Roots: There are references to The Island of Doctor Moreau, Through the Keyhole ("What kind of a Chelonian lives in a house like this?"), and Marie Antoinette. The Chelonian legend of Kalza is inspired by the Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale.
Dialogue Disasters: "Goodbye, you presumptuous nincompoops."
Dialogue Triumphs: The Chelonian national anthem.
"The language of the parasites reduces the glories of conflict to mere farce."
"I know the best way to survive, which is to make as many friends as you can."
Memorable Moments: The Doctor persuades Big Mother to commit suicide and destroy the entire Chelonian fleet to destroy the Management, but legs it when he is ordered to remain and sacrifice himself alongside them.
Continuity: Zamper is located inside an artificial fold in space on the eastern edge of the [Milky Way] Galaxy. It has been a shipyard for battleships for four hundred and seventy-three years. Zamper ships are almost impossible to duplicate successfully off Zamper. The Management, an artificial intelligence, runs Zamper. The Zamps, which build the ships, comprise the organic component of the Management. The Zamps originally lived in herds inside one of the moons of Kappa Geet Perba and farmed the gas-mammals that shared their tunnels, using their herdmind to bring them to them. The original founders of Zamper genetically modified the Zamps and linked them to the artificial part of what, together with the Zamps, would form the Management, warping their herdmind and exploiting their imagination and psychic abilities. They are large slug-like creatures, with three feelers and mouths that consist of seven pinprick-sized holes arranged in a ring pattern. They have no eyes. They are approximately one and a half feet long, with jet black, smooth, dry seal-like skin. They have internal skeletons. They have undeveloped voiceboxes, which they can use to make sounds. Zamps hatch from shelled, sturdy eggs. Each Zamp has a tiny, coiled strand wrapped around the cortex of its brain, which motives the Zamps to form a herd. When sufficient numbers gather together in a herd they achieve enough shared telekinetic power to build ships. In every hatching there are a couple of runts with lesser-developed or malformed transistor strands that are left to die. The herdmind has been secretly using the new knowledge that it gained as part of the Management to alter its genetic structure, creating the Zamploops as defenders, and preparing to swarm out in the universe and seek revenge for its captivity. Zamploop eggs are the size of footballs, opaque and ribbed, and have muddy-brown shells with thick turquoise spreading veins that pulse every other second. Zamploops resemble long tentacles, and have a purple quartered jaw at one end. They secrete a sticky slime that can immobilize their prey. They have lost their telekinetic ability in exchange for their sheer brute force. The destruction of the herdmind in the explosion of the Chelonian fleet leaves the artificial remnants of the Management cut off from reality. Unbeknownst to anyone except Roz, its link will be restored in forty thousand years when the hidden batch of eggs still on Zamper hatch. Zamper has a purple sun and purple clouds. Most of its surface is covered by barren, rocky terrain and at least one ocean. Aside from the Zamps, there is little significant animal or vegetable life, although Chris finds a kipper-shaped fish when he and Roz land in the sea. Servitors are robots used on Zamper; they have basic and literal intelligence. They are silver discs that float at head height and have a sensor mechanism in the form of a square grid at the front. Zamper ships include the Series 336c Delta-Spiral Sun Blaster.
The Chelonian national anthem has one hundred and eighty-five verses. Hafril, Leader of the Maternal Guard for ninety years, was killed after taking seven blasts from a human weapon in defence of the hatching forts at Kaapon. Veygaphipton is a Chelonian colony. Hakifur is the bloodline that had served as personal security to the First Family. The Kumzir line is known for producing physicians. Chelonians have a custom of leaving a meal for the next user of a withdrawal pod. They often ride raptors. Their ancestors lived in mudflats. It is implied that they haven't always been hermaphrodites, and once had males and females. Chelonia has multi-leveled island cities and sky pedways for traffic. There is or was an equestrian statue of the fourth Big Mother astride the raptor that he rode. Chelonia has two suns and at least one moon. Fang-birds are native to Chelonia. Arionites are mythical Chelonian beasts that prayed on Chelonians; their appearance is not recorded. According to the Book of Time, they are long dead, the Arionite bogs having been salted generations ago. The Chelonians believe in a Goddess; their holy text contains a sacred chapter that tells of the descent of the prophet Gilzza from Mount Ephyiddon carrying the seventy-seven tablets of behaviour. It also tells them that the Goddess created the Chelonians and made the universe their garden, and that the mammal lurking in the boughs of the tree of knowledge spawned the parasite. The Chelonian legend of Kalza tells of a young hero swallowed by a sea-marauder who lived for thirty cycles in the beast's stomach, before eventually floating himself out on a raft made from driftwood in its bowel. The Chelonians have X-ray eyes and cyber-enhanced hearing. Their communication units are yellow u-shaped devices with pointed tips, which they can release from inside their shells when required. They carry sealing salve to repair cracks in their shells acquired during battle. A Chelonian warrior's internal grafting contains three micro-quintols of inert amytol, which can be detonated by the Chelonian increasing its body temperature; this tactic is called Strategy Z. Hezzka and Ivzid eat smasti nuts on Zamper. "By Faf" and "By Nim" are Chelonian oaths. Chelonian games include Sub-continental whispers and leap-parasite. The Chelonians know of the various incarnations of the Doctor as the "Brotherhood of Doctors", although Big Mother is aware that they are all the same man. They also refer to him as "Sla - Ifrok - Yalkoz - Slan!", which translates as "Interfering idiot". Chelonians never travel alone. Suicide is against Chelonian nature.
