Short Trips: A Universe of Terrors
This is the third Short Trips anthology released by Big Finish. The theme of the anthology is horror. Unusually, all the stories in this collection are collected in chronological order (from the Doctor's point of view). There is no seventh Doctor story. Instead, there is a retelling of his televised adventures in limerick form entitled This is My Life. We have not included that particular "story" in this discontinuity guide.
Roots: Everlasting matches first appeared in David Whitaker's novelisation Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure With the Daleks.
Continuity: The Doctor and Susan have only just left Gallifrey (Lungbarrow). The Doctor claims to have invented Everlasting Matches [he's lying - see The Cabinet of Light]. The Doctor had only one small bag with him when he stole the TARDIS, and time was of the essence when deciding what to pack. Its contents include everlasting matches, a pocketbook, and something to write with. The Doctor has worked as an ambassador for the Time Lords before, but technicians piloted most of the TARDISes that he travelled in. He made careful note of what they did, and so is able to operate the door controls and dematerialise when the console room has no light.
The TARDIS had not been used for a long time prior to the Doctor's acquisition of it and has been in long-term storage, or "hibernation". "Fault locator" is a term coined by the Doctor for the diagnostic subsystem, a term that Susan doesn't understand. There are three folding metal chairs in the fault locator alcove. The TARDIS wardrobe already contains racks and racks of clothes, including a split tunic made out of green fabric, a big coat that is almost a cloak, thick patterned top made out of wool with a swirling red pattern, a symbol, and jagged red lines. Susan selects a pair of black boots, thick socks, a grey one-piece dress, and a wide belt.
Some Gallifreyan books [at least in Susan's time - see Lungbarrow] have metal covers to protect them. Susan expects this will be true of the operating manual.
Susan sees a reflection of the past of their peopl in a mirror in the TARDIS wardrobe; a young man in long dark robes, pale skin, and with fangs instead of teeth. He speaks to Susan in a language that she doesn't understand [and is probably a Vampire - see State of Decay, Goth Opera].
One of the instruments says something about the S-K System. This could be their first destination, or it could be the name of that instrument.
Location: The TARDIS.
Unrecorded Adventures: Susan doesn't know any details about the time the Doctor had been an ambassador for their people, visiting other places and times, as it was before she had been around.
Mire and Clay
Roots: There are references to Robinson Crusoe and Hercules Cortez.
Continuity: Ian is held prisoner and tortured for a month by Afghan Gul Zaheer. He grew cavalry whiskers whilst in Afghanistan to amuse Barbara, but these were lost in the beard that grew during his imprisonment. He also adopted a blue-black cavalry uniform. During their time in Afghanistan, Barbara pretended to be Ian's pregnant wife as an excuse to remain with him. Ian's time with the Doctor has made him physically stronger than at any other time in his life, including National Service. He kills Gul Zaheer, pushing him into the pit full of man-eating fish.
Barbara has nightmares about her time in Kabul for some time after they leave.
The Doctor dons a grand colourful coat, ornate silken trousers tucked into long leather boots, and green turban.
The TARDIS crew spends more than three months in Afghanistan. The TARDIS has shaving machines.
Location: Afghanistan, 1842.
Continuity: Following the deaths of Katarina and Sara Kingdom in The Daleks' Master Plan, Steven and the Doctor reflect on the past. Steven was given learning pills as part of his education. The Doctor tells Steven that his parents entrusted her care to him [possibly a memory of the Other - see Lungbarrow].
Location: The TARDIS; London, 1963.
Unrecorded Adventures: Susan once forced the Doctor to take her to the theatre whilst in London.
Roots: There are references to Brad Pitt, the Bionic Woman, the Dodgers and Big Macs.
Continuity: Prior to this story, the Second Doctor and his companions arrive in Hollywood and have their faces "stolen" by an unrevealed agency; they are left with featureless heads, but can still eat, drink, see, hear and breathe. They are taken to a tattoo parlour once a week, where they have tattoos drawn in place of their faces; these vanish over the subsequent week. They have been prisoners for eight weeks, but dare not try to escape in case they cannot regain their faces.
Location: West Hollywood, July [late twentieth century].
Losing Track of Time
Roots: There are references to H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and Sir Isaac Newton.
Continuity: Tynakars have two many-faceted ruby eyes, solid lumpy heads, and clay like-bodies with no legs. They have arms and hands, but no fingers. They steal knowledge from other races and sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for the salts and minerals that they need to reproduce. They can change shape, but collapse into piles of slime if their eyes are shattered; however, they can be reconstituted if another Tynakar adds one of its own eyes to the remains. The Doctor claims that they have destroyed whole civilizations and planets in the process, by passing dangerous knowledge to various species. They are known to the Time Lords and it is implied that the Time Lords have intervened to stop their activities in the past on various planets including Kelak II.
The Doctor takes Jo to visit Oxford in the twenty-first century because he is investigating a strange piece of metal sent to the Brigadier from a dig on Salisbury Plain and vaguely recalls reading something about it in an issue of the Journal of Roman Studies published after the year 2000.
Jo dons a black trouser suit.
Location: Oxford, the early twenty-first century.
