Roots: Stephen Law's foreword mentions various early television series, including Champion the Wonder Horse, The Lone Ranger, Quatermass and the Pit, The Voodoo Factor, The Monsters, Twilight Zone, Tales of Mystery, A For Andromeda, the Pathfinders serials, and The Chem-Lab Mystery. Webber is inspired to become a writer by the events described here, a nod to C.E. Bunny Webber, who was involved with the series' creation.
Goofs: Events here contradict the Doctor's assertion in Time and Relative that he has never broken the primary rule of his people and interfered in the affairs of others [he sees his actions here as a fairly minor intervention]
Dialogue Triumphs: 'I am a scientist and an engineer. A pioneer in both fields, you could say.'
'Mostly these humans are thoughtless and savage, with outmoded ideas about practically everything. Yet, they may merit further study. I marvel that they have survived as a species to reach out into space.'
Continuity: The Doctor and Susan have left Gallifrey only relatively recently. They adopt their familiar names here; the Doctor is given clothing with insignia that says he is a doctor, which he describes as a honourable profession amongst his own people and decides to use as an alias. Jill names Susan after her mother. He describes himself as a scientist and an engineer. He meets humans here for the first time, having not previously heard of them; he briefly mistakes them for Time Lords, sent to punish him. He has vaguely heard of Earth and decides that it might be a good place to hide from his people - partly because he decides that humans are gullible, easily manipulated, and physically similar enough to his own people for him to pass amongst them unnoticed. He has difficulty distinguishing between different humans at this point, complaining that they all look so similar. Iwa is not on his star maps. As part of the decontamination procedures in the Refuge, the Doctor's clothes are destroyed and he is given a set of standard fatigues. He tells Webber that his mind has a certain affinity with matters telepathic.
Susan has seen horror before on screens and behind glass, but has never encountered monsters like the Foxes before.
The TARDIS chameleon circuit still works at this point, the TARDIS taking the shape of a boulder. The Doctor refers to the fault locator (The Daleks, The Edge of Destruction).
Iwa is a barren rocky planet with several moons. The nearest express outpost is at Aphelion, which is so far away that it takes two days for signals to reach it. The Foxes are massive bipeds that blow together from scraps of flesh and rags; they can be carried from place to place in tiny fragments trapped in clothing. Their bodies collapse back into ashes after the stress of a prolonged attack. They inadvertently created their strange physical nature by inflicting genetic decay on themselves by accident. They enter an alliance with the humans to try and find a cure, their cellular adaptability in turn opening new avenues of research to humanity.
Location: Iwa, date unknown [the future, probably during the Earth Empire].
Future History: The Refuge on Iwa is for the incarceration and study of Future Deviants, children deemed likely to be a risk to society based when they grow up due to their genetic profiles or psychic abilities. It is legal to turn down gene screening during pregnancy, but if the child is found to be in breach of the Eugenics Code it is shipped to the Refuge. Telepaths are believed to be more inclined to criminality than normal humans because their innate abilities lead to feelings of superiority, in turn leading to manipulation of others for selfish reasons; Webber states that in seventeen percent of cases, this leads to subversive or criminal activities. Corporations have poured vast amounts of money into finding ways of activating and deactivating the telepathic gene. Mindless babies are grown in the Refuge for stem-cell research and gene hybridisation.
Earth has EBE databases containing information on all known alien races.
The Bottom Line: An odd mixture of rather leaden science fiction and some truly disturbing horror reflects the fact that Tara Samms is an alias for Stephen Cole, and that bizarrely Frayed combines the styles of both novel writer Cole and his short story writing alter ego. Nevertheless, Frayed largely works due to Cole's handling of the First Doctor and Susan prior to An Unearthly Child, capturing the rather ruthless persona of the early television stories perfectly. An interesting read, but something of an oddity.