The Also People
Roots: Larry Niven's Ringworld series and Iain M. Banks' Culture novels. The Mote in God's Eye is a science fiction novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. There are quotations from "Travelling Man Blues" and Jesse Palmer's "What My Mama Told Me". The Doctor sings lines from "Born Under a Bad Sign" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", and hums "My Baby Just Cares For Me" by Nina Simone. Marvel Comics (Dep's symbiotic dress is reminiscent of Venom's symbiote from the Spider-Man comics and her prehensile hair similar to that of Medusa from The Inhumans). The Prisoner ("I am not a number, I am a free-wheeling unicycle"). There are references to The Famous Five, Leonardo da Vinci, Nelson Mandela, Disney (and specifically the kitchen scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), Einstein, Shakespeare, Boudicca, Nietzsche, Woman Friday, Robert Roundtree, Peter O'Toole, Duke Ellington, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General", Wagner, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Greek mythology (Bacchus), and Heath Robinson.
Dialogue Disasters: "You overbearing multi-lived bastard, I'm going to rip out your hearts and stuff them up your nostrils."
Dialogue Triumphs: "So you're a computer?"
"Are you a mollusc?"
"Then I'm not a computer."
"Of course I'm not sentient."
"Markets. I remember them from school. Third most inefficient method of resource distribution ever invented."
"Don't you kiss?"
"Of course we do, just not on the lips."
"Let's face it, if God lies to you, you'll never know about it."
"I was against the war and they've never forgiven me for that."
"Don't tell me you're a pacifist?"
"No. I'm an extremely large target."
When Roz asks aM!xitsa why machines haven't taken over the Sphere, it finally confesses, "Oh, all right. It's because life is more fun with humans than without them."
"Ninety per cent of an investigation consists of digging away at a big pile of shit until you find something."
"What's the other ten per cent?"
"Knowing what isn't shit when you find it."
On finding the Doctor buried in the sand, Roz tells Chris, "The Doctor would never allow himself to be incarcerated in such an absurd and undignified manner without the most exquisite and subtle of purposes."
Continuity: The Sphere is a long way away from human space. It is a Dyson Sphere with a radius of nearly one hundred and fifty million kilometres and an interior surface of two point seven times ten to the power of seventeen square kilometres. It is built around a G-class main sequence star; when the Sphere was first built, it was a white dwarf and the People had to tinker with it. The original People were an amalgam of different species that achieved starflight at about the same time; they first ran into each other in the system that they decided to build the Sphere in. The planet Whynot orbits inside the Sphere around the sun in such a way that it passes over every part of the Sphere in turn. Whynot is a blue-green planet with oceans and continents. The Sphere has a population of two trillion. The People have a non-aggression pact with the Time Lords. They don't have time travel technology despite having the theoretical capability; it is implied that the Time Lords keep sabotaging any attempts that they make. God, an astoundingly advanced artificial intelligence, manages the Sphere; it insists that it isn't a computer. The name God was given to it as a joke whilst it was creating itself and stuck. God controls the Sphere's environment, including the opacity of the force field around the Sun that allows for day and night. A lot of God is located on Whynot, but it is diffused throughout the Sphere and has nodes everywhere. The Sphere doesn't have a legal system, but has a general consensus on morality. The treaty with the Time Lords forbids the People from researching or developing time travel. The Time Lords are terrified of time-looping the People in case they escape and learn from the experience. The original negotiating team that drew up the treaty had six members, including God, the Doctor, and aM!xitsa. The treaty forbids the People from visiting or building a permanent database on Mutter's Spiral. The Spaceport is a vast hexagonal hole cut into the side of the Sphere; the Spaceport Facility is three thousand kilometres across and hangs in the exact centre of the hole. In violation of the treaty, the Ships' memories contain contingency plans for a war with the Time Lords. It is a treaty violation for God to have Gallifreyan in its linguistic files.
