The Indestructible Man

Roots: The works of Gerry Anderson, most notably UFO and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (The Myloki are inspired by both the Mysterons and the aliens from UFO; Captain Grant Matthews is an analogue of Captain Scarlet, whilst Karl Taylor a.k.a. Captain Death is an analogue of Captain Black; PRISM is clearly inspired by UFO's SHADO and Captain Scarlet's SPECTRUM, as it's various bases; Bishop is named after Ed Bishop who played Straker in UFO; and everyone wears uniforms based on Anderson's various puppets). In addition there is references to others of Anderson's works; Sharon Island and Global Response are of course based on Thunderbirds' Tracey Island and International Rescue; Boffin is based on Brains; the Manta is a nod to Stingray; and there is a joke on page 245 that references Space: 1999 ("It's as if that part of the moon has drifted off into space").

Quatermass (the energy network around the Earth and the beams of white light that obliterate whichever parts of Earth they touch); Mad Max (the situation in Australia). Bishop drives an Aston Martin. There are references to Concorde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dante, Charles Dickens, Rip Van Winkle, Hercule Poirot, Achilles, Scott Walker, Charles Darwin, Howard Hughes, and Frankenstein.

Continuity: The Myloki are other-dimensional. The "search lights" they send down to Earth are so alien that they contaminate wherever they touch, mutating organic tissue and leaving what the Doctor describes as residue behind; he likens it to a cancer. The Myloki can control humans, possessing them so that they become puppets. They seem to be stronger and more resilient than normal humans, but this is largely because they don't register self-damage and the Myloki drive them beyond normal human tolerances. Following the withdrawal of the Myloki, the possessed humans became devoid of anything except basic animal instincts and were dubbed "Shiners". The Myloki can also duplicate humans by replicating and improving DNA. They only ever duplicated two humans; the first was the mindless, unstoppable Karl Taylor, a.k.a. Captain Death, the second was Captain Grant Matthews, a replica so perfect that he retained the mind of the original and rebelled against the Myloki, proving instrumental in their defeat. Matthews feels pain, but can heal any injury no matter how severe, making them indestructible and gaining Matthews the nickname "The Indestructible Man". Taylor is effectively dead, his body not radiating heat and therefore invisible to infra-red systems. He can operate machinery and vehicles, and has powers of deliberation and improvisation, but it is unclear whether or not he is sentient. Empowered by the Myloki, his body can generate sufficient heat to melt concrete. Both he and Matthews have super human strength, enough to allow Taylor to break out of his Titanium prison. The Doctor hypothesizes that unlike the Shiners and Taylor, Matthews is actually hybrid, containing something of the Myloki; because humans and Myloki are so unalike, they were forced to return for him. The Doctor suggests that the Myloki reality and this one are so antipathetic that they cannot co-exist, forcing Matthews' retrieval. He theories that they are "Everything that we are not. Literally. A coterminous existence, entirely opposite to all that we understand." He also suggests that both Myloki and humans are essential to the other, but cannot interact.

The Doctor is shot through the head, the bullet passing through his frontal lobe and skull. During the subsequent fall, he sustains a broken nose, jaw, right femur, and collarbone. This triggers a regeneration, but the Shiner tissue injected into him by the SILOET doctors block this, causing him to heal instead over a six month period. His body rejects the Shiner tissue, but whilst it is within him he makes contact with the Myloki. Having recovered, he cheerfully consumes tea, biscuits, sandwiches, and a full roast dinner. Whilst visiting Barbados, he discovers that he likes peppered grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves. He eats a dish containing shrimp and fresh vegetables prepared by Matthews on Sharon Island, followed by eight banana fritters and ice cream. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe stole SILOET uniforms from SKYHOME when the TARDIS materialized there. Mrs. Craig gives the Doctor a straw boater with a half-chewed rim.

During the six month period in which he believes the Doctor to be dead, Jamie becomes a soldier in Mackenzie's army. He wears a uniform and regular cuts his own arm to keep himself awake. He starts smoking during this period. He misses Victoria.

During the six months following the Doctor's shooting, Zoe becomes an executive slave in West London, working for Mark Khan. She drinks tea, but dislikes it and can't get used to it. Wine makes her giddy. She eats a spicy linguine in a restaurant with Mark. Mark Khan proposes to her and she plans to marry him before SILOET soldiers shoot him and she is reunited with the Doctor. Following Mark's death, she tries to commit suicide twice. Whilst working on SKYHOME, Zoe dons the regulation uniform, consisting of silver mini-skirt, stylish boots, tight-fitting Lycra top, and an anti-static purple wig. She has a birthday whilst working for SILOET.

