Death and Diplomacy
Roots: The Doctor Who Weekly comic strip "Doctor Who and the Star Beast" (cute furry monsters proving to be megalomaniacal monsters). Star Wars' bar cantina scene (the Fatigue Shebeen); Blazing Saddles (Jason holding himself hostage when threatened); Star Trek: The Next Generation (Captain Salth's "Make it so"). The introduction makes reference to Shakespeare's The Tempest and Titus Andronicus, Jane Austen, Jules Feiffer, Adolph Hitler and Ronald Reagan. The novel opens with quotations from Bertrand Russell's Marriage and Morals, and Woody Allen. There are references to Freud, Coca Cola, Ferrari, Cadillac, NASA, Disney, Henry V, The Bill, Karl Marx, Das Kapital, H. P. Lovecraft, Schrodinger, and Cary Grant.
Goofs: The Dagellan Cluster is referred to as the Magellan Cluster on the back cover.
Dialogue Triumphs: "A good firm manly shafting with a length of honest steel is our watchword!"
The Doctor on sex: "I'm well known for knowing nothing of such things, or getting them very slightly but extremely obviously wrong. It saves all sorts of complications."
Continuity: Each of three rough thirds of the Dagellan Cluster is occupied by a different one of Three Empires: the savage Dakhaari, the warlike Czhans, and the "sophisticated, decadent and oilily conniving" Saloi; they are on the verge of war over the ownership of the planet Moriel, which is poised equidistant between the Three Empires. Fifteen Earth years are equivalent to twenty-three and a quarter Moriel years. The Empires are secretly ruled by the Hollow Gods, which manifest as vast, grey, insubstantial figures standing miles into the sky. All three races are bipedal hominids; the Czhans have milk-white skin, jet-black hair, and vestigial tusks. The Dakhaari have olive-green skin and slitted ears and are as lithe as cats. The technology of all Three Empires is based on clockwork. The planet Anrici IV is part of the Czhanos Empire and boasts crystalline forests with silicate inhabitants. The planet Kalas is a Dakhaari outpost. The desert planet Makrath is one of the gaming centres of the Cluster. Once the Skrak are defeated, Koth, Ravla and Sareth get married, bringing peace to the Empires.
The Hollow Gods are actually the Skrak, or rather enormous illusions created by the Skraks. The Skraks live on Moriel and are small and furry with three eyes. They are actually a parasitic symbiosis of extradimensional creatures (the mindless Otherlings) and mammalian rat-vermin (the Skrak) created accidentally as the vestigial fallout of the early intertemporal experiments of the Time Lords. Their life-cycles loop back on each other in an accelerated process of macro-bootstrapping that means that they relive the same few weeks of time over and over again, existing simply because they do; this self-enclosed temporal lifestyle drives them half-mad with frenzy and paranoia. By the time of the events described here, they haven't actually existed for more than twenty years, although they are apparently unaware of this. They use clockwork automata (including the Killing Things), teleport technology, and surgical mind-control. They build the Summit as the coil for a massive directional interdimensional transceiver, which they use to create the Hollow Gods, and also to influence the Three Empires back across thousands of years so that they believe absolutely in them. Their technology is cannibalized from items scavenged across space, including Cyberman cybernetics, Sontaran living-crystal technology, and bits of Earth technology. They want the TARDIS so that they can access time as well as space; during their travels across the galaxy they found the TARDIS on the Moon and rewired its controls, secreting the trigger mechanism for them about his person. After the Skrak leader gets squashed to death by his own automaton and they are overthrown, the remaining Skrak steal a ship and flee.
The absolute ruler of the Saloi Empire is, in the two-thousand-year long absence of the Emperor, the Assistant sub-Administratorial Secretary Without Portfolio for the Pursuance of Imperial and Local Sewerage Regulation and Common Hygiene, Morweth. Unbeknownst to everyone except Morweth, Sareth is actually the real Emperor of Saloi, as he discovers when Morweth dies.
