Vampire Science

Roots: Interview with the Vampire, Dracula, Ultraviolet, Blade, The X-Files. Sam unwittingly quotes Harry S. Truman. There are references to Oscar Wilde, Ford Torinos, Shakespeare, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Bridge to Terabithia, Time magazine, People magazine, Michener, Street Sheet, Mickey Mouse, Chevy Caprices, Sandman, McDonalds, Lexus, Chevrolet, Nietzsche, Brecht, Elvis Presley, Kojak, Billie Holliday, Deborah Duchene, M.C. Escher, Rube Goldberg, Yellow Submarine, California Law Review, Doug Henning, Shirley MacLaine, San Francisco Chronicle, and Charlie Manson.

Despite appearances, the book was written before either author saw any of the TV series version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Goofs: On page 49, it talks about Carolyn looking down at some folders, when it clearly means Sam.

Joanna is said to have been born shortly before the end of the 1st millennium, and also on the day William the Conqueror died - which was the best part of a century later than that.

Technobabble: Chronoynclastic retroactive continuity.

Dialogue Disasters: Chapter Twelve is called "Raising the Stakes". Groan...

Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor: 'Yes, I'm not human, and yes, that was a vampire, and yes, you really have wandered into an ancient feud between my people and theirs, and now you can either stay here and tell people stories they'll never believe, or come with us and help us stop her from killing people. Excuse me.'

Sam: 'He's the Doctor. Deal with it.'

Kramer on the seventh Doctor: 'He's a manipulative little wierdo who was always up to something behind my back.'

The scene where the Doctor and Sam pose as health inspectors asking about Vampires.

The Doctor: 'If this is your idea of eternal life, you're welcome to it...'

Joanna: 'You expect me to buy that you're some kind of mythical creature?'
The Doctor: 'Joanna, you're a vampire.'

Sam: 'So this really is your real plan'
The Doctor: 'Mm-hm'
Sam: 'You've got it all under control.'
The Doctor: 'Exactly.'
Sam: 'We're screwed, aren't we?'

The Doctor: 'No sentient being should have to endure law school for that long.'

Joanna: 'You just used how many words trying to convince me you're not all talk?'

Kramer to Doctor Shackle (on his request for military radio designations): 'Aardvark to smartass one.'

Harris on 'Fred the Eternal Snail', one of her vampirism experiments: "He was stood on, yet still alive. They had to 'stake him with a toothpick'."

'The Internal Revenue Service frowns on income earned after death.'

You'd think being dead would have cured their death wish.'

Memorable Moments: Two words: vampire squirrels.

Continuity: Sam is seventeen years old [and so has presumably been travelling with the Doctor for more than a year, since was still at school in 'The Eight Doctors'], but can pass for about 20. She thinks that there is no way on Earth that the Doctor might be her boyfriend. She's thinks that she's still just a beginner compared to the Doctor. Her room was last used by another teenaged companion. She and the Doctor spent an afternoon furnishing it with a Victorian writing desk, an ergonomically-designed plastic chair from the mid 2050s, a mammoth wardrobe with children's coloured stickers and peeling paint, a fourteenth-century Persian rug, and a four-poster bed. Sam still feels confusion and excitement on waking up in the TARDIS. She believes in God, but doesn't appear to follow any organised religion. Sam wears jeans and a Greenpeace t-shirt. She once spray painted ANOREXICS DIE FOR BUSINESS ££££ on a lingerie billboard and formed the school Amnesty chapter. Her throat gets bitten by a vampire, requiring stitches and resulting in her riding in an ambulance for the first time in her life. The Doctor gives her a blue tablet from the TARDIS. She has never killed anyone before, but kills Weird Harold here. She has worn out two pairs of shoes through running since meeting the Doctor. She had a Goth friend called Annette at school who was good at puncturing people with attitude problems. She hasn't been hurt before in her time with the Doctor.

