The Algebra of Ice
by Lloyd Rose


Publisher: BBC
ISBN: 0 563 48621 X

     

    BASIC PLOT
    A maths nerd, a weird webzine publisher and the Brigadier find themselves helping the Seventh Doctor and Ace to solve the puzzle of a crop circle in the Kentish countryside. Only itŐs not a circle but a series of square-sided shapes, and itŐs filled with ice. And it seems to be causing time anomalies..

    DOCTOR
    Seventh.

    COMPANIONS
    Ace and the Brigadier.

    MATERIALISATION CIRCUIT
    Pg 6 The junkyard, 1963 (slightly before the events of Remembrance of the Daleks).

    Pg 8 Baltimore, 3 October, 1849.

    Pg 12 Antarctica, 17 March 1912.

    Pg 146 We don't see it happen, but the TARDIS has materialised in the back garden of the house on Allen Road, present day.

    Pg 167 Switzerland, present day.

    Pg 220 The TARDIS has returned to the house on Allen Road.

    PREPARATORY READING
    Nothing particular, but this emulates the style of the NAs in general, so a passing familiarity with them is nice, but not essential.

    CONTINUITY REFERENCES
    Pg 6 "She and the Doctor were in an alley ending at a pair of sagging, chained-together junkyard gates bearing the weathered letters "I M Forman"." This is the junkyard, slightly before Remembrance of the Daleks is due to start. It also appears in An Unearthly Child and Attack of the Cybermen.

    Pg 7 "Not "Foreman" with an "e"." The two spellings refer to the continuity error in Remembrance, whereby the junkyard sign was misspelled from its version in An Unearthly Child.

    Pg 26 "Like that time he'd pretended to Fenric he thought she was stupid and useless..." The Curse of Fenric.

    Pg 32 "Oh, Yetis in the Underground. That sort of rubbish." The Web of Fear.

    Pg 48 "Long ago, in his fourth body, he had been given the chance to destroy the Daleks and hadn't." Genesis of the Daleks.

    Pg 49 "Never again, please never again, in all his future lives, let him exterminate an entire race." Sadly, the Doctor will go on to do this several times: with the Time Lords in The Ancestor Cell and both the Time Lords and the Daleks in the Time War.

    Pg 67 "You won't like what you find at the centre of the Earth" Inferno.

    Pg 88 "'You're not green.' 'The Edrecki are.'" Uncertain reference. .

    Pg 154 Reference to the fifth Doctor.

    Pg 156 "I think his lot reproduce by being woven from DNA or something naff like that." The Looms, first mentioned in Time's Crucible and seen in detail in Lungbarrow.

    Pg 157 "She opened the wardrobe and pulled out a harlequin-patched coat." The sixth Doctor's jacket.

    "She sighed and pulled out a brown velvet frock coat that was much too large for him." The fourth Doctor's jacket.

    "You should have seen him when I first met him. Something out of an old clothes bin he was." Seasons 24 and 25 in general and Dragonfire in particular.

    Pg 168 "She went into the little kitchen annex off the food-machine room." The food machine was first seen in The Daleks.

    "In bathing costume and terry-cloth robe she started down the corridor that led from her bedroom to the pool. It was about a five-minute walk with, it had always seemed to her, a needless number of turns." The pool was first seen in The Invasion of Time, complete with a needless number of turns. The Doctor had deleted it by Paradise Towers, but it was back again in the NAs, so we can presume he reinstalled it not long after deleting it.

    "Something else always took his attention. Giant metal insects or something." Ace will eventually encounter giant metal insects, in Set Piece.

    Pg 177 "Ethan was also provided with a soft, wide-brimmed hat that looked to have gone a few rounds in its day." The fourth Doctor's hat.

    Pg 179 "Then I got caught up in this time storm and carried away to this ice planet and then what happens? I'm a waitress! And I get involved with a prat anyway, only he's about forty years older than I am." Dragonfire and her affair with Glitz (hinted at in the Dragonfire novelisation and confirmed in Happy Endings).

    Pg 184 "WHAT IS SKARO? HE DESTROYED IT" Remembrance of the Daleks.

    Pg 186 "I blew up a planet." Remembrance of the Daleks.

    Pg 187 "'It wasn't my home planet I was destroying.' Brett smiled again. 'Well, it's early days yet. They say the second crime is always easier.'" The Ancestor Cell.

    Pg 201 Reference to the fourth Doctor.

    "I admit that at some point I'd like to be really handsome." He will, in his eighth and tenth incarnations.

