Roots: The Cyberpunk genre, particularly Iain M Banks' novels. The London Underground - particularly the famous tube map. There are references to Flash Gordon (Ming the Merciless), Vivaldi, Boris Yeltsin, Doctor Livingstone, Frankenstein, Jesus, Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring", "Old Mother Hubbard", Alice in Wonderland, Honda, Shakespeare, Duke Ellington, Popeye, Disney, Franz Kafka, and Thatcher: The Wilderness Years. The Doctor sings an Edith Piaf song. The name Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart was first mentioned in Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation of Remembrance of the Daleks, though it refers to a different character. TV show Systemwide is clearly named after BBC show Nationwide.
Goofs: The book in Benny's pocket is a bit of a mystery. The most obvious explanation is that it's her diary, the description of it as a tatty notebook fits with this. However, the book is described as being in a language (written in Roman script) that she doesn't know. [Perhaps the TARDIS telepathic circuits are deliberately mucking up Benny's ability to read it.]
Allen Road's frying pan apparently doesn't need oil, because years of grease work better than Teflon - but surely you should need to use some new oil occasionally, otherwise eventually there'll nothing to fry your food in.
In chapter 6, the Doctor claims to have Benny's memories, but he gave no explanation of where he'd got them from.
Technobabble: Lorenzo attractors. A localised self-generating field around a transit capsule allows FTL travel in real space, but change the initial conditions of the field generation, you fling the capsule off at a dimensional tangent causing time travel. Mimetic polycarbon. Digital compensation reduces the jumpiness of magnification.
Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor: 'Not again.'
Old Sam: 'People, targets. What's the difference?'
The Doctor: 'Next time, I'm going to find a better place to park.'
Barperson: 'I didn't know Francine had a family.'
Kadiatu: 'That's why you're working the bar and I'm asking the questions.'
Benny: 'Maybe time travel f-s with your mind.'
The Doctor: 'Do you believe in fate?'
'Only in game shows.'
Kadiatu to the Doctor: 'You're not capable of anything as simple as getting drunk.'
The Doctor: 'History happens. Even when I'm not around.'
Kadiatu: 'Only by accident.'
After Ming's just asked for a big promotion and greater authority, Rodriguez asks: 'anything else?', to which Ming replies 'Yeah. I want the pay rise backdated.'
The Doctor in ancient Japanese: 'Make way! For I am the official keeper of his majesty's penguins and I must hurry because his majesty's laundry basket is on fire'
Kadiatu: 'Why are we going to Pluto?'
The Doctor: 'We have to rescue somebody.'
Kadiatu: 'What makes you think they need rescuing?'
The Doctor: 'Trust me.'
Blondie: 'We came to rescue you.'
Blondie: 'Because he [Old Sam] threatened to rip my head off if I didn't come.'
The Doctor: 'Do I look like a thunder god?'
Kadiatu: 'How would I know? I've never met one.'
The Doctor: 'There are no gods. I should know, I've met a few.'
Kadiatu: 'What happened to the sanctity of life?'
The Doctor: 'It just got filed under D for desperate expediency.'
"It's a reflex of mine. I see someone in danger and I try to save them. I can't help myself."
The Doctor asks Kadiatu, "You're expecting bad news?" to which she replies, "You do have a reputation."
"Go on, tell me I didn't have to do that. I've broken the rules. You didn't like that, did you? No one's supposed to die without your permission."
"If you humans have a strength it lies in your diversity. Your culture is prolific and multifaceted. When it comes to an interaction with an alien culture there is always a facet of your own culture that puts you closer to the alien. Perhaps closer than you would like. The problem is that you astonishingly bad at utilizing this diversity."
Continuity: Young Ice Warrior males scratch virility symbols into the walls of nests to attract females. Military nests are circular and are entered via a spiral tunnel that descends through the nest; this tunnel is called the Xssixss, or Path of Easy Virtue. At the very centre of the nest is the Queen's Chamber. The tunnel mouth is the only entrance and exit from a nest. The Arsia Mons nest is dormant, but disturbed by the Doctor and Kadiatu's battle with the fake Benny; the Doctor notes that it will take two weeks for the Ice Warriors to wake up.
