Psi-ence Fiction

Roots: The X-Files, The Shining. There are references to Hugh Grant, EastEnders, Emmerdale, The X-Files, Ghostbusters, The Blair Witch Project, Liz Hurley, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Aleister Crowley, Mystic Meg, Michael Caine, Xena, James Bond, Bugs Bunny, Sleeping Beauty, Carrie, Harold Shipman, Blockbuster, the Freemasons, Che Guevara, Bertram Mills, Bruce Willis, John Wayne, The Sweeney, The Matrix, and Howard Hughes.

Technobabble: A multiverse overlap generates parapsychological energy that feeds back into it, causing it to become exponentially worse, this could potentially result in the universe never having existed. Finer's time machine draws the time lines together, collapsing the multiverse, because it lacks a transdimensional containment and a semisentient control system. Without these, it will go on collapsing the multiverse, feeding on it forever. There is a weakness in the multiverse centred on the wood near the University of East Wessex. Finer's time machine feeds on this, creating a multidimensional void.

Dialogue Triumphs: 'You don't explain a God. A God is an excuse not to explain.'

Continuity: The TARDIS's intervention allows a weakness in the multiverse to heal (see below). The multiverse renews, but the resulting damage it sustains eradicates the timeline in which this story happens, meaning that the events described below never took place. The Doctor notes that he and Leela will thus forget these events as soon as they next step out of the TARDIS.

Leela has started carrying a small traveling pouch attached to her belt, containing a sharpening stone, a high-energy food bar, salve and a comb. She dislikes jelly babies. She encounters cows for the first time [the aversion of the time line in which this story takes place explains why Leela doesn't recognise cows in Image of the Fendahl]. One of the first things taught to young Sevateem is that fear will change what you see and create what you do not see. They are also taught that Modesty is fear, fear is failure, failure is death. One of Leela's earliest lessons was to recognise and control the physical symptoms of panic and then identify its cause (Breathe deep and slow, examine what you know). Other warrior lessons she had to learn by heart include Know your ground or end up buried in it, Predators prey, prey run away, The chance of death is never remote, the chance of survival always is, and Bright and stupid die the same way: but not the same day. She eats her first fried breakfast. The Doctor has taught her to read, which she practices regularly with marked improvements. The precision of her speech is a result of learning partly from machines [presumably some of the Sevateem's Holy relics this is a reference to Louise Jameson's decision to portray Leela's speech in this fashion].

The Doctor is fond of cows and admires the cartoon Peanuts. He is vulnerable to the parapsychological energy generated by a multiverse overlap, which affects his concentration.

The TARDIS has a time-line flux adjuster, which compensates for temporal anomalies caused by faults in the fabric of space-time. The TARDIS's probability compensators can be used to reinforce such a weakness. It also has pseudo-timeline narrow focus coils in the console. Whenever the Doctor is forced to improvise with parts from the TARDIS, she resents it and it takes them a while to re-establish a comfortable relationship. During this time, the TARDIS can be very unpredictable. The Doctor says that he has experience of inert materials due to the equipment he uses in his travels (i.e. the TARDIS). The TARDIS acts as the transdimensional containment and semisentient control system missing from Finer's time machine, whilst reinforcing the weakness in the multiverse in doing so, she thus saves the entire multiverse.

The drug added to free water samples from the Clearspring Water Company is a prototype cognition enhancer, which resulted in side effects such as short-term psychosis, schizophrenic episodes and paranoia. It also acts as a trigger for latent psychics.

Links: This story is set between The Robots of Death and The Talons of Weng-Chiang and after Corpse Marker. The Face of Evil. The weakness in the multiverse located in the wood is reminiscent of the time fissure in the wood around Fetch Priory in Boucher's Image of the Fendahl.

Location: The University of East Wessex,

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor claims to have met Isaac Newton (see The Pirate Planet), Isaac Walton, William Walton and [possibly made-up] twenty-first century popstar named Walton Hummer. He once met a philosophical planet-sized fungus whose name consisted of a small electric shock and a rather unpleasant smell.

The Bottom Line: Like Boucher's Last Man Running and Corpse Marker, Psi-ence Fiction allows Leela's creator to continue her character development to great effect; unlike its predecessors however, it has a gripping plot and strong supporting characters, demonstrating considerable improvement in Boucher's novel-writing skills. The ending is perhaps slightly rushed, but overall this is a great story from one of the TV series' finest writers.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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