The Bodysnatchers

Roots: Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. Burke and Hare. There are references to Jack the Ripper, Pride and Prejudice, Charles Dickens, My Fair Lady, the Spice Girls, Rising Damp, The Beast in the Cellar, Wile E. Coyote, and The Big Issue.

Goofs: On page 52, the Doctor flashes a warning glance at Sam, even though she's not there.

If the Zygon ship needs to breath oxygen to survive, then how does it survive when it is in space?

How does Tuval keep Sam's form after she's been released? [either it's a side-effect of being in the TARDIS, or she's been improving on the technology.]

Technobabble: Organic crystallography. Trilangic flange oscillator with detachable spirons.

Dialogue Disasters: Sam: 'They're quite sweet when they're not eating people, aren't they?'

This is the point at which Sam's "right-on" dialogue starts to really grate, especially when she starts getting stroppy about pollution caused by the Victorians.

Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor: 'In fact, you'll be one of the coolest people around. The 1890s equivalent of a ... a Spice Girl'
Sam: 'I think I'd better take that as a compliment. Otherwise I might end up giving you a slap.'

Sam: 'Penicillin. Haven't you heard of it, Sergeant?'
Sergeant Tomkins: 'Can't say as I have, miss.'
The Doctor: 'I'm not surprised. It hasn't been invented yet.'

Litefoot: 'I have a number of questions that I would rather like to ask you.'
The Doctor: People always do.'

Sam: 'He's like that. Untidy. Forgetful. Thoughtless. Downright annoying sometimes.'

Litefoot: 'I see, or rather, I don't'

The Doctor: 'Travelling with me is not some kind of endurance test, Sam. You don't get points for the number of atrocities you can witness before teatime.'

The Doctor: 'You're as sane as I am.'
Litefoot: 'Very reassuring.'

The Doctor: 'Sometimes pride and stupidity are indistinguishable.'

The Doctor: 'How are you feeling?'
Sam: 'Like something disgusting has been trying to suck out my brain.'
The Doctor: 'Excellent. You're not delusional.'

Sam: 'Hi, Mum and Dad: having a great time. Here's me wearing an alien mind-sucking device. Wish you were here.'

"One should never get used to the suffering of others."

Continuity: The Doctor's eyes are blue. He likes Darjeeling and dry-roasted gumblejack fritters (see The Two Doctors). Following his parting from Grace he planned to travel alone for a while, and blames post-regenerative trauma for babbling about his origins to the first human he met (The TV Movie). He tells a police sergeant that he's an inventor and that Sam is his niece, and again adopts the alias Doctor John Smith. He can still remember Litefoot's address and looks him up when he and Sam realise that they will be in London for a while. Wisely, he introduces himself to Litefoot of the close friend of the Doctor he met, claiming that Doctor is a codename in their organisation. He eats kedgeree, grilled sheep kidneys, toast, marmalade and tea for breakfast with Litefoot. [So he is no longer a vegetarian.] He seemingly has another flash of premonition concerning Butler's wife [unless it's another unrecorded adventure, which seems unlikely]. He carries Delphonian (Spearhead from Space) coinage called dur'alloi. He claims to have never been to Paraguay. He has a carpet bag in the TARDIS containing diving gear, including a wet suit. He wears thermal long johns here. He dons a wrist-mounted device that can track the source of Zygon energy emissions.

He brought two daxamoil suits from a Verulonian dealer on Peluvia. Once you put it on, it moulds instantly to your shape. It's self-sealing, flexible, waterproof, and fireproof, and automatically keeps the body of its wearer at the optimum temperature for their particular species. They also replace the wearer's need to breathe, although after four or five hours the recycling of body chemicals that this requires makes them become brittle and start to deteriorate flake by flake. He also has a Prydian flare - coated in dilumium and waterproof. He uses his sonic screwdriver to disorientate a Skarasen, setting up short-lived interference in its brain. A Zygon device destroys his sonic screwdriver - he notes that it took him ages to build a replacement for his last one (The Visitation). He has read texts on Zygon physiology since last meeting them. He sleeps for sixteen hours on the Zygon ship and claims that it is the longest sleep he's had in centuries. He sweats [see First Frontier for an implication that he doesn't do this as readily as humans do]. He knocks two Zygon scientists out by punching them. He accidentally kills most of the Zygons by lacing the Skarasens' lactic fluid with an anaesthetic that turns out to cause cellular breakdown in Zygons.

