Roots: The Spanish Inquisition. The Bible. The Doctor compares the Tower to the Tower of Babel.
Dialogue Triumphs: Unwisely, Ferdinand tells Nyssa and Tegan: "The Church doesn't want to waste any intellectual talent. Even a woman's limited mind might prove valuable to them".
"Don't blaspheme! I'm the [deleted] Pope!"
Continuity: The Morestran Empire currently spans eighty million light years and contains one thousand four-hundred and twenty-seven inhabited systems: of these, eight hundred and ninety-two are presently beyond the technological reach of the Empire and are considered effectively independent from Morestran rule until the Energy Tower is completed. Of the remaining, Inner Systems, seventy-one percent are Church controlled, twenty-five Imperial controlled, and the remaining four percent currently undergoing civil wars with no overall control. The Imperium, however, still controls the Central Morestran Systems, including the homeworld Morestra, also known as Alpha Major. The Empire is led by His Most Noble Imperious Majesty the Lord of the Host Systems Hippolito and his brother and co-regent Antonio from Capital City on Morestra; in practice however, the Church rules large portions of Morestra and has to vet any technological development, since technology is the work of the Dark Gods. The Cult of Science is opposed to the construction of the Tower, seeing it as a symbol of oppression used to keep the Church in power. Planets in the Morestran Empire include the twin planets Alpha Minor and Alpha Major, Epsilon Major, Ursus, Theta Major, Delta Minor, ; systems include the Gamma System, the Omega System, and Eta (a single-planet system ruled by the Church). The Church High Council is based in the city of Archetryx on the planet Archetryx in the Beta System and is also known as the Grand Council of Cardinals, ruled by the Arch-Cardinal. The Council answers to the Pope, His Papal Majesty Luciani XVII. The drone is the most advanced piece of machinery still known to the Morestrans. Morestran Space Service Oculoid Trackers Mark VI are now very old and rare and traded on the black market. There is a Sorenson Academy on Morestra. The Watchtower is an underground manuscript broadsheet printed and produced by subversives at the Academy. Kristyan Fall, a.k.a. the Zero Man, is an ex-Church Agent and Morestra's most dangerous man. The Energy Tower, also known as Torre del Oro or The Tower of Gold, is located on Omega Major and was designed to harness the kinetic movement of planets: Sorenson designed it based on the Doctor's glib comments at the end of 'Planet of Evil'. The Tower has taken two thousand years to complete. Women in the Morestran Empire generally stay at home and raise children and are second-class citizens. There are horses in the Morestran Empire. There is a San Salamar spaceport on Alpha Major. Alpha Major has seas. The Sorenson Academy is on the continent Valentia. The Church and Imperial fleets wipe each other out here. The Doctor creates a dimensional rift similar to the black lake to pull the Energy Tower into the Anti-Matter universe, restoring the balance and saving the universe. The Morestran Empire is largely destroyed by events here.
Anti-men are created by exposure to anti-matter because it hybridises the genetic structure, sending people back down the evolutionary ladder. According to the Doctor, the anti-matter is not anti-matter as the Time Lords understand it, but more a kind of nothingness that has existed along this universe since time began - he suggests that the term "ante-matter" might be more appropriate. Time has a completely different meaning in the Anti-Matter universe. Zeta Major is the outer planet in the Zeta System and a captured asteroid: it has been engineered as an experimental complex to synthesise anti-matter. Ferdinand's ship attacks Zeta Major, blowing the planetoid to pieces. The Church found a way to take anti-matter from Zeta Minor by deliberately creating anti-men, who could synthesise new anti-matter in their bodies, creating a surplus and allowing crystals to be taken from the Zeta System: they used eight thousand people for this. Since the events of Planet of Evil, the black pool on Zeta Minor has become a lake.
The Church's Holy Book is the Leyenda Negra and has a New Testament that recounts events on Zeta Minor. The Doctor is venerated as il Dottore, the saviour of the Morestran race; Sarah Jane is remembered as Sair-Ah, the handmaiden. The anti-matter crystals are known as the Crystals of the Dark Gods, with the power to transform men into demons also known as Leyenda Negra. The "Dark Gods" are the Anti-Matter Monster and Zeta Minor is the Gateway to Hell. Zeta Minor is also known as the Planet of Evil. Salamar is remembered as a prophet, Vishinsky his betrayer, and Morelli, Ponti and de Haan as Salamar's disciples. The Official Church History is entitled The Rise of the Morestran Orthodox Empire, and tells of the rise of the Cult of Science, which was formed by disaffected nobles over five hundred years earlier in reaction to the passing of the Science Law in 1530, which led to the decline of the Imperial Families and culminated in the Second Great Technology War of the new calendar year 1609. The Cult existed to preserve and continue a secular technological development separate from the Sorenson Academy, placing particular interest on the restoration of technological artefacts from the Old Empire. The Cult of Science is essentially a terrorist, subversive organisation, but is covertly used both by the Church and the Imperial Houses to develop non-Tower related equipment: the Church funded the Cult's rediscovery of Zeta Minor in 1993. Fr Lewington's The Church Triumphant is the most accurate account of the Great Technology War.
The Doctor has collapsed with hallucinations about the black wave on and off ever since Adric's death (Earthshock) and has been trying unsuccessfully to hide it from Nyssa and Tegan. He is never too sure about events that have taken place in previous incarnations. The hallucinations are actually caused by the inhabitants of the Anti-Matter universe trying to ask for his help: because their universe is so fundamentally alien, this will eventually kill him. The Doctor claims to be a very good shot with a revolver. He sees his Fourth incarnation in the Anti-Matter universe because time works different there.
Tegan reads a book in her room. She has a chest of drawers. Without the reassuring presence of the Doctor, she finds the TARDIS a cold and uneasy place. She is brainwashed by Kristyan Fall using hypnotic conditioning to assassinate Hippolito, but the Doctor stops her. However, she does shoot Hippolito in the arm. She later shoots Fall in the shoulder. She may have visited Lake Maggiore in Italy.
Nyssa reluctantly poses as a Special Investigator on Morestra. She is turned into an anti-man when anti-matter crystals are sewn into her stomach on Zeta Major, but cured when she enters the Anti-Matter universe with the Doctor.
Links: This story is a sequel to Planet of Evil. The Doctor comments on the irony of the Energy Tower being built in the Omega System (The Three Doctors, Arc of Infinity, Omega). Tegan tells Kristyan Fall about the Cybermen and Adric (Earthshock) and the Master.
Location: Zeta Minor, Morestra (a.k.a. Alpha Major), Alpha Minor, Omega Major, 39,164AD.
Future History: The Morestrans use the New Church Calendar. Morestra is almost entirely cut off from its Earth origins.
The Bottom Line: A bleak black comedy with a building sense of dread throughout, Zeta Major is easily Simon Messingham's best Doctor Who novel. Technically, everything that happens here is the Doctor's fault, as a glib remark has a massive impact on the development of an entire empire. Kristyan Fall makes a memorable villain.