the fictional alloy with which X-Man Wolverine's skeleton is laced, protects Dantalion's home. He misquotes Hamlet. Vaughn quotes a long-dead American president, "I disremember." This is probably a reference to Ronald Reagan's comments on the Iran Contra scandal.
Body-beppling works on the basis that all cells in the human body except brain cells are renewed every three months, which is not true.
Vaughan claims that the Cybermen wanted the mircomonolithic circuits from The Invasion to wipe out humanity, but he persuaded them otherwise; this seems strange, given that they require humans in order to proliferate.
Technobabble: The Doctor states that the moving walkway of the overcity that he and Benny land on consists of "a single crystal exhibiting a high degree of thixotropic behaviour in a unilateral direction under the influence of an electromagnetic current".
Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor: "Killing is wrong except when it's right, and I know the difference. That's all I can say. That's the only answer I can give."
Serial killer Zebulon Pryce replies: "Yes. That's the only answer I could give when they put me on trial. I hope it helps you more than it helped me".
Memorable Moments: The Doctor's conversation with Pryce on the subject of killing is a fascinating insight into the Time Lord's psyche and arguably one of the most memorable moments of any New Adventure.
Continuity: Tobias Vaughan survived being shot by the Cybermen at the end of The Invasion; never entirely trusting them, he had constructed alternate robot bodies for himself around the world without the Cyberplanner's knowledge and at the point of death had his mind uploaded via an International Electromatics satellite and downloaded into a different body. He had already established fifteen separate identities for himself, and at one point the company's entire board of directors consisted of versions of Vaughan. In fact, the Vaughan that the Doctor had met was not the original; although they allowed him to keep his emotions, the Cybermen transferred his mind into an entirely artificial simulacrum early on in their alliance. Vaughan has been unable to replicate their technology to that degree of sophistication, and his current body is obviously robotic. He can mentally occupy any robot ever built by INITEC or containing an INITEC component, although he can only control one robot at a time. INITEC is an acronym for Interstellar Nanoatomic ITEC (Independent Terran Empire Corporation) and is an anagram of International Electromatics. It is the only major corporation whose headquarters are still located on Earth, the rest having moved theirs to the rim planets. Vaughan claims that he has only ever sought to further humanity's cause, and he has made sure that INITEC has been at the forefront of weapons research, in order to repel alien invasions. Under his direction, INITEC designed the boson cannon, which was vital to the defeat of the Jullatii invasion in 2350, and his researchers built the first of the Vigilante laser defence satellites, which prevented the Zygons' attempt to melt the ice caps in 2765. Vaughan also personally designed the Glitterguns that defeated the Cybermen in the second Cyberwars (Revenge of the Cybermen). After a thousand years, Vaughan's memories are starting to become corrupted, with bits lost every time he changes bodies. He has been monitoring records of the Doctor and tracing his movements for the last millennium, since he wants Time Travel so that he can defend Earth against an attack through time - to this end, he funded the experiments of Blinovitch (Day of the Daleks) and Whitaker (Invasion of the Dinosaurs). The Doctor traps Vaughan in the TARDIS so that he can't switch bodies, then decapitates him and uses his techbrain to repair Chris's Mum's food irradiator, thus trapping him inside it.
Benny has presumably seen Citizen Kane, as she makes reference to Rosebud. She misses Ace (Set Piece), and reflects that she alternately loved and loathed her. She found some of Dylan Thomas's poetry in the TARDIS library after Ace left, and read it largely because he also liked alcohol. She is familiar with Pig Latin.
Roz Forrester lives on level 505. Her full name is Roslyn Sarah Forrester. Her family is old and rich and of purebred African Xhosa heritage (see So Vile a Sin). She was squired to Fenn Martle and was his partner for a total of fifteen years, and in addition to being his partner, she was his lover. She once saw a man throw a Ditz off a walkway in the overcity - when Martle challenged him over it he denied that he'd ever owned a Ditz. Roz asked for his ident card, ate it, and then arrested him for not having identification. When she discovered that Martle was corrupt, she tried to arrest him and was forced to kill him. Unwilling to let anyone know of his pawns within the Adjudicators, Vaughan, Martle's paymaster, stunned Roz and had Dantalion change her memories, so that she believed a Falardi had killed Fenn whilst resisting arrest. Vaughan believed that this was easier than killing her and trying to explain two dead Adjudicators without drawing suspicion towards Adjudicator Secular Rashid, who was also on his payroll. Dantalion, correctly guessing that the same person was responsible for the deaths of underdwellers Annie and Powerless Friendless and wanting to see them pay, insists on restoring Roz's memories. In addition to her armour, she carries a neuronic whip. She and Chris join the TARDIS crew.
