Island of Death

Roots: There are various references to Buddhism, including Tillich's Ground of Being. There are references to Tesco, Chanel No. 5, Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle and Strand magazine, Alice in Wonderland, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Mary Celeste, Errol Flynn, Wittgenstein, Jung, Assagioli, Nelson, Shakespeare's Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear, Colonel Blimp, Margot Fonteyn, The Wizard of Oz, the Beatles, Tatler, Fats Waller, General Wolfe and the Heights of Abraham, Alka-Seltzer, the Mona Lisa, Einstein, Gaius Julius Caesar, Fantasia, Betty Grable, the Famous Five, Peter Pan, and Gulliver's Travels.

Goofs: The figure on the cover is presumably supposed to be a Skang, but looks nothing like the description given of the creatures, leading some fans to assume that the Autons might be putting in an appearance.

Technobabble: "A radiated matrix of modulated psycho-magnetic beams."

Dialogue Disasters: "These naughty people must not be evading our grasp."

"Oh, sugar!"

"I'm a silly ungrateful mare."

"We're going to look a proper lot of onions."

"Brig...!"

"There's no reason any more for me not to be frank." Which inevitably results in an explanation of the villains' plans...

The woefully unsubtle discourse on Buddhism on Page 149 and of all of Jeremy's dialogue.

Continuity: The Skang claims to be symbiotic, but is actually a space parasite. It is a psychic organism that travels through space by the interaction of gravity and its own psychic energy; Hilda describes it is a colony of proto-Skang with one consciousness and one purpose, which is to seek out planets with intelligent races, which can feed its need for psionic energy. The colony, which is referred to as the Great Skang, has virtually no physical form. It releases spawn which find their way to the planet and gravitate towards the most vital of the dominant species, absorbing and physically transforming them, and creating a telepathic illusion of their original bodies; in reality, transformed humans have humanoid bodies and the bulbous insectoid heads of Skang, with bronze skin. They are at least partially a group mind, so that transformed humans separated from the others weaken and eventually die. Each "egg" from the colony settles in the hypothalamus of the infected being, and takes over the host body cell by cell as it grows. In the process, it also takes control of the brain cells and neural pathways, transforming the personality so that the host welcomes the transformation. The Great Skang needs to use gravity waves to travel on Earth from its location behind the Moon, since using psionic energy alone is too costly. The bodies of Skang/human hybrids have wings and are far less dense than human bodies, allowing them to fly. Individual Skangs are sexless. They feed on humans, absorbing the binding energy from their bodies and excreting the water. The manifestation of the Great Skang on Earth is seventy feet high and amorphous.

Time Lords can separate the operation of the two hemispheres of their brains. Regeneration causes unpredictable gaps in memory.

For unexplained reasons the Doctor is attempting to create an electronic means of inter-species communication, which he tests on goldfish; ludicrously, he uses this device to learn how to communicate with whales. He again uses the alias John Smith. When he was at the Academy he kept a pet flubble hidden under the bed during his first year; he was nearly caught when it came on heat and stared singing her mating song. The Doctor and his friends one put their teacher in a time loop so that he relived the same lesson for a whole day. He was taught quantum mechanics at infant school. He and Sarah drink hot rum toddy after being rescued from the sea. He later drinks port.

Sarah lives in an attic bedsitter near Hampstead Heath. Her mother is the genteel daughter of a Harrogate Vicar, and her father is from Liverpool. Sarah goes undercover as Yorkshire stereotype Daisy Peabody. Her usual morning routine consists of a jog around Hampstead Heath, a breakfast of wholemeal toast and banana, a skim through the Guardian and the Mail (she reads both for a balanced view of the news), and a cup of coffee. She eats a ham sandwich. She wrote a story on Space World, but the Brigadier put a D-notice on it (The Paradise of Death). She studied General Science at school, which included biology and entomology. He teacher was called Miss Prosser and nicknamed Old Prodnose. Sarah isn't especially fond of Indian food. She has a favourite Chinese restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue. She buys a short white tennis frock in Bombay. She later wears shorts and a shirt over her bikini whilst on board the Hallaton. Five years previously she had a relationship with a Royal Navy officer named Sammy Brooks, who had red-gold hair. Since they split up, he has been given command of the Cuffley. She visited Bangkok whilst tracking down the Brewster boy after he faked his own suicide. She gets seasick. She is a very poor swimmer; she started having lessons as a child, but was forced to stop when her father lost his job and couldn't afford them. Her Aunt Norah used to have a poodle named Fudge. She drinks beef tea whilst on board the Hallaton. She loses her Olympus camera when she is thrown overboard. John Betjemen is her favourite modern poet. She attended St Margaret's Grammar School.

