The Discontinuity Guide
The Past Doctor Adventures
(Features the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith between The Monster of Peladon and Planet of the Spiders)
Author: David Bishop
Editor: Justin Richards
Roots: Real life gangsters the Krays are mentioned. The novel opens with a quote form Alexander Pope. Sarah finds the photograph of the Doctor and Tommy Ramsey in an edition of the London Evening News. Tommy Ramsey's tactic of using a lighter to detect Xhinn imposters is reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing. There are references to H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, Einstein, and Pyrrho.
Dialogue Disasters: 'Even your puny intellect should understand that. Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.'
Continuity: The Xhinn are humanoid, with tendrils sprouting from their heads and hundreds of eyes. They have no visible mouth. They can float in the air and fire energy blasts from their arms, which are capable of vapourizing humans. Bullets melt before they hit them. They can survive for millennia by absorbing the energy released when one of them dies. The Xhinn colonize worlds and strip them of all natural resources, enslaving or subjugating the native races and leaving desolation in their wake. They consider this programme of conquest to be a divine quest. They are notoriously methodical, and always send a scouting party to target planets in advance to assess resources and the dominant species and the risks involved in an invasion this can take years in Earth time. Scouting parties are always led by a triumvirate gestalt entity. According to legends recounted by the Doctor, they were created from fire millions of years before humans evolved, rebelled against their maker and were cast into this universe as punishment. They have traveled the universe for millennia, in their living Xhinnships that are almost impossible to detect whilst in space. At least according to the Xhinn, few races have stood up to them and survived and even fewer have succeeded. They are susceptible to fire. They can control humans, but only after orally administering a psychotropic drug to increase susceptibility. They are able to manipulate the weather to create a blanket of toxic smog around an area of London. They can change shape to allow them to impersonate other races, but this carries the risk of them coming to believe that they have always been a member of that species. The Xhinn have been on Earth since at least December 1946. The Xhinn know of the Time Lords, considering them to be technologically advanced, but weak, impotent and unwilling to intervene. They also know that the Time Lords can regenerate.
As cover in London 1952, the Doctor adopts the alias Dr. J. Smith and opens a watch mending shop called Fixing Time, which is burnt down as punishment for him defying Tommy Ramsey. He again uses Venusian Aiki-do (Inferno and others). He hypnotizes Brick. He has heard of the Xhinn but never encountered them before. Whilst in 1950s London, he dons a cape, scarf and hat to help protect him from the smog, although his respiratory system allows him to filter out most of it. He can go for days without eating. He carries a pocket torch. He comments that his current body must be getting old, hinting at his forthcoming regeneration (Planet of the Spiders). To defeat the Xhinn, the Doctor builds a Time Bomb, which massively accelerates time within its blast radius.
Sarah has tried to explore the TARDIS interior, but became increasingly confused the nearer she got to its heart. In order to meet Tommy Ramsey, Sarah takes a job at the Red Room bar, requiring her to wear the barmaid uniform, consisting of a revealing red blouse, short black shirt, black stockings and black leather stilettos. She later changes into a woolen cardigan and floral dress. She used to stay with her Aunt Lavinia during her summer holidays as a girl.
The Doctor repairs the TARDIS's directional finder prior to leaving for 1952. He again hangs an Out of Order sign on the TARDIS door whilst it is in 1950s London (The War Machines). The TARDIS can detect the external air quality (see The Daleks' Master Plan) and has a dial on the console to show this. Part of the scale is in red, indicating that the air outside would be fatal to any human after breathing it for a few hours.
Links: Sarah recalls Peladon (The Monster of Peladon. There are references to the events of The Time Warrior and Exxilon (Death to the Daleks). The Ormolu clock in Fixing Time might be the same one seen in the TARDIS in 100,000 BC and other early Doctor Who stories (it is destroyed here). Sarah compares Tommy Ramsey to the Brigadier, whom the Doctor indignantly defends.
Location: London, December 1946, 3rd to 8th December 1952, and August 2000.
The Bottom Line: After the hugely entertaining Who Killed Kennedy, Amorality Tale is a huge disappointment. The simplistic prose reflects Bishop's desire to recreate the feel of a target novelisation, but with the sparse plot and clichéd characters this instead makes it feel like a World Distributors' Doctor Who Annual story. The Doctor is sidelined for most of the book building a bomb in the TARDIS, instead giving centre stage to the two-dimensional Tommy Ramsey and his thugs. It seems out of character for Sarah to so easily accept Ramsey's only-done-their-own philosophy and the portrayal of the gangsters as lovable rogues is offensive.
Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke