The Death of Art

Roots: The novel opens with "Naotalba's Song" from The King in Yellow. Charles Dickens appears in Chapter 0. There are references to The Daily News, The Times, Diet Coke, Michelangelo, Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary, Wagner, William Blake, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Isaac Newton, Dracula, M. R. James, Bayles Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, Milton's Paradise Lost, Frankenstein, "Putting On the Ritz", The Wizard of Oz ("pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"), and Mesmer. Ace buys a copy of Edgar Allen Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination in Paris. The Doctor whistles an aria from The Magic Flute and "I've Got You Under My Skin".

Dialogue Disasters: "Well, my children. My moppets, my precious, precious, lambkins. What should we do with this bitch who snatched away Daddy's morsel?"

Dialogue Triumphs: "I'm the Doctor, and this is my friend your son. We need to talk."

"I know a country where the surface is broken by continuous ground-quakes and the natives have to lay stiff mats made from the hides of the Uncommon Green Bear on the boulevard just to take a stroll in safety. They tell their children that if they don't walk on the bears, the cracks in the pavement will come and get them."

Continuity: When the Universe began, there were ten physical dimensions, all at right angles to each other; all but the familiar four collapsed into the world of the atom. The Quoth are strings of quarks smeared down into the micro-dimensions. The Quoth live at least eighteen thousand times faster than a human being. The Quoth evolved in a time engine, a cylinder of neutronium a light-day long spinning rapidly enough to distort time with its gravity, and created when three neutron stars collided in exactly the right way. It was destroyed in some unspecified cosmic event [see Damaged Goods], hurling the Quoth into space in a fragment known as the Node, which eventually and crashed on Earth. The Quoth founded the massive domain of Quoth Space ten thousand billion patterns earlier than events here; Quoth Space is actually the Doll's House, a psionic resonator. From Quoth Space, they colonized the Clusters. The Quoth are immortal, although they can be destroyed. With appropriate resources, any Quoth can reproduce itself. Liaisons of twenty or more Quoth have been known in the vaster dimensions of Quoth Space.

New Quoth have memories programmed into them, and are tested for sentience upon birth. The Shadow is a rare madness that affects Quoth, forcing them to twist their bodies into meaningless patterns and perform odd tasks; the Blight is the Shadow raised to the nth degree and permanently cuts off victims from communication with their own kind. Under the Blight, Quoth do not speak or think, as it forces their minds to a dimensionless point. Quoth Rememberers serve as historians. Long ago, a group of Quoth sort to create the perfect children, but the children they created were so perfect that could not change and achieved the perfection of stasis, becoming known as the Frozen Ones. The Quoth sought sources of the materials that they need to breed and found them only in the quantum side-effects of psionics; they thus colonized the brains of humans with psychic powers, stimulating the psychic nodes in their brains and giving them much greater power than before. Quoth made weapons made of many Quoth during their civil War, which was actually a manifestation of the humans they occupied fighting amongst themselves. The Clusters are actually the humans infected by the Quoth when the Node crashed on Earth; the presence of the Quoth causes the pro-psionic mutations that give the Brotherhood and the Family their various powers. The Blight is actually Montague's body, in which the Blighted Quoth are trapped; like the Shadow, the Blight is caused by feedback from the host that enslaves the Quoth. The Quoth have absolutely eidetic memories. Having removed them from the infected humans, the Doctor finds them a new home on a neutron star.

The Shadow Directory has records of the "Woodwicke Calamity" (Christmas on a Rational Planet). By 1892 Dorothée is on their Red List. The Doctor's diary fell into their possession when Ace traveled through the time rifts. When Chris claims to be the Doctor, the resources of the Shadow Directory are placed at his disposal. Jarre assumes that he is the Sixth Doctor, about whom they have the least information about all the Doctors in their files. They have sniper rifles developed from captured alien technology. Chirurgeons are the augmented assassins of the Shadow Directory (see Christmas on a Rational Planet).

