Birthright

Roots: The legend of Springheel Jack. Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu novels (a long-lived evil mastermind obsessed with the Elixir of Life). There are references to King Alexander, Edward Plantagenet, Jack the Ripper, Eliza Doolittle, Lenin, Winston Churchill, Hitler, Bob Marley, Charlton Athletic, the Alien films, Faust, The Wizard of Oz, and Little Red Riding Hood. The ballad of Thomas the Rhymer.

There is a reference to Kandalinga, from the Dr Who Annual short story, "The Fishmen of Kandalinga."

Goofs: If Ace is correct and Antýkhon really is twenty thousand years in the future, it's very optimistic to assume that the writing on the Channel Tunnel service hatches would really have survived that long.

If the TARDIS sends Muldwych back to Antýkhon before the Charrl arrive, why doesn't he either know what is going to happen if a paradox is implied, or warn his younger self what will happen?

Dialogue Disasters: 'He's about as trustworthy as a Hoothi on heat.'

'Bogbrain!'

Dialogue Triumphs: 'I don't have to stay here to be insulted by someone who'd make an Australopithecus feel Science Academy material. I'm a lady, I am.'

'But you can't hope to subjugate the Earth. Earthmen will put up too much resistance. We're barbaric, intolerant, savage. Just look at Ace!'

Continuity: The Charrl are an intelligent insect species from the planet Alya, which they also call the Hive World. They have multi-faceted eyes and are over seven feet tall when stood upright on their hind legs. Naturally, they have multi-faceted eyes and antennae. They give off ammonia. They can inject their eggs into mammals so that the larvae will have a ready supply of food when they hatch. Humans infected with Charrl eggs become in thrall to the Group Mind. Three thousand years earlier, they left Alya, which had been devastated by solar flares and pollution, and traveled to Earth on their Great Migration. Alya once had flower-forests and honey-pools. They call Earth Antýkhon. Ch'tizz, the Queen of the Hive Imperial, Stewardess of the Noble Race of the Chaarl, and chosen by the Goddess to be Protectoress of Antýkhon, rules the Chaarl. They traveled to Earth using gravity ships, which require minerals as fuel. According to Muldwych, they are the noblest species the galaxy has ever known, the greatest poets and the finest philosophers, and the creators of over three hundred of the six hundred and ninety-nine Wonders of the Universe (see Death to the Daleks) [he might be exaggerating to flatter Ch'tizz]. They believe that all life is sacred and must be revered, although they resort to eating humans in the absence of other food sources. They worship a Goddess. Charrl never kill other Charrl. They have considerable psychic powers. They travel back to early twentieth century Earth via a time rift, which they call "the Great Divide", opened by the energy released by the Tungasaku meteor strike (see below). Nine Charrl "Chronomancers" use their psychic abilities to hold the rift open for as long as possible.

Muldwych lives in a ramshackle wooden hut on top of Mount Kuküruk on Antýkhon, in which he keeps a collection of old books. He has a "lined and ruddy" face and untidy grey-brown hair. He likes whiskey in his tea. Although it is not explicitly stated, there are hints that he is a future incarnation of the Doctor; he smokes a pipe as the First Doctor did in An Unearthly Child and describes tea as "a noxious infusion of dried leaves", thus quoting the Fifth Doctor in The Awakening [see Happy Endings]. He also wears a ring resembling that won by the First Doctor and last seen in The Power of the Daleks, and he is very familiar with the controls of the TARDIS. The Seventh Doctor visits him and notes that they are breaking the laws of time by talking to one another, and he witnessed the killing of the last surviving lion on the plains of Africa, something that the Doctor also remembers. Muldwych has been stranded on Antýkhon for a thousand years. Interestingly, when he tries to take the TARDIS, it expels him and leaves him on Antýkhon to await the arrival of the Charrl.

Jared Khan is tall, corpulent and almost completely bald. He was once a Scottish stable boy named Tommy, until Ch'tizz visited him, disguised as a tall human woman, and offered him immortality if he delivered the Doctor to her. In addition to making him very long lived, she also gave him considerable psychic powers. He also becomes a master hypnotist. On the trail of the Doctor, he becomes one of the five thousand soothsayers in the court of Kublai Khan (Marco Polo). He adopted the alias of John Dee in order to get close to Elizabeth Tudor, having learned that the Doctor occasionally advised her; learning of this, the Doctor persuades the Queen to send Dee on a false trail to Shakespeare's house in Stratford. Posing as a piper, he later traced the Doctor to Culloden in 1746AD, but just missed him (The Highlanders). During the eighteenth century he used the alias Count Alessandro di Cagliostro and wrote a book about the quest for eternal life published in 1793. He also posed as a Jewish alchemist in Paris. By 1909 Khan runs an antiquarian bookshop at 31½ Museum Street, Bloomsbury. The New Dawn is a brotherhood devoted to eradicating all that is useless and rotten from mankind, and finding the Elixir of Life. Books on the New Dawn available from Khan's bookshop include The New Dawn and the Qabbalistic Path of Knowledge, Rites and Rhythms for a Herald to the New Dawn, and New Dawn, Old Magic. Khan spent much of his life selling fake Elixirs of Life and searching for the real one.