Chris's full name is Christopher Rodonanté Cwej is pronounced Shvey, but Chris pronounces it phonetically because people find it easier. He is an expert flitter pilot and a spaceship enthusiast - he used to make and paint models of various ships, which he hung from his bedroom ceiling, including a model of the Hith flagship, the Gex. He has recently had a body-bepple, to give himself golden fur, small pointed ears, a black bear-like nose, and small button eyes. He may have had beppling as a child, to temporarily give him two-heads. In his normal state, he is tall, slim but muscular, and blonde-haired. He used to own a small reptilian pet. His father was an Adjudicator until 2953, having graduated in 2905, and is well over seventy years old. There was a Cwej on the founding board of Adjudicators and the family has produced Adjudicators ever since.
The Doctor speaks Berberese. It is five hundred years since he met Vaughan for the first time [q.v.: The Doctor's age]. He accidentally drinks a beaker of boot-polish, apparently without ill effects, and particularly likes lapsang souchong tea. He is able to temporarily shift his genetic makeup to mimic somebody else's, thus enabling him to fool a gene-tester. He notes that he learnt how to do this from the Master, who frequently uses regeneration as a disguise, and was reminded of the technique by Romana, who tried on different genetic templates during her first regeneration (Destiny of the Daleks). He claims that the Time Lords had their shame psycho-surgically removed many generations ago [he may be joking]. Beltempest gives him a Landsknechte uniform, which he reluctantly accepts. He uses the expletive "For Rassilon's sake!" Whilst at the Academy, he attended lectures on stellar engineering by Arcalian lecturer Lady Genniploritreludar. He still has difficulty recalling the TARDIS's operating codes after the block was placed on his memory when he was exiled to Earth (Spearhead from Space), and suspects that when the Time Lords restored his memory after the Omega affair, they left holes (The Three Doctors). Most Time Lords are unafraid of death, since their minds are absorbed into the APC net at the point of death; the Doctor lost this privilege when he left Gallifrey. He admits to Pryce that he is afraid of dying. He has an empathic link with the TARDIS and also appears to have a direct telepathic conversation with her.
Type 40 TARDISes are rated for tolerance of any environment up to and including the inside of a quasar. TARDISes live in the Vortex and only emerge under protest. The Doctor's TARDIS only has isomorphic controls when he sets them that way. It is implied that the HADS are still operational in this TARDIS. There is a spiral staircase in the library. The TARDIS also features a wine cellar, a rose garden, and an airlock that leads to a back door in the rear of the TARDIS's outer shell. It also contains equipment capable of detecting deep-seated effects of Icaron radiation and body-beppling and eradicating them.
The Divine Empress rules the Empire from the Imperial Palace, which orbits Saturn. She is Centcomp, the controlling intelligence that runs the Solar System. She is extremely old, with only stumps left of her limbs, and with a body bloated and warped by inoperable tumours and other diseases of extreme old age (see So Vile a Sin). Her full title is Divine Empress, Glory of the Empire, Ruler of the High Court, Lord of the Inner and Outer Worlds, High Admiral of the Galactic Fleets, Lord General of the Six Armies and Defender of the Earth.
The Guild of Adjudicators has been in existence for eight hundred years and maintains law and order on Earth and throughout the Empire. They wear distinctive blue-and-gold armour and dark robes. They are trained on Ponten IV. Centcomp controls their communications network. Their lodges are located in the Undertowns and are mobile. Adjudicator's greet each other with the slogans "Justice" and "Fairness". Their code of conduct is the Adjudicator Creed and they recite this in the Shrine of Justice present in each lodge. Roz's superior holds the rank of Adjudicator Secular, and answers in turn to an Adjudicator Spiritual. The highest-ranking Adjudicator is the Adjudicator In Extremis. The Adjudicators use mind probes to interrogate suspects. Criminals convicted by the Empire are often brainwiped and recharactered.
The Imperial Landsknechte brand prisoners of war with identification numbers. They are based on the planet Purgatory, one of the [Empire-appointed] eight wonders of the universe. Purgatory was terraformed in thousands of hexagonal sections, each replicating the surface of a hostile planet, for use as a training ground. The different regions are separated by force fields and some even have their own atmospheres. Replicated regions include Hithis, the hostile jungles of Ybarraculus Epsilon, the acid ice-caps of Throssa, complete with icefish, and the Emerald Cities of Dargol, with the mind-destroying jewel-wraiths. The real Beltempest is a Provost-Major in the Landsknechte. Landsknechte ships include Dalekbusters. Landsknechte uniforms are bioengineered from arthropods from one of the moons of Threllinius Omega. The arthropods' nervous systems are unusually compatible with electronic augmentation. They are brainless and completely loyal to the owner, and are keyed to a particular owner so that if anyone else tries to steal the uniform it will set off alarms and also rip the culprit to shreds.
