The Dying Days

Roots: War of the Worlds, The X-Files, conspiracy theories. Alexander Christian is based on Dan Dare. Mars Attacks! The title comes from the theme tune of License to Kill. There are far too many minor references to all things Who and otherwise to mention here.

Goofs: How can Benny receive a letter from 2593 when she's in 1997? [The Doctor put it in the postbox before he arrived?]

Why are Alexander and the soil being transported in the same helicopter? In fact, why should they be transporting him at all so close to the Mars Landing?

Alexander takes the police box as evidence that the Doctor and Benny are Victorian enthusiasts, but they didn't have police boxes in the Victorian era. [He just doesn't know his history.]

In chapter 1 it's May 6th, but the Mirror in chapter 2 is dated May 7th, despite being the one Benny picked up minutes after we were given the earlier date. The e-mail date in chapter 9 is also a day later than the date at the beginning of the chapter.

The Doctor claims that he can't use the TARDIS to hop forward an hour and a half, as 'time doesn't work like that' - which is almost certainly rubbish. Benny comments that the party in Chapter 3 is full of politicians and scientists rather than celebrities. However, there are still a lot of celebrities there.

The Doctor seems unaware of the concept of an internet café.

Benny, with all her knowledge of the Martians appears to be ignorant of the Martian invasion, as, apparently, were all those at her wedding in 2010 (Happy Endings). She also notes that Bambera didn't recognise her in Head Games, although their meeting in this story pre-dates that story. [The Doctor hypnotises Bambera to forget Benny's part in events.]

The Doctor believes himself to be 1200 years old. However, he was only about 1000 when he picked up Wolsey, who is still alive. [Maybe temporal grace can delay ageing in felines].

The way UNIT is suspended is quite bizarre. Somehow, either Greyhaven or Staines knows that Christian is at UNIT HQ, and this is somehow enough to strip Bambera of her authority both domestically and at the UN at a moment's notice. If, as is likely, they were planning to get UNIT out of the way they should have had some proper plan to suspend UNIT rather than a rather bizarre one that depended on circumstances.

Technobabble: Fe2O3.3H20 is Limonite, or hydrogenated iron oxide - found in the Solar System only on Mars.

Dialogue Disasters: The Doctor: 'Sorry I'm late, but you wouldn't believe the state of the traffic around the Horsehead Nebula.'

Dialogue Triumphs: You couldn't even rely on the Doctor to be unreliable.

The Doctor: 'Have you shrunk? You don't seem as tall as I remember.'
Benny: 'You grew.'
The Doctor: 'That would certainly explain the discrepancy.'

The Doctor: 'I worked it out by spectrographic analysis with access to one of the finest mineralogical databases in the universe. How did you know?'

The Doctor: 'Well, the Martians have been here half an hour and they haven't wiped us out yet - that's got to be a promising sign.'
Benny: 'The big ship-mounted Martian sonic cannons take thirty-five minutes to power up.'

Greyhaven: 'The ill-informed opinions of a rabble won't stand in the way of mankind's destiny. People want strong government, they want security, they want a better standard of living. Do you seriously think that the current generation of politicians can provide that when they spend most of their time arguing amongst themselves over trivia and they are afraid to look beyond next week, let alone into the new millennium?'

Eve: 'The Martians are here, but nothing else has changed. The Archers is still on twice a day, the milkman still brings you bottles of milk, the BBC is still funded by the licence fee. People are quite capable of turning Britain into Bosnia without any help from aliens.'

Staines: 'I'm not sure the Archbishop of Canterbury would like that.'
Xznaal: 'Then behead him and replace him with one loyal to uss. I thought you were a politician.'

Continuity: Benny has been offered an advance for her memoirs (though we don't know in what time zone). It's said that she was 33 in Happy Endings and her marriage only lasted for a few months. She knows how to isolate the electrics and fuel supply in a crashed 20th Century helicopter. She has a Home Counties accent. Aged 24, she excavated the Mare Sirenum, establishing her reputation. Her 20th Century speciality is actually 1963-1989, The Kennedy Assassination to The Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Chris spent time in Allen Road before 1997. The Doctor claims that the (newly done up) secondary console room was always the primary one, and that the 'primary' console room was really the secondary. The TARDIS has a laboratory, its equipment including particle accelerators, oscilloscopes, lasers, electron microscopes, a holographic magnifier, a dimensional revisualiser, and an 'antique' brass microscope.

The Doctor's pockets contain a cricket ball, an elephant feather, a bag of kola nuts, a big ball of string, a piece of the True Cross, a dog whistle, and a piece of vellum with the Brigadier's phone number and e-mail address [acquired during Battlefield]. They also contain a small holocamera.

