The City of the Dead

Roots: There are quotes from A Streetcar Named Desire and William Faulkner, and references to Mozart, Madonna, Nietzsche, Poe, Faust (and Harry Clarke's illustrations of this), Capote's Observations, H. R. Geiger, Orestes and the Furies, Winnie the Pooh, When We Were Very Young, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Janet Leigh, Linda Blair, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Doom. Chapter titles include references to the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, Gods and Monsters, and The Wizard of Oz (The Man Behind the Curtain).

Continuity: Water Elementals, also known as naiads and undines, are extra-dimensional magical creatures. Trapping them in matter, such as a human form, gives them limitations associated with that matter. Additionally, they always have difficulties adopting human form, as a result of which they tend to have defects; Mrs Flood has no eyes, and Thales has deformed feet. Sexual intercourse with their human forms turns them into traps, and prevents the Elemental from returning to its natural state. Other magical creatures include Swamp Bogles, which dwell in the swamps around New Orleans, and La miasma nada (nothingness itself), which Rust sets on the Doctors trail.

The Doctor wears a dark shirt and trousers and a dove grey coat made out an alien synthetic. Usually, he doesn't dream. He again uses the alias John Smith. He has a tattoo of a man transforming into a jaguar. His memory is still erratic he has forgotten for example that there are pyramids and canals on Mars. However, his memory appears to be struggling to return, with the bone masks worn by revellers in New Orleans seeming familiar to him (They clearly remind him of Faction Paradox - see The Ancestor Cell). Additionally, he finds a saltshaker strangely sinister, suggesting that he doesn't remember the Daleks, but he seems to be aware of the existence of Vampires. Despite having realized that his body can heal almost any injury much faster than a humans can, he has forgotten that he can regenerate. He also has vague memories of being accompanied for a while by a teenager (probably Ace) and even a granddaughter (Susan), and he remembers Artron Energy. He alters his brain chemistry to see how fast he can metabolize bourbon, and manages it in 15.3 seconds. His subconscious (and in particular his Seventh persona) is trying to stop him from remembering his past, the Seventh Doctor appearing to him in his nightmares and telling him to go away. He recalls that he used to be a vegetarian, and then later decided that he might as well exploit his senses to the fullest and started eating meat again. In his current incarnation, he eats regularly and with gusto! As with humans, his scalp wounds bleed profusely (he tells Dupre that all the differences between himself and humans are internal). He can see much better in the dark than humans can. The Doctor's pockets again seem to be dimensionally transcendental, and have been known to contain a yo-yo, a bag of sweets, a jeweller's eyepiece or magnifying glass, a torch, string, a half-knitted mitten, a Wellington boot, a set of silverware, spare interoceter parts, and full teapots. He pays for the restoration of the Delesormes family tomb. He is familiar with magic and Water Elementals.

The TARDIS defence systems are working again [following the damage sustained in Dark Progeny]. Unless someone is looking hard at it, their eyes tend to skip over it without them paying it much attention [a defence mechanism that utilises the telepathic circuits?]. Fitz consults the TARDIS manual, but doesn't understand it.

Fitz has obtained a proper lock pick (see Earthworld). A vulnerable Anji confesses to Fitz that she misses Dave. She has a couple of dates with Rust, despite the apparent age difference.

Magic Vs Science


As with time travel, the question of the impact of the destruction of the Time Lords and Gallifrey in The Ancestor Cell on the rest of the universe is raised again by the use of magic in The City of the Dead, Wolfsbane, and to a lesser extent in The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, as it becomes clear that magic now works in Doctor Who. It is established in both Christmas on a Rational Planet and So Vile a Sin that the Time Lords imposed reason on the universe when they were at the height of their powers, kicking out the forces of irrationality and magic and replacing them with science and logic. The use of magic since Gallifrey's destruction again suggests that Gallifrey wasn't simply blown up; it was actually removed from history, allowing magic to flourish in the universe once more.

Links: The Doctor mentions Graham Greene, and again hints that he met Alistair Crowley (see Heart of TARDIS). He is reminded of Miranda at one point (Father Time). When he sees the Seventh Doctor in his nightmares, he vaguely recalls having seen him at a funfair, a reference to their brief encounter in Endgame. He notes that dying in a stupid accident once was enough, which is presumably a reference to his sixth regeneration in Time and the Rani.

Location: New Orleans, October c2003; the Delesormes plantation some twenty miles from New Orleans, October 2003 and 30th April 1980; the Water Elementals' home dimension.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has met Carl Sagan. He recently forgot the name of the planet that is home to the Swiftly Dropping Bears of Death, implying that he has visited it at some point. He drank absinthe in Prague in 1903 and once met Eliphas Levi. He tells Dupre that he was in Budapest ten years ago [1993, unless he means ten years in his own personal timeline]. Whilst trapped on Earth, he had sessions with Freud, hoping that they would jog his memory of his past. He has seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He has taken Anji [and Fitz] to Nicola IV, where there are flying pig-like creatures. Anji finds the Doctor's model train set in a box in the TARDIS (Model Train Set (Short Trips) and Vampire Science).

Several months ago, the Doctor visited a house in Kent, and kidnapped a cat, which he left with a couple in Wales. This appears to be a reference to Warlock, in which the Doctor and Ace's cat is abducted by illegal animal experimenters and is killed, which suggests that the Doctor thus changes his own past (he notes that he had a feeling that he was cheating by taking the cat to Wales) [the Doctor didn't recognise the house, so if this is his house in Kent, the Kentish house in which he and Miranda live in Father Time must be a different house].

The Bottom Line: Unusually for Doctor Who, The City of the Dead deals with magic matter-of-factly and without adopting the science, not magic approach of The Daemons. Although there is never any sense of real danger, the plot carries the reader along, helped enormously by the whimsical but involving prose style, and the revelation of the villain's identity is kept a surprise right up until it happens. A triumph.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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Comments

Major major Goof: Lloyd Rose clearly has no clue how time travel in Doctor Who works.

The Doctor finds the bone in the TARDIS, yet at a much later stage for both the Doctor and the TARDIS, the bone is placed inside the TARDIS. It doesn't matter that this happened at an earlier date as far as Earth linear time is concerned. For the Doctor and the TARDIS, the bone was placed in the TARDIS long after the Doctor found the bone in the TARDIS! Disgraceful. Worse, the bone is the whole centre of the story. Meaning that this whole story is both ridiculous and impossible.

I don't think anybody understands how time travel works in Doctor Who. In one story, the Doctor can confidently state that "you can't rewrite history, not one line," whilst in another he is certain that "time can be rewritten".

From what I remember, the Doctor first finds the artifact in the TARDIS, then lots of stuff happens, and then the artifact is placed in the TARDIS for the first time ever! SO unless there's a mini-TARDIS inside the TARDIS, the Doctor couldn't have found the artifact before it first entered the TARDIS. Otherwise, every time the TARDIS goes back in time, Ian, barbara and the rets of them would still be wandering around the TARDIS now. Clara turns a corner and there's Tegan, enters another room and Martha and Jamie are both wandering about....

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