The Suns of Caresh

Roots: Chaos Theory (Caresh's orbit); General Astronomy (the plummeting neutron star is based on actual astronomical observations); Robert Silverberg's Dying Inside (fading telepathic powers); Walter Tevi's The Man Who Fell to Earth plus the Nicholas Roeg movie (Earth seen from an alien point of view); Greek Mythology (Medusa turning people to stone); Rodney Matthews' artwork (the giant crystalline insects); the LucasArts adventure game LOOM (swapping appearances); Alien (the Fury eggs) [with thanks to Paul Saint for a list]. There are references to Ursula Le Guin, SFX, Greg Egan, Gene Wolf, David Langford, Henry Moore, Perseus and Andromeda, Fox Mulder (The X-Files), Bach, Grolsch, Star Trek, Terminator, W. H. Smith, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Telegraph, Big Issue, the Turin Shroud, Snoopy, The Haywain, and Ben Hur.

Dialogue Triumphs: Solenti on the Doctor: 'He's a loose cannon, a wild card. You ask him to carry out a simple investigation, and he ends up uncovering conspiracy and corruption at the highest level.

'Jo, much as I admire your boundless optimism, the inclusion of secret doors is not a prerequisite of cell design.'

'Don't tell me she's twisted her ankle.'
'No, Doctor. She's broken her leg.'

Continuity: The Curia of Nineteen are Vortex Dwellers and are known to the Time Lords. They dwell in the Realm and gather in the Palace of Equilibrium. An object of sufficient gravity and mass in space-time can affect the Vortex and thus the Realm, for example a neutron star. The Realm has an artificial sky. The Curia cultivates Furies for defence, although Solenti hints that this would bring serious repercussions if the Time Lords ever found out.

Furies live in the Vortex. When in space-time, they resemble rearing snakes with jackal-like heads. They hunt their victims by their mindscent, and turn people and things to stone. They are not invisible, but only their intended victims and Time Lords remember seeing them. They hatch from eggs. The Fury trapped in Roche's TARDIS dies after 1,300 years without receiving energy from the Vortex.

Lady Solenti is a Time Lady, who has been blind in her current incarnation for ninety-one years. The neural pathways controlling her sight are intact, so she will regain her sight when she regenerates. She has a Labrador, Jess, to whom she can speak. After being wounded, Jess regenerates into an Alsatian [given that Jess can also speak, it is possible that she is actually a Time Lord who has adopted the form of a dog!]. Solenti loves the sea. The Doctor knows Solenti of old and both dislikes and distrusts her. Despite this, she has talked him into doing favours for her many times before. She is currently working with fellow Time Lord Roche, whom the Doctor knows of by reputation, but has never met. Solenti has a beach house on Lanare. Solenti's TARDIS adopts the shape of an atrium, with the actual door hidden in a rock pool just in front of it. It later materialises apparently without its chameleon circuit switched on, as an eight-feet high white cylinder covered in roundels.

Lord Roche is an Arcalian (see The Deadly Assassin). After being hit by a bus, he regenerates into a body identical to the Doctor's current incarnation in an attempt to evade the Furies hunting him. He can swap mindscents with humans, effectively adopting their appearances for a short time, during which period they resemble him. Roche's TARDIS disguises itself as a shower cubicle and an ice cream van. Roche's TARDIS contains a shell room, which contains templates on which the TARDIS chameleon circuit bases the appearance of the outer plasmic shell. His TARDIS can travel back in time 1,382 years without an operator on board, beyond which its integrity is at risk. It has an oval shaped scanner in the console room floor. Roche carries a sonic screwdriver.

Time Lords use landmark worlds to fine-tune the navigational controls of their TARDISes, by comparing the actual coordinates of these worlds against the coordinates listed in the navigation database. The Time Lords have entertainment broadcasts on Gallifrey, often featuring emergency regenerations. The Doctor claims that he and Jo ended on Inter Minor because he was aiming for Metebelis Three, and because both of these are in different galaxies the degree of error was massively increased (see Carnival of Monsters). Landmark worlds include Dagusa, Caresh, Erekan, Gau-Usu, and Cern. Solenti and Roche's TARDISes have atrium circuits, which were developed after the Doctor fled Gallifrey. The atrium circuit is an extension to the chameleon circuit, which essentially allows architectural configuration of the outer plasmic shell, enabling the exterior alone to form entire rooms. It is also capable, at high settings, of setting up a powerful psychological defence around the TARDIS, making it harder to penetrate. TARDISes convey the Time Lord gift of language telepathy on their passengers (see The Masque of Mandragora). Mercy Guns are a Time Lord invention, which remember who they have shot; the first shot stuns, the second kills. They are small and golden and very difficult to destroy.

The Doctor carries wire-cutters in his pockets. He has only vague recollections of his regenerations. Those he witnessed on Gallifrey before he left were planned months or years in advance. He keeps intending to visit Chichester Festival Theatre for the opening night of Peter Shaffer's The Royal Hunt of the Sun, but always overshoots. The Doctor owns four bicycles, one of which looks ridiculous, and the rest of which are in bits. He and Jo have their hair shaved short to pass for natives on Caresh. His pockets contain money, a pair of wire-clippers, mints, throat sweets, a flashlight, two front row tickets for the first performance of Peter Shaffer's The Royal Hunt of the Sun, a squashed flower from Erekan, and an egg timer. He sings Tharular Valdusti, a Dagusan threnody.

The Doctor bought a gold bracelet for Jo in a market on Erekan, which she sells whilst in Chichester for one hundred pounds. Jo has visited Mont-Saint-Michel.

