The Discontinuity Guide
The New Adventures
St Anthony's Fire
Author: Mark Gatiss
Editor: Rebecca Levene
Roots: The Chapter of Saint Anthony is inspired by religious fanaticism, most notably the Spanish Inquisition. The Bible (there are references to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse). There is a reference to Alice in Wonderland.
Dialogue Disasters: "After all I've done for you, you take orders from a midget!"
Dialogue Triumphs: "You're living on borrowed time."
"Borrowed time is better than no time at all."
"Be comforted that if punishment ensues it will be a good and just punishment with much letting of fluids."
"I don't know what I like but I know a lot about art."
Yong's dying word is the concise but fitting, "Bugger."
Continuity: The planet Betrushia has artificial rings built by the planet's original inhabitants, humanoids with shrewish faces and bright yellow eyes. Regions on Betrushia include Arason, which is located near to the Isthmus Sea. There are two species on Betrushia, the Cutch and the Ismetch. They have been fighting a civil war for fifteen years. Ismetch cities include the capital Porsim, and Tusamavad. The Ismetch are reptilian bipeds with bony grooves running parallel to their spine, and tiny, pearl-grey teeth. They have crests on their heads and despite being reptilian have spiny white hairs as well as scales. Ismetch military ranks include Local Menx, City Menx, Portrone and Pelaradator. They use dirigibles to travel long distances. The monotheistic Ismetch Faith is central to their society and culture. According to the Faith, the Keth wiped out the race living on Betrushia before the Ismetch and the Cutch and will one day return. In actual fact, the original inhabitants of Betrushia created an evolutionary catalyst in the form of an organism, referred to as a regulator, designed to assess various life forms' fitness for survival; the organism found all life on the planet unsuitable however and began to consume it. The legend of the Keth is a race-memory of the organism. The artificial rings surrounding the planet were built to restrain the regulator, trapping it on the planet after it wiped out its creators' entire species, whereupon it became dormant. The regulator organism resembles a massive amorphous mass of yellow slime, which is a matrix of all of the organic matter it has ever absorbed. The regulator is destroyed along with Betrushia.
The Cutch have bulbous eyes on serrated turrets, and snouts filled with teeth. They have a polytheistic belief system.
The Doctor enjoys playing nine-dimensional Scrabble. The cricket ball that he used in Four to Doomsday is specially adapted, vacuum-resistant and propulsion-powered; he still has it in an old coat pocket somewhere in the TARDIS.
Ace has pinned a small grimacing wooden mask just above the handle of the door of her room in the TARDIS. She joins the Chapter of Saint Anthony and is temporarily brainwashed into forgetting her former life; she has her head shaved and is forced to walk around naked on board their ship.
Bernice has been using the TARDIS library to research the rise and fall of the Shovoran dynasty, during which she has turned up some unusual data on the Tytheg, a humanoid race that the Shovorans subjugated through centuries of war and slavery; her research in the Tytheg has thrown light on the planet Massatoris and its mildly famous colonies. Unbeknownst to the Doctor, she arranges the destruction of the Chapter ship and the Chaptermen on board.
The TARDIS library contains a well-thumbed copy of The Moonstone, sixteen wax cylinders, and a luminous hatbox. The TARDIS has been suffering from chameleonic fluctuation, which has caused the police box exterior to slightly change shape over the years, including losing its stacked roof [a reference to the change in the prop used in the series]. The Eighth Door in the TARDIS leads to a wide expanse of beach. The TARDIS still contains spacesuits (The Moonbase).
Links: There is a reference to Urbankans (Four to Doomsday).
Location: Betrushia and the Eleventh Colony of Massatoris, the Massatoris system, 2148AD.
Future History: China is taken over by Hong Kong c.2048AD. Tigers are extinct by 2148, although tiger bones still exist and are highly sought after.
At some point prior to 2048, all of Earth's faiths were merged an attempt to broker planet-wide peace. The experiment was a disastrous failure and the Chapter of Saint Anthony stepped into the breach. The Chapter of Saint Anthony was formed after the eventual dissolution of the High Catholick Church. They left Earth c2048 and travel through space, testing the faith of heathen species by utterly destroying them. They kill everyone on Massatoris in 2148 except for those they take as converts. Following the destruction of Betrushia, the Betrushians are relocated to Massatoris, where they survive until at least Bernice's native time.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor once had some boots resoled on Massatoris. He once knew some Siamese twins.
Q.v.: Benny's Birthday, Love and War.
The Bottom Line: 'I bring St. Anthony's Fire to the heathen hordes.' With religious fanaticism, genocide, xenophobia, and ancient evil from the dawn of time to contend with and most of these handled quite badly, St. Anthony's Fire is a mess. It isn't quite as bad as its reputation might suggest, largely due to Gatiss' handling of the regulars, and Yong and de Hooch are so far over the top that during some of the story's wittier moments they make rather good villains in the Grand Guignol tradition, suggesting that Gatiss should perhaps have played the novel for laughs, despite the seriousness of its themes and the astoundingly high body count. Nevertheless, after the impressive Nightshade it is a crushing disappointment.
Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke