The Doomsday Manuscript
Roots: There is an Alice in Wonderland reference ("one hundred and one impossible things to do"). Braxiatel owns a pair of champagne glasses modelled on the shape of Marie Antoinette's breasts. Benny mentions Thunderbirds. The Fifth Axis is obviously based on the Fourth Reich. There are references to Prometheus, and Jack the Ripper.
Goofs: Benny is remarkably quick to trust Straklant, a self-confessed member of a fascist regime, given her previous experiences with Nazis (Just War).
Continuity: c600AD, during the Time of the Tombs, a spacecraft crashed on Kasagrad, the resulting radiation leak killing large numbers of the local population, poisoning the land for years, and giving rise to the legend of the Lost Tomb of Rablev (the buried spacecraft being the tomb in question). Kasagrad got its name from the Kasagrad region on the planet, which became so powerful that its ruler, King-Emperor Heironimes, renamed the world after it. Rablev was his chief engineer, and led an unsuccessful rebellion against Heironymes, attempting to use the ship's power source to aid him. After the disaster and death that resulted, Heironymes had Rablev sealed in the "Tomb". Due to the radiation leak, the legend claims that if the tomb is ever opened the world will end and that this is the Curse of the Gods. By 2600 the radiation has dissipated. The community around the Citadel at this time is approximately one thousand years old, thus dating from c1600 [therefore despite being apparently human, the natives of Kasagrad are indigenous to the planet, although their numbers may have been bolstered by colonists].
There are rumours that Braxiatel has an entire gallery devoted to Deauxob of Glanatanus, and owns Howard Carter's original notebooks from the Tutankhamen expedition. Building work on the Collection is well under way, with the Mansionhouse completed in the style of the Palace of Versailles as first seen in Theatre of War. KS-159 is ten miles in diameter. Transport around the Collection is by horse-and-carriage or Ormand-Seltec Flyers. The Hamlet is a small accommodation village located on the banks of the Great Trianon Lake. Leading up to the Mansionhouse is the Avenue of Fountains, consisting of two rows of expertly carved and unique fountains. There are forty-seven statues in the garden around the Summer-House. The plasti-disc invitations to the Collection double as a security passes. They are pink discs approximately two imperial inches in diameter and are keyed to the bio-emissions of the owner, preventing them from being given to other people.
Benny's birthday is on June the twenty-first. Following the destruction of the original (Tears of the Oracle), Braxiatel has built her a new Joseph, which has at least fifty terabytes of data storage capacity. She keeps a favourite picture of Jason, which Straklant steals in order to doctor the photograph from the Doomsday Manuscript to include Jason and thus attract Benny's interest (see Twilight of the Gods (NA)).
Braxiatel doesn't need to sleep [like other Time Lords including the Doctor - see All-Consuming Fire, Independence Day, and Bullet Time]. He finds it difficult to convey sympathy, so he doesn't try. He recently wrote a pattern recognition and matching program for his computer whilst bored one afternoon. He recently hosted a black tie party, at which a group of Delvians caused trouble. The ceiling of his study is covered with a perfect replica of The Supremacy of Venus. Braxiatel poses as Commander Graves of the Fifth Axis in order to extract the command codes form Straklant.
Wolsey has his own plasti-disc, fastened to his collar. This has a built-in mass detector to prevent anyone from getting in by carrying him. Straklant breaks Wosley's paw in order to gain access to the Mansionhouse. Ms Jones binds it with bandages containing genetic binding ointment, which she claims will quickly heal his foot. Benny regularly feeds him Freda's Fish Fancies as an afternoon treat.
The formidable Ms Jones appears (Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Dead Men Diaries) - Bernice seems to get on fairly well with her, although even Braxiatel seems nervous of her [it is implied that her reputation is considerably exaggerated].
Killorans have a reputation as the best labourers and construction workers money can hire. Other races cannot easily pronounce their names, so they tend to adopt imperial sounding human-type names.
Vendolusian plankton is poisonous until partially digested by the Vendolusian pond squwelch, after which it is served as a delicacy.
There is an underground necropolis on Gakranojen.
Links: Braxiatel's copy of Stanoff Osterling's The Good Soldiers is mentioned (Theatre of War). The Oracle of the Lost is housed in the Small Trianon building, which is closed to the public (Tears of the Oracle). Crofton and Wall appear and there are references to the elusive Mr Naismith, whom Benny has still never met (Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Dead Men Diaries). The original of Constable's The Hay Wain is still in Benny's rooms at the Collection ('The Light That Never Dies' (Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Dead Men Diaries)).
Location: KS-159, Habados, Hennessey's private asteroid, and Kasagrad, 1st to 6th January 2600.
Future History: c2200AD, Niall Goram and Matt Lacey led an expedition to Kasagrad in search of the Lost tomb of Rablev, which they found. Due to the residual radiation still in the ship, they contracted radiation sickness and died of what they believed to be a wasting disease - convinced of the curse, they tore their notebook in half to prevent anyone else finding the tomb but didn't destroy it outright as they couldn't bear the thought of the only record of the Tomb's existence being lost. By 2600, half of the so-called "Doomsday Manuscript" found its way into the hands of the Fifth Axis, whilst collector Milo Yendipp, who sold it to Munroe Hennessey, owned the other half.
The Fifth Axis is a human neo-nazi organization that is rapidly expanding its territories through conquest. Their reported atrocities include concentration camps and "alien cleansing" (genocide). It is absolutely ruled by its Imperator, Volf Gator. Fifth Axis territories include Tintinambulus (which has glavis mines to which dissenters are sent), Galamanus, and the recently conquered Frastus Minima, where the Axis massacred most of the population. Straklant led the infantry division that sanitized the planet. Straklant lost his hand in an enemy barrage on Celestos, which the Axis has also presumably conquered. Kasagrad remains the only unconquered planet in the Assimilated Regions, thanks to its complex satellite defence system, but is blockaded by the Fifth Axis Sixth Fleet. The Fifth Axis Command and Control structure assumes that their enemies will break their codes and encryption, so they not only encrypt but also broadcast different sets of orders simultaneously on hundreds of different frequencies, of which only one set is genuine - this command frequency changes every day. Following Straklant's defeat, most of the Sixth Fleet is destroyed and the Fifth Axis abandons its attempt to take the planet.
Munroe Hennessey is famous film star and heartthrob of the twenty-sixth century. By 2600 he is extremely old and infirm, depending on life-support equipment for survival.
By 2600, there is an Institute of Cross-Licensing and Print Merchandise on New Adventura. Dendronian sanctions are held in place against the Grombi, and the (Earth) Federation has placed a blockade around Venedel because they want to cede.
The Bottom Line: "It's good to be back." As the first Big Finish Bernice Summerfield novel, The Doomsday Manuscript is flawed, but enjoyable. Kasagrad is utterly unconvincing as an alien world, with the Citadel resembling as it does a European city in the path of the Nazis during World War II (this is of course the point, but it raises the question of why Richards didn't just make it an Earth colony!), and the section on Hennessey's asteroid is totally extraneous to the main plot. Nevertheless, Straklant makes a suitably nasty villain and the whole thing is fast paced and fun, and as a start to the series is a pleasant stand-alone novel.