The Doctor estimates that he's currently one thousand and twelve years old, and that his current incarnation is three. His pockets contain the sonic screwdriver and a croquet set containing a stake. He smells of Sandalwood Incense. The Doctor jokes about being the Archangel Gabriel, and is referred to as 'Life's Champion'. He owns a battered maroon VW Beetle, which he keeps parked in the TARDIS control room at the edge of the library area, next to the Persian carpet. He reads Scientific American and wears bifocals to read. He's much more touchy-feely than his previous incarnations (see The TV Movie) but isn't aware of the effect that this has on people until Kramer tries to explain it to him. His eyes are either blue or green. He drinks large quantities of "Vamp-Away" (which contains silver nitrate and is toxic to humans), so that when Slake and his fellows feed on his blood it kills them: it also kills Joanna Harris, but he manages to resuscitate her, bringing her back to life properly, as a human and breaking the psychic link between them. The Doctor's eyes are blue or green (Kramer and Carolyn can't agree, again implying that his eyes may change colour).

He gives Carolyn a hypercube with which to contact him when he meets her in 1976 (see The War Games). He and Sam facetiously pose as Health Inspectors from the Department of Necrological Affairs. He introduces himself to Slake as a former President of the High Council of the Time Lords (The Invasion of Time), Keeper of the Legacy of Rassilon, Defender of the Lords of Time and Protector of Gallifrey (Remembrance of the Daleks), the Bringer of Darkness [Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation of Remembrance of the Daleks], the Oncoming Storm (Love and War), and the Evergreen Man. He can see in the dark better than humans can. He enters into a bloodfasting ritual with Joanna Harris, so that each becomes vulnerable to the other's wounds, as a sign of trust. He likes Turkish Delight. Joanna Harris gives him his first haircut since he regenerated. He makes a notebook vanish [possibly by transmigration of object - see The Ambassadors of Death].

The TARDIS contains a bathroom, study, cupboard full of old cardboard boxes and a staircase. It is possible to make phone calls to the outside world from inside the TARDIS, using an antique phone. The food machine is now a large brass-and-piping machine. The "music room" contains thousands of clocks and model train set. The contents of the TARDIS library are catalogued in an impossibly complicated flat screen computer disguised as a leather-bound book. There are two bats called Jasper and Stewart that live in the library. A short stone tunnel in the TARDIS leads to a door, behind which is a sunlit hillside with thousands of butterflies. When challenged about a birthday card in the TARDIS addressed to Grandfather, the Doctor says that he hardly has any dealings with them [grandchildren or past companions?].

Brigadier-General Adrienne Kramer is a member of UNIT. She is aware of the Seventh Doctor. She has a son (see Unrecorded Adventures) and a teenage daughter. Her nephew is a stage magician, and has taught her a few conjuring tricks. She was involved in repelling a Brieri scouting party and has also served in the Gaza strip. UNIT logs incidents of "Possible Doctor Involvement". UNIT troops can be issued with SE-4 standard issue anti-vampire kits. UNIT has a counselling service called SETSO, and acronym for Survivors of Extra-Terrestrial/Supernatural Occurrences. UNIT (or at least UNIT US) have no knowledge of this incarnation of the Doctor.

The war between the Time Lords and the Vampires destroyed dozens of inhabited worlds. The Doctor notes that as a Time Lord he has a duty to deal with any Vampires he encounters. The Doctor notes that the Vampire "curse" has many different strains, resulting in different abilities. The Vampires here crumble into red-flaked ash if staked through the heart and can be destroyed by sunlight, but have reflections. Badly injured Vampires bury themselves for a few years whilst their bodies heal. Fourteen is the traditional number for a coven of Vampires - 1 more "life" than a Time Lord. A bloodfasting ritual is a psychic link between Vampires created by two Vampires drinking each other's blood. As a result, they can feel each others' pain. Turning someone into a vampire requires the victim to take in some of the vampire's blood.