There are various non-sentient artificial intelligences on the Sphere, which do tasks such as serving drinks; in addition there are the Also People, sentient artificial intelligences in a variety of forms that compromise a large proportion of the population on the Sphere. No sentient machine has suffered a catastrophic failure without an external cause for over thousand years. They include drones and Ships. Many of the drones are oblate spheroids with facial icons. There are sixty-eight million nine hundred and twenty thousand, four hundred and thirty-eight defensive drones in the Sphere. Some defensive model drones have the offensive capability to level small towns and can survive direct hits from twenty-kiloton nuclear devices. They dislike the word "robot". The Ships live in the Sphere's gargantuan dockyard and include VASs (Very Aggressive Ships), GPSs (General Purpose Ships), VLR (Very Long Range) Drones, and a TSH (Travelling Space Habitat); the TSH consists of three sections (front, middle, and rear) each of which is a sentient individual. Many of the Ships have weapons developed by ASBIG for the war, including remote forced quantum singularities, controlled hyperspace breaks, and something called the Pin-Stripe Cattle Grate, which nobody ever talks about. aM!xitsa's mind is rated at 10.2, meaning that it is least ten million times more intelligent than the average sentient humanoid; God is rated x number of millions times smarter than aM!xitsa. Occasionally, non-sentient machines, especially Houses, become sentient and transfer to other duties; many shuttles are run by ex-houses.
Many of the People are humanoid, but with eyes that are slightly rounder and larger than a human's, and square nipples. Dep has three ovaries and her body can edit the DNA of her embryos. Some of the People are reptilian and have mottled reddish-brown skin, eyes that move independently, and bifurcated tongues. The insectoid People who joined the society after the war resemble giant cockroaches. A couple of million People have had themselves transformed into large fish in order to get some peace and solitude.
The People don't have names until they are old enough to choose one for themselves. They form interest groups to keep themselves occupied, include the Xenocultural Relations (Normalization) Interest Group, the Interpersonal Dynamics Interest Group, the Gallifreyan Interest Group, the Barbarian Emulation Interest Group, the Weird Aviation Interest Group, the Temporal Interest Group, the Domestic Service Interest Group, the Aggressive Ship-Building Interest Group (ASBIG), the Esoteric and Useless Genetic Manipulation Interest Group, the Anti-Machine Interest Group (eighty-two percent of the membership of which is made up of machines - including God), the Xenobiology Interest Group, the Weird Cuisine Interest Group, Masochistic Parent Interest Group, the Voluntary Devolution Interest Group, the Truth Through Ugliness Interest Group, and the Menial Toil Interest Group. Concealed habitation is currently fashionable in the Sphere; there is an entire city of three million people built on the far side of the Endless Sea from iSanti Jeni along these lines. There is a windmill complex above iSanti Jeni, although nobody is sure why. Tranquillity is a drink with soothing properties, as is stomach warmer. Continents on Whynot include Lefteye and Righteye, each the size of Madagascar; the island chain of the Grinning Archipelago is located beneath them, thus forming a smiley face. me!Xu!xi-si!cisisa (The Mote in God's Left Eye) is located on Lefteye and is the second largest city in the Sphere. God is sinking the city at a rate of six centimetres a month; the inhabitants have responded by building additional storeys on the buildings. Whynot is God's personal domain; it can rearrange the geography as it wishes, and any People who live there do so at their own risk. Yellowpetals are flowers found in the Sphere; they have no fragrance. Burrowers are lethal bio-weapons in the form of small grubs. When the Sphere was first built, God set aside six million hectares of land and gave it only a minimum of landscaping, allowing the area to form its own ecosystem from flora and fauna that migrated into it; it called the area the Wilderness Recreation Area and won't let anyone live there, although visitors are welcome.
Thirty years prior to the events here, the People fought a war with the insectoid religious fanatics of the Great Hive Mind of the Universe; after the war, the enemy underwent a profound theological transformation and many of them became part of the People with the aid of the Xenocultural Relations (Normalization) Interest Group. The People used a fraction of their available resources to completely rebuild the twenty-six low technology civilizations that were devastated during the fighting, but could do nothing about the fifteen planets, three rings, and fifteen asteroid habitats (including Omicron 378) that were destroyed in the crossfire. Twenty-six billion sentient individuals died in the war, most of them collateral casualties. The planet Tiper'oosis was involved in the war. God opposed the war.