The unnamed alien entity that infects the STS is essentially intelligent software. It is accidentally released into the STS when the Stunnel initiation punctures a hole into its home dimension. The entity can transmogrify humans, turning them into distorted parodies with prehensile tails, distended mouths, and bits of random machinery. It creates two cybernetic duplicates of Bernice to distract the Doctor, at least one of which thinks it is the real Benny. It also manifests a translucent black train to transport the transmogrified humans. It considers the concept of personal pronoun "inapplicable", so the Doctor calls it Fred [possibly a reference to The Ribos Operation]. When it enters the STS and learns about the Doctor, it decides to lure him into its home dimension in order to integrate him into itself and thus gain an enormous tactical advantage in its own dimension, which it seeks to dominate.
The STS has become partially sentient, and has a degree of self-awareness. It communicates with the Doctor via an image of Anchorman Yak Harris. The sentient aspect of the STS enters "Fred's" home dimension with the Doctor and decides to remain there to realize its full potential. The computer at Stone Mountain develops sentience; it hires a lawyer and issues a restraining order against the government under the civil rights convention in order to prevent itself from being exploited for commercial or military purposes, and adopts the name FLORENCE.
The Doctor has a gold fob-watch [The first Doctor's], a double-sided three-penny coin with Queen Victoria on it - she is grinning on one side, a small torch, and a French fisherman's knife in his pocket. He drinks four bottles of ouzo to celebrate the Universe's 13,500,020,012th birthday and ends up passing out. He inevitably gets a hangover. One of his two hearts is the 'primary' one, he is able to elevate his primary heart rate and speed up the action of his kidneys, something at which he is unpractised. He can turn corners as if inertia doesn't apply to him. His eyes are brown. He speaks an eighth-century Japanese dialect that has since become the accepted formal tongue of the Japanese royal family. He makes shuriken out of old tin lids. He dons a pressure suit on Mars, but doesn't bother with the undersuit. By this period, the Doctor is becoming a legend on Earth; one major refers to him as Shango, the Yoruba god of lightening. He erases all of the information about him held within the Stone Mountain archive on Luna. He knows an old Gallifreyan flying mantra, which he adapts to freesurf the STS solo.
Nemo me impine lacessit ("No one attacks me with impunity") is the family motto of the Stewarts. Lieutenant Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart met Mariatu of the Rokoye Village whilst lost and they engaged in a brief relationship, producing a son. He grew up and became a soldier, and had children of his own, a son who also became a soldier, and a daughter Kadiatu who became a historian. Her great-grandson, Brigadier Yembe Lethbridge-Stewart, became Commanding Officer of the United Nations Third Tactical Response Brigade, also known as a Blue Berets and the Zen Brigade. He was the first man to leap into the caldera at Olympus Mons during the Thousand Day War. Following the war, he was retired to a town in the West African forest. He was saved by death from premature implant arthritis by Francine. Three weeks later he walked into Imogen's R&D centre in Leipzig wearing his full combat rig and destroyed the genetically engineered babies created there. Imogen created the babies from the genetic code of the Ubersoldaten in an attempt to breed the perfect warrior; each baby had "violence woven into its DNA". He spared one baby and adopted it as his own, naming her Kadiatu after his great-grandmother. Yembe died three years earlier and was buried with his wife in Achebe Gorge.