Evolution never selects telepathy, because it makes breeding too unlikely if a person knows what is in his or her head. Absinthe causes psi-sensitives to suffer psychic fallout, which includes auguries, nightmares, pre-cognitative episodes, lucid dreams, out-of-body experiences, and monsters from the id. The Brotherhood of the Immanent Flesh, which the Grandmaster leads, is a secret organization of people with psychic abilities. They teach that the essence of flesh, of protoplasm, is upheld by a power, force or potential permanently pervading the universe, and that to embrace it is to live life like art itself. Montague's Family is a renegade faction that no longer has allegiance to the Brotherhood. The psychic forces unleashed in Paris in 1884 could cause a time fissure if unchecked. The Brotherhood has acquired alien technology over the years and uses it to create a null envelope or psychic dead-zone. Teleporters have a single hypertrophied organ comprising the thalamus, the pineal gland and the language centres of the brain, which allows them to break down their bodies and encode them into a stream of quantum events. The biorhythms of the thalamic core of this gland are open to optic stimulation. Once the Quoth leave the Family, there are powers are diminished, but do not totally disappear.

The Doctor infiltrates various asylums in Paris by pretending to be insane, in an attempt to track down psi-sensitives. He gets bored of last padded cell and escapes. He carries one of Jo Grant's old hairpins in his vest pocket, with which he picks a lock. He also carries a yo-yo and finds a copy of Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great in his pocket. He solves Fermat's last theorem using only Boolean algebra in order to pass the time. He uses old Gallifreyan loom-tenders's rhymes to keep out of the chatter of Paris' psychosphere. The Doctor no longer has as good a head for vintage wines as he once did and only tends to drink on special occasions, although he drinks wine here. He poses as the Grandmaster to confront Montague. The Time Lord nanobots in his bloodstream could destroy the Quoth in all the humans they have infected. He once told Borusa, "It is a cardinal error to imagine that I am responsible for everything that goes wrong." He speaks ancient Betelgeusian.

Benny wrote a monograph about psi-sensitives on Altair IV. She made Roz listen to VonDoon's "Heaven Now" and Come the Trickster's "HvLP", which she claims are the only honest accounts of the war on Heaven (Love and War).

Roz works in a bar whilst in Paris. She stays up all night drinking red wine with David. In defiance of popular thirtieth century belief, she knows it is possible to lie to telepaths. Mirakle puts her into a trance, regressing her into her past. There are hunting dogs on Roz's family estate. When Roz was five and half years old she trekked outside her families estate wearing a custom-built space suit and had a vision of Tsuro the Hare due to oxygen depravation. Whilst squired to Konstantine, she arrested a fake mystic called Swami Rhan-Te-Goth, who used two unregistered telepathic assistants to gather information from his customer's minds, as well as their credit-chip access codes. They also charged him with five counts of access to banned literature, including Prinn, Lovecraft, and Von Juntz, all on datachip; when Konstantine flamed the chips, the Prinn burned green, the Von Juntz burned sulphurous red, and the Lovecraft didn't burn at all, which prompted Roz to read the Lovecraft texts in the Index Purgatum. Roz has never felt the least inclination to same-sex affairs and Bernice's cheerful acceptance of freewheeling sexuality always used to strike her as the childishness of someone raised in an age of historical decadence. She kisses Chris (see Return of the Living Dad).

Chris goes undercover as a member of the Gendarmerie whilst in Paris and uses the alias Jean-Paul Armand. Chris carries a vibropick-lock that he confiscated from an Undercity Delta-garde during a training exercise that unexpectedly became real. He read lurid magazines in the TARDIS library whilst researching his undercover role, which included pictures of the Café Fantômas. He was told the story of Slippery Jim as a child. He poses as the Doctor and considers pretending to be the Fifth Doctor (Cold Fusion). He knows quite a lot about roses thanks to a childhood spent in his parents' garden. Kaspar spears his shoulder with a bone limb. Chris spent a week in the TARDIS library following the events of Christmas on a Rational Planet, where he read Findecker's Der Nexus Doppelgängen (see The Talons of Weng-Chiang), and Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time (which Chris thinks is a children's book). He has also read the TARDIS logs, including an account of the Doctor using a lighthouse and a couple of diamond cufflinks to make a laser cannon (Horror of Fang Rock).

The TARDIS contains a Klein Bottle armature vase made by the Micro-Gravity Works on Vesta in 2219. The TARDIS interior transforms into a replica of nineteenth-century Paris in response to the image cast into the Vortex and designed to be imprinted on the TARDIS' infrastructure. The TARDIS taps into the Parisian telephone network by mapping the electrical signal in the phone line, picked up by its sensors, to a like-dimensional area of its interior. The Doctor restores the default interior using the wallpaper controls. The Time Lord gift that allows travellers on board the TARDIS to speak and understand other writers usually doesn't extend to written language [see Escape Velocity, The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit - the Doctor makes improvements at some point during his eighth incarnation]. A TARDIS is absolutely stable in gravity fields even stronger than that of a neutron star.