The Dyson sphere that Bernice visited on the fringes of the Vartaq Veil was at DM+39 4567 (Lucifer Rising). The sphere took two hundred and fifty years to break up. Whilst there the team brewed beer using its bio-reactors and ate a couple of quadrupeds that the xenobiology team swore weren't sentient.
Whilst visiting the Sphere, the Doctor, Benny, Roz and Chris stay in a villa near the small town of iSanti Jeni. Like most things in the Sphere, a non-sentient artificial intelligence (called House) runs the villa using force field projectors to clean, tidy and do laundry.
The Doctor hates swimming. He leaves a memo for Roz on edible peppermint-flavoured yellow paper. The treaty between the Time Lords and the People includes a clause that the High Council accepts no responsibility for the Doctor's actions and that the People may act in any manner they deem appropriate in dealing with him up to and including deadly force. Faced with the problem of Kadiatu, the Doctor carries a suitcase containing a hypospray and two cartridges; one will cause instant death, the other contains a retro-DNA tailored to Kadiatu's genetic structure that will modify sections of her damaged DNA, creating an analogue of the symbiotic nucleotides in the Doctor's blood, essentially giving her the same capabilities as a Time Lord. He also has a copy of her "user manual", which he downloaded from the Imogen database on Zagreb. The Doctor carries three juggling balls and a pack of cards in his pocket. He goes fishing with Chris, using artificial lures, and provides all his own equipment, which he presumably keeps in the TARDIS (see The Two Doctors). He enjoys tea and biscuits whilst floating in a bubble in space, waiting for the Ships to arrive. He performs various magic tricks including pulling strings of silk scarves from his sleeves. He links his mind to !C-Mel's, wrecking it and then blowing out its brains with a microfusion grenade in order to save the inhabitants of the Sphere. He plays an increasingly competitive series of chess games with Kadiatu; she eventually beats him. They switch to arm-wrestling, and he beats her, to everyone's amazement. He has never seen an ornithopter that can actually fly, at least not in this dimension.
Benny's father served in the Outer System Patrol (Love and War). She and Roz drink Turkish coffee in their villa. Benny later drinks wine. During their visit to the Glastonbury Festival (No Future), the Doctor, Ace and Benny had sweatshirts printed at a silkscreening stall: Ace's had the legend "I'm Ace and this is the Doctor" printed above a big cartoon hand pointing to the left; she left it with Benny when she left. Benny's had a similar motif, but the ink ran; they got one for the Doctor that read "I'm the Doctor and this is [delete where applicable]", which Benny has never seen him wear. Ace used to joke that she was "Delete" and Benny was "Applicable". She and Roz order each order "an exaggerated sexual innuendo with a dash of patriot's spirit and extra mushrooms", a cocktail that Benny makes up on the spur of the moment and are served it by a smug table. Later, they instruct House in the making of pizzas. Benny wears an extremely large ball gown with numerous petticoats at the party, as well as an enormous blonde wig, but keeps her Reeboks on underneath. She has shown Roz Ace's tape collection. Benny has visited Venice. The Doctor claims to know of at least two cultures that venerate her as a goddess of alcohol.