Kadiatu claims to come from six generations of fighting men and women. [Presumably she's only counting back to the Brigadier rather than to his soldier ancestors, as later the Doctor notes that there are five generations between the two]. When Kadiatu was young, she lived in a mud-brick bungalow on the outskirts of Makeni with her parents. She was told stories about the Shirl, or Doctor, from the time of the first grandfather, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. These stories included metal giants (The Invasion), evil machines (Day of the Daleks), and spiders that could think (Planet of the Spiders). She knows about the Doctor and has collated data on his various appearances throughout Earth's history. She has a recording of the opera Il Dottore Va in Viaggio by Marconi Paletti, apparently based on an adventure of the Seventh Doctor (Battlefield). She has never hit anyone before the transmogrified human at the Stop. She studied ecological reversion in her fourth year at school. Using information gleaned from various data sources, she builds a nuclear-powered time machine and sets off after the Doctor. Kadiatu has a lower skin temperature sleeping than other humans, 3 or 4 degrees below the Doctor's when he's awake. Her sleeping pulse is 42 bpm, which is very slow. Her sleeping respiration also slow at 10 deep breaths per minute. She has a fast metabolism, needing to eat a lot more than others. Her appendix is not vestigial.
By this time, the Doctor's house on Allen Road in Kent is largely unchanged (see Cat's Cradle: Warhead); the Victorian greenhouse has fallen in and the satellite dish is long gone (the Doctor finds it, or a spare, in the cellar), the lawn has overgrown the gravel drive, there is an old muddy horse trail coming away from the doors, but the stables have been mended and somebody has painted the window frames blue within the last ten years. There is some food in the larder, and Ace has left a couple of cans of nitro-nine in the fridge. The house is inhabited between the Doctor's visits, although the Doctor suspects by later versions of himself. He cooks pasta à la Dottore. The basement contains a wine cellar, containing a bottle of "Stinging nettle wine June 1976". There is an old Olivetti typewriter in the bottom drawer of the kitchen cabinet beneath a pile of old Dandys. The Doctor also finds an old Betamax VCR in the house. He finds a pair of secateurs in the sink drawer.
Benny is said to be from four centuries ahead of the times (and, thus, from the early 26th Century). When Benny's father went away into space, her mother slipped an engraved pewter bottle that belonged to her grandmother into his carryall; the bottle contained the cologne that Benny's mother would synthesize in the kitchen for him. Her father used to call her Bernie. Benny was sent to military academy as an orphan but wasn't very good at it because she was a bad shot. She once had a drunken argument about 21st century power stations after a conference at the Institute of Human Ecology on Cygni VI. Some Silurians were involved in the argument. On the way to heaven (Love and War), she read a paper by Professor Beal-Carter-Kzanski on The role of the Butler Institute in the Terran Post-Nuclear Period (Cat's Cradle: Warhead). The possessed Bernice dons a pair of rose-coloured skin-tight leggings, a suede button-down shirt, and black leather calf boots, all provided by Zamina. She is familiar with the location of the Arsia Mons Ice Warrior military nest on Mars. She learned a mantra whilst digging on Proxima IV that helps her to relax.
The Pythia's curse (Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible) sent shock waves throughout the space-time continuum, because it channeled the power of the procreative impulse of the Gallifreyans. Kadiatu dreams of the Pythia, which the Doctor doubts is coincidence. Gallifreyans once had musculature similar to Kadiatu's.
Links: References to the Brigadier and several UNIT stories including The Invasion, Planet of Spiders and a reference to the 'wicked machines'. The Doctor's time at UNIT is said to have lasted for five years. The Doctor remembers Ace including references to Cheetah People (Survival), The Curse of Fenric, the stereo he built for her Silver Nemesis, and Heaven (Love and War) He also refers to the third, fourth and fifth Doctors' liking for wine, beer, and cricket respectively. The Italian opera Kadiatu and the Doctor watch appears to be an adaptation of Battlefield. The Doctor mentions visits to "all three Atlantises" (including The Time Monster and The Underwater Menace). Benny mentions Silurians (The Silurians, The Sea Devils, Warriors of the Deep). The Doctor also recalls the Great Seal of Rassilon in the Panopticon. The fake Benny mentions the Hoothi (Love and War). He is concerned that he has spent too much time in unreal environments recently (Timewyrm: Revelation, Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible, Love and War). There is a reference to the destruction of the freighter in Earthshock. There are references to Daleks and Cybermen. The Doctor recalls visiting an Australian beach (The Enemy of the World).