Joanna Harris leads this coven: she has been a Vampire for over nine hundred years and is trying to use scientific means to find a substitute for human blood that her people can feed on. She has been cloning humans with no higher brain functions to use as cattle. The Doctor implies that if the Time Lords learn of Harris' group, they'll erase San Francisco from history. The Vampires suffer from malnutrition if they try to live on cows' blood (see Goth Opera). The Vampire factor works on rats, monkeys, cats, squirrels, snails and amoebas. All the members of the coven die here, except Joanna Harris who does technically die but is brought back to life as a human by the Doctor, and David Shackle who almost certainly commits suicide by exposing himself to sunlight. Harris is recruited into UNIT once she becomes human again.

On the fourth planet of a star visible from Earth, there is a race of intelligent sea-serpents who worship whales as gods, believing that the whales are so enlightened that they don't need intelligence. The giant mosquitoes of Atraxi 3 drink blood.

Links: The Doctor mentions the Time Lord feud with the Vampires (State of Decay, Blood Harvest, Goth Opera, The Eight Doctors) and his role in it, Gallifrey, and the Daleks. He gives Carolyn a device to contact him that is identical to the one seen in The War Games. General Kramer met the seventh Doctor and Ace in Jon Blum's fan-produced video Time Rift. She mentions the Doctor's long involvement with UNIT.

Joanna glimpses some of the Doctor's memories, including Metebelis (Planet of the Spiders), Androzani (The Caves of Androzani), and Yemaya (SLEEPY) during the bloodfasting. Carolyn comes across a birthday card to the Doctor from Susan which we saw in Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible. Paletti's opera was previously mentioned in Transit

The Doctor recalls an old enemy stranding him an ice planet [possibly a reference to No Future, although his story about burning a tie on a fire to keep warm doesn't quite fit]. His new sonic screwdriver first appeared in The TV Movie. Kramer notes that the Doctor is fond of saying that sleep is for tortoises (The Talons of Weng-Chiang).

Location: San Francisco, 1976 and 1997.

Future History: In a few decades time, Paletti will write an opera called The Fourth Sister. Part of this piece will be the rebirth aria.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor points to several different stars as places where he has had adventures. On one of them, a frozen world, he was stranded by an old enemy. He had to build a fire to keep warm until he could be rescued, and threw one of his favourite ties on the fire. On another, a 6-handed shopkeeper kept him waiting one and a half hours for a chocolate milkshake. A pharmacist on Lacaille 8760 (The Room with No Doors) once gave him a half-hour lecture on lipids. The Doctor met Adam (presumably Kramer's son) at his university last year. He helped Sam get an Altairian driver's licence. Sam mentions that the Doctor once dropped her off at a rally and popped off in the TARDIS for [what he told her was] a year.

Q.v. Just how big is that gap?

The Bottom Line: 'I've never had to deal with a vampire before' Vampire science is a tour-de-force. It's a cracking vampire story with a strong, character-driven plot. The Eighth Doctor is characterised exactly like his one on-screen appearance, Sam is very well drawn and likeable, General Kramer, Carolyn, and Joanna Harris are brilliant characters. The writing and dialogue never fails to sparkle, and there are far too many excellent scenes to list.

Life wins.' A sigh of relief after The Eight Doctors. Vampire Science is the start that the series should have got, a beautifully written intelligent examination of the morality and enduring appeal of vampire tales, that redefines the Eighth Doctor for the printed page in the process. It even manages to properly introduce Sam without making her quite as irritating as she would later become.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke and Stephen Gray

Other Guides to this Story

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Comments

A fun and thought-provoking adventure that gives a much better look at Sam than The Eight Doctors did. The portrayal of vampires is one of the funnier ones I've seen in fiction and really makes one reconsider immortality if it has to be stuck with a pack of suspended adolescent violent losers. I wish there had been more of the squirrels; that idea is too good to use only once!

One possible goof is that Harris alludes to the Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop game as a card game but she might have simply never given it a close look. Also, if vampires are on Earth does that mean a Great Vampire visited at some point in the past?

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