Roz speaks some Swahili. She hasn't spoken Xhosa since she left home. Despite claiming that her middle name is Sarah in Original Sin, it is actually Inyathi. More accurately, Inyathi is her clan name and is isiXhosa for "Buffalo"; according to her grandmother, this meant that they weren't supposed to eat buffalo. There is a discolouration on the cuirass of Roz's Adjudicator armour where it was caught by a Kithrian fifty-megawatt laser and relaminated by the Adjudicator's artificers. She wears a goretex bra top, a present from the manager of Drop Dead Gorgeous on Overcity Five; he showered her with underwear for two months until she went to the boutique and threatened to arrest him for attempted bribery. She has a vibroknife scar on her left forearm, and a scar on her stomach from where a nameless alien tried to disembowel her. Roz's mother is Baroness Io; Roz's comes from a wealthy and influential family. Her mother once woke the entire Krall in the middle of the night to tidy the grounds because she had heard a rumour that Empress's ship might fly over. She believes that her mother would have beppled her DNA from birth to make her the perfect Xhosa maiden, if her father and grandmother hadn't prevented it. Roz ran away from home to join the Adjudicators. Her mother had her own skin darkened at the bepple clinic twice a year. Roz wears traditional Xhosa garb, complete with jewellry, at the party. Roz drinks the memory enhancer flashback at the party, but unwisely fails to take nostalgia with it. She later drinks purge to get rid of the after-effects. Roz made love with Martle (Original Sin) on one occasion, after she shot a shapeshifter. Roz's room in the TARDIS is scrupulously tidy. She once used a plasma torch to disassemble a securitybot for answering back. She keeps an afro-comb in her kit. Her grandmother was born and raised at the Io Kraal. Unbeknownst to Roz, aM!xitsa uses its ancillary manipulator field to fix a microscopic tear in the superior vena cava of her heart. She has sustained multiple breaks to her right tibia in the past. She eats the local equivalent of bread, bacon and eggs provided by aM!xitsa. She becomes romantically involved with feLixi, having sex with an alien for the first time in her life, but ends up exposing his part in the murder of vi!Cari. Roz's father collected Dalek poetry. She unwittingly becomes a cult icon whilst visiting the Sphere, Benny finding t-shirts and driftwood carvings of her whilst shopping in me!Xu!xi-si!cisisa. She also finds figurines of Chris. Roz's first murder investigation was at a plantation at the Borodino Oasis on Skag, when she was an initiate and squired to "Wrath of God" Konstantine; sneaked off to bathe in a pool on the plantation, only to find the corpse of a Skag girl floating in the water; the plantation owner Edward Shuster, was suspected of her murder, but it was never proved. Roz dances with Kadiatu. Chris teaches her to surf. She accidentally leaves her favourite pair of uniform boots on the Sphere, for which she blames Chris.
Whilst on the Sphere, Chris becomes romantically involved with Dep. Unbeknownst to Chris, Dep deliberately gets pregnant with his child. His grandfather was colour-blind. Male members of the Cwej family are predisposed towards late-onset diabetes and paranoid schizophrenia. Chris becomes adept at playing Starmaster due to his training as a pilot. He attends the party wearing nothing but a furry loincloth and body paint, and brings a massive double-bladed axe. He gets to fly a biplane built by the Weird Aviation Interest Group here. He doesn't know what a whale is. He has visited the museum of ancient engineering at Spaceport Three on Earth.
Adjudicators learn how to strip off their armour as fast as possible at the Academy in case it gets contaminated or compromised. The Adjudicators used to have a ritual for cleansing them of the taint of sin following a line-of-duty killing, which involved stripping themselves of their armour and bathing in a pool of clean water. Afterwards, one of the Untouched would clothe the Adjudicator in a surplice of pure-white lamb's wool. The custom was discontinued c. 2900 and instead an Adjudicator is sprinkled with holy water every seventh day of duty. Celibacy is not obligatory amongst Adjudicators, but a certain disdain for sex is encouraged. Adjudicators are taught the theory of dog-leg search patterns at the Academy in case they ever get assigned to frontier worlds.
There is a copy of Taren Capel: A case study in robophilia in the TARDIS databanks (The Robots of Death). Chris once found a handwritten monogram entitled Zen and the Art of Machine Gun Maintenance in the TARDIS broom cupboard, initialled with the letter A. The Doctor places the TARDIS in a defensive picosecond forward displacement whilst it is in the Sphere. The TARDIS sometimes has problems translating the written form, especially if the language is very economical or ideographic; it has trouble with Osiran hieroglyphs (Pyramids of Mars).
Wolsey has taken to sleeping curled up on to of the time rotor.
The Doctor found Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart on a British slaver drifting off the coast of Sierra Leone in the spring of 1754; everyone else on board was dead, including the ten-year old cabin boy and the ship's cat. He shot her with 60cc of teterodoxine, got her on board the TARDIS, and dropped her off on the Sphere under the watchful eye of aM!xitsa. She has been on the Sphere for three months prior to the events here. She has been hunting and gathering for food, and built a hut out of sun-dried mud-bricks; when a rainstorm washed it away, she built a kiln. She expelled most of Ship's organic matter within thirty-six hours of her arrival (see Set Piece), but the residual material is concentrated in her hypothalamus, cerebellum, and occipital lobe; aM!xitsa believes that she may have assimilated it. When she was originally engineered (see Transit) her "kill instinct" was concentrated in her forebrain. It is implied that she finally gets free of the influence of Ship due to the influence of the TARDIS, with a little subconscious help from Bernice as well as the Doctor. She plans to stay at the Sphere for as long as it takes her to build a new space-time machine. aM!xitsa agrees to go travelling with her.