Location: Olympus Mons West, STS Central - Olympus Mons, and Arcturus Terminal on Mars; Stone Mountain and Lunarversity on the Moon; Lowell Depot on Pluto; Pei Hai Park in Beijing; Kings Cross, London Bridge and the Isle of Dogs, London, England; the Stop, Earth; Adisham Station, Kent, England, Earth; Piraiévs, Greece; Reykjavik, Iceland, Earth; Mitsubishi (Titan Central) on Titan; Stazione Centrale de Rhea; Managona Depot (P-87); Achebe Gorge and Tharsis Rim, Mars; Jacksonville, Earth; [all c2109 - four centuries before Love and War]. It is the day before Constitution Day on page 16. Page 18-19 covers 1.00 - 10.15 GMT, Constitution Day and five Generations after the Brigadier. The main story takes place over three days. It appears to be around 30 years since the end of the Thousand Day War.
Future History: Ubersoldaten are augmented soldiers that fought in the Thousand Day War against the Ice Warriors during the late twenty-first century. They have artificial nervous systems and enhanced strength. The Martians destroyed Paris during the war by dropping a massive asteroid (the Paris Rock) on it; they carved ideograms into the surface of the asteroid designed to be visible from Earth during the terminal phase, as a warning to humanity not to enter a war of retribution. This was on Constitution Day. Earth was victorious and the Ice Warriors were driven off Mars. However, Earth lost 450,000 troops. Brigadier Yembe Lethbridge-Stewart's Third Tactical Response Brigade, consisting of Irish and Ethiopian soldiers, was the first brigade to land on Mars, and was cut to pieces by the Martians. Violet Sky is a film made about the Thousand Day War and stars Johny Ray. Vicker's All-Body Combat Systems are cybernetic suits of armour that plug directly into the auxiliary contact jack implanted into the neck of the user. "Greenies" is a derogatory slang term for the Ice Warriors. The military use teenage pilots with drug-retarded, pre-pubescent bodies because they have optimum G tolerance. Such pilots are given artificial, vat-grown eyes.
Following the war, Lowell Depot (known as "The Stop") was built since Pluto was expected to soak up the excess population. After the Australian famine and the Martian terraforming project, it became surplus to requirements and largely abandoned. Four hundred and fifty-thousand trees were planted in the Memorial Forest on Mars to honour those who died in the war. Lowell Depot is known as Aryan Heights by the media and is a run down area. Its biggest two exports are prostitutes and servants.
By this era a mass transit system of interstitial tunnels known as the Sol Transit System (STS) links the planets of the solar systems. The InterWorld lines include the Loop, Central Line, TransIonian, and Outreach. Some of the many stations are located at Olympus Mons West and STS Central - Olympus Mons, and Martian Plains on Mars; Lunarversity on the Moon; West Europe, West Africa, Kings Cross, and Adisham on Earth; Mercury; Triton; Lowell Depot (Central Line Terminus) on Pluto; Ganymede; Oberon; Callisto; Hyperion; and Tethys. There are various abandoned stations that have fallen into disuse, including Buchanan Station and Van Der Voek Station. It covers 9 planets and 56 time zones, though the timetables are given in GMT. STS is based in Reykjavik. Freesurfers travel along the STS tunnels using boards like surfers. The Stella Tunnel is intended to be the latest addition and will provide a link to Arcturus; Arcturus Terminal is built into the bedrock under the permafrost of the Martian Pole, and the Arcturan station is located on Arcturus II. For historical reasons, time on Triton runs at GMT plus five. There are robotic ticket collection drones which must, by law, be accompanied by a human.
