The Cabinet of Light

Roots: Chaz Brenchley's foreword mentions Bach and Goya, and various detective novelists and sources including Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, and George Pelecanos. There are references to Al Capone, Celia Johnson, Richard Attenborough, Dirk Bogarde, Dracula, Goering, Hitler, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Hamlet, Kafka, Orwell's 1984, Spring-Heeled Jack, Beethoven, Alistair Crowley, Hanussen, and Abbott and Costello. Abraxas' cry of 'Do I look like the sort of man who cares what God thinks?' might be a quote from Hellraiser: Bloodline.

Dialogue Triumphs: 'I'm saying the Doctor is a personification of the engine of history.'

'I'm a Holy Terror. I am what fear itself is frightened of. I'm the sleep of reason. So I'm told, but I can't keep up with what I am most of the time.'

Continuity: The Doctor wears a coat, hat and muffler. He dons a soft black velvet smoking jacket and white shirt. He has a narrow neck and a pronounced throat with large features that are described as graceful and aquiline. His hairline is receding and he is gangly, but not tall [he may be the Ninth Doctor, as played by Richard E. Grant (Scream of the Shalka)]. He smokes, noting that it improves his singing voice and that "now I have a body with cravings". He notes that he was a different man the last time that he smoked (An Unearthly Child). It is implied that he has just regenerated, having been shot by Mestizer in the city by the bay. Emily Blandish is possibly his companion, although events force him to leave her in London with Lechasseur (she has certainly traveled with him in the TARDIS from the future). The Doctor has been living in an abandoned toyshop under the heaps of rubble near Covent Garden. He carries a packet of Promethean Everlasting Matches [Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure With the Daleks], a product of the Eternity Perpetual Company (Carnival of Monsters). He reluctantly admits that he occasionally carries guns, telling Lechasseur with an air of disgust that they lend authority to moral arguments, in the right hands.

Honor Lechasseur is a black American from New Orleans. He is a time sensitive, occasionally able to see people and lives in four dimensions. The Doctor notes that his aura is a mirror of Lechasseur's own, and that he only sees time in snap-shots. Most time sensitives that the Doctor has met are clinically insane. Lechasseur has shoulder-length hair and a thin lack beard and moustache. His hair is black, but shot through with traces of grey. At the age of nine, he was friends with a girl named Cecile, a blue-eyed Cajun girl fourteen years of age. He treasures a memory of a time he saved up enough money to buy her an ice-cream and sat together on a baking sidewalk eating them as a funeral procession went past. As an adult, Lechasseur was a solider in the US army and was posted to England in 1943. He was injured in combat in Belgium in 1944 when his platoon spent the night in a farmhouse that the Germans had just vacated in a hurry; when the senior officer started to play the piano, the dynamite hidden inside it detonated, killing the rest of his platoon. He spent the last years of the war in a hospital in Dorset. He was told that he would never walk again: he proved his doctors wrong. He sleeps very little. Despite his name, he has no French ancestry that he knows of. He considers his first name odd and doesn't like to use it with strangers. He doesn't smoke.

The Doctor has entered various human mythologies. Syme has a book containing pictures from the Altamira grotto in Spain, telling of a tribe living in Spain or possible North Africa at the time of the last Ice Age that worshipped the god Orb. The legend tells of an old man who brings fire and new ideas, beginning human history, a mythical account of the First Doctors activities in An Unearthly Child. Syme also knows of rumours that the Doctor was involved in the Great Fire of London (The Visitation) and the vanishing of the crew of the Marie Celeste (The Chase).

Mestizer is not human, and may be able to change her shape. She has the technological ability to transform Abraxas into a cyborg.

Links: The Limehouse Phantom may be a reference to Magnus Greel (The Talons of Weng-Chiang). The Inferno club might be the same establishment as that seen in The War Machines. Walken's assistant Amber chants Mary Had a Little Lamb as part of an occult ceremony, which is probably a tongue-in-cheek reference to The Daemons.

Location: London, the 1950s [the girl in pink pyjamas is described as the authentic face of 1949, and this story is set sometime afterwards when she has faded in the public memory]

Unrecorded Adventures: If Walken's sources are correct, the Doctor met his godfather in Dublin during the Rising, and wrote Poor Tom's dialogue in King Lear (his handwriting is in the first draft - see City of Death concerning Macbeth). The Doctor claims to have a long history with Mestizer.

The Bottom Line: Arguably the finest of the Telos novellas at its time of publication (no mean feat considering the quality of the range), The Cabinet of Light treats the Doctor as a near-mythical figure seen entirely through the eyes of others. With the Doctor largely absent for most of the novel (and in a hitherto-unseen incarnation when he does appear), the weight of the story rests on the shoulders of Lechasseur, but O'Mahony's superbly crafted character is more than equal to the challenge, boding well for the forthcoming Time Hunter novellas.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

Other Guides to this Story

Feel free to Contact Us if you have any questions about the site, or any technical problems with it. You may also want to check out our Privacy Policy. There is also an About Us page, if you really want to read one.

Add new comment

Comment

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.