The Drosten's Curse

Roots: David Agnew is named after the alias used by the writers of The Invasion of Time and City of Death. The Doctor quotes Hamlet.

There are references to Bugattis, Duesenburgs, Alfa Romeos, Charles Darwin, Valentina Tereshkova, Nixon, Antoinettes, Curtisses, Sopwiths, Hudson Roadsters, De Dion Boutons, Benz Motorwagens, Woolworths, Leonardo da Vinci, Ernest Shackleton, Annie Smith Peck, Nellie Bly, Bach, the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, the Electric Light Orchestra, Duke Ellington, Einstein, Feynman, Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Elvis Presley, David Cassidy, Bessie Smith, and Morris Minors.

Dialogue Triumphs: “Oh, I’m incredibly scared most of the time, you know. No one with even a basic knowledge of the universe wouldn’t be – it’s a completely terrifying place. But it’s also wonderful and lovely and more interesting than you could possibly imagine. It never lets me down. And I get to be alive in it all and to be scared and amazed and delighted and... I wouldn’t be without it.”

Putta on humans: “You kill everything you don’t understand and sometimes you eat it.”

“I do appreciate enthusiasm, even in bathroom fittings.”

“If one can’t be cheery during a catastrophe there’s really no point being cheery at all, is there? I mean, catastrophes are highly unpleasant and just the thing you’d want to face while feeling at your best.”

Continuity: The Bah-Sokhar came into being a very early stage of the Universe’s development. It can survive in the depths of space and withstand tremendous forces. According to legend, it is most closely associated with the planet Kepler-22b, a.k.a. Prax. The Lords of Carnage may have used it as a weapon. They are said to have destroyed themselves around the same time that the possibly mythical Legion of Seekers are said to have discovered its true nature. It can generate a telepathic clamp that creates a metallic taste in the mouthparts of most sentient beings. It can generate pairs of defence creatures that always have bare feet. It can control particulates, produces huge amounts of psychon energy that generates powerful telepathic fields, and causes forgetfulness. It arrived on Earth as a white spherical egg the size of a golf ball. The adult Bah-Sokhar is miles across and the greatest source of artron energy in the universe.

Sandmasters have evolved mechanisms whereby they release soothing analgesics and sedatives into their prey whilst consuming them. They are large and carnivorous and bury themselves in sand to lie in wait for their prey. Sandmasters spend part of their larval stage eating the brains of Parthian mind wasps from the inside out. If Sandmasters can’t join a mating stream they tend to either dissolve or explode.

The inhabitants of the planet Yinzill are called Yakts and are humanoid. Their hearts are significantly larger than those of human beings and they have a greater lung capacity. Sixty-seven percent of Yakts have dormant telepathic abilities. They reproduce by cloning and have Broodfathers - Putta is one of a batch of ten. Yinzill is in the Ochre Period. Putta’s ship is a Type F378a Abrischooner. He has a Model G50 Threat Detector. He has heard of the Time Lords. Ten STUs on Yinzill is approximately six Earth years. Spatch is a toxic and violent invading plant species on Yinzill.

The Doctor is aiming for Chicago when he arrives in Arbroath, to prevent an inadvertent danger to all life on Earth caused by the Chicago Area Computer Hobbyists’ Exchange development of its MODEM work. He degaussed the TARDIS’ Mackenzie Trench circuit before he set off, which sometimes improves the likelihood of him arriving at the right destination. His brain contains a Lateral Interpositus Nucleus. He whistles the Song of the Arcanian System Exploration Corps. He eats cucumber sandwiches, scones, Eccles cakes and éclairs here. He usually keeps an emergency bar of Kin-Dahl Mint Cake in his pocket. He knows how to play poker, but rarely does.

The TARDIS has a double-curtain trimonic lock. Its kitchen contains Pinebreath (which is toxic unless fried), Ophoron and Maxxt. Other rooms seen here include a huge ornate bathroom and the Doctor’s bedroom, which has lots of plum-coloured velvet and numerous Persian rugs.

Maillindian Fever Beans have a metallic taste: the Doctor hasn’t eaten any in years. Purple jelly babies apparently taste of Zarnith.

The Tlatha, who have minimal psychic abilities, used psy fluid to overthrow their rulers, the notoriously despotic Simpilin, who were quite advanced telepaths; the Tlatha became equally despotic after a few years.

Species mentioned here include Bandans (which lay eggs), Sylphs, Peltain hawks, heart raptors, pestiadores and fingalls. Parthian mind wasps can eat their victim’s whole personality and then lay their eggs in his or her face. Thraxtic is an alien despot.

The Lombukso Ultimate Meditation is usually only attempted after months of fasting and preparation in the insulated cells of the High Retreat on Asdrak Island; the Doctor was taught the Lombukso Position by the High Metallama of X45ZD.

ZZ5#7^ is a Penal Planet.

Links: The Doctor notes that he was recently lost in a virtual jungle, which is probably a reference to The Deadly Assassin. He alludes to K-9 [since he is travelling alone, this story presumably thus takes place between The Invasion of Time and The Ribos Operation, with K-9 Mark II not yet complete]. The Bah-Sokhar generates images of a Dalek, Davros (Genesis of the Daleks), a Cyberman, a Sontaran (The Time Warrior, The Sontaran Experiment), a Wirrn larvae (The Ark in Space), an Auton (Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Zygons), and a Metebelis spider (Planet of the Spiders). Bryony discovers Sarah Jane’s “Andy Pandy” outfit from ‘The Hand of Fear in the TARDIS. Artron energy is mentioned (The Deadly Assassin, Four to Doomsday).

Location: Arbroath, Scotland, 2nd to 3rd June 1978 and 6th June 1914.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor recalls visiting seventeenth century France for the first time. Robert Louis Stevenson is a friend of the Doctor’s. The Doctor once swam in the thick silky waters of Praxus Minor, where he had to avoid the overly affectionate pseudo-sharks. He studied tracking with the Miccosukee people for a while. He has seen the light-producing microbes that dance on the walls of the Delling Caves, the Great Library, and the Song Towers of Und.

He has stayed in a bedsit in Weymouth and seen a stasis chamber on a Basic Type VI Interstellar Transport. He once encountered uniformed creatures with insect-like faces. He once met the Supra Vizier of Mott, a female with more than one head. Robert Frost gave him a jar of homemade jam. He once talked a torturer on an iron satellite of Betatron 6 into a state of near-mental collapse. He has witnessed the Great Mating on Cyrus 12. He claims to have helped Hippocrates write the Hippocratic Oath.

The Bottom Line: I will make you the jewel at the heart of the universe.” Sparklingly witty prose and perfect characterisation of the Fourth Doctor are enhanced by brilliant characterisation and an unexpectedly happy ending after some scenes of incredibly gory horror. Easily one of the best Past Doctor Adventures to date.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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