The Silent Stars Go By

Roots: Aliens (the huge “Terra Firmers”). The story opens with the hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. The Doctor sings “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In”. There are references to Charles Dickens, Scott of the Antarctic, March of the Penguins, The Last of the Mohicans, Houdini, and Frankenstein.

Continuity: Ice Warriors are herbivorous. Their lifespans are naturally three or four times longer than those of a human. Those seen here are Warriors of the Tanssor clan line of the Ixon Mons family. In addition to their sonic guns, they use broadswords and battle axes. Lord Ixyldir wears a silver-coloured helmet with green eye lenses and green titanium mesh body armour. The Ice Warriors have been on Hereafter in secret for ten years and have secretly been sabotaging the terraformers to make the planet more suitable for them than for humans. They originally used seed technology (see The Seeds of Death), but the system that runs the terraformers detected a problem and used its flesh banks to grow transrats, which devoured the seed matter.

There are no indigenous animal species on Hereafter. The planet has a moon. The human population is approximately 19,000 strong.

The transrats seen in the Terraformers here have multiple metal legs, metal teeth, and optical implants in their eye-sockets. They lack fur. In response to the interference caused the Ice Warriors, the system that controls the terraformers generates transhumans from its flesh banks: they are three metre tall muscular humanoids with cybernetic implanted claws equipped with huge talons for hands and feet, red eye implants, and skulls reinforced with chromed steel for faces. They have huge jaws filled with scalpel-like teeth. They are equally capable of walking on two limbs or four.

The Doctor attempts, unsuccessfully, to get Amy and Rory home for Christmas in Leadworth in 2011. He attempts to use his psychic paper to pretend to be from Seeside.

Amy wears a duffel coat. She has elasticated mittens.

Rory wears a cardigan. He later borrows a parka and a pair of thick gloves from the TARDIS wardrobe. He likes waterslides and kung-fu movies. He eats soup in Beside.

The psychic paper keys into the thing a person most wants to see and will find most compelling or convincing; sometimes, a strong emotion can imprint on it.

On Umonalis Quadok they herd ungulate ruminant thwentilopes and shelter them in bothies that they call Bimbemberabemhamshighans.

Links: The Doctor notes that he used to own a fur coat (The Abominable Snowmen). There is a reference to Rory waiting for Amy for two thousand years (The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang). Rory has seen Cybermen march (A Good Man Goes to War/Let’s Kill Hitler). The Doctor fondly remembers Jamie and recalls that Victoria was the first person to call Martians “Ice Warriors” (The Ice Warriors). He notes that the Ice Warriors have attempted to sabotage biomes to make planets more suitable for them before (The Seeds of Doom, Mission to Magnus). He mentions Jagrafess (The Long Game) and Castrovalva (Castrovalva).

Location: Hereafter, the Diaspora Era.

Future History: By this period of history the Solar System, Earth, and Mars no longer exist [setting this story after The End of the World], having reached the end of their natural lifespan. The Morphans are descendants of Earth colonists who settled on Hereafter. There are three settlements, or “Plantnations” on Hereafter, named Aside, Beside and Seeside (corruptions of A, B, and C site). They have lived on Hereafter for twenty-seven generations. They have been slowing terraforming the planet ever since they arrived. They do not know this, but they are actually creating a world for the hibernating elite of Earth, rather than themselves. This elite are in suspended animation beneath the terraformers, and intend to use the Morphans as a food supply once they finally emerge from hibernation. The Doctor gives the Morphans control over the sleeping ancestors so that can choose whether or not to wake them up.

During the great Diaspora Era, Transrats are common on bulk generation starships and hibernation arks. They are rats genetically and biologically engineered into tools for devouring other pests.

Atrox 881 orbits a cold blue star and is eight light years from Hereafter. The Ice Warriors colonise it here at the Doctor’s suggestion. 9,000 years after these events it is one of the most significant fiefworlds of the Ixon Mons dynasty and a famous centre of culture and power.

Unrecorded Adventures: Baden-Powell taught the Doctor the rudiments of tracking. He claims the fictional Chingachook refined some of his skills later. He knew Davy Crockett. A prince from Denmark once told him that there is an art to the building up of suspense [possibly a flippant reference to Hamlet].

At some point during the Doctor’s past, but 9,000 years later than the events here, the Doctor visited Atrox 881, where the Ice Lord Azylax, warlord of the Tanssor, names the Doctor Belot’ssar, or “cold blue star”. This honorific shows him to be a true and lasting friend to the Ixon Mons dynasty, but also a fair and daunting enemy. It is a reference to the colour of the TARDIS.

The Bottom Line: A well-paced thriller, with excellent characterisation of the regulars and a great twist. The Ice Warriors are brilliantly portrayed, and Abnett manages to have his cake and eat it by making them rampaging monsters at first, then noble Martian warriors once the truth unfolds.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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