There's a TV show called The Bad News Show on English 37. The Best of the Bad News Show is a compilation of footage from the series. Systemwide! is another programme, broadcast on English-5. Dustkart is a drama series broadcast on Gaelic Five, which runs in perpetual syndication dubbed into thirty-six languages. Porn Technik is a pornographic magazine. Harare Herald is a newspaper. Solar Cola is a soft drink brand. Ganymede Vodka is, of course, an alcoholic drink. Kwik-Kurry manufacture fast food. Rent-a-Crowd provide people for publicity events, usually people who want to supplement their welfare cheques. Most channels have names in the format language number. Medical technology can regrow a spinal column in less than a year. Students are funded by loans. The President has his own PR firm, Event Horizon; a personal train, Murphy One; and Viking Protection bodyguards. The KGB are now the world's oldest security firm. Their rivals include Viking Security and Ninja Mechanixs. Electronic Counter-Measures now come in a crystal that can be worn in your hair. There are internal comms links implanted along the spinal column. Money is transferred between moneypens. The European Heritage Fund is campaigning to save Canary Wharf. Robot drones are widely used for maintenance work. A President runs the Union of Solar Republics and is based in Reykjavik (see The Talons of Weng-Chiang); he is killed by the emergence of the intruder from the Arcturus Terminal. Achebe is a former President; there is a huge bas-relief of his face carved into the rock face of Achebe Gorge on Mars. Charity organisations in existence by this time include Oxfam, Medaid and the Higgins Trust. Moneypens are used to pay for items. Imbani Entertainment is based in Burkino Faso. Food in this era includes gumbo and tampopo. Mitsubishi is still Sol's most segregated metropolis. Pluto's major cities include Lowell Depot, Yamaha, Dentsu, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Changes in the economy saw an end to corporations such as Sony, IBM and Matsui, and new corporations including Imbani, Mtchali and Tung-Po. Japan suffered social collapse and mass emigration as a result. Imogen is a German subsidiary of a Croatian conglomerate run by a group of expatriate Japanese shinjinrui from a technology park on the outskirts of Zagreb.
Stone Mountain, by the Cayley Plains on the moon, contains records of UNIT amongst its historical archives. Humanity isn't due to develop time travel until the botched sigma experiments of the 30th century. The walls of the Kremlin are still around in Benny's era, though they are under a geodisc dome. A sword crossed with the winged Venus is the badge of the Terran Space Navy during Benny's time.
A disposable personal organizer is provided free with the June 2005 edition of Der Spiegel.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor meets King Tenkamenin at Kumbai Selah. The king offers him kola nuts and a place to sleep in the Royal Compound. They stay up all night talking of philosophy and the old gods. He leaves at daybreak, and nobody dies. The Doctor visits Ife in the tenth Century. Thanks to an incident with static electricity, he becomes known as Shango, the thunder god. He claims to have visited "all three Atlantises" - which means at least one unrecorded adventure. He has watched people surfing on an Australian beach. He remembers Fort Knox and the 19th Century Bank of England.
The Bottom Line: 'I'm facing hostile software. At least it's not in my head this time.' Doctor Who goes Cyberpunk, and does it extremely well. Transit is notorious for its use of the f word and its sex scenes. However, these are only a minor part of the whole. The book is very well written, and portrays a whole solar-system wide society very well. all the characters come across as real people. The interplay between the Doctor and Kadiatu never fails to sparkle, and Benny is written superbly in only her second appearance, and her first by someone other than her creator (though it probably helps that she's possessed by an alien intelligence for almost all the book). This is as good a showcase of Aaronovitch's writing ability as Remembrance of the Daleks. My only real gripe is that the glossary isn't comprehensive enough. However, on a first read, you may easily be left confused.
'What the f*** was that?' The first controversial New Adventure, Transit is largely remembered for including the f word and the notorious "taste of semen" line. In retrospect, it's a superb attempt at world building, portraying a dystopian but realistic future society with ease. The main problem is the obscure ending, but this is nowhere near as enigmatic as some readers claim.