Roots: Banks uses his Cyber history from his book Cybermen as the basis for the Cyber-lore used here. There are quotations from T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, The Wizard of Oz, William James' The Principles of Psychology (Vol I), Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Andrew Motion's In Broad Daylight, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, the I Ching, Descartes' The Passions of the Soul, Sartre, Frank Sinatra. There are references to Disneyland, Metal Mickey, the New York Times, Norbert Weiner's Communication and Control in the Animal and the Machine.
Goofs: Not exactly a goof, but the events of The Invasion are dated to the nineteen seventies [the dating adopted here is from The Discontinuity Guide, which is consistent with that used in Who Killed Kennedy].
The Cyber history described here is contradicted by the subsequently published Spare Parts [however the two can be reconciled - see below].
On page 186 Vaughan is spelt "Vaughn".
Dialogue Disasters: Rather notoriously, "Fuck you, mate! Just fuck you, you fucking wanker!"
Dialogue Triumphs: "Absinthes make the heart grow stronger".
Memorable Moments: The dismemberment of a Cybermen by the apparatus of the SS Elysium's engines, and Ruby's grisly discovery of a partially converted human.
Continuity: Following the destruction of the Cyber fleet during The Invasion, a Cybership crash landed at the south pole. The Cybermen remained in hiding in a base beneath the ice, and salvaged technology from the abandoned CyberMondasian spacecraft left at the South Pole following the destruction of Mondas during The Tenth Planet. The Cybermen from The Invasion [early CyberFaction] are ten thousand years old [presumably, the remnant examined by Lieutenant Vennings is intended to be a CyberMondasian, but this contradicts Spare Parts; however, the migration of Mondasians to Planet 14 prior to Mondas leaving the solar system is consistent with ten thousand year old early CyberFaction Cybermen, and since these are present in Antarctica during the return of Mondas, this would explain the discrepancy]. These Cybermen occasionally experience emotional memory, a flash of recollection from their "pre-mechanical" time. This rarely occurs more than once a century, and is countered by directing attention away from the memory towards underlying cybernetic principles. The Cybermen have access to a History Computer that records every detail of their race's past victories and defeats, successes and failures. Ten thousand years ago, a sect of Mondasians [referred to here as Mondans] known as the Faction left Mondas for Planet 14, to pursue the course of cybernetics. The Mondans left behind were starting to use cybernetics to enhance their ailing bodies, but were unwilling to convert fully. They later began to concentrate on the planetary propulsion system to return Mondas to its home solar system [see Spare Parts. This implies that the Mondans began to develop cybernetics as soon as Mondas moved out of its orbit, but that only the Faction considered total conversion at this time. This is consistent with the use of artificial chest units in Spare Parts, long before full conversion into Cybermen was realized on Mondas. The Faction on the other hand must have predicted this millennia before, hence their departure to Planet 14. The CyberFaction and CyberMondasian Cybermen therefore effectively evolved independently from a common origin; since Banks suggests in Cybermen that all the types of Cybermen seen in the series after The Tenth Planet were descended from those on Planet 14, this would explain why the CyberMondasians are so different from all the other types seen]. The propulsion unit built on Mondas worked by harnessing the electromagnetic field of the planet, depleting it in the process, hence the need to drain energy from Earth. The Doctor explains that when the Cybermen in Revenge of the Cybermen claimed that their bombs were the most explosive devices in the Universe, they were losing their grip on reality due to their near defeat by the humans and Vogans during the Cyberwars.
Ruby's discovery of a partially converted human stored in the ice reveals some details of the process of cyberconversion; the limbs have been removed and replaced with artificial limbs, the sexual organs have been removed, as have the eyes and ears. The top of the head has been removed, exposing the brain, and the epidermis has been completely removed from the body. A metal zipper runs from groin to throat, open from the chest upwards, revealing ribs reinforced by metal and robotic components in the chest cavity [replacing the heart and lungs - see Attack of the Cybermen]. Humans with sufficiently strong limbs do not have them removed, but reinforced, with strengthening of the ligature and suffusion of the bone with plastic-metal compounds. Beneath their faceplates, the Cybermen have implanted ultra-low frequency red crystal oscillators for eyes. The Cyber Co-ordinator is a cyberneticised brain in a framework of wires and tubes (see The Wheel in Space). The Co-ordinator has its brain implanted into the hollowed out skull of Bono, a soldier at the Space Tracking Station. Bono's cranial cavity is enlarged and strengthened first in order to accommodate the Co-ordinator's vast brain, producing the first Cyber Controller (see Tomb of the Cybermen). The CyberFaction Cybermen carry freezer guns, which they use to cryogenically store live humans for later conversion. They also use smoke grenades, containing a hypnotic gas. These Cybermen are immune to the effects of gold (see Revenge of the Cybermen, Earthshock, Silver Nemesis, and Spare Parts). They use Thysanura bugs in their catalytic generator, in which they recycle unwanted organic material, metals and plastics; these bugs defer crystallization of the mixture, allowing the Cybermen to create a single crystal artefact of immense strength and pliability, ideal for Cybermen body parts. The Cybermen intend to sabotage the FLIPback device in order to cause widespread chaos on Earth. The reversal of the Earth's magnetic field reverses the polarity of their brains, disorientating them.
The Doctor is approaching his one-thousandth birthday. He is more susceptible to the reversal of the Earth's magnetic field than humans are.
The TARDIS splits off a short-lived version of itself consisting of little more than a plasmic shell, which the Doctor enters from the near the centre of the TARDIS proper. This split-off TARDIS takes the shape of a jade pagoda, which the Doctor generally refers to it as. The phrase "No time, no place" is inscribed on the lintel above the doors in Chinese characters. The console room has walls of bamboo latticework and hexagonal rice-paper cells and is illuminated by green lighting. The Doctor notes that the Jade Pagoda is temporarily jettisoned by the TARDIS proper. There are bats in the TARDIS.
General Cutler (The Tenth Planet) had a daughter, Dr Pam Cutler. Distrustful of scientists, he resented her career choices, wishing that he she had joined the military instead. Following her father's death, she decided to follow in his footsteps, reaching the rank of General by 2006. Her brother Terry became born-again Christian following the trauma of his near-fatal space mission in The Tenth Planet and founded the Freedom Foundation, an anti-terrorist Christian organization.
Ruby Duvall has met Isobel Watkins, who told her about the Cybermen - following The Invasion her photographs were derided as fakes, probably as part of the official cover-up (see Who Killed Kennedy). She also told Ruby that the descriptions from the reported sightings of EBEs during the appearance of the tenth planet in 1986 matched the descriptions of the Cybermen. Following Mondas' destruction, scientists all over the world claimed that they had over-estimated its size and passed it off as a passing "meteoroid". Cover stories were invented to account for the sightings of Cybermen on Earth.
Links: The Tenth Planet, The Invasion. This story takes place contemporaneously with Birthright. On waking up, the Doctor mistakes Ruby Duvall for Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart (Transit). The Doctor vaguely recalls materializing at a cricket match, and associates the memory with Daleks but can't remember why (The Daleks' Master Plan). The Jade Pagoda's time-vector generator (see The Wheel in Space) briefly comes free when someone interferes with the TARDIS's TVG in the main console room proper (see Birthright). Discussing human agents of the Cybermen, the Doctor mentions Ringway (Earthshock). He also thinks briefly of Sarah-Jane, Polly, Zoe and Victoria.
Location: London, [spring 1969]; Little Falls Lake, Minnesota, 22nd December 1986; the SS Elysium off the Antarctic coast and the Snowcap Space Tracking Station and surrounding area, Antarctica, November 2006.
Future History: The tenth planet Cassius is discovered in 1994.
The Earth's magnetic field reverses its polarity in 2006; the FLIPback project is established to counter this potentially devastating effect. This provoked the rise of various terrorist organisations, known generally as "Earth for Earth" fanatics. Air-pollution has dramatically increased, with low-level ozone and nitrogen dioxide a frequent problem. Oil pollution is an increasing problem, there is a global shortage of fresh water, and the hole in the ozone layer is growing ever larger. The world's population is starting to fall, due to the "plague", a term used to describe various diseases that are increasingly prevalent in the population, including cancers, immune disorders, infertility and other diseases [see Cat's Cradle: Warhead].
In 2006, Lord Stanley Straker, publisher of the Sunday Seeker, buys the SS Elysium and organizes the twelve-week long "Over the Rainbow" around-the-world cruise. Ruby Duvall's Nanocom is an experimental pocket computer, which she is testing. Popular entertainments of the early twenty-first century include Vreal machines (virtual reality), and SaferSex emporiums with their teledildonic suits.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor says the Jade Pagoda shape is a form that the TARDIS adopted hundreds of years ago.
The Bottom Line: Remembered for the non-involvement of both the Doctor and the Cybermen for the first one hundred pages and gratuitous swearing, Iceberg is rather underrated. Banks is rather good at characterisation and uses his considerable knowledge of Cyber mythology to great effect, often presenting events from the point of view of the Cyber Co-ordinator. The adult audience of the New Adventures also allows the first exploration of the "body horror" represented by the Cybermen, resulting in some truly chilling scenes. Deserving of re-appraisal.