Drawn into 'the nexus of the primeval cauldron of Space-Time itself', the Doctor and Peri are somewhat surprised to find themselves at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.Is it really just chance that has brought them to the funfair? Or is their arrival somehow connected with the sinister presence of a rather familiar Chinese Mandarin?
The TARDIS isn't seen, but is presumably parked somewhere discreetly at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
A working knowledge of The Celestial Toymaker helps and, although it was published about ten years later, Divided Loyalties does dovetail nicely... but I can't recommend that in good conscience.
Pg 8 "'Mr Kevin Stoney?' asked the suited man, politely." Presumably an in-joke reference to the actor of the same name, seen in The Daleks' Master Plan, The Invasion and Revenge of the Cybermen.
Pg 11 "They didn't have this at Brighton." The fourth Doctor made it there in The Leisure Hive. Interestingly, the sixth Doctor would visit there around this time, in Business Unusual.
Pg 12 Reference to Jamie.
Pg 13 "So it is, I suppose, if you take the Old Castellan's last stab at Universal Relativity slightly out of context" Possibly the Old Castellan is intended to be Catsellan Spandrell, seen in The Deadly Assassin.
Pg 34 Reference to Jamie.
Pg 47 "So would I with Wild Bill Hickock waiting for me..." It's obviously not a direct reference, but the eighth Doctor would later adopt the costume of Wild Bill Hickock.
Pg 70 "The last time we met you were the victim of your own intellectual conceit" This was intended as a reference to The Celestial Toymaker, but works just as well as a reference to Divided Loyalties.
Pg 79 "Calls himself the Celestial Toymaker, or did the last time we met." The Celestial Toymaker, or Divided Loyalties, depending on your point of view.
Pg 83 "The pile was quite generous, most of it covered with fluff, ranging from a very gummy jelly baby to the signet-ring of Rassilon." Even in 1989, the "noun of Rassilon" was old. Pity there were fifteen years of novels still to come, really.
Pg 87 "'Or are you one of those fellows who has to go around hitting things all the time. Knew a chap like that once,' he remembered, 'in Paris...'" Duggan, from City of Death. Oddly, this is the only continuity reference that actually hails from the author's tenure as producer.
Pg 99 "He existed before the start of Time Lord records. There was an attempt to track him back through his own continuum - trace his path through the fabric of time, but the researchers got bored with all the games, which was possibly what they were there for." This probably isn't the "Degrassi Junior Who" flashback from Divided Loyalties, but it's not entirely dissimilar.
Pg 142 "Shall we leave Romulus and Remus to sort things out?" Possible reference to The Twin Dilemma, but possibly not.
OLD FRIENDS AND OLD ENEMIES
The Celestial Toymaker, seen in the sixties story of the same name and Divided Loyalties.
Although Stefan was introduced here, he was retroactively seen in Divided Loyalties.
NEW FRIENDS AND NEW ENEMIES
Kevin Stoney, Geoff Bickerstaff, The Mechanic, the pink cloud, SB5496 oblique 74.
Stefan dies here, but was retroactively seen in Divided Loyalties.
- Back cover: "Drawn into 'the nexus of the primeval cauldron of Space-Time itself,' the Doctor and Peri are somewhat surprised to find themselves at Blackpool Pleasure Beach." Which is odd, given that the final line in Revelation of the Daleks originally had the Doctor promising to take Peri precisely here.
- Pg 33 "'What sort of voice is it?' asked Peri. 'Siren song, I suppose. Male or female, I can't tell.'" Except that the Doctor had just definitively determined the gender, only six pages earlier: Pg 27 "'It's a man's voice,' he announced with surprise and something approaching pleasure, as though the question of gender had been plaguing him for most of his life. 'Stupid of me, but it's clearer now.'"
- Pg 34 "They were exactly what might be expected from a fairground ride, indeed they could have been the same crowd who had shared the rollercoaster with him, and some of them were. None, however, looked sinister or even familiar" Except the ones who the Doctor just recognised as having shared the earlier rollercoaster ride, presumably.