"The Lament of the Non-Operational" is a Dalek poem with one hundred and twenty-eight stanzas. The Movellans were designed by an organic race on Movella in their own image and took over (Destiny of the Daleks). It is an article of faith amongst Martians that one can never have too much data; this is the basis of an archaeological technique that they call "Aiyix-sith", meaning "the time telescope", which takes six weeks to set up. Patience is another Martian trait. Fish on Scorbiski Major go angling for people, throwing lines onto the shore and baiting them with mooncalves; as a result, the Doctor recommends carrying a vibroknife on Scorbiski Major. Skags are similar to humans in appearance, but are skinnier and have two thumbs on each hand.
Johnny Chess's LP Things to do on a Wet Tuesday Night was released in 1987 (Timewyrm: Revelation).
Links: Kadiatu first appeared in Transit and last appeared in Set Piece; the Doctor decided to do something about her predicament at the end of Head Games. Chris recalls flying a biplane over the English Channel and Roz bitterly recalls the racism she encountered in early-twentieth century France (Toy Soldiers). The Doctor refers to meeting the Venusians (Venusian Lullaby) and in a reference to Susan notes that he hasn't been called Grandfather for a long time (since The Five Doctors to be accurate). There are references to Mel, Doctor Who, Jason, Kat'lanna and Detrios (Head Games). Benny recalls the golden fur that Chris had when she first met him (Original Sin). There are references to Daleks, Davros, Cybermen, Sontarans, the Brigadier blowing up the Silurians (The Silurians), the Doctor's destruction of Skaro (Remembrance of the Daleks), Draconians (Frontier in Space), symbiotic nuclei [see Goofs] (The Two Doctors), Rutans (Horror of Fang Rock), Guy de Carnac (Sanctuary), and Maire (Love and War). The Doctor recalls using his sonic screwdriver to detonate pockets of marsh gas (Carnival of Monsters) and land mines (The Sea Devils).
Location: The WorldSphere in the Home Galaxy, date unknown [Lance Parkin's original A History of the Universe argues fairly convincingly that The Also People must be set billions of years in the future, however subsequent New Adventures, beginning with Down, automatically set this story prior to the late 2500s].
Future History: The last buffalo died in captivity in 2193. The [Silurian?] group Third Eye releases the HvLP Outta My Way Monkey-boy in 2327 AD; the Hith (Original Sin) group Hith's With Attitude releases the HvLP Terrorformed in 2952 AD; the group Comes the Trickster release the HvLP All the Way From Heaven in 2465; the [Cyberman?] group Cyberblind release the DTM Machina ex Machina in 11265. Suspensor pools are very fashionable on Earth c2900 AD.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has visited the WorldSphere before on several occasions and is a friend of God's and aM!xitsa's. He implies that he has met narcoleptic barbarian and steam-bath enthusiast Wulf the Unsteady. He also knew a man who used Dalek poem "The Lament of the Non-Operational" as the libretto for an opera; he took the production to Skaro and was exterminated on opening night. The Doctor spent some time at a shao lin monastery during the Song dynasty.
The Doctor once broke the Galactic record for continuous spoon playing by playing for sixty-seven hours; he would have broken the Universal record, but a Garthanian telekinetic kept bending his spoons.
The Doctor was taught to speak Xhosa whilst stuck in a prison by a man whom, it is hinted, was Nelson Mandela. The Doctor transported Kadiatu to the Sphere just before he and Benny met Roz and Chris, whilst Benny was asleep in the TARDIS [presumably prior to visiting Oolis].
The Bottom Line: Still my favourite original Doctor Who novel published to date, The Also People is a magnificent character study set against the backdrop of an utterly fascinating and, best of all, extremely likeable alien society. The actual plot is notoriously slight, but this isn't really the point; in any case, the murder mystery unfolds in a very satisfying and occasionally gripping manner. Quite, quite superb.