The Discourse of Flies
Continuity: The people of Hezrah (and their entire continent) worship the Eternal Machine. Holy texts of their religion include The First Book of the Machine, which includes The Prophecy of Pyas and The Book of Aybel the Heretic; The Meditations of Gorun; and Jonen's The Impossible Journey. Pyas is one of the heroes of the Machinist faith. Titles in Hezrah include the King of Dust, a position once held by Felljar the Firebrand, and High Engineer. The "Eternal Machine" is actually an incredibly old alien life form that landed on the planet a thousand years earlier wounded from a battle. The creature entered a deep regenerative sleep, during which it psychically manipulated the planet's inhabitants, influencing the planet's development and creating the Machinist faith. It feeds on despair on death and manipulated the Machinists into sending it sacrifices, who thought that they were to journey to the stars but were actually dismembered and had their minds sucked clean. The creature is a multi-limbed monstrosity with claws, no eyes, and which exudes "slime and filth". It is seemingly destroyed by fire, but it is implied that it survives psionically in the flies that infest Hezrah.
Sarah attended a few Church of England services as a child.
Location: The city of Hezrah on an unnamed planet, date unknown.
Continuity: The Doctor's greatest fear is losing his sanity.
The TARDIS is working perfectly, much to the Doctor's surprise and suspicion.
The Entity claims to have suffered as a result of the fear resulting from the economic and social upheaval of common people caused by the Doctor's well-meaning intervention on various planets. Its origins are not elaborated on, but it claims that it was once a more "common" being. It cannot interact physically with the real world, its attack on the Doctor apparently psychic in nature.
Location: The TARDIS.
Continuity: Mauritz's citadel is a four-dimensional space mapped into three dimensions, in which it is possible to walk into every possible future by moving from room to room. It is a closed system, with no "outside". He created it as a place to meditate and to gain knowledge, since every possible outcome within the citadel can literally be explored and every possible future Mauritz can pass information to his past selves. The citadel itself is made of breaks composed of bones from the almost infinite number of dead Mauritzs; their skins are used to make books, their bodies turned into food for their past selves. Plants provide oxygen, and are fertilized by any leftovers from the corpses of Mauritz that cannot be otherwise recycled. Because every possible outcome exists within the citadel, there are an infinite number of Doctors and Adrics who never left keeping the Mauritzs company.
Location: Mauritz's citadel [outside time and space]
The Comet's Tail
Continuity: Although it is not explicitly stated what is going on, the events depicted here appear to be a nightmare of the Doctor's.
Location: Not applicable
Roots: There are references to J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Sartre's Huis Clos.
Continuity: The "school" doesn't have perimeters. It was built as a prison for children who have been predicted by psychometric tests to grow into society's most dangerous criminals; because they remain children forever, the prison was built as a school. Parkins has been at the school long enough to forget where he came from and to work out what the school's purpose is for. It isn't explained who built the prison, but it is implied to be an incredibly advanced society in technological terms. Had the boys not been incarcerated they would have committed crimes on Scavenius, Kory Prime, and Dispo. The entity that starts killing the boys is the corporeal manifestation of the death and destruction that would have been caused by one of them had they not been imprisoned.
Location: A prison outside time and space.
Continuity: The Doctor is unable to explain the manifestation of Anna, who seems to be a ghost.
Location: An unnamed Earth colony, date unknown.
Future History: Aliens attacked the colony several centuries before the TARDIS arrives, and wiped out its population, save for a single survivor. The human race was drive back from this sector of the galaxy by the war [possibly the Dalek war], and never went back.
Whiskey and Water
Roots: There are references to King Ludwig, Alexandre Dumas, Franz Liszt, Chopin and Ten Green Bottles.
Continuity: The Doctor wears an embroidered cloak. He drinks whiskey and claims that he has never been intoxicated in any of his lives [a blatant lie - see Slipback]. He carries a tubular key and a tuning fork and knows how to tune a piano. He has had many homes, but never any that he has felt comfortable settling in.
The life form is composed of sentient gold dust; it is native to the rings of Saturn, but was dislodged by a meteor storm and landed on Earth, where it found its way into the waters of Ajax Creek. Part it was taken by gold prospectors. It can reanimate human corpses and control them. Once it has reconstituted itself, it leaves for the magnetic pole, where it will be colder, although not as cold as its native environment.
Location: Ajax Creek, California, the 19th century.
The Death of Me
Roots: There are references to King Lear, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Asda.
Continuity: The Doctor claims that he doesn't believe in luggage. On the subject of death, he says that it is "good to know that the moment has been prepared for" (Logopolis). He is frightened of death. The Doctor dies and is reborn approximately fourteen times during this story.
The cause of the temporal loop in which Arthur and Chloe are trapped is never explained.
Location: England, the late twentieth century.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor claims to have heard Shakespeare's last words [which flatly contradicts The Empire of Glass, which shows Braxiatel alone present at Shakespeare's death].
Dialogue Triumphs: "You killed half a million people... not monsters, not even enemies most of them. People!"
Continuity: The Doctor was the only Offworlder named a Hero of the Hundred Days war and was awarded a medal. He gained a scar running from his jaw down his neck. The war took place four years earlier; the Doctor was present at a crucial battle at Nova Croix. He drinks whiskey.
Jeremiah Maru-Stahl was a dictator who ruled the colony before he was overthrown. He was a former steelworker who fermented rebellion and overthrew the ruling Imperial Family; his good intentions of building a new world gradually gave way to tyranny. He was responsible for the deaths of half a million people. The DGSI enforced his rule.
Offworlders weren't on the lists of fallen dead from the war. Orleans is another city on the colony. Nowy Bihac was an industrial town.
Location: Encardia City, in Autumn, date unknown [the future].