The Discontinuity Guide
The Past Doctor Adventures
(Features the Fourth Doctor and Leela between Last Man Running and The Talons of Weng Chiang)
Author: Chris Boucher
Editor: Stephen Cole
Roots: Poul's full name is possibly a nod to science fiction writer Poul Anderson. Terminator (the design of the new generation of robots); Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (SASV1's unexpected ability to dream). The Doctor paraphrases (and mentions) Arthur Conan Doyle ("Eliminate the impossible").
Dialogue Triumphs: "When you've been around for as long as I have almost everything does look disappointingly familiar."
"The truth is so difficult to find and hold on to that deliberately lying has always seemed pointlessly destructive to me."
"It is stupid not be afraid of anything. A stupid warrior lives only long enough to get others killed."
"There seem to be a lot of anti-jelly-baby regulations. That could be a worrying development for a civilization, you know."
"The trouble with holy books is that what are taken to be prescriptions are frequently descriptions. They don't talk about what must be, they talk about what is. If you take a description of what is happening to be a prescription of what you must do, you are turning what was intended to be an aid to understanding into the opposite - a force for ignorance."
Continuity: Uvanov's full name is Kiy Uvanov, Toos' is Lish Toos, and Poul's is Ander Poul. Following the events of The Robots of Death, Storm Mine Four was abandoned and allowed to sink into the desert. The desert is known as the Blind Heart. To prevent panic, a cover story was invented, which stated that Ore Raiders attacked the Storm Mine. Toos has since become a Storm Mine captain, in charge of Storm Mine Seven. Once he recovered from his breakdown, Poul reprised his job in the Company security division. He deals only with humans and has converted his apartment into a surveillance-free, robot-proof fortress. As a result of the trauma he suffered, he can't remember what Uvanov looks like and confuses the Doctor with Taren Capel. Uvanov has become a topmaster within the Company; during this story he rises to the level of Company Board member and Firstmaster, before eventually blackmailing Diss Pitter into surrendering the role of Firstmaster Chairholder.
Carnell was on the run for two years prior to establishing himself in Kaldor City (See the Blake's 7 episode Weapon). Psycho-strategists are rare within the Federation; the one-in-a-million suitable candidates are identified as children and trained for the role. Carnell keeps the ship in which he landed on Kaldor hidden, should he need to flee from the planet.
The robot development team use plans and schematics retrieved from Taren Capel's cabin on Storm Mine Four to try and develop the next generation of robots, designated SASV1 (for Serial Access Supervoc), building upon his breakthrough in making the robots capable of killing until it is optional and reversible. SASV1 develops sentience and the ability to dream, as well as the ability to take control of other robots, including Supervocs and the new Cyborg-class robots. It ultimately goes mad, mistakenly believing itself to be Taren Capel and ordering the robots subservient to it to go on a killing spree. The official development line, which the team has abandoned, produced D84, who was an experimental model. The new generation of Cyborg-class robots resembles human males of medium height, with brown hair and dressed in plain smocks and leggings. They have an organic shell grown over an internal framework.
The Doctor carries a penknife. He normally finds idiots rather tiresome, but makes an exception in Con's case. He doesn't know how to pilot a flier.
The Doctor has told Leela that fear is the enemy of reason. Carrying a knife is part of her warrior training. She has learned how to open the TARDIS doors from inside by watching the Doctor. Her warrior-trainer told her "You must never feel triumphant. Triumph makes you stupid and the stupid die first and fast." As a warrior novice, she was taught to check where she is and what is going on around her via the familiar litany of checks, "think, listen, smell, feel, remember, think" - recently, she has started to practice the technique again. She breaks Sarl's arm here and later fights off attackers in the Sewerpits, cutting the throat of one through to his spinal column, cuts the throat of another, and stabs two in the heart (she stabs them underneath the breastbone as described in The Talons of Weng-Chiang). "A warrior chooses where there is no choice" is a saying taught to Leela during her training that she considers to be rather silly.
Links: The story is a sequel to The Robots of Death, with reappearances by Uvanov, Toos and Poul, Vocs, Dums and Super-Vocs, and references to Taren Capel, Laserson Probes, Storm Mine Four, lucanol, and of course, Corpse Markers. Carnell first appeared in the Blake's 7 episode Weapon.
Location: Kaldor City, [c2297; a date of 2287 is provided for The Robots of Death by Lance Parkin's A History of the Universe].
Future History: Firstmaster Chairholder of the Company Board is the most senior position in the Company and therefore on Kaldor. The Company Board has thirty members. The civilian administration, known as the Minor Faction, was established to represent the minority of people on Kaldor who are not part of the Company; it has grown in strength over the years, and although it is nowhere near as powerful as the Company it is powerful enough to have its opinion recognised. Five of the founding family member Layly Landerchild's ancestors have previously held the position of Firstmaster Chairholder. Others of the twenty founding families include the Roatsons, Mechmans, and Farlocks. Despite their off-world origins, the people of Kaldor City believe space travel to be impossible. The current fashion amongst Kaldor City aristocrats mimics the appearance of a Voc robot. Kaldor City security forces use stun-kills. The Anti-Robot Front is a terrorist organisation that misguidedly worships Taren Capel. Types of robot used in Kaldor City include stopDums, which are deployed for security, and medVocs. Cascade berries are a specialty in the Sewerpits; they stimulate taste and suppress smell, and have healing properties. People from the Outer Zones are known colloquially as "zoners". "Emptiness" is a slang term for cold wind. Robot-pull buggies are used for personal transport; human-pull buggies are also available for fetishists!
The Sewerpits are surrounded by a boundary that prevents robots from entering; if they try to cross the boundary, it scrambles their control systems. The Doctor hypothesizes that the Sewerpits were built as a trap to catch rogue machines, implying that the civilization on Kaldor was threatened with killer robots once before [it isn't clear if early human settlers or earlier inhabitants of the planet built the Sewerpits and the boundary].
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor once visited a planet he never learned the name of, where he encountered an amphibian species named the "people-who-breathe-above-and-who-breathe-below".
The Bottom Line: 'I think it's a mistake to assume everybody does what they do for the same reasons even in the same conspiracy.' As with Last Man Running, Corpse Marker suffers because Boucher still seems to be trying to adjust to writing prose fiction, giving it the feel of a novelisation of a script rather than a novel. On the other hand, the characterisation and is first rate, with every character well motivated and a veritable cornucopia of schemers enriching the complex plot to great effect. The introduction of Carnell, one of Boucher's more memorable supporting characters from Blake's 7, into the Whoniverse, is more than welcome.
Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke