Falls the Shadow
Roots: Hellraiser. Tanith and Gabriel have been compared to malevolent versions of Sapphire and Steel. The Bible (there are references to Michael and Lucifer [though Lucifer as a name for the Devil is the result of a mistranslation - Ed.] and the Garden of Eden). Chapter titles are named after numerous films, television programmes, and song titles, including Apocalypse Now, Edge of Darkness, Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", Virtual Murder, The Masque of the Red Death, and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".
There are references to Bedlam, Ouroborous, the Mr Men (Mr. Tickle), the Avon lady, John Pilger's Distant Voices, the nursery rhyme "As I Was Going Up the Stair", Faust, Prometheus, Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Marriner", Greenpeace, Dante, The Wizard of Oz ("I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore"), Pandemonium, The Bride of Frankenstein, Wagner, Monopoly, the Marquis de Sade, Napoleon, Karl Marx, and Macbeth. The Doctor quotes Donovan's "There is a Mountain". Cranleigh's books include Wuthering Heights, The Man In the Iron Mask, Northanger Abbey, The Prisoner of Zenda, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Condition of Muzak, The Magician's Nephew, Melmoth the Wanderer, The Man Who Was Thursday, Foucault's Pendulum, The Dice Man, and works by Eliot, Blake, Lewis Carroll, and Coleridge. Benny misquotes Tony Hancock's 'The Blood Donor' episode ("A couple of pints? That's very nearly a couple of armfuls"). Gabriel forces Page to sing "Land of Hope and Glory". Gabriel and Tanith sing "Rule Brittannia". The Doctor quotes Rudyard Kipling's "If".
Dialogue Disasters: The groan-worthy Zen Buddhists joke.
"We are psychopaths, sociopaths, up the garden path."
"Time for the surgical cure, sickos."
Dialogue Triumphs: "People who wear masks have something to hide."
"They have been written out of the book of life. They were cluttering up the plot."
"Bernice prefers alcohol and orgasms. She doesn't know what she's missing."
Continuity: The Master's full alias in The Time Monster was Professor Carl Thascales; according to official records, he drove his car into a wall, dying in the crash with his body burned beyond all recognition. Following the events of that story, the UN bought up his research into interstitial time but made available to a team of physicists at Cambridge, including Professor Jeremy Winterdawn. Using the Metahedron he found a way to actually enter the interstitial gap.
Gabriel and Tanith are created as a side effect of Winterdawn's experiments with the Metahedron, which causes damage to the fabric of reality. They are a sentient manifestation of the damage on the physical plane and as such are enormously powerful, able to alter reality and probabilities. They at least partially owe their existence to the Doctor, whose interference in history has erased infinite futures from the cosmos; the pain that this caused the cosmos gave rise to Gabriel and Tanith. They adopt human bodies in order to experience pain and pleasure. They can't enter the TARDIS, because it exists outside of the real universe. They destroy Cathedral and were foretold in future histories. The Grey Man, reborn from the energies of Cathedral, cuts off their supply of pain, making them mortal.
The Grey Man's people built Cathedral fifteen thousand million years ago. They existed before the evolution of the first life in the universe [he's possibly a Guardian, which would explain his concern for his race's creation of the duality of good and evil - see Divided Loyalties]. They witnessed the evolution of the first humanoids on a planet thirty thousand million light years from Earth, a civilization that destroyed itself with bacteriological warfare. The Grey Man discovered that his people had orchestrated this destruction for their own purpose and, appalled, built Cathedral, a physical manifestation of an engine for altering the structure of reality in order to act upon and develop cultures so that they develop away from the simple duality of good and evil that his people had created. It represents free thought, ambiguity, and chaos. The Grey Man powered it using his own energies, which he stripped from himself, and by harnessing the power of "small numbers" [Block Transfer Computation - see Logopolis]. The Cathedral metahedron, the extension of Cathedral into real space, moves from world to world every eighty thousand years to prevent it from being discovered by those who would destroy it. As Cathedral affected the cultures of the cosmos, so they affected it and it grew into a city. The Grey Man was placed on trial for his actions by his people, and cast out; he died, but because his power was part of Cathedral he survived through it as a messenger for Cathedral in the form of a machine code subroutine. The Grey Man adopts a humanoid form, which rapidly repairs damage and can reconstitute itself. He normally avoids interfering in the events of the world, preferring instead to "encourage local solutions". He is powerful enough to randomly pluck the Doctor's TARDIS from the Time Vortex. The Mandelbrot Set are the "true masters" of Cathedral; the Grey Man describes them as the "processors of chaos and order"; they dwell in the Cruakh, which is the heart of the city. There are twenty-three of them, and they resemble stone heads.
Qxeleq is from a hive of six million insectoid individuals, which are part of a collective consciousness that they call the Mind. The Mind evolved on Earth in an alternate timeline. They have multiple stomachs, and most of them find mammals repulsive.
When Time Lords go mad, it unleashes a storm across the surface of the brains, which they call the Dark Design; sufferers on Gallifrey are hidden away in institutions. "There is always still-time, and there is always flowing-time" is a quotation from a book that the Doctor once read at the Academy.
The Doctor renders Jane Page unconscious with a neck pinch. Theta Sigma is not his name, but identifies him uniquely amongst the Time Lords (see The Armageddon Factor). The Grey Man has been watching the Doctor's "vendetta" against the Daleks, and insists that, despite the Doctor's claim, that the Daleks are not "irredeemably evil" [he also notes that the Doctor has witnessed evidence of this, which might be a reference to The Evil of the Daleks].
According to the Doctor, Ace was born in North London in 1970. She stabs Gabriel to death and shoots Tanith dead once they become mortal.
According to the Doctor, Benny was born on an Earth colony in 2422 [dating Love and War to 2452]. She has been travelling with the Doctor for "a couple of years" [which means that she is now thirty-two years old]. Bernice does "an uncanny" impression of the Doctor's voice. She loses two pints of blood when attacked by the vampire plants. Believing that Gabriel and Tanith will kill her, she tells Ace that she loves her and the Doctor. She does indeed die here, temporarily killed as part of Gabriel and Tanith's games, and resurrected in/by Cathedral. She is terrified of death and despite being an atheist believes in an afterlife. She plays chess with the Grey Man. She has read about or visited Easter Island, the Karet'ah Tika on Plaemus Tau, and the ancient city of Runq on Kristin's World.
Links: The Time Monster. Winterdawn's colleague Professor Keightley is probably Claire Keightley (Shada (TV)). There is a reference to Reverend Trelaw and Saul (Timewyrm: Revelation). The Doctor mentions the Eye of Harmony (The Deadly Assassin) and Daleks. There are references to Heaven and Isaac Summerfield (Love and War). Ace recalls Mel (Dragonfire). The Doctor mentions Rassilon (The Deadly Assassin, The Five Doctors). C. Moore Wedderburn is the author of The Trail of the Black Orchid: A botanical and zoological guide to the journeys of George Cranleigh (Black Orchid).
Location: Shadowfell, England [c1994]; Cathedral, outside of space and time.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has met Harry Truman and Oscar Wilde.
Q.v. Benny's Birthday, Love and War.
The Bottom Line: 'Something obscene is happening in this house.' Imaginative, ambitious, and absorbing, Falls the Shadow is an impressive debut for O'Mahony. It is slightly too long, and as a result it feels padded at times, but the concepts here pre date the sort of thing Lawrence Miles is renowned for by a couple of years and it feels mature and adult in a way that many of the New Adventures only aspire to. Gabriel and Tanith are utterly despicable villains, and the torture scenes are almost stomach-churningly gruesome. Overall, rather impressive.