Roots: There are quotations from Robert Ingersoll, Herclitus, the Mahabharata, Rig Veda, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Burke's Philosophical Enquiry, and Christina Rossetti's Remember. There are references to the burning of the Library of Alexandria, Volkswagen Polos, Mothercare, Our Price, the BBC, and Animal Farm. The title of Chapter Four is inspired by Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part Two". Kelzen notes that there are gaps in the records of the earliest of the Doctor's exploits, a reference to the missing episodes in the BBC archives.
Dialogue Disasters: Womb Service. Groan...
Dialogue Triumphs: "My concern is for all life, whatever its form."
"I started to tire of chess a while ago. These days, I seem to be playing hopscotch."
Continuity: The Sensopaths hail from the far future; the Time Lords are just a legend to them. They can expand their minds without the need for drugs. They are so adept at telepathic suggestion that they can use it to affect the real world, and have built entire cities by thought alone. The three Sensopaths seen here are parts of a single being split into three; the three were originally individuals who were bonded together; the bonding failed due to an incompatibility between them and they were judged unsuitable to remain in their society. They were offered total annihilation or the chance to drift for eternity outside time; they chose the vortex and were split into three separate but linked beings as Shanstra began to experiment with her growing powers. The Sensopaths are highly telepathic and telekinetic humanoids and can control the minds of other beings. Kelzen notes that they can make wishes into reality, and ages the body of the child he inhabits grow into adulthood in seconds. Shanstra is capable of persuading a Phracton's organic cells that its cybernetic components are attacking them, causing the creature to have a breakdown and die. She also makes several Phractons disintegrate, ripping their molecules apart with her mind. Shanstra projects green fire from her hand capable of incinerating a human. Kelzen found himself floating bodiless on Earth and experimented with his new powers, entering the body of an unborn child. Jirenal freezes the Yzashoks' amniotic fluid by thought alone, killing them, and later kills a Pridka by transforming his mind into a white dove and leaving his body a desiccated husk. Shanstra plans to absorb, rather than reunite with, Jirenal and Kelzen; Kelzen stops her, reuniting with Jirenal and killing all three of them in the process.
Phractons are cyborgs; airborne Phracton units are housed in two-metre flying metal globes. The Phractons are linked to an artificial group mind called the Swarm, which works faster than any interactive software designed by humans. They are also capable of individual thought. The Phracton Commandant's name has sixteen inflections that require communicative means and organs undeveloped by any other race. They fight according to a noble code of conduct. A Phracton's word cannot be broken.
The Pridka are the indigenous species of Taprid. They have approximately thirty-six senses. They are not wholly male or female, but sometimes predominantly one or the other. They are blue skinned and have a crest of fins on their heads. They have at least three stomachs. The most senior Pridka in the Dream Centre is the Dreamguide. Species that take part in therapy at the Pridka Dream Centre include Rakkhins, which need constant immersion in a supersaturated ammonia solution and are exceptionally keen on competitive sport, Monoids (The Ark), Rills (Galaxy 4), humans, Morestrans (Planet of Evil), and the Yzashoks, a race of philosophers who believe that the confluence between the harmony of the self and communion with others is the highest achievement of the mind. The Yzashoks require an amniotic fluid that responds intimately to their brain patterns. They are lizard-like. The Borsii wear wedge-shaped helmets the size of boulders, and have spindly bodies quivering underneath; according to the Doctor, they conquered a whole galaxy a few millennia earlier.
Following the physical traumas that he suffered in Set Piece without regenerating, the Doctor wonders if he is no longer capable of regeneration. His shoulder hasn't fully healed yet, nor has the bruise on his face. The Doctor gives Bernice an interactive hologram of himself projected from a small silver pyramid; he originally intended it for Ace. The holographic Doctor wears the Doctor's old brown coat. The Doctor still carries his temporal disruption monitor (No Future). He also carries a pencil torch. He claims that religious faith ceased to have any meaning for him "long ago" after seeing so much conflict. He only got a double gamma for philosophy at the Academy. He specifically states that he is on his seventh body (see The Brain of Morbius, Mawdryn Undead). He has never seen Pridka engineering in real life, but is aware that they value contours of light and space.
Bernice dresses here in a hand-dyed velvet waistcoat over an aquamarine shirt of raw silk, with ultra-white pleated trousers tucked into high, black buccaneer boots.
Kelzen borrows one of the Doctor's old baggy white shirts with question mark lapels and the trousers of a dinner suit from inside the TARDIS. One of the roundels in the console room conceals a cupboard, containing various electronic components, a couple of fishing floats, a copy of Black Orchid (Black Orchid), and a tiara-shaped basic thought wave dampening device. Because this is the Doctor's earlier TARDIS from the Silurian Earth (Blood Heat) it still has the Zero Room (Castrovalva).
Experience Park is located on Magellani.
Darius Cheynor has been promoted to Captain since The Dimension Riders. He dies here, killed when a bomb planted in his skimmer by extremists detonates.
Links: Darius Cheynor first appeared in The Dimension Riders. The Guild of Adjudicators were first mentioned in Colony in Space and appeared in Lucifer Rising. The terms "Frau" and "Krau" were first used in The Caves of Androzani. The Tertiary console room first appeared in Nightshade. There are references to Daleks, Cybermen, Heaven (Love and War), Ace's departure (Set Piece), the Monk and London 1976 (No Future), Susan's departure (The Dalek Invasion of Earth), Harold Chorley (The Web of Fear), the Vardans (The Invasion of Time, No Future), the time-space visualiser (The Space Museum, The Chase, The Eye of the Giant), Draconians (Frontier in Space), and the Key to Time. One of the streets in Banksburgh was named Argolis Avenue (The Leisure Hive). The Doctor repaired the Stattenheim Remote Control for the TARDIS (The Mark of the Rani, The Two Doctors) after he had to get back to Ace and Bernice in San Francisco in a hurry (All-Consuming Fire). The Doctor notes that he has been known as Theta Sigma (The Armageddon Factor) and Merlin (Battlefield). He recalls battling Sutekh (Pyramids of Mars) and making a deal with a creature of anti-matter (Planet of Evil). He mentions the Brigadier and Sarah Jane. He recites the Venusian lullaby "Klokeda Partha Menin Klatch" (The Curse of Peladon, The Monster of Peladon). Bernice refers to being left in India (All-Consuming Fire) and on the Vampire's Planet (Blood Harvest).
Location: Gadrell Major Dominion, 2387AD; England, Earth, 1997; Pridka Dream Centre in orbit around Taprid, beyond the Common Era of the Earth Calendar and millennia after the destruction of Earth.
Future History: By 2387, there have been a series of colonial incidents following the Cyberwars. There has recently been a famine on Tenos Beta and storms in the Magellani system.
Gadrell Major has only recently been colonized by 2387 (although the colony has existed for at least ten years, since there was an outbreak of "nukeophobia" amongst the colonists c2377) and is under attack from the Phractons due to its rich deposits in medical mineral ore porizium. They destroy the citadel of Banksburgh during the attack. Colonial cities are usually laid out in the circular "Wheel of Life" pattern. Raz-33s are handguns used during this period.
Q.v. Benny's Birthday, Love and War.
The Bottom Line: Well-plotted, with the same great characterisation that distinguished The Dimension Riders, and some well-characterised aliens. The Sensopaths, whilst yet another all-powerful evil (although this time from the end of time) make memorable villains, and the various deaths, especially Cheynor's meaningless demise, carry real emotional weight.