The Doctor has pinched a packing case from a UNIT HQ storeroom to use as a table in the TARDIS control room. The TARDIS has a built-in magnetic compass. The TARDIS contains a room the size of a light aircraft hanger entirely filled with filing cabinets, which the Doctor organized during an obsessive phase some twenty years earlier. A big silver switch beneath the console releases a localized electromagnetic pulse, which the Doctor uses to destroy Sheridan's digital camera photographs of the TARDIS dematerialising. The TARDIS has a cleaning system that removes muddy boot prints from the floor. The TARDIS sickbay contains overhead medical scanners.

The head of UNIT in Tel Aviv is Colonel Amichai.

Caresh has two suns, Ember and Beacon, which it switches orbits between irregularly. Ember is more distant, so that when Caresh is in orbit around it, it enters a long, cold winter. Caresh is larger than Earth. Islands in the Southern Archipelago include Fell, Stakisha (which is connected to Fell by a partially natural causeway), Dassar, Shess, Dair, Orm and Uleth, which is the outermost island in the archipelago. The continent of Fayon exists on the opposite side of Caresh, unbeknownst to the islanders. The Careshi are humanoid, with permanently short hair, large irises, and no ear lobes. They can hold their breath for approximately eight-minutes underwater and may have prehensile toes. They have language-telepathy, although this doesn't work with written language. They don't have television, or any equivalent. They are more sensitive to hypnotism than humans and heal faster. Troy Game considers the music of Earth to be cacophonous. On taking to the sea at the end, Troy Game develops scaly skin and webbed fingers and toes, which appears to be a natural transformation for the Careshi. There are wolves on Cram Island on Caresh. There are sentient trees on Fell, which sprout thorns from their bark if attacked. The Careshi eat a writhing dark green plant resembling a bald cactus to heighten special awareness and suppress terror. There is only one other planet in the Careshi solar system, which is incapable of supporting life. Three centuries earlier, Caresh entered a protracted cold period, prompting the scientists of Dassar to build a machine enabling them to see into the future. A Time Lord lawyer named Remish had the High Council rule this in breach of the Time Lords monopoly on Time Travel and sent Solenti and Roche to shut it down. Roche became fascinated with the planet and began a two century long project to change the course of a neutron star, intending to use it to nudge Caresh into a stable orbit around Beacon. This would destroy the inhabitants of the Southern Archipelago, but would save the inhabitants of Fayon. Thanks to the Doctor's intervention, Caresh enters a stable, close orbit around Ember instead.

The Leshe are crystalline locust-like insects native to the icy regions of Caresh. They have six-feet wingspans. They are omnivorous. Leshe cannot survive immersion in water.

Dagusa is the only planet in the Milky Way with a sea that smells of cinnamon. It has a nine-hour day and a pronounced axial tilt that means that its arctic circle is only two thousand miles from its equator. Two point eight one Dagusan yards is approximately one Earth mile.

Erekan is a planet with flowers that thrive on cold, and has a continent-straddling glacier that crosses the equator forty-four times. Gau-Usu is a rocky world with a day equivalent to five Earth weeks, and has a ring system. Cern is the moon of a salmon-pink gas giant and is covered by savannahs.

Lanare is two-thirds Ocean and one-third land. It has three major moons and is inhabited by merfolk who are considered to be unintelligent, although Solenti believes that she understands the rudiments of their language.

Jeapes Syndrome is a common hazard for people who experiment with time travel. It is a reversal of the victim's timeline, usual lasting for a few days.

Links: The Doctor is still trying to get Jo to Metebelis Three (The Green Death). He refers to the Time Lords freeing him from exile (The Three Doctors). Jo mentions meeting herself in Day of the Daleks. She recalls Uxaerius (Colony in Space) and the TARDIS falling over a cliff in The Curse of Peladon.

One of the inmates of the asylum near Chichester in 1999 is called Judith Winters, and was permanently unhinged by an incident in Shoreditch in the 1960s, hinting that she is the little girl from Remembrance of the Daleks. The Doctor takes the recently regenerated Roche to the Zero Room in his TARDIS (Castrovalva). The Doctor notes that he has always wanted to drive a train (see Black Orchid).

Location: Dassar Island on Caresh, date unknown; Israel, 1972; Chichester, Bognor Regis and Nyetimber, July and August 1999; Dagusa, date unknown; an unnamed planet with three moons and a harsh blue sun, date unknown.

Unrecorded Adventures: Jo and the Doctor have visited a world entirely covered by ocean that is nowhere more than knee-deep. The TARDIS recently materialized in a small cave, blocking the door so that the Doctor had to dematerialise without ever finding out where he was, to his considerable frustration. The Doctor has taken Jo to see the first ever performance of Stravinski's The Rite of Spring. She has heard he hatching song of the choristers of Azathonal, which sing during the larval stage of their complex life cycle, after which they gain sentience but lose the ability to sing ever again. The Doctor also took Jo to visit the Imperial Palace of Cythera, where the TARDIS relocated due to a hailstorm because the sensitivity setting for the HADS (The Krotons) was too high. They also visited Erekan, where they were forced to wear eye-protectors due to the high levels of ultra-violet light.

The Doctor once helped Gilbert and Sullivan to complete Three Little Maids when they were up against a deadline, in gratitude for which they gave him a coat. He has also sailed with Themistocles at Salamis in a trireme.

The Bottom Line: The Suns of Caresh benefits from a witty, engaging prose style, but suffers from a shambolic, unfocused plot. Most of the novel consists of a horribly padded runaround on Earth, followed by a rushed trip to Caresh, which is nowhere near as interesting a planet as Paul Saint seems to think. The characterisation of the Doctor is also rather uneven, but overall The Suns of Caresh is entertaining and shows promise.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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