Beige Planet Mars
Roots: The opening paragraph paraphrases the opening paragraph of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. There are references to the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, EuroDisney, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Columbus, de Gama, Magellan, Copernicus, Brahe, Dan Dare, Beatrix Potter, Star Wars (Club ObiWan), Saab, Rolls Royce, Shannon Tweed, Emma Thompson, Genghis Khan, The X-Files, Scooby Doo, Star Trek: The Next Generation, James Bond, and Oasis.
Dialogue Triumphs: "Seeing the state of you today, I can now see the benefits of uniforms and dress codes. You look like shit."
"You can't expect to hang around with Bernice Summerfield without being put in mortal danger of the most extreme and stupid kind."
And many, many more, especially between Seez and Soaz, but few that work out of context.
Continuity: Benny has blue eyes. She has her thirty-fifth birthday here, on 21st June 2595. She was twenty-four the last time she visited Mars, and in love with a guy named Tim [or at least, the last time she actually remembers - see Transit]. She buys a copy of Martians Are from Venus, Venusians Are from Mars. She stays at The Hotel whilst on Mars. She is invited to Mars to give a lecture at MarsCon. She spends three days travelling to Mars in the cargo hold of an automated freighter, eating bananas from crates. She drinks RedStar Martian vodka on Mars, as well as a RedStar cocktail named A Red Under the Bed. She buys a beige cashmere overcoat here. She dons a kimono in Jason's room, as does Jason. She has sex with Jason here for the first time since their divorce. She is developing a beer gut. The putative sequel to Down Among the Dead Men is, once again, called So Vast a Pile. Bernice has been diving a couple of times but has never had formal training. Phillip York knocks her out by punching in her in the face. Scoblow bites her hand.
Jason has started a new line of work, writing xeno-pornography novels beginning with Nights of the Perfumed Tentacle. He is the only writer working for his publisher who doesn't use an alias, allowing him to promote his work, which is semi-autobiographical. Nights of the Perfumed Tentacle has sold twelve million copies so far. He has started wearing cheap plastic reading glasses, his hair is receding slightly, and he now has a slight double chin. He drinks Old Red Devil, a primate-modified old Martian ale. He's arrested on Mars, forcing Benny to bail him out. He drinks a Sulph Shake. He later gets a manicure, hair-cut and new three-piece suit. He briefly adopts the alias Pip Kleener to interview the veterans. His left ulna gets shattered here. He has sex with the Pakhar Professor Scoblow.
The Xlanthi are intelligent, human-sized cannibal lizards with crests and claws from the planet Xlanthius in the notorious star system of Castonier. Their culture is based around the violent and ritual murder of all rivals, according to a system called the Law, which is inconsistently applied. Even Xlanthi children are experts in a variety of unarmed combat techniques. Xlanthi are master weaponsmiths. They assisted Earth during the Galactic Wars, in return for which Earth allows them to legally hunt fugitives in Earthspace without recriminations from the Earth authorities.
Cybernetic Ro-Barracudas are used as part of the missile base's automated defence systems on Mars. There is a three-metre tall insectoid alien on Mars. There are ice plains on Prashant. The Cathedral on Vremnya [see the subsequent Twilight of the Gods (NA)] is a famous historical enigma. The Timani Scrolls are full of inconsistencies. Garaman is on the far side of the spiral arm from Earth and was a major space facility during the Galactic Wars.
Links: Death and Diplomacy (Jason's past life as a prostitute). Transit (the destruction of Paris by the Ice Warriors in 2086). Frontier in Space. There are references to the Dalek invasion in 2157 (The Dalek Invasion of Earth), the Argyre crater (The Dying Days), Pakhars (Legacy), Chelonians (The Highest Science, Zamper, The Well-Mannered War), Alpha Centaurans (The Curse of Peladon, The Monster of Peladon, Legacy), the Polar Express (Tempest), the Bane Corporation (Oblivion), Tyler's Folly (Down), z-bombs (The Tenth Planet) and the Bantu Corporation (Another Girl, Another Planet).
The fourth Doctor makes a brief cameo.
Location: Mars, 21st June 2595.
Future History: The University of Mars was founded in 2095. Mars was terraformed during the twenty-second century, and now has an ocean at each pole: the Borealis Ocean in the North and the Southern Sea. The two major Martian spaceports were built near the poles because of this - they are Carter in the South and Ransom in the North. Noachis Spaceport handles approximately sixty percent of Mars' commercial flights. The Borealis Ocean is freshwater and supplies the canals, whilst the Southern Sea generates carbon dioxide. The Borealis Sea is filled with vicious mutant fish that rich men hunt for sport. Mars is a popular destination for retirees to come to live out their final years. Transmats are used on Mars. The monorail is based on linear induction and its tracks were first laid in 2093. By 2595, it has been restored by the Martian Trust. During the Battle of Mars in 2545, the statue of Colonel Brusilov was damaged by a Dalek plasma blast; it was decided not to repair it. The Galactic Wars lasted from 2545 to 2575.
The Daleks managed to reach Mars and thus start the Battle of Mars because the Martian Minister of Defence Karina Tellassar was the only person who could fire the missiles that would have destroyed their ships: she failed to do so, and her Missile Control Centre was the only seabase that the Daleks didn't destroy, leading everyone to assume that she betrayed them to the Daleks. In fact, she couldn't bring herself to murder her lover, Isaac Deniken, in whose heart the codes were implanted as part of an elaborate scheme to prevent anyone capable of launching nuclear weapons from doing so without massive personal sacrifice. Contrary to popular belief, she survived and became Professor Elizabeth K. Trinity, until Bernice inadvertently reveals her identity.
Newspapers available on Mars in 2595 include Mars Today, The News of the Worlds, South Chinese Daily, and Martian Chronicle. Other publications mentioned here include Archaeology Today. Professor Elizabeth K. Trinity is the author of A History of Mars and The Decline and Fall of the Martian Empire. Martians Are from Venus, Venusians Are from Mars challenges the orthodox view of how life evolved in the solar system. YorkCorp hosts the MarsCon. The Yorks try to destroy Mars to prevent a hostile takeover of YorkCorp by the Bantu Cooperation; after they are defeated, YorkCorp disintegrates completely. Human slaves are illegal on Mars, but vat-grown cloned slaves are not.
"Spartan" is twenty-sixth century slang for a vigorously homosexual soldier who deplores effeminacy or weakness in either gender.
Unrecorded Adventures: Benny has met blue-skinned humanoid Mr Saldaamir before, but can't remember when. She offended the Droge of Gabrielides (The Sun Makers) when she refused to marry him, inadvertently insulted the Master of the Fifth Galaxy (The Daleks' Master Plan), and encountered the Lord Herring on Sqakker's World.
The man with thin white hair, an aquiline nose and a blue business suit who helped defeat the Dalek invasion of Mars with a young female companion in her teens is presumably the Doctor [and specifically Lance Parkin's future incarnation of the Doctor as played by Ian Richardson].
The Bottom Line: "That was my war crime. I couldn't murder my lover in cold blood." Extremely witty, slightly unconventional, and beautifully written, Beige Planet Mars is probably the most underrated novel in the entire range. The refusal to actually tell the reader what Keele's final decision is could have been deeply frustrating, but somehow isn't.