Sam is still 17. Her room in the TARDIS was formerly Nyssa's. The Doctor makes the best cup of tea that Sam has ever tasted. She dresses in ratty jeans, a Chumbawamba t-shirt, loose-knit purple and grey striped jumper, and green plastic lace-up boots with an orange sun symbol painted on them. She found the boots in the TARDIS boot cupboard. She later dons a Levellers t-shirt beneath a period costume provided by the Doctor that includes a coral-coloured jacket with puffed sleeves, blue bloomers, black Victorian boots and a straw boater-type hat with a coral-coloured band. She has a Walkman and a Mory Kante tape. Tony Blanchard was in her year at school and smoked copious amounts of pot. Sam gets jealous when she sees the Doctor comforting Emmeline Seers. The adrenaline rushes caused by her new life with the Doctor mean that she periodically has to sleep for twelve to fifteen hours.

The Zygons come from the planet Zygor, which is part of a star cluster in the Biphaelides System. Zygor was destroyed c1394 by a stellar explosion instigated by the Xaranti, with who the Zygons were at war. They are hermaphrodites, and when born are smaller and slimmer, with perfectly smooth maggot-white skin and are less aggressive. Each adult is able to produce and self-fertilise its own eggs, which it lays in clusters of five to twenty-five, three or four times in a lifetime, and which are perfectly round and creamy-white. Their society is rigidly divided into warrior-engineers, scientists, and civilians. To become a warrior-engineer (which is a great honour), they must undergo the ritual of sterilisation, which draws out their fierce but latent aggressiveness, and causes them to change physiology into the more familiar reddish-orange form as their skin becomes suffused with blood. They grow body armour in the form of their suckers. Their poison-based sting can stun, paralyse or kill, and is delivered via spines in the suckers on the palms of their hands. Scientists, as well as warrior-engineers, have this sting. They live for between seven hundred and a thousand years, barring accidents. Zygons don't feel the cold.

Zygon spaceships are living beings but aren't sentient, which have breathing holes. They have long spider-like legs. According to Litefoot, the interior of the Zygon ship smells like the stomach contents of a rotting corpse. It apparently needs oxygen, which it can extract from water, to survive [so how does it travel in space? Possibly it stores oxygen until it lands on a suitable planet, like a whale rising to the surface of the ocean to breathe]. The self-destruct mechanism of a Zygon ship works by pumping a highly toxic substance through the ship's systems, poisoning it to the point where it undergoes massive system failure. The Doctor claims that the Zygons like board games, but he's possibly being facetious. Organic crystallography is peculiar to their species. They use jellyfish-like organic devices as communicators and gelatinous spidery creatures as tracking devices capable of relaying images.

Zygon warlords do not abandon a course of action once it is initiated and do not accept charity from aliens. Balaak's Zygon scientists have perfected artificial telepathy, which they now use to control Skarasens, and have developed a successful Skarasen breeding program. Balaak's crew has been on Earth for nearly three centuries. It is a capital offence for a Zygon to question its commander. Skarasens can live for millennia. The Doctor drops Tuval and the Skarasens off on an uninhabited planet ideal for their needs, where Tuval lays eggs and founds a thriving Zygon colony. When the Zygons try to obtain the Doctor's mind and body-print, they manage to obtain only a partial mind-print before his anatomy breaks their equipment. If they are killed when disguised as a member of another species, then the alien they are imitating may be automatically released.