Koth, Supreme Commander of All Czhanos Forces, is the leader of the Czhans. The Czhans have a system of punishment slavery, whereby anyone breaking Czhan law is forced into subservience.
Ravla, the Warrior Queen, rules the Dakhaari.
Clientele of the Fatigue Shebeen on Jaris include Medusa Al, who has viperlike growths sprouting from her obloidular body and whose snake-eyes generate vitriotic kill emissions; Hammerhead, who has slavering and extended second jaws; and Rabbit Jack, who is predominantly humanoid but has a pronounced and reddish skin pigment and slightly elongated ears. Customers in the Citadel include a six-armed arachnid-woman from Glomi IV, and a group of piglet people from Glomi VII. One of the bouncers has four red pulsing eyes, fifteen nostrils, and several sets of jaws. There are also ursine and canine humanoids on Jaris. The mechanic on Makrath is a fluorescent yellow humanoid with displaced ears.
Jaris is the only large-scale settlement on the planet Jaris, which is the only planet of the Jaris system. Jaris' main exports are livestock, meat, and anthracite. The planet Jaris is destroyed in an explosion one thousand, four hundred and seventy years after the events here, which in turn knocks still-fissioning debris into its sentient sun, which triggers a chain reaction that destroys the star in two million years. A catastrophic environmental cascade process caused by the materialization of the TARDIS causes the explosion of Jaris. Fauna on Jaris includes a species resembling a cross between a Friesian cow and a three-toed sloth. Kalas has fungus jungles, in which dwell Walking Puffballs, harmless semi-sentient mimicking organisms.
The Doctor suspects that he sent himself the invitation that forcibly drags the TARDIS to the Dagellan system. The Hollow Gods force him to act as Arbiter between the Three Empires over the ownership of Moriel. He carries a Chinese finger trap in his pocket. He wears his brown jacket for a while here, before changing back into his linen suit jacket. He opens a surgery in the TARDIS to remove the implants from those soldiers modified by the Skrak; he sews Sareth's hand back on at the same time.
Quantum Theory A-Ω for Dumb People is a self-generating database application coded by Professor Beatrice Winterhill and Dr John Smith (Winterhill is the alias that Benny adopts in Warlock). When Benny first meets Jason Peter Kane, she holds him hostage at gunpoint (albeit with a non-existent gun) to keep the Jaris Militia back. She speaks Galactic Basic. She steals Jason's gun and a taxi driver's serrated knife. She suffers anoxia when Jason's ship decompresses. Stuck with Jason on his ship for days, it isn't long before they swap life stories, get drunk, and end up in bed together.
Roz and Chris both lack an appendix and wisdom teeth. To her horror, Roz is forced to dress in a towel and pose as Chris's slave on Czhanos. She later obtains a Czhan uniform and steals the ID of 1934-2675-0481 Skana. Whilst infiltrating the Czhanos army, she and Chris don exo-rigs. Roz has seen the battlefields of the 2697 Rigel Wastes.
Having arrived naked on Czhanos, Chris dons a Czhan uniform and steals the ID of 1934-2675-0473 Verkog. His family were Indentured Chattels during the New Earth Feudalism.
The TARDIS maintains several internal illusions to stop human occupants going mad; the Doctor maintains these as a default setting. He later rebuilds the hynoleptic interface responsible for this from scratch. A room in the TARDIS contains refrigerated storage cabinets labeled "Piltdown Man", "Anastasia Romanov", "Ambrose Bierce", and "Typhoid Mary"; the same room has jars labeled "John the Son of Zachariah (Knuckle)", "Vile Jellies", and "Hitler's Brain". The Doctor keeps a jackknife in the same room. The TARDIS also contains a ballroom and a Caligari cabinet.
