Roots: Westworld. There are references to Big Brother, iPod, Wikipedia, Armani, Thomas the Tank Engine (“the Fat Controller”), Butlins, The Rocky Horror Show, Meat Loaf, J. D. Salinger, Bobby Moore, Graham Norton, The X-Factor, A Christmas Carol, Hammer Horror, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Deal or No Deal, George Michael, Trivial Pursuit, Dracula, Robin Hood, Andy Warhol, George Best, Jimmy Choos, The Simpsons (“Cowabunga!”), Jimi Hendrix, Bobby Robson, Gary Lineker, Stanley Matthews, Eric Morecambe, Harvey Wallbangers, Batman, John Wayne, Joe Orton, Star Wars (“the old Wookie Prisoner Trick”), and Dirty Harry.
Continuity: Plastinol is a living plastic controlled by the Nestene Consciousness. The fragment of the Nestene Consciousness seen here is a fragment left over from a previous invasion attempt; it fell to Earth c1983 and its physical manifestation was damaged almost beyond repair, since when it has gradually been healing itself. Miss Elizabeth Devonshire found the Nestene energy unit and fell under its control; she approached Max Carson, managing director of small plastics manufacturers Carson Polymers, and enlisted his aid. Carson Polymers became a subsidiary of Hyperville Holdings and started producing Plastinol. Devonshire infiltrated Hyperville Holdings because Hyperville was built over the Nestene fragment, which grew underground over three decades from the energy unit into a full manifestation. Nail varnish can dissolve Autons. Autons seen here include small dolls, and Auton facsimiles that don’t know that they aren’t human until activated. These are a new, more advanced form of Auton, complete with fake memories of their human lives. The physical manifestation of the Nestene Consciousness is more than just a brain in a body; it can exist in various forms, places and times and exists within everything it controls. It can only manifest in polymers of high molecular weight, some partially amorphous, i.e. plastic.
The Doctor gets confused about his age, having lost a few birthdays somewhere: he thinks he’s somewhere around nine hundred to a thousand years old. He uses the psychic paper to pose as Dr Johannes Schmidt, structural engineering consultant. He has a liminal sub-wave energy detector. He carries a portable immersion heater that he bought at Argos. He drinks a 2013 wine here. He likes Earl Grey with a dash of milk. He thinks he took GCSE maths at some point. He claims that he remembers some of his childhood. He creates a new formulation of anti-plastic (see Rose) out of various household chemicals including hairspray and nail varnish, plus some alcoholic spirits, which he uses to destroy the Nestene Consciousness and the Autons here.
The red-haired woman the Doctor seems to recognise in Hyperville might be Donna. A UNIT officer named Magambo is in charge of the squad that clears up Hyperville after the Nestene Consciousness is defeated.
Hyperville is a massive shopping and entertainment complex built in England.
Magnesian Centipods do a lot of charity work.
Links: Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons, Rose (the Doctor notes that the Nestene Consciousness has tried to invade “at least” three times before). The Doctor mentions the SnowGlobe (Snowglobe 7). The Doctor makes a reference to Captain Tancredi’s threat to remove his tongue in City of Death. There is a reference to Metropolitan magazine, which Sarah Jane Smith writes for.
Location: Hyperville, England, 2009 and 2013.
Future History: At the Euro 2012 semi-final, England beats Spain due to a winning goal from Captain Paul Kendrick.
The Doctor notes that PVC becomes fashionable again c2073, and nineteen seventies fashions are in again during the mid-twenty-second and twenty-third centuries.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has visited a leisure and shopping palace on stilts above the swamps of Dargeb IV and an underwater retail experience beneath the carmine oceans of Ororous’s second moon. He has visited Disneyland and the Golden Mile. He once went shopping in New York with Shirley Bassey. He claims that Benjamin Franklin nearly beat him at chess a few times. He has visited Barbados. He added a hidden track under the sound mix on one of the Spice Girls albums which, when played back, says “The Nestene Consciousness will prevail”. He visited the fall of the Berlin Wall twice, the second time to see it whilst avoiding David Hasselhoff’s singing.
The Bottom Line: Blythe returns to Doctor Who novel writing with a well-written and functional thriller, although by now somebody really needs to find something new to do with the Autons. Kate makes a decent enough ersatz companion.