The Brigadier drinks scotch on board the plane to Bombay and later downs half a bottle on the Hallaton whilst under the influence of the Skang. The Brigadier was an only child; his mother died when he was young, leaving his father and Granny McDougal to raise him. He was raised in Simla, India, until he was eight, when he left for prep school in England and never saw his mother again. His Granny McDougal died when he was thirteen. His father was a Colonel. Most of the Brigadier's men in UNIT are ex-SAS professionals. The Brigadier won the Public Schools Middleweight Cup during his last year at Fettes. He dresses in cotton slacks and open-necked shirt whilst on the Hallaton. He has never been interested in sightseeing; he was once dragged to see the portrait of the Sutherland Christ in Coventry Cathedral by an enthusiastic girlfriend. He considers his childhood summer holidays in the hills of India with his mother the happiest times of his life.

The relativity circuit of the TARDIS' temporal balancing governor is malfunctioning. If the temporal governor cuts out completely and the back-up circuit fails, the TARDIS' acceleration into the past increases exponentially; if it exceeds six and a half googol years per metasecond, it would become irreversible and the TARDIS would pass through the Big Bang. The temporal recursion algorithm is the default setting for the relativity circuit.

Jeremy's Uncle Teddy owns thirty percent of the company that publishes Metropolitan, hence Jeremy's job. Jeremy's grandmother left him a generous trust fund, which matured when he turned eighteen. He rents a flat in Hampstead; his address is 115 South Hill Park Square, NW3. Jeremy's father was Master of the Ferney and died when Jeremy was six; as a child, his family used to go to his father's flat in Cannes every summer. Jeremy once stayed at a five-star hotel in Tenerife during a February. He smokes cigarettes. He attended Holbrook school, where the Bulstrode gang bullied him. He likes gorillas. He once lost his wallet in Burlington Arcade and had to catch the tube home rather than a taxi. His mother has always promised him a Mercedes when he passes his driving test, which so far he has not. His Uncle Teddy took him to Olympia when he was ten so see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Ice.

Major Chatterjee of the Indian Army is UNIT's liaison officer in Bombay.

A sneg is a kind of hairy newt. A flubble is a Gallifreyan animal resembling a small-nosed, six-legged koala. A schlenk blossom is a Gallifreyan flower.

Hilda Hutchens is the author of The Way of the Skang; she previously wrote Quantum Qualia, The Emptiness of the Busy Mind, and Empirical Epistemology and won the 1970 Nobel Prize for Philosophy.

Links: Jeremy Fitzoliver first appeared in The Paradise of Death, as did Spaceworld and Parakon, to which there are numerous references. He reappeared in The Ghost of N-Space and there is a reference to Sarah's trip to Sicily. The Brigadier's wartime visit to Crete was seen in Deadly Reunion. Sarah recalls being trapped in medieval England (The Time Warrior). There are references to Yeti (The Web of Fear), Cybermen (The Invasion), Autons (Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons), and Daleks. The Doctor muses that he's always fancied cricket, a reference to the Fifth Doctor's interest in the sport.

Location: London, England; Bombay, India; and Stella Island in the Indian Ocean, over several days in September [1972] (the Hallaton arrives at Stella Island on the 20th September). Africa and the bed of the Pacific Ocean, date unknown.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor claims to have met Charles Darwin. He once had a sneg stew in a bistro on Sirius Two. He was at a performance of Garrick's King Lear. He nearly lost a leg to a Sclaponian dragonfly because he was idly daydreaming about the voluptuous wife of the Sclaponian Grand Vizier. He has met Hilda Hutchens before, in Oxford.

Several months prior to this story, the Doctor visited Athens and spent some time with Archimedes.

The Doctor spent at least two weeks in Brooklyn in 1925, where he tracked down Studs Maloney, a time traveller who had established a lucrative business importing rot-gut hooch from the twenty-fifth century.

The Bottom Line: After the reasonably entertaining, if unspectacular, first half of Deadly Reunion, readers might be forgiven for expecting an entertaining romp from Letts' next novel, if nothing else. Instead, The Island of Death is a tedious exercise in cliché propped up with mind-numbing trivia about naval practice, and some sequences, most notably the Doctor and Sarah's rescue from drowning by killer whales, which can only be read with a sense of stunned disbelief. The tepid prose is bad enough, but what is really unforgivable is that yet again Letts fails to capture the regular characters from an era in which he was heavily involved. In short, a disaster.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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