The Time Travellers

Roots: There are references to Salvador Dali, Dick Tracy, the Magna Carta, the Spanish Armada, the Battle of Waterloo, The Great Escape, James Bond, Winston Churchill, and William the Conqueror.

Dialogue Triumphs: "We change history every time we step out of the doors of the ship."

Continuity: WOTAN created the original alternate timeline here in 1968, when it succeeded in its initial goals; as a consequence, telephony and all other forms of broadcasting have been illegal in Britain since 1968. WOTAN was destroyed in 1969, but everyone whose minds it had controlled were left brain-damaged and worldwide war broke out in the aftermath due to the damage caused [The implication is that this is in fact the "proper" version of history, which the Doctor changes when he defeats WOTAN - when the novel ends, this timeline is still in place at the end of the novel and remains so until the events of The War Machines]. The second alternate timeline branches off the first and was created by the British Army's discovery of Dalek time travel technology in 1972, South Africa is at war with Europe and has just taken France. The South Africans have traded with "machine people" living at the South Pole for more advanced technology including cyberguns [(see The Tenth