Unnatural History

Roots: There are references to It's a Wonderful Life, Lisa Riley, Disney, 1984, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Beatles, Stranger in a Strange Land, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Ben and Jerry's, Snoopy, Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit", Cracker, Peter Pan, Star Trek, Benson and Hedges, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Margaret Thatcher, Manilow Sings Sinatra, Lord of the Rings, Batman and Robin, La Traviata, John Wilkes Booth, The X-Files, Mozart, Babylon 5, Charles Dickens, Godzilla, and Buffalo Springfield.

Dialogue Triumphs: "Just because I live in the past doesn't mean I live in the past."

The Doctor: "It's a philosophical impossibility."
Fitz: "Couldn't it be a scientific impossibility instead?"

"Not possible. Not acceptable. You like tying things in nots, don't you?"

Continuity: The integrity of space-time has been slowly breaking down around the temporal scar left behind when the Eye of Harmony opened in San Francisco (The TV Movie). It acts a lodestone, drawing various people, brings and creatures to the area. The TARDIS becomes trapped in the scar and would be crushed if left in there for long enough. The Basardi are large humanoids with odd-shaped skulls from the planet Basardos in the Basar Cluster. Their hyperdrives can interact with certain types of higher dimensional energy, the anomaly thus stranding several of them on Earth. Henches are deliberately nondescript humanoids capable of going unnoticed: they are apparently built by BioHazCorp. The group in San Francisco were supposed to be delivered to the war zone on Teso Peope. The Krakens are vast, unintelligent, implacable beings that live in the higher dimensions and move through folds in space. They feed on exotic matter. The Unicorns are higher dimensional and were on their way to Pippali to collect spices when they became trapped in San Francisco. They can normally teleport. Other species that have leaked through the scar include Jithretani a dragon, and a chimera. The Scar is sealed when Sam pushed Griffin's multi-dimensional collection box into it, which collapses.

Griffin is from the higher dimensions and is an unnaturalist. He is trying to gain membership of some kind of Society and has a brother. He can manipulate biodata. He appears humanoid in three dimensional space. The Time Lords have suspected that his people exist for some time. They live in a place called the Needle, having evolved in the singularity at the end of it [see The Infinity Doctors]. He's vulnerable to the Doctor's dimensional stabiliser. His collection includes Mandelbrots, a dodo, bog wraiths, serpentoidians, hypnoredips, a robo-destroyer, a leopard woman, a man with three eyes, and Mutant Marvin the Two-Horned Unicorn. He falls into the Scar, although it isn't clear if it destroys him.

The Doctor describes biodata as a sort of computer program that records a person's life: edit the biodata and edit the life of that person. A Time Lords biodata becomes unstable when they regenerate and can interact with that of other people: his interaction with Sam whilst he was still recovering from his regeneration may have caused his biodata to interact with hers, creating the timeline in which she travelled with him; Joyce dismisses this theory as nonsense. Blonde Sam is actually created when Dark Sam comes into contact with the Doctor at the Scar, thus making Blonde Sam's existence a paradox.

The Faction Paradox agent cuts the Doctor with a knife. The Doctor, Sam and Fitz buy Ben and Jerry's ice-cream in San Francisco. The Doctor hates commercial airplanes. He builds a stabilising device for the temporal scar in San Francisco. He notes that he gave up smoking "six or seven lifetimes ago" (An Unearthly Child). He carries a cube-shaped Time Lord message pod (see The War Games). He picks a lock in thirty seconds. Griffin tags the Doctor, Sam and Fitz, and makes the Doctor colour-blind to all shades of violet. Griffin also pulls the Doctor's biodata into real space-time, causing it to run through San Francisco in cobweb-like threads. They remove the tags by sawing through them using a strand of the Doctor's biodata. He can't remember if Flavia or Romana is currently President on Gallifrey. The Doctor's biodata has seventeen conflicting streams. The Faction Paradox agent thinks that the Doctor deliberately tricked the Dalek Empire into tangling their timelines until their history collapsed, although the implication is that this was entirely accidental. The Doctor knows the necessary ritual to summon Faction Paradox, providing as a sample of his biodata as an offering. He claims that he no longer leaves notes for his past selves. Faction Paradox take the Doctor's Volkswagen Beetle, taking back into the past, melting it down, and using the metal to build it in the first place so that it becomes a paradox.

Sam was born on 15th April 1980. She has posted cards to her parents from San Francisco (Vampire Science), Auckland, and London 1894. Like the Doctor, she likes omelettes for breakfast. The anomaly in San Francisco changes into her a dark haired version of herself who never met the Doctor: their biodata is virtually identical. Dark Sam lives in a bed-sit, works in a video shop to pay her rent, and smokes cigarettes and marijuana. The transformation is possible because Sam already had a second set of biodata running through her timeline (see Alien Bodies). Number fifteen in her list of moves with the Doctor involves the Doctor distracting an enemy whilst keeping out of range, so that Sam can tackle the opponent from behind. Number eighteen is "go for the second most obvious target". Number seven involves using a paradox to fry an electronic brain - the Doctor notes that it "never works". Number one is running away. When Sam was six, a girl called Anya started a rumour that Sam had wet her pants. Dark Sam kisses the Doctor and has sex with Fitz. Sam's room in the TARDIS contains climbing equipment, a copy of Jane Eyre, an old Star Trek novel, an ecology textbook, and a biography of Simone de Beauvoir, as well as some postcards and a scrap book. Blonde Sam is restored once the Scar heals.