The Doctor has mislaid the TARDIS toolkit. He thinks he has a crash helmet somewhere in the TARDIS. He buys a mouldy copy of Schoolboy's Companion from a bookshop in England.
Benny has been travelling with the Doctor for several years. She wears a PVC jacket here. By the sixtieth century, her book Similarities in Proto-Cultural Artefacts of the Second Dynasty of the Zyrs has been published; this comes as something as a surprise to her, since she only wrote it for a bet and there aren't actually any similarities in proto-cultural artefacts of the second dynasty of the Zyrs, a fact that the critics apparently noted. Benny, Roz and Chris have coffee and croissants for breakfast on Zamper.
The first spaceship that Roz ever traveled on exploded. She carries a large rubber-insulated torch from the TARDIS.
Chris wears Calvin Klein briefs that he found in the TARDIS.
Passing through the rent in the fabric of space that conceals Zamper causes a filament in a circuit in the TARDIS to blow. Ace left some of her weapons on board when she left (Set Piece).
Series 336c Delta-Spiral Sun Blasters were used in the Sprox civil war and the death skirmishes of Pancoza. D'Naari-Ylenk is the chieftain of the Sprox. The emissary to Zamper from Hotris had huge hairy shoulders and long arms. Other colony worlds and planets mentioned here include Pyka, Marlex, the volcanic world of Dalverius, and Rakkelwotts 5. There are shipyards on Ryga. Tufted whizzweed is available from tobacconists on Shaggra. Following Little Sister's revolution, Big Mother established a bank account on Pantorus. Bog-broth is a Solturian dish. Smith attended a university tour of the Pelopennese.
Links: The Chelonians first appeared in The Highest Science. There is a reference to Sloathes (Sky Pirates!), Daleks and Sontarans. Benny's dream features Edwardian London (Birthright), carnivorous plants (The Pit), an inside-out sea (Parasite), being spat at by pink-haired youths (No Future), Dr Watson (All-Consuming Fire), the Doctor's house at Allen Road (Warlock), President Flavia (Blood Harvest), and entering Paris in a hay cart (Set Piece). She later recalls the Master (First Frontier) and Gabriel and Tanith (Falls the Shadow).
Location: Zamper, the sixtieth century; the Doctor's house on Allen Road, c.1995.
Future History: During the punitive campaigns of the third Wobesq-Majjina war, Major Deimlisch had orders to destroy a wave of Wobesqan vacuum-to-vacuum missiles; in order to achieve this, he ordered every ship in his fleet to self-destruct.
By the sixtieth century, there has been a cultural revolution on Chelonia, and the peaceful forces of Little Sister have overthrown the rule of the Big Mother. The Maternal palace in Chelon City has been toppled, and he is in exile.
The east side of the galaxy, largely colonized by humans, has been undergoing political upheaval for the last one thousand years. Various colony wars destabilized the region's economy, prompting a consortium of industrialists six hundred years ago to pool the scientific resources of a hundred different cultures and "create" Zamper, shifting the planet into a fold in space. Although Zamper is located in the middle of a war zone, the fact that is tucked inside a mini-universe means that it is technically neutral. Because the market for battleships has always been viable, Zamper led the markets from the day it was registered on East Galazy's stock exchange. The local currency is gold in the form of livres, which the Chelonians do not recognise. Gilby Co is another sixtieth century company.
Unrecorded Adventures: During one the Doctor's visits to Earth, Benny sneaked off to look around Milton Keynes, in order to settle some of the archaeological disputes that it spurred hundreds of years later; she confirmed her own theories and left with boxes full of shoes.
The Sixth Doctor met Big Mother.
The Doctor makes a brief trip to visit Taal's family whilst Benny, Roz and Chris are recuperating in the house on Allen Road.
The Bottom Line: 'Good morning. We're doomed. Would you two like a cup of tea?' Despite a poor reputation and despite being Gareth Roberts' weakest Doctor Who novel to date, Zamper is actually rather entertaining. The Chelonians work just as well here as they did in The Highest Science, and the juxtaposition of horror and comedy is also effective. The Doctor's controversial bout of cowardice/hypocrisy in persuading the Chelonians to sacrifice themselves whilst he flees is highly memorable, fitting in with his general tendency to manipulate others in the New Adventures, but depicting him as a very flawed hero in another way at the same time.