The TARDIS has voice-interaction circuits, although they have been broken for centuries.

Links: Alex Storm read classified documents from the twentieth century containing references to the Doctor, including accounts of the Mondas asteroid (The Tenth Planet), the Post Office Tower in London (The War Machines), the rise and fall of International Electromatics (The Invasion), the evacuation of London (Invasion of the Dinosaurs), and a report from Lethbridge-Stewart about a man in a hospital bed who changed his appearance (Spearhead from Space). Zoe recalls life on board the Wheel (The Wheel in Space). References to a failed global teleportation system date The Seeds of Death to before this story. There are references to Macra (The Macra Terror), Cybermen, Axons (The Claws of Axos), Daleks, a junkyard (An Unearthly Child), Ian and Barbara, big insects (The Web Planet), Doc Holliday (The Gunfighters), Tibetan monks (The Abominable Snowmen), Ben and Polly, and seaweed (Fury from the Deep).

Location: The Moon, 2968AD; London, SKYHOME, OCEAN FLOOR, Barbados, the borders of Brazil and Venezuela, Sharon Island in the South China Sea, and the Moon, 2096AD.

Future History: The war with the Myloki begins in 2066 and ends in 2068, when Grant Matthews detonates a nuclear warhead in the ruins of the Myloki construct on the moon. The duplicate of Matthews replaced the original six months after the war began. The Myloki construct on the Moon was destroyed on first contact, marking the beginning of the war, and subsequently regenerated itself until Matthews' attack. Karl Taylor, a.k.a. "Captain Death" destroyed New York with dirty nuclear bombs during 2066 or 2067; he is trapped in specially hardened concrete which is then encased in a titanium globe and placed at the bottom of the sea during 2067. Prior to the war, Earth was a rich and technologically advanced world, with internal strife and divisions as well as religious fundamentalism largely overcome. PRISM technology was based on developments by the Sharon Consortium, which provided PRISM with Lunar Base, SKYHOME, KINGFISHER, OCEAN FLOOR and SEWARD. SEWARD (Space Early Warning And Radar Detection) is a space station in orbit around Jupiter. KINGFISHER is a sub orbital submarine launcher, from which the airborne half (KING) can separate. SILOET's arsenal include mini Z-bombs (The Tenth Planet).

Global Response was a secretive rescue service run by the wealthy Texan engineering tycoon Buck Sharon and his five sons. They had four vehicles powered by nuclear fusion reactors, plus a comsat designated Lightning 5. PRISM took the organisation over once it worked out who ran it; co-creator Professor Dwight Graham, a.k.a. Boffin, who designed the Lightnings, joined PRISM and Buck Sharon committed suicide. Towards the end, the massive green Lightning 2 crashed in the South American rain forest.

UNIT still existed during the mid-twenty-first century. Exposé Message is Clear by former PRISM officer Neville Verdana is published in 2070 and reveals details of the war with the Myloki.

The UN banking system collapsed suddenly on 29th August 2068 as a result of the financial demands inflicted on it by PRISM. PRISM was collapsed into a manageable state, a watchdog organisation dubbed SILOET. By 2096 the collapse of the world economy has left the world largely in ruins. Balkanised governments are brought back to control individual nation states when intercontinental travel was discontinued, civil war breaks out in France, Japan invades New Zealand, and the North American Legion goes to war with the Deep Southern States whilst the Texas Republic sells nuclear weapons to the highest bidder. The Middle East is largely dominated by the United Zion Arab States. Windsor and Slough are smoking ruins. Several cities are salvaged and become small nation states, including London, Seattle, Rome, Sydney, and Tokyo. London operates on a system of slavery, the salves providing a committed work force that works hard without rewards. SILOET has a London base in the old British Film and Television Corporation building. Australia has largely been spared decline due to comparative wealth and a well-dispersed population; a few bike gangs barely contained by the MFP police department mainly cause their problems.

The Bottom Line: 'How do you kill an Indestructible Man?' A novel that effectively combined Doctor Who and Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation serials had the potential to be a ludicrously camp exercise with tongue firmly in cheek; instead, Messingham produces a gripping novel that paints a grim portrait of a dystopian future reeling from the effects of an incomprehensible war, and works astonishingly well. The characterisation of the regulars, including the notoriously difficult to capture Second Doctor, is superb, and the fact that this particular Doctor-companion combination, which always seemed to flit through space and time having tremendous fun, is put through the ringer is rather disturbing. All in all, very impressive, and despite his relatively brief appearance, the lethal Karl Taylor is a memorably terrifying adversary.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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