Fitz's dons a fedora in San Francisco and adopts the alias Fitzwilliam Fort, professional investigator. He also wears black jeans, a black yin-yang t-shirt, little round John Lennon sunglasses, and a trench coat. He later changes into a hideous blue-and-yellow Hawaiian shirt and a large pair of sunglasses. He buys a bag of doughnuts. He spends several days alone in San Francisco investigating paranormal phenomena. He eats tofu stew with Kyra. Griffin puts Fitz in a drawer in his pocket for a while: Fitz refuses to talk about what he saw whilst inside it.

The TARDIS usually generates a convincing environmental metaphor for its occupants: what it really looks like inside is incomprehensible to the human eye.

It is strongly implied that Professor Daniel Joyce is a Time Lord [and possibly the Doctor's father]. He is an old friend of the Doctor and has a tattoo on his forearm (see Christmas on a Rational Planet). He has a short white beard, and is working at Berkeley again. Joyce is a recent pseudonym. He is involved with the Advanced Research Project that the Doctor is aware of and which secretly provides research grants to the Society that Griffin seeks to join. He has a wife named Anne. He likes cooking and knows senators and congressmen. He had to provide Wagg with a spare beryllium chip (see The TV Movie). He has a Scottish accent. He claims that he doesn't have the honour of being a Time Lord. He was apparently in a concentration camp. He threatens Griffin with the wrath of the Advanced Research Project and apparently has enough power and authority to do so without worrying what Griffin might do to him. He keeps Griffin's Henches after the Scar is healed. He has an assistant named Larna (see The Infinity Doctors).

The Book of Lies is a Faction Paradox text, which may or may not be a hoax. There is a copy in the library on Dellah (see Oh No It Isn't!), with a yellow post it note stuck over the introduction [presumably by Bernice Summerfield]. The book is discussed in Introduction to Quantum Esotericism, 2nd Edition, by Watkinson and Thripsted (The Sun Makers, Christmas on a Rational Planet, Alien Bodies).

The Ultimate Get-Out Clause


Alien Bodies properly introduces the concept of biodata, but it's Unnatural History that picks the idea up and runs with it, implying that the Doctor's biodata is so contradictory and confused that every conflicting story of his origin is true, including him being half-human (The TV Movie), Loom-born (Lungbarrow), with a father, or being from the forty-ninth century (the Pilot episode). For example, the Faction take a memory from his childhood, of a time he caught a cobblemouse, its wings just starting to sprout, in the House of Lungbarrow, whilst his father and Mr Saldaamir looked on. This immediately provides a get-out clause to any continuity conflicts, ever, directly involving the Doctor's personal history; thus, Lungbarrow sits side-by-side with The TV Movie and the later The Gallifrey Chronicles, because it's all true. Consequently, Unnatural History is arguably the ultimate in fanwank, a novel that explains how absolutely anything can fit together, without resorting to alternate universes.

Links: Alien Bodies ("Dark" Sam and Faction Paradox); Vampire Science (Adrienne Kramer). Sam recalls getting drunk at Molly's (The Taint). The Doctor mentions the tyrant queen of Hyspero (The Scarlet Empress). Fitz recalls being a Red Guard in China (Revolution Man). Sam sent a postcard from Kursaal to her parents (Kursaal). There are references to the Mars '97 mission (The Dying Days), Baz and Sam's first meeting with the Doctor (The Eight Doctors), Rassilon, Sam spending three years on Ha'olam (Seeing I), the planet Quinnis in the fourth universe (The Edge of Destruction), Delphonians (Spearhead from Space), Thythonians (The Creature from the Pit), Tersurans (The Deadly Assassin), Tubby Rowlands (Terror of the Autons). The Faction Paradox agent mentions the Vervoids (Trial of a Time Lord) and the Doctor riding the Ouroboros in the Emindian war (Vanderken's Children). He also claims that Blinovitch was a member of the Faction (see Day of the Daleks, Invasion of the Dinosaurs). Griffin spots a Sidhe in San Francisco - see Autumn Mist. The Doctor recalls dropping acid in 1968 and almost turning into a psychopathic Aztec God (The Left-Handed Hummingbird).

Location: London and San Francisco, November 2002.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor dropped the T'hiili off in one of the yellow dimensions following the events of 'Dominion'. The Doctor and Sam stopped the smugglers of Nephelokokkugian and the Dalek invasion of Tuvalu. They returned a lost triceratops infant to its mother. They also visited Feeble 14 and Paphos. The Doctor is familiar with the Perspective Centre run by the Halergani outside the galactic plane. He spent weeks clearing up after Joyce on Youkali. After the Scar is healed, he visits Grace Holloway (The TV Movie).

The Bottom Line: "What if you find something that doesn't fit?" "Then it's apocryphal." A beautifully written and thoroughly engrossing novel that is actually about almost nothing except continuity. This is the ultimate fanwank, a story that doesn't just reference past stories, but provides a way to fit everything together whilst creating the illusion of a cracking story at the same time. Griffin is the ultimate collector, a completist who wants to make everything fit together, and as such he's also the ultimate Doctor Who villain, since all he wants is to define the Doctor, trapping him in a limited set of parameters by rewriting his contradictory history. Utterly magnificent.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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