Around 1987, the UK Government had trouble trying too obviously to cover up the Zircon Project. Last year, they had problems doing the same with State Secret. The UN secretary general is a woman.

Bambera has clearly only met one incarnation of the Doctor (so far).

The Brigadier has never heard of Allen Road. His postcode is BN45 7ED.

'Who's Who and What's That?' is a UFO and conspiracy theorist fanzine.

Alexander Christian knew Jo Grant when she was doing her A-Levels. She may blame him for failing General Science.'

Most funerals of Martian Lords were cremations. However, at one point they were frozen in coffin-sized blocks of ice and then sealed in crystal spires. This was inspired by the Osirians. The Martians know of the Time Lords. A better translation of the Martian phrase "Ice Warriors" might be "Polar Bears". One of their weapons is called the Red Death. It is a sentient cloud of poison gas, based on molecular re-engineering and artificial intelligence etherware. In the Martian atmosphere it is invisible, and given a DNA sample, will find and kill its target before dispersing itself harmlessly into the atmosphere. An oxygenated atmosphere like Earth's will send it into a killing frenzy. Paxaphyr has recently been inaugurated as Grand Marshall. Martians can live for several hundred years.

The Ambassadors (The Ambassadors of Death) are thousands of years more advanced than humanity, are plutonium based, and come from another solar system.

Bessie's numberplate has changed again to WHO 8.

Links: Many references to Benny's past, particularly Love and War, Happy Endings, and Eternity Weeps. We see the house on Allen Road, and Benny briefly mentions Kadiatu and aM!xitsa (The Also People). The statue in Allen Road is almost certainly a reference to something, but I don't have a clue what. On Benny's last visit to Allen Road, she and Jason listened to Roz shouting about why Chris took an hour and a half in the bathroom every day. The Doctor left Chris on Gallifrey (Lungbarrow), and a lot happened since then. In Blood Harvest, Benny saw the Seal of Rassilon.

We also see the National Space Museum (Terror of the Autons), and there are extensive references to The Ambassadors of Death. Veronica Haliwell was first (next) seen in System Shock. ACL (Millennial Rites) and I2 (System Shock) are amongst the companies that supplied parts for the Mars Probe. There are a number of references to the events of Battlefield, which is where we first saw Bambera. Benny refers to Hobson on the Revenge (Blood Heat).

Extras: This novel was serialised on the BBC website as an ebook. The ebook had a new cover, an illustration per chapter, and authors notes. Lance Parkin has put up some of the notes on his personal website.

Location: England, especially London, and Mars. Benny arrives at Allen Road on 30th April 1997 (chapter 1 page 1). There have been UK and US elections in the last 9 months. By chapter 1 page 3 it's Tuesday May 6th. This is repeated on chapter 7 page 1, but it's said to be May 7th on chapter 2 page 1. The final bit of action happens a week later, on Thursday the 15th. The epilogue takes a few hours.

Future History: Eve Waugh will probably cover the Mexican War and expose a lot of evil men [Assuming the Doctor's memory is correct and Eve's wrong claiming it's mistaken identity.]

The 1,000-day war involved millions of human troops and drove the Ice Warriors to the brink of extinction with weapons that had been long-banned on Earth. At some point, humans coin the phrase "indigenous Martians" as a politically correct term for the Ice Warriors. This is during a nasty colonial phase. [Probably the late 28th Century to the 30th Century].

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor refers to a tricorn hat in the TARDIS, currently on a bust of Shakespeare, saying that it's 'ages since I wore this.' He claims to have pulled Sherpa Tensing onto the summit of Everest a full thirty seconds before Edmund [Hillary] joined them. During the Brigadier's time at UNIT, they stopped the Bandrils from destroying the ozone layer and beat the Drahvins. The eighth Doctor (in his future) met the Brigadier in Hong Kong during 1988, where they discovered the secret of the Embodiment of Gris (The Embodiment of Gris was also mentioned in The Daleks' Master Plan and Cold Fusion).

The Bottom Line: 'They knew it was his last one, you see. They could get away with all sorts of stuff.' Featuring an alien invasion in the public eye, conspiracy theories galore, the death of the Doctor, and a host of real-life celebrities, this is a stunning tour-de-force. The contemporary alien invasion is back, and what an epic. Although we only ever see a handful of Ice Warriors, the action is truly global in scale and the good plot (and occasional lack of it) doesn't get in the way of the action. The eighth Doctor, Benny, and the Brigadier are very well realised, and everyone's got plausible motives. Virgin's Doctor Who range goes out on a big high, successfully combining a traditional TV storyline with all the innovation they'd displayed throughout the previous 60 New Adventures.

Discontinuity Guide by Stephen Gray
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