Professor Zebulon Pryce was an expert on Icarons at the University of Sallas. The radiation drove him insane, and he became a homicidal killer. He was found out in 2947 when he refused to evacuate his building after a fire. The Landsknechte were sent in to rescue him and found that he had been abducting Landsknechte corps for three years - he had successfully fooled everyone into thinking that they had deserted and wandered off into the surrounding jungles. Many of them were kept alive for weeks, whilst he dissolved their flesh with coronic acid but kept their circulatory systems and nervous systems intact. Both the real and ersatz Beltempest were amongst the men who found his victims, several of whom were still alive but were little more than skeletons with eyes. Pryce was imprisoned on Dis, since the Landsknechte's desire to see him executed was foiled by the fact that as a University Employee, he was tried under Imperial rather than Martial law. He has been appealing his case for the past ten years, and lawyers on both sides of the case keep mysteriously dying. He has killed fifty-eight fellow inmates whilst in prison on Dis. He has chosen to remain naked for most of his incarceration and remains that way when taken from Dis by the Doctor and Beltempest.
The Hith are solitary slug-like creatures from the planet Hithis who only meet others of their race for mating. They can change their sex. They fought a short war against the Earth Empire and lost four years earlier in 2953; their world was terraformed and they were left wandering the Galaxy. To remind themselves and the rest of the galaxy of this atrocity and what they have lost, they forsook their original names and adopted names such as Homeless Forsaken Betrayed And Alone. Ripping off the vestigial shells on their tails causes systemic nervous shock that either kills them or causes irreversible coma. Following the destruction of the Skel'Ske, the fake Beltempest offers to intercede directly with the Empress to try and have Hithis returned to the Hith and reverse terraformed based on the section of Hithis on Purgatory.
The Oolians are a militaristic avian race. Animeats live in the atmosphere of a gas giant out on the rim, where they absorb nutrients from the gas clouds. They have been re-engineered by ElleryCorp are farmed on Earth as source of food- chunks of their meat are harvested, and re-grow later (supposedly, they don't feel pain). The Minorith of Barrab Major are bacteria that build cities. A Ditz is a Centauran creature resembling a bee but about the size of a poodle and with the intelligence of a three-year-old human. They are expensive to keep as pets, since they require a special diet from their home planet. They cannot fly in Earth's gravity.
Doc Dantalion is a Birastrop (The Brain of Morbius) [They are presumably very long-lived, since he met the Third Doctor on Earth during the 1970s - see Where the Heart Is (Decalog 2)]. Deeply furrowed skin is a sign of old age in Birastrops. It is suggested that Dantalion is terminally ill. He is rumoured to have once been Surgeon Imperialis, despite the fact that the Empress hates aliens. Roz has arrested him on numerous occasions for performing unauthorised brainwipes and body-bepples, but he is under the wing of a local crime lord (Olias) and is always provided with an alibi. He lives in a sixteenth-century church in the remains of London.
Icarons are named after Icarus, since his death was a result of misapplied science. Icaron fields create a resonance effect in the human brain, resulting in paranoia psychotic behaviour. For this effect to occur, the human needs to be genetically susceptible, which is unfortunately a side effect of body-beppling. Most civilised planets have banned Icaron research, due to the risks involved. Pryce discovered how to generate Icarons by smashing blumons and zeccons together. The Hith built an experimental ship, the Skel'Ske, with an Icaron drive and thus requires zero energy to exist in hyperspace. It was captured during the Wars of Acquisition and brought first to Purgatory, where Pryce was hired to work on it, and then Earth after he went mad. The navigator, Daph Yilli Gar, escaped from custody, changed his name to Powerless Friendless And Scattered Through Space, and had Dantalion create a new set of memories for him. He also stole the control nexus, which he kept as his pet, Krohg. Vaughan had the Skel'Ske brought to Earth in his quest to find further advanced technology to use for the benefit of the Empire, and had it accessed via a hyperspatial link from the INITEC headquarters in Spaceport Five Overcity; the subsequent release of Icaron radiation whenever the portal is opened is responsible for the widespread psychosis on Earth. Skel-Ske is the sound made by the wings of Jakkat-Kajjat, the twin-headed Goddess of Justified Retribution from Hith mythology.