    Pg 241 "UNIT put them away in one of their super-security prisons, and I suppose they're still there." Battlefield.

    Pg 249 "Artron energy." First mentioned in The Deadly Assassin.

    Pg 275 "This last one, I visited your moon. Also, my own mind." Timewyrm: Revelation.

    Pg 276 "Sometimes I wish I could have my memory wiped clean. Start fresh." He will, but not until The Ancestor Cell.

    Pg 272 "She promised to visit him often and she did, always the same while he grew older, always acting as if she'd seen him only yesterday, which was sometimes the case." This is very reminiscent of the conclusions of Timewyrm: Revelation and Happy Endings.

    OLD FRIENDS AND OLD ENEMIES
    UNIT, though nobody familiar, aside from the Brigadier.

    The Doctor's house on Allen Road also appears, having been seen in a number of NAs and comics.

    NEW FRIENDS AND NEW ENEMIES
    Ethan Amberglass, although he's in a coma by the story's end.

    CONTINUITY COCK-UPS

    1. Pg 31 "The photos showed at least ten straight-sided geometric shapes, including a dodecahedron, laid down almost haphazardly, some overlapping." Except a dodecahedron is a three-dimensional object (there's one in Meglos), whereas these shapes appear to be two-dimensional objects drawn in the ice. And if not, did the aliens carve out an enormous dodecahedron from the mountainside? You wonder why they didn't they try to invade Zolfa-Thura.
    2. Pg 148 "You know mathematical graphs quite often have more than three dimensions. Fractals can be graphed in one and a half dimensions." It sounds very much as though the Doctor is claiming one and a half is a number greater than three.
    3. Pg 167 "She missed him." The entirety of this paragraph reads as though Ethan was left behind in his flat. Except that he's there in the TARDIS on page 171.
    4. Pg 215 "All numbers can be reduced to multiples of two primes" Er, no they can't. You can't reduce 30 to a multiple of two primes, for example, since 30=2*3*5.
    5. Pg 245 "I wonder if there's any physical form of lock to correspond with the logorithmic one" I wonder if there's any correspondence between "logorithmic" and "logarithmic".

    PLUGGING THE HOLES [Fan-wank theorizing of how to fix continuity cock-ups]

    1. The aliens carved a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional dodecahedron in the ice. Either that, or the Brigadier - despite his qualifications in mathematics - only thinks he knows what a dodecahedron is. Much like the author, one suspects.
    2. He's talking about two entirely separate things, but you'd think he'd be more sensitive, what with the Brigadier present. They don't teach that in A level maths.
    3. Ace is so lovestruck that she's missing Ethan even when she's in the next room. Awww.
    4. Ethan had a slip of the tongue and accidentally inserted the word "two" into the sentence.
    5. Ethan is having further slips of the tongue. He's clearly very flustered in Ace's presence, the lovestruck fool.

    FEATURED ALIEN RACES
    Pg 248 Geometric aliens from another universe, who exist as equations.

    FEATURED LOCATIONS
    Pg 6 The junkyard, London, 1963 (slightly before the events of Remembrance of the Daleks).

    Pg 8 Baltimore, 3 October, 1849.

    Pg 12 Antarctica, 17 March 1912.

    Pg 48 England, near Kent, present day.

    Pg 149 Switzerland, present day.

    Pg 246 Inside a graph.

    Pg 272 The following spring, plus four years beyond that.

    IN SUMMARY - Robert Smith?
    A very odd book. It wants desperately to be an NA, but doesn't seem to quite understand them. It hits all the superficial peaks (the Doctor keeping the web of time intact, moral ambiguity, companion angst, the house on Allen Road, post-Skaro guilt for the Doctor, cyberspace ending), but seems to be trying so hard to look like an NA on the outside that it misses the core of what made those books great. A case in point is the Doctor's ethical angst: the Doctor decides that he should murder Ethan, for the sake of the universe... missing the point entirely that the NAs were never that explicit and walked the line of morality extremely carefully. It's a blunt weapon to the head, where the NAs were a scalpel. Besides, you get the feeling that if the NA Doctor had truly wanted Ethan dead, then he would be, simple as that. And the Brigadier is included for what reason, exactly? None that I can think of, given how criminally underused he is. On the bright side, the seventh Doctor is mostly excellent, the aliens are original and the writing is crisp, making the various torture scenes uncomfortable. It's not a bad book, but it's one that just doesn't seem to know what it wants.