The Seventh Doctor briefly visits London in 1909 to drop Bernice off before going off on his own (Iceberg); he dons an opera cloak and wing-collar shirt and carries a carved walking cane. He saves drunkard Ernie Wright from being accused of Lily's murder, and claims he knows the family, so Ernie is probably an ancestor of either Barbara or Polly. Before he leaves, he gives her a bunch of keys, one of which opens the door to his house in Dean Street, one to the doors of a London bank, and one to the TARDIS. Edward Waterfield was reported missing in 1872 (The Evil of the Daleks); afterwards, the Second Doctor and Victoria visited Victoria's Aunt Margaret on several occasions, and Victoria later visited her alone whilst she was studying graphology in Vienna [during "Season 6B" - see The Two Doctors]. Edward Waterfield supposedly went off to Africa and was never seen again, a cover story to explain his disappearance. Victoria sold off most of the Waterfield estate, except for the lease on the house in Dean Street, which she gave to the Doctor. Margaret believes that Victoria now lives in Argentina, and occasionally receives letters from her [posted by the Doctor on Victoria's behalf, or by Victoria whilst travelling with the Doctor]. Members of the New Dawn brutally murder Margaret here. The Doctor opened an account at Coutts Bank in 1868 in the name of R. J. Smith Esq.; there are five co-signatories to the account, who are Victoria Waterfield, Susan Foreman, Sarah Jane Smith, Melanie Bush, and Bernice Summerfield. The account contains a quarter of a million pounds sterling by 1909. The Doctor spent five years teaching English to Mikhail Vladimir Popov, knowing that he would help Benny in London; whilst posing as an English tutor, he adopted the name Mister John Smith. He is a member of Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith's club and arranges for Asquith to have Benny released from Holloway.

Ace reads Soldier of Fortune magazine, instead of Madame Bovary, recommended by the Doctor but secretly provided by Muldwych, who knows that she'll find it relevant someday [the first but not the last reference to Ace's future as seen in Ian Briggs' novelisation of The Curse of Fenric]. She carries sun block originally designed for colonists on planets with two suns. Whilst serving in Spacefleet she may have visited Kandalinga. She used to drink Southern Comfort as a teenager. She once visited France and the White Cliffs of Dover on school trips. Whilst travelling with the Doctor, she went to see the director's cut of Alien at Ealing Cinema. Ace wears a wrist computer that amongst other things tells the time. She still carries nitro-nine.

Bernice has read some works by Agatha Christie that she found on a disc in the TARDIS library. The Doctor supposedly teaches Bernice to materialize the TARDIS. He leaves her with a bag of currency bearing the head of Edward VII, as well as two letters printed on vellum and the business card of a book shop in early twentieth century London. Whilst in London, she lodges in the first floor of the Doctor's house in Dean Street in Soho. The Doctor pre-arranges for her to be provided with clothes in the latest Paris fashions. Bernice understands French. She considers tarot cards to be "mumbo-jumbo". She has seen the Disney version of Pinocchio. She drinks copious amounts of wine and malt whiskey in London, as well as a brandy. She erratically adopts a very bad east end London accent. She can read Draconian and ancient Mondasian script, but not Cyrillic. Framed for murder, she's briefly incarcerated in Holloway Prison. She has only cried twice during the past five years; she cries again here when Margaret is murdered. She arranges for Margaret to be buried in Golders Green Crematorium, North London, on Tuesday 20th April 1909. A Charrl injects its eggs into Bernice's side. Ace once made Benny watch a vampire film in the TARDIS. Bernice knows about some of the Doctor's previous companions from the TARDIS data core, including Vicki, Steven, Jamie, Nyssa and Peri.