The Doctor muses that both Daleks and Cybermen have emotions, although both races deny the fact [see Killing Ground].
Martian beer is available on Earth. Cerumenian whispering moss is used as a (luxury) floor covering.
Links: Vaughan first appeared in The Invasion. In order to try and find a way to transfer his mind back into a human body or to design a robot body as good as the one built by the Cybermen, he has financed many research projects into data storage and robotics. These projects included BOSS (The Green Death), and Think Tank (Robot). He has also salvaged Cybertechnology from the snows of Antarctica (The Tenth Planet and Iceberg), the Moon (The Moonbase), Space Station W3 (The Wheel in Space) and the sewers of London (The Invasion, Attack of the Cybermen, and Illegal Alien). He observed the Daleks' Time Machine landing at the 1995 Earth Fair in Ghana, but was unable to act in time to capture it (The Chase) and he knows of the Sontarans' limited time travel technology (The Time Warrior). He mentions Zoe, Kroll (The Power of Kroll), and the Usurians (The Sun Makers), and remembers having his tooth removed in the Wild West (The Gunfighters).
The Adjudicators first appeared in Colony in Space and also appeared in Lucifer Rising. ElleryCorp was first mentioned in Love and War and again in Lucifer Rising. Menaxus is mentioned (Theatre of War). The Doctor's boot cupboard contains the shoes that got scorched when Kellman electrified the floor of the Nerva Beacon in Revenge of the Cybermen, the boots that he wore in the swamps of Delta III in The Power of Kroll, the ones he wore in Ashbridge Cottage Hospital (Spearhead from Space). and a pair of Roman sandals (The Romans, State of Change). The Sense-Sphere capitulated to the empire several years earlier (The Sensorites) and there is a news bulletin from Solos (The Mutants). The Doctor mentions the HADS (The Krotons). The Greld are mentioned (The Empire of Glass). Benny visited a multi-story car park out of archaeological curiosity whilst on Earth in the 1970s (No Future). The Doctor recalls his third regeneration (Planet of the Spiders) and thinks about the Valeyard when wondering if there are worse things than death (Trial of a Time Lord). He also recalls the Crystal Bucephalus and Pella Satyrnis (The Crystal Bucephalus). When Pryce asks him if he has ever been subjected to experiences that could alter his thought process, he recalls his mind-bending battle with Morbius (The Brain of Morbius), letting the bistronic energy flow on the Zygons' ship course through him (Terror of the Zygons), and being subjected to Davros's mind probe (Genesis of the Daleks). He considers telling Pryce that the White Guardian's interest in his activities entitles him to cause the deaths of others for the greater good, but decides that this isn't necessarily true (The Ribos Operation). Chris is familiar with Dravidian space ship design (The Brain of Morbius). Amongst the races in Vaughan's list of would-be invaders of Earth are the Daleks, Jullatii, Cybermen, Draconians (Frontier in Space), Chelonians (The Highest Science), the Sess, Kraals (The Android Invasion), Nestenes (Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons), the Greld (The Empire of Glass), and Zygons (Terror of the Zygons).
Location: Oolis, Earth, Purgatory, Dis, Hyperspace, 2957.
Future History: Oxygen factories were in use on Earth during the twenty-seventh century. The Data Protection Act of 2820 was amended in 2945. The War Act of 2825 gave the Imperial Landsknechte full powers to administer their own laws on their own territory. The oppressive Earth Empire controls a large portion of the galaxy and is ruled absolutely by the Empress. Robots are routinely used through the Empire. The Empire Today is a news program that broadcasts to the Earth Empire. By 2957, the Earth is almost entirely covered by the Overcities, vast hovering skyscrapers beneath which the remains of the old cities, including London, remain. These were built after the Earth was heavily bombarded during the Wars of Acquisition, and are able to hover due to null-grav technology (a variation on anti-gravity technology that the Doctor notes keeps the Empire ahead of its opposition). London, and presumably most of the other old cities, are flooded due condensation trapped by the overcities and is a damp and fungus-ridden ruin. These areas beneath the overcities are referred to as the undertowns. The underdwellers populate these areas, social outcasts, criminals, malcontents and offworlders who are either unwelcome in the overcities or are unable to afford to live there. The Seacities are not continuous across the ocean floor. Moving pavements and null-grav shafts are used as means of public transport about the cities. The Empire has just colonized Gallipoli V, a planet located in the Quirillis sector and noted for its oscillating deserts. The Imperial Food Administration Office regulates food suppliers on Earth, including ElleryCorp, who supply most of the food to the billions of inhabitants on Earth. The most recent Wars of Acquisition have been continuing unbroken for ten years, but the battle lines have been pushed so far away from Earth, that the population of Earth don't feel the effects. The populations of conquered worlds are theoretically welcome on Earth and throughout the Empire, so long as they abandon their customs and obey Earth's laws. Imperial forces devastate the planet Jallafillia following an insurrection.
