Winner Takes All
Roots: Nightmare (humans controlling other humans in a fantasy game), The Last Starfighter (video games used to recruit human soldiers for an alien war). Harry Potter (Robert's fantasies). There are references to Snakes and Ladders, Snap, PlayStation, Xbox, Resident Evil, Timesplitters 2, The Blair Witch Project, HobNobs, the Beano, Spider-Man, Grand Theft Auto, Gran Turismo, Sonic the Hedgehog, the Cookie Monster (Sesame Street), Photoshop, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Thunderbirds (and Lady Penelope in particular), Alka-Seltzer, Woman's Realm, the Daily Telegraph, Dracula, Radio One, Woolworths, Wildlife On One, Coca Cola, Bisto, The Tweenies, eBay, The Empire Strikes Back ("I am your father, Robert"), Crimewatch, David Attenborough, Alexander Graham Bell, "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag", "There'll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover", Denise Lewis, Sherlock Holmes, CSI, Wile E. Coyote, Superman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wonder Woman, Bob the Builder, and Batman's assistant Robin.
The Doctor's line "Let's go and do something less boring instead" is probably a reference to Why Don't You? with which Russell T. Davies started his television career.
Goofs: Why does Jackie tell Rose that she's won the lottery when she's only won a games console from the Quevvils' scratchcards? Does she have no sense of proportion?
The Doctor claims that he never saves anything smaller than a planet - which is contradicted by so many other stories It would be insane to list them. However, he's probably being facetious.
The Doctor says that he can only reverse teleportation if he is at the end of the teleport where the controls are located. However, in Boom Town, he is able to reverse it by using the Sonic Screwdriver.
I can't help wondering why the Quevvils need humans to play the game, surely they could control the humans who they sent into the Mantodean city themselves. Especially since they consider humans to be beings of low intelligence.
It's Genesis of the Daleks all over again as we get a war between two cities a stone's throw from each other.
How do the carriers get across the desert to the Quevvil headquarters?
If the Quevvils designed the control devices to be non-reversible, then how come they just stop working when the power is removed, and that the Doctor is then able to remove them?
Rose and Mickey both have moments when they think that their relationship is over, though in Boom Town, which is set later in both their timelines (well, OK, it could be earlier in Mickey's but that seems unlikely), it seems like they haven't formally split.
On page 183, the Doctor is thumping the wall with his fist, and on the pages leading up to it, he's doing things like spinning around, and then on page 185 he needs Robert to cut his bonds, when he hasn't been tied up in the meantime. Oh, and page 183 contains several words that are missing the final letter.
Dialogue Triumphs: The Doctor: 'I hate guns. Which isn't to say that a bit of fantasy violence can't be therapeutic.'
The Doctor: 'Two species that could live side by side in harmony. Like that's ever going to happen in the universe.'
The Doctor: 'Nice when the villains present you with their whole plan in semi-animated form.'
A Quevvil: 'Our research suggested that death was a common pastime on Earth.'
Rose ponders making a rope out of clothing, and wishes that the labels said things like '100 per cent cotton, wash at 40 degrees, do not tumble-dry, able to support up to 500kg.'
Continuity: Quevvils and Mantodeans are both native to the planet Toop and live in an arid, desert part of the planet. They have been at war for some time. The Quevvils resemble upright porcupines and can fire their quills, which are barbed, from their backs. The Mantodeans are huge insects resembling preying mantises. Despite their appearance, the Mantodeans, like the Quevvils, can speak. The catacombs of the Mantodean stronghold are too narrow for Quevvils to enter and are riddled with traps; in order to bypass these and deliver a disruptor designed to destroy Mantodean technology into the Citadel, the Quevvils surreptitiously hand out the computer game Death to Mantodeans for free on Earth. The game makes use of human ingenuity to guide a real human abductee into the Mantodean Citadel to deliver the disruptor, usually resulting in the death of the human carrier at the mandibles of the Mantodeans. The carriers are controlled by a device shaped like a metal disc placed on the head which inserts a probe into the brain and controls the carrier's actions. The Citadel is protected by a force field attuned to Quevvil biology to prevent them from entering either on foot or by teleport. Like porcupines, Quevvils are driven into a frenzy by salt, which they will consume as fast as they can.
The Doctor is over six feet tall. He drinks two cups of tea and eats three sandwiches and two cakes at Jackie's. He carries an assortment of change including a couple of Roman sesterces and a ten-pound coin bearing the head of William V. In an attempt to win one of the Quevvils' Death to Mantodeans game consoles, the Doctor buys a toothbrush, a pack of Post-it notes and seventeen copies of the Guardian, and Rose buys a bar of chocolate , a can of drink, and a biro. The Doctor has never heard of Toop. He carries an apple and a scalpel in his pocket. The Doctor claims to have acquired merit badges in time travel, monstrithology, interfering in the destinies of planets, and cooking in some equivalent of the Scouts, though he's almost certainly being facetious. He wears diamond print socks.
Rose has always wanted to visit Disneyland. She has a teddy bear called Mr. Tedopoulos. Her address is Number 48, Bucknall House, on the Powell Estate. There are rumours on her estate that Jackie murdered Rose's dad (Father's Day). Rose got lost in Hampton Court maze in 1998. She once bought her mum a fridge magnet reading "Best Mum in the World" for Mother's Day. Darren Pye mugs Jackie. >By this point, Rose is clearly on the verge of thinking that her relationship with Mickey is over. She carries lip balm.
Jackie has a bus pass. Mickey has GCSEs.
Darren Pye attended Rose's school and was two years above her; he was and still is a notorious bully. A Mantodean decapitates him on Toop. Johnny Deans, who Rose also knew from school, was one of Pye's frequent victims. Mrs. McGregor was a neighbour of Rose's until her relative Tony had her admitted to a care home in Sydenham. Dilys is one of Rose's elderly neighbours; she is a widow, her husband Harold having died. Mrs. Burton is another neighbour, and has known Rose since she was small.
The Doctor mentions that he could take Rose to planets where there are real talking mice, and ducks. He also says that teleportation leaves a distinctive tingle in the air, which he can smell.
Links: The Doctor adapted Rose's phone to make calls across time and space in The End of the World. The TARDIS materialises in the same place as in Aliens of London. There are references to Rose (including mention of the Nestene Consciousness), Slitheen (Aliens of London/World War Three), The End of the World (The Doctor reversing teleportation) and The Unquiet Dead. The Doctor's comments about human reactions to being told that the TARDIS is a time machine echoes a similar comment from Father's Day, and the mention that the TARDIS has taken quite a shine to Rose foreshadows The Parting of the Ways.
Location: London, and Toop, 2005.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor once visited Hampton Court maze when the hedges were still under shoulder height. He has met maniacs who played human chess with real people as pieces, making the people kill the pieces they'd taken.
Q.v. Bad Wolf, The Parting of the Ways.
The Bottom Line: The characterisation of the Ninth Doctor and Rose is spot on, as is that of the supporting characters; the plot however is aimed rather too much at children, with the lazy use of anthropomorphic aliens proving something of a disappointment, the Quevvils' similarity to porcupines feeling especially ridiculous. Nevertheless, Rayner's prose is, as usual, a delight to read and the novel trips along at a merry pace.