The TARDIS contains a cinema, a tennis court and a conservatory. There is currently a Louis Quatorze chaise-longue in the control room. With the Time Vector Generator removed, the exterior becomes a normal police box, complete with telephone and only a single solitary roundel inside to indicate its true nature; it starts to decay like a real police box would over time. The Doctor has never let Ace or Bernice venture into the very heart of the TARDIS. When the TARDIS is restored, Khan's mind enters it, taking control, Benny uses a headset hidden behind a roundel to connect to the telepathic circuits. The TARDIS deliberately splits itself in two when it deposits Benny in London in 1909 and Ace on Antýkhon, as a trap for Khan; when Khan takes control of the TARDIS, it forces him into the duplicate TARDIS, which it then time rams (The Time Monster, Timewyrm: Genesys), destroying Khan and part of itself in a massive release of energy that is actually the Tungasaku meteor strike and which opens up the Great Divide, allowing Ch'tizz to make contact with Khan in the first place. Muldwych traps the entire Charrl species in one of the dimensions contained within the TARDIS.

According to Spacefleet records, at least three hostile alien races had been observing Earth since the start of the twentieth century.

Links: The Evil of the Daleks is dated to 1866AD. This story takes place contemporaneously with Iceberg. The Time Vector Generator first appeared in The Wheel in Space. The Cloister Bell rings again (Logopolis). There is a reference to the Seven Planets (The Pit). The Doctor mentions Susan. He has told Bernice, "sleep is for tortoises" (The Talons of Weng-Chiang) and has told Ace about the Wirrn (The Ark in Space). He mentions the Eye of Orion (The Five Doctors). Deaths for which the Doctor is held responsible include Adric's (Earthshock), Katarina's and Sara Kingdom's (The Daleks' Master Plan), Sorin's (The Curse of Fenric), Julian's (Love and War), and Raphael's (Timewyrm: Apocalypse). There are references to Draconians (Frontier in Space), Hoothi (Love and War), Special Weapons Daleks (Remembrance of the Daleks), Karn and the Elixir of Life (The Brain of Morbius), Mondas (The Tenth Planet), Rassilon, Jan and Heaven (Love and War), Cybermen, Lady Peinforte and Richard (Silver Nemesis), Ace's trip through a time storm to Svartos (Dragonfire), the Hand of Omega (Remembrance of the Daleks), Vicki, Steven, Nyssa, and Peri.

Location: Ercildoune, Scotland, 1270AD; Antýkhon (Earth), c18,000 AD; London, Wednesday 3rd February, and Thursday 15th April to Saturday 24th April, 1909 AD; England, January 1910 AD; Khan-Balik, Cathay, 1289 AD; Windsor Castle, England, 1603 AD.

Future History: It is implied that the British monarchy is abolished some time during the early twenty-first century. In the twenty-first century, when the results of uncontrolled industrialization become apparent, it is common for people to be forced to live in squalor.

Duronite, an alloy of machonite and duralinium, is invented c2300AD. Not surprisingly, there are still cockroaches in the twenty-fifth century. By Benny's time, Skaro is colloquially known as the Death World. According to Ace, there is a New Skaro by the twenty-fifth century.

By the time that the Chaarl colonize Earth, the planet is heavily polluted, with poisonous water, little animal life, and depleted oxygen in the atmosphere. The ozone layer seems to have been destroyed. The remaining humans on the planet have degenerated into "Hairies", basically humans with copious bodily hair that protects them from ultra-violet rays.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor played bowls with Sir Francis Drake in 1588 and deliberately let him win so that he could go off and defend the realm. The Doctor once visited Africa with Ace, where they saw termite mounds. The Doctor witnessed a hunter killing the last lion on Earth on the plains of Africa.

Q.v. Benny's Birthday, Love and War.

The Bottom Line: 'You seem to have by quite well without me.' An interesting experiment that proves that Ace and Bernice are capable of carrying a novel on their own, and which in retrospect feels like a rehearsal for Benny's solo novels. Despite his supposed absence, the Doctor's presence is felt throughout, as he manipulates people and events, adding an additional layer to the admirably multi-stranded plot. Ultimately, Birthright is something of a forgotten gem, and a far more impressive from Robinson than the entertaining but unspectacular Timewyrm: Apocalypse.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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Comments

A rough but delightful romp, and truly the moment where Benny at last grows into the character so beloved today. The prose needs some work, what with the sudden changing of character perspectives, but making Benny the main focus was a brilliant move, allowing her character space to develop without the Doctor looming over her. Like Deceit though we get a little obnoxious slut shaming from her, which is interesting considering what her time period is apparently like. I've only experienced a few of Benny's solo adventures before, but if Birthright is any indication then she's got a splendid future ahead of her.

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