The TARDIS has organic components. The Doctor has recently been repairing the TARDIS' state of grace circuitry (see The Hand of Fear, Arc of Infinity), which is linked to the telepathic circuit, and has added a stasis circuit to immobilise hostile aliens invaders by trapping them in a time bubble. He has also repaired the HADS (The Krotons), and discovered that it is connected to a bounce-back system that prevents the TARDIS from being stolen by throwing a force field around the controls and returning the ship to a predetermined location. The TARDIS library contains candelabra, Tiffany lamps and a fire extinguisher. The Doctor has a paperweight made of blue Nusalian rock. His Christmas 1893 edition of The Strand, containing the original printing of the Sherlock Holmes story "The Final Problem", loses a page here when it comes loose and flutters into a candle flame. He has a copy of Anton Bocca's The Ripple Effect [on which the Bocca scale is based - see The Two Doctors]. A chair in the TARDIS control room once belonged to a pretender to the title of Earth Empress. The Doctor uses a localised mass inversion wave to override the chameleon circuit, converting part of the outer plasmic shell into energy and thus making the doors big enough to let the Skarasens inside [presumably this is how he got the console out in The Ambassadors of Death].

Jago and Litefoot have remained friends following "the Weng-Chiang business". Jago is currently spending some weeks with his sister in Brighton, after a bout of dyspepsia. Litefoot prescribed a tonic for him. Litefoot outraged his parents by breaking family tradition and leaving the army, especially when he went to work in poor East End hospitals. His father didn't speak to him for the last twenty years of his life. Litefoot is now about sixty years old and, in defiance of convention, still refuses to employ servants except for Mrs Hudson.

Links: The Doctor mentions that Sam's room used to belong to Nyssa. Professor Litefoot met the Doctor in The Talons of Weng Chiang and the Zygons previously appeared in Terror of the Zygons. The Doctor mentions that Leela is married with children (Lungbarrow). Sam mentions being bitten by, and killing, a Vampire (Vampire Science). The Doctor mentions Tegan. The Doctor mentions the destruction of his previous sonic screwdriver (The Visitation). He hums a Draconian lament. The Draconians first appeared in Frontier in Space. He recalls Ace telling him that he must have a homing pigeon in his head. He also uses a Venusian Lullaby (The Curse of Peladon), and briefly mentions his encounter with the fourth Doctor from The Eight Doctors.

The Xaranti later appear in Deep Blue. The Doctor hints that he knows who Jack the Ripper was (The Pit [and see also the subsequently published Matrix]). The Doctor mentions the Earth Empress (So Vile a Sin). The Doctor briefly quotes himself, repeating lines from City of Death, and then complains of déjà vu. He later tells Litefoot, "I walk in eternity" (Pyramids of Mars). The Doctor believes that Leela now has children (see Lungbarrow). He hums a Draconian lament (Frontier in Space).

Location: London, January 1894. [The Talons of Weng-Chiang apparently took place five years earlier, dating that story to 1889].

Unrecorded Adventures: A number of the Doctor's friends invented slide fasteners, cylinder phonographs [Thomas Edison], and pneumatic tyres [John Boyd Dunlop] - some of them without his help. He has fixed the state of grace circuitry, and added a stasis circuit to trap intruders. He used all his other Pridian flares at the Festival of N'Tapu on his last visit to Kakara. The locals thought that he was trying to assassinate the High P'nbar and he was nearly executed. The Doctor has visited Peluvia. The Doctor visits Litefoot several hours after the events of this story, noting that a great deal of time has passed and looking sombre when asked about Sam [possibly setting this visit after The Gallifrey Chronicles].

The Bottom Line (prosecution): 'Standards must be maintained, particularly if one is about to be introduced to foreigners.' The Bodysnatchers is well-written, with lots of good prose. However, the plot is simplistic and the characterisation is adequate rather than outstanding. It's an enjoyable read, but don't expect exceptional quality.

The Bottom Line (Defence): Rather fun, Morris writing a horror-thriller and fleshing out the Zygons to good effect. Sam is starting to grate already, but the only other downsides to The Bodysnatchers are the presence of a couple of clumsy infodumps and the fact that Jago doesn't appear.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke and Stephen Gray

Other Guides to this Story

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