Centuries earlier, the Greld resisted the advance of the Earth Empire, in response to which the Imperial Forces launched a quark bomb into their sun. This transformed it from a white dwarf into a red giant, sterilising its planets and annihilating the Greld. The planet Dis, left orbiting within the photosphere, was ordered by the Empress to be used as a prison. By 2957, Metebelis Three is a desert wasteland (Planet of the Spiders) and Florana is a dumping ground for the waste products of thirty-six races (Death to the Daleks).
By 2957, the primary religion on Earth worships a Goddess. Currency is measured in schillings and there is a First Galactic Bank.
Most spacecraft travel through hyperspace (see The Stones of Blood, Nightmare of Eden, and Festival of Death). Imperial Landsknechte shuttles are equipped with passenger autodocs. Other spacecraft seen include Antonine Assassins (from the novelisation of Warriors Gate), Thanatosian Freighters, and Draconian warships (Frontier in Space).
Subjects of the Empire, including humans, are fitted with biochips for identification. These limit the levels to which a person can travel, depending on status. Because they can be surgically removed and implanted in other people, the Adjudicators use gene-testers to identify their own. Citizens of the Empire who object to having an ident chip on religious grounds can get special dispensation from the Empress to carry a plastic ident card. Body-beppling, a means of temporary genetic alteration, is currently fashionable - this can make humans resemble bizarre creatures or famous celebrities, for example a blue-four armed elephant or Elvis Presley. It works on the basis that all cells in the human body are renewed every three months (see Goofs) and uses targeted viruses to deliver mutagens to specified DNA sequences.
Races found on Earth and throughout the empire include Martians, Ogrons, Arcturans and Alpha Centuarans (The Curse of Peladon), Thrillp, Foamasi (The Leisure Hive), Eirtj Knights, Barrarians, Tylads, the three-eyed Gorekians, Falardi, and Sunhillowans. Sunhillowan body chemistry is germanium-based rather than carbon-based. Earth Reptiles (Silurians and Sea-Devils) are accorded higher status than other non-human races, due to their origins on Earth. Landsknechte troops are trained to recognise a variety of enemy ships, including those belonging to the Daleks, Sess, Scumble, Falardi, and Drahvins (Galaxy Four). Shlangiian ships are also mentioned. A hag'jat is an Earth Reptile instrument. Planets subject to the Empire include Helvetia, Goreki X, Riggs Alpha, Murtaugh, Allis Five, and Ribos [Fenn Martle used to wear a Shrivenzale-skin suit. See also So Vile a Sin]. It is implied that by 2957, Heaven has been re-colonised (Love and War). Other planets that are mentioned, and that may be part of the Empire, include Zobeide, famous for its ice forests, and Baucis, with its towering fern-cities. The Therenids are one of the few races to still use projectile weapons - a group of mercenaries from a Therenid hive-ship attacked one of the entertainment towers, causing carnage.
Medical science has extended the human life span well beyond a hundred years (see Dark Progeny). Dantalion uses time tanks, man-sized receptacles that accelerate the subject's time line, thus hastening recovery. Zeelan toxin is a lethal poison.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor and Bernice spend some time on Oolis immediately prior to this story. The Doctor knew Jung and claims that he knew the person who ruined the Emerald Cities of Dargol [although he may be joking]. He was once infected by tiny thought parasites by someone called Abaddon. Vaughan is aware of a trick that he pulled on Planet 14 in order to escape from the Cybermen (The Invasion). The Doctor implies that he inspired Churchhill's description of Russia: "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."
The Bottom Line: Easily one of the best New Adventures, forming a solid introduction for Roz and Chris. The plot is strong enough to succeed on its own and the old enemy is well-handled, but the real triumph of Original Sin is in the details; Lane's portrayal of an oppressive, dystopian Earth Empire is unsettling, and makes the reader question the Doctor's fondness for humanity. But the highlight of the novel is the genuinely disturbing Zebulon Pryce, and his haunting philosophical conversation with the Doctor about death.