Down

Roots: At the Earth's Core, The People That Time Forgot, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars. The Third Reich. There are references to Superman, Isaac Asimov, Star Trek, Gene Rodenberry, Sesame Street, Erich von Däniken, King Kong, Leni Riefenstahl's The Triumph of the Will, Albert Spier's Inside the Third Reich, Mel Brooks' The Producers, "Ride of the Valkyries", The Fast Show ("Sergeant Monkfish"), The Wizard of Oz, "Jerusalem", Bernard Manning, and Status Quo ("Down, Down, Deeper and Down").

Goofs: Bernice had a review copy of Kryptosa's latest work in Ship of Fools, but here it is stated that he vanished a century ago [a previously-unpublished work?].

Dialogue Triumphs: Almost all of it, although particular gems include:

"WELCOME TO THE ST OSCAR'S DATABASE INFORMATION TERMINUS! THE FACILITY THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS ACRONYM."

"You think I don't know what being attached to an operating slab by durilium electro-clamps feels like? You must think I'm an amateur."

"I thought you never killed except in self-defence."
"You don't call this self-defence?"

"I'm not being pedantic, I'm being pernickety. Now I'm being pedantic."

Continuity: The Worldsphere is seventeen galaxies away from Dellah. The mentally ill on the Worldsphere are referred to as "The Truly Crazed" and have their own continent, the siCera!ca ri!Qisla. Interest groups mentioned here include the Unusual Psychopharmacy Interest Group, the Rare and Exotic Pollutants Interest Group, the Health and Safety Interest Group, the Unnecessary Religions Interest Group, and the Strange and Painful Biological Problems Interest Group. There is also a Department of [Entirely Optional] Corrections. There is now only one Truly Crazed left, the rest having been cured simply by leaving them alone. The last of the Truly Crazed is named si!Xist-i!xalt-iVa!qara, or !X for short. The eRup colossus is a twenty-two kilometre high statue made out of cold-fused mercury with a city of nine thousand people in the palm of its hand. God implants !X and Fos!ca with cultural filters to translate for them, which apparently include a censorship function. !X has both biological and mechanical lineage.

Tyler's Folly is so called because it was discovered by a man named Jodecai Tyler and most people agree that colonising it was a stupid idea due to its location miles from any useful travel routes. It is a class MG planet with a surface largely covered in ocean and an atmosphere that required minimal terraforming to make it E-Normal. It orbits the most obscure star of the Cygnus Mortelli constellation. It is eight or nine light years from Dellah. The planet is hollow, with an entire ecosystem on its inner surface and an artificial sun at its core. This subterranean world is populated by dinosaurs and various other flora and fauna, including the Gugs, one of two cultured tribes living below the surface. The Gugs are hunched humanoids with Neanderthal-like skulls and tanned, oily skin. The Tribe of Lilith is an ape-like offshoot of the Gugs. The Eldest are highly intelligent members of a species of Yeti-like creatures. The Eldest have massive craniums and psychic abilities. Other lifeforms, including those bioengineered by the Tribe of Lilith, include an ape-like offshoot of the Gugs, giant gas-filled reptiles used as dirigibles by the apes, membranous flying animals, exploding shellfish, giant squids, and bats. The entire inner world is the product of MEPHISTO (Mankind Expects Pain, However Much It Seems To Outsiders), an archetypal evil created by God and expelled from the WorldSphere. It created the bizarre, pulp-SF world inside Tyler's Folly based on Kryptosa's memories and cultural references when he stumbled into the dormant environment, creating everything and everyone inside. God sends !X and manipulates Bernice to visiting at the same time in order to trigger the chain of events that releases MEPHISTO into the universe: he doesn't state why, but implies that it has something to do with the future cultural development of the universe.

Sarah-361 is described in the Earth Central planetary gazetteer as "an eccentric little colony world on the Widdershins March of Earthspace". In fact, it was ravaged by a genetically engineered plague a couple of centuries prior to 2594, halving the population and prompting the local prytaneium to encourage the population into a procreative frenzy, making monogamy socially unacceptable and celibacy illegal.

Shillings are the accepted currency on Dellah. St. Oscar's has a department of Neuroseismology.

Benny's bag contains a silver cigarette lighter and a pack of playing cards with illustrations "celebrating feminist arachnid erotica." She drinks Burnitser-Holtz '42. She recently gave a lecture on Martian Subterranean Culture and lent Ash Juliandis a copy of the pamphlet The Truth Lies Downwards. She has some understanding of "grave-robber" script. It is implied that when she visited the WorldSphere God, planning ahead, planted the idea of settling on Dellah in her mind so that she would ultimately end up on Tyler's Folly. She shoves a stasis gun up !X's rectum in preference to killing him.