The Carnival Queen (Christmas on a Rational Planet) fits into science as a personification of a potential Kuhn Paradigm shift in the way the consciousness of observers was collapsing mixed-state events.

The Megropolis Subterrania is a city on Heiradi (Frontios). Heiradi has nine jeweled moons. There are sand whales on Askelion.

Links: The Brotherhood first appeared in SLEEPY. The Shadow Directory first appeared in Christmas on a Rational Planet. There are references to the time rifts through which Ace travels (Set Piece), the Mentiads (The Pirate Planet), Osirians (Pyramids of Mars, The Sands of Time), Venusian lullabies (The Curse of Peladon, The Monster of Peladon, Venusian Lullaby), the Master, the Black Guardian (The Armageddon Factor, Mawdryn Undead, Terminus, Enlightenment), Miniscopes (Carnival of Monsters), Arcturans (The Curse of Peladon), the Imperial Landsknechte (Original Sin), Ogrons (Day of the Daleks, Frontier in Space), the Ice Warriors' destruction of Paris with an asteroid (Transit), Tsuro the Hare (The Also People), the Carnival Queen (Christmas on a Rational Planet), Mondas (The Tenth Planet), Martle and Hith (Original Sin), the Mandragora Helix (The Masque of Mandragora), the Great Intelligence (The Abominable Snowmen, The Web of Fear, Downtime, Millennial Rites), Blinovitch (Day of the Daleks, Invasion of the Dinosaurs), Sontarans, Rutans (Horror of Fang Rock, Lords of the Storm, Shakedown), and the People and the WorldSphere (The Also People). Hexachromite-B kills Earth Reptiles by rupturing the mucous membranes of their lungs (Warriors of the Deep). The Doctor jokes that he's an "Immortal barring accidents" (The War Games). The line "No, not the mind probe" is a nod to The Five Doctors.

Location: London, 18th December 1845; Paris, 22nd March 1884; Paris, 26th to 29th November 1897; Paris, 11th June 1995; Paris, 1903; and a neutron star, date unknown.

Future History: Adjudicator dorms have walls with resetable colours, allowing tenants to change the décor. Adjudicators on patrol in the Undercity are provided with earplugs specifically tuned to be dead in the harmonic frequencies of the Overcity's antigravs. Autodentists can fit new sets of teeth. Illegal virtuals kept in the Church of the Adjudication Black Museum include CyberDorés, Hieronymous Bosch 3000s, and A Millennium in NeoSodom.

By the thirtieth century, Earth Reptiles (or "Indigenous Terrans", often shorted to "ITs") occupy nearly all the jobs in the sub-surface shale industry that provides over ninety percent of Earth's hydrocarbons. They have second-class citizenship, separate schools and hospitals, and petition rights to the Imperial Landsknechte.

Needleman are cyberized assassins brought to Earth by the Morok Nostra and abandoned when the Morok Empire was overthrown due to Earth-funded insurgents (The Space Museum).

Neotic Make-up is a thirtieth-century craze involving cosmetic alternations designed to make the features resemble those of a helpless infant, to evoke feelings of parental love. Thirtieth century music includes Justifiable Ragnarok's "Odin's Missing Eye". There are Tetrap restaurants on Earth (Time and the Rani). Thirtieth century beverages include Juke and Znikov Cola.

During the thirty-sixth century, in the age of the Intentional Engineers, the properties of the gland that grants teleporters their power is intensively studied.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has encountered the blue furred Great Sloths of Neopremus, and has witnessed Centauri Colour-Opera. Toulouse-Lautrec once painted his picture. The Doctor helped Sergeant Benton whitewash the Nissen huts at the back of UNIT HQ during the long weeks after Liz Shaw left. He has visited Ilbridge House.

The Bottom Line: 'What do you think a race of sub-nanite engineers with the ability to turn humanoids into gods are going to do to the politics of this galaxy?' Imaginative and complex, demonstrating its author's interest in quantum mechanics for the first time. The only problem is, The Death of Art is possibly over-complicated, and time has proved that Bucher-Jones' dense prose works better when tempered by a collaborator. Nevertheless, a promising debut.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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