- Pg 77 "With infinite care he tied his trusty sonic screwdriver to the side of the monitoring video camera." Except that the Doctor's sonic screwdriver was destroyed in The Visitation. He doesn't seem to get this one back at the end, either, leaving it tied to the side of a video camera in a cell.
[Anthony Wilson adds:] Also, in Millennial Rites, the Doctor comments something along the lines of 'I really miss my sonic screwdriver. I should have sued those Tereleptils for criminal damage,' which implies it's still gone post-Visitation.
- Pg 132 "You're from another Time and Space!" The Doctor's revelation here doesn't seem as surprising given that it was mentioned multiple times in Divided Loyalties.
- Pg 138 "Just look for something you've ever seen before and can't imagine a use for and we'll start with that." The Doctor means "never", not "ever" here, a typo which has the unfortunate effect of completely reversing the meaning of the original.
PLUGGING THE HOLES [Fan-wank theorizing of how to fix continuity cock-ups]
- The Doctor is surprised that the nexus deposited them exactly where he was intending to take the TARDIS anyway. Peri is just surprised that the TARDIS ended up where it was headed.
- The voice is playing havoc with the Doctor's memories.
- The voice is playing havoc with the Doctor's internal construction of thoughts.
- This is a cock-up that's aged rather better over the years. The seventh Doctor had a sonic screwdriver, without explanation, in The Pit, so presumably this is the same version,, which we can assume the Doctor rebuilt after missing the original (and really, it defies expectations that Romana could build one in the TARDIS but the Doctor never could just knock up a replacement). There's also time to collect this sonic screwdriver at the story's conclusion.
[Anthony Wilson adds:] Amusingly, the obvious get-out clause is that since The Nightmare Fair, he's had another run in with the Terrileptils and they destroyed the new one. This actually makes more sense of the line in Millennial Rites which is identical to one in The Crystal Bucephalus. I quite like the idea of the Doctor constantly making new sonic screwdrivers and every time he bumps into the Tereleptils, they blow the thing up!
- When the Toymaker's voice played havoc with the Doctor's memories earlier in the book, it also deleted this one.
- The Doctor's speech construction is still suffering the effects of the Toymaker's voice.
FEATURED ALIEN RACES
The Toymaker, revealed to be a being from a previous universe.
Pgs 61, 62, 112 The Mechanic is a Ventusan: part spider, part crab, covered in hair, with antennae, five angular supporting legs, a large serrated claw and a mouth with needle-like teeth.
Pgs 62/72 Androids disguised as dwarf miners.
Pg 106 A seven foot tall monster composed of green and red crystals, with two burning rubies for eyes, that can discharge electricity from its hands (seen on the cover).
Pgs 107-108 An electronic mass of sickly pink, that can hold a variety of shapes.
Pg 108 A half robot, half man (a former soldier now almost entirely cyberneticised).
Pg 7 Blackpool. It's 1988, according to page 88 (appropriately enough). One presumes the original script would have been set in 1985, but that Williams has simply updated the timezone to the year he was writing it in.
IN SUMMARY - Robert Smith?
Possibly the oddest Doctor Who curiosity in existence. A Season 22-esque adventure, which nevertheless has an extremely likeable sixth Doctor who has a great rapport with Peri, featuring the return of an (at the time) extremely obscure Hartnell-era villain, based on a script for which pre-production had begun but was abandoned, written by former producer Graham Williams himself, one of the show's most divisive figures, in his sole prose work for the series, written shortly before his untimely death... Any one of these elements would be unusual, but throw them all together and you've got... well, a bit of a mishmash, really. When I was young, I thought this was the greatest book I'd ever read, bar none. However, rereading it in the wake of fifteen years of original novels, it's not as tight as it once seemed. The Doctor's fantastic though, all intelligence and baiting the villains, while the ultimate revelations about the Toymaker are blood-chilling, only slightly ruined by Divided Loyalties' immature need to spoil them in advance. As a historical oddity, it's well worth checking out, but as a story in its own right, the various elements seem to cancel each other out and it ends up being fairly middle of the road. Truly bizarre.