When we first meet Jason Peter Kane, he is cheating at dominos for money. He has been stuck on Jaris for months. Until Benny enters his life, he hasn't seen another human for fifteen years. He's approximately thirty years old. Previous human girl- and boyfriends include Kara, Beth, Danny, Susan, Lisa, Carla, Sean, Danielle, Mo, Susan, Kimberly, Micqui, Justin, Peter, Carmel, and Louise; non-humans include Rana, Liva, Sali, Moiara, Kamo, and Sai d'RaKosh. He originally left Earth in nineteen ninety-six. He grew up in the countryside sixty or seventy miles from London. Jason's grandfather was on the Normandy beaches in 1944; his grandmother gave him a silver crucifix, which deflected a bullet that would otherwise just have clipped him through his left lung, liver, kidney and intestine, killing him; inspired by this, Jason had his jacket lined with a couple of layers of long-chain polycarbon micromesh. His father used to regularly beat him, his little sister, and his mother, so he ran away to London, where he lived on the streets. His little sister Lucy was six when he left; their father broke one of her fingers every night at the same time for three days. One night, he woke up in some woodland, and encountered Shug, who knocked him unconscious; when he woke up, he was on the planet t'Kao in the Dagellan Cluster and has been wandering around the sector ever since. He has heard of Time Lords. He has also heard of the Daleks, although in this time period they have yet to become a force capable of conquering entire galaxies and are considered to be something of a minor threat. He wears a leather jacket, and trousers made form local vegetable fibres. He carries a small-gauge microflenser. He steals a coat and riffles the pockets for money. He once barely escaped with his life after smiling at a Fnarok from Rensec XIV. He speaks Basic as well as English. When he first meets Benny, he pretends that he can't speak English or Basic and spouts gibberish, because she assumes that he is a native and patronizingly takes to him in Pidgin English. Jason has a pet Skrek called Shug, which he keeps on board his ship; he is unaware of Shug's true nature. Jason has at some point drunk Malkovian mead. Despite initial appearances, he's a very good pilot. Bravely, he undertakes a space walk without a suit, using elasticized bandages to protect him against decompression; he suffers vacuum lesions to his face, and then gets his nose broken when he gives Benny mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and she wakes up... It doesn't take long before they fall in love, and Jason proposes to her.
The Citadel Central franchise has refineries on Paolos IV. Seventh Generation Kai Oolonian resin-cheese boards are mentioned. The best way to resuscitate an Oolonian suffering from anoxia is to hit them repeatedly in the face with a spanner.
The Tragorian process of sclaki is the channeling one's entire forces and resources into a single focused burst towards a specific end.
Links: Death and Diplomacy is the second part of the trilogy that began with Sky Pirates! The TARDIS has just left Cinnabar and Byerley's wedding on Yemaya 4 at the start of this novel (SLEEPY). The Doctor recalls receiving an invitation to the Armageddon Convention on the Moon in 1609 (The Empire of Glass). There are references to the Brigadier, Peri, Mel and Ace, Reklonians (Sky Pirates!), UNIT, Daleks, and Heaven and the Hoothi (Love and War). Roz notes that she has seen the battlefields of the Somme (Toy Soldiers). She reads a copy of Dr. John Watson's The All-Consuming Fire in the TARDIS library (All-Consuming Fire).
Benny and Jason get engaged at the end of this novel, leading into their wedding in Happy Endings.
Location: Jaris, Czhanos, Moriel, Kalas, Makrath, 2011.
Future History: The New Earth Feudalism took place in the twenty-seven and twenty-eight hundreds and laid the foundations for the Earth Empire. The Dagellan Cluster is named after the female Captain of the first Earth ship to reach it.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor once tried to teach subtlety of thought to a Macedonian king. The Doctor has visited Sarajevo in 1995 with Benny, Roz and Chris.
The Doctor materialized on the Moon in a previous incarnation prior to 2011, where the Skrak rewired the controls of his TARDIS.
The Bottom Line: "Doctor, this is Jason. My fiancé. He's just proposed and I've accepted. Please don't kill him." Although not quite as funny as Sky Pirates!, Death and Diplomacy is enormously entertaining and brimming with great ideas. The introduction of Jason marks a turning point for the range as Benny gets engaged, and nobody writes for Mr. Kane as well his creator; he's a great character, thoroughly realised, likeable and decidedly shifty.