The Tashwari have more than two hands. They pretend to believe that the Seed of Life itself was brought to Dellah in the Grail of Zzzztii as part of a largely fabricated ancient religious culture designed largely to lure gullible freshmen to the markets at Xan Burrosa.

There is a Nelson Mandela Memorial Commune on Stellenbosch VI. Port Lindenbrook is on the route to Dellah. Other planets mentioned here include Vilencia Sixteen.

The Piglet People of Glomi IV (first mentioned in Death and Diplomacy and in most of Dave Stone's subsequent works) are obsessed with human culture but don't have a very sound understanding of it.

Vendergriff's Law of Neuroseismological Reasoning states that "the whole of human existence is a search for warmth in a dark place".

Links: The Also People. Bernice recalls being tortured by Nazis in nineteen forty-one (Just War). The Tiny But Interesting Interest Group was mentioned in Oh No It Isn't!. The title of Chapter 1 pays homage to The Daleks' Master Plan. There are references to Gustav Urnst (The Highest Science), Youkali (Return of the Living Dad), Sloathes (Sky Pirates!), Tharn and the Stanturus System (Dragon's Wrath), Metatraxi (Alien Bodies), Selachians (The Murder Game, The Final Sanction) and Mimsey (Burning Heart).

In a nod to Castrovalva, Bernice notes "If you say "on the top of my mind" it's piffle."

Location: The Worldsphere, Dellah, and Tyler's Folly, January 2594.

Future History: Archeopteryx is discovered to be a hoax during the twenty-second century.

Earth had a female President between 2536 and 2541 (see Frontier in Space).

Tyler's Folly was colonised c2534. By 2594, it is governed by a republic. The Chairman is named Manx. The colonists are referred to as "Tylerkind".

F. Nils Kryptosa was a Meister of Natural Sciences at New Heidelburg and an adventurer/explorer. Re-Appearing World was a series produced by Channel 9999 on which Kryptosa once appeared. He found Tyler's Folly and was absorbed by MEPHISTO's organic technology.

Darvilleva-Q was the site of the "hell camps", concentration camps set up after the First Demographic Charter of 2537 to "process" any colonists determined to be genetically less than thirty-four percent human. Darvilleva-Q was owned and managed by the Spirea Consortia.

Jonson's Engine was a fully functional time machine put together by an Earth admin project on Vilencia Sixteen during the twenty fourth century. The project was sabotaged when someone blew up the research station, taking half of the planet with it. It is strongly rumoured that a secret society possibly with links to the corporations has been monitoring and preventing attempts to develop time travel technology, as a result of which mankind doesn't officially discover time travel until the fiftieth century (The Talons of Weng-Chiang). The SSSSSSS got hold of some of the time travel technology from Vilencia Sixteen and managed to punch holes in space-time, through they dropped genetic data in an attempt to plant their Aryan "seed", creating various strains of ape-men scattered through human history. Bernard Richtmanning's [oh, very funny] Mein Pantz is the SSSSSSS handbook.

Mr Misnomer and the Fiend Without a Future is a pulpzine from the 2530s [and a play on words based on the working title of The Talons of Weng-Chiang]; the series also includes Mr Misnomer and the Thousand-Fathom Horror [Fury from the Deep?] (published 2533), The Fall of the House of Mr Misnomer, and Mr Misnomer and the Underwater Bears. The series began with The Shadow of the Dying Ones, published 2529. Mr Misnomer versus the Queen of Xenophobia was banned on some colony worlds because it alluded to the troubles on Glasson Equinoxis. The Mr Misnomer series is published by Melbourne Autolit Services. Rex Havoc and the Island of Lost Promises is probably another pulpzine.

The first pro-Martian guerilla activity since the Olympian era takes place in 2538. There are Sixth Generation National Socialist rallies in the Stella Stora colonies (Terror of the Vervoids) during the mid-2540s. The SSSSSSS is the Stella Stora Sigma Schutz-Staffel SturmSoldaten and is renowned as the most ineffectual neo-Nazi group since the Outer Hebridean National Party. They own a small sausage factory on Smarley's World. Their emblem is the oktika, an eight-armed crooked cross used by many off-world fascists groups.

Some planets are designated by Earth Central as Sites of Ancient and Esoteric Interest.

The Bottom Line: "We're being attacked with exploding shellfish." Brilliantly imaginative homage to pulp SF, and easily Miles' most fun novel, Down is crammed with wit and verve, delivering a massive twist at the end that suddenly makes sense of everything with enormous aplomb. The only slight disappointment in retrospect is that, as with many of the dangling plot threads from the Virgin Benny novels, it sets things up that will never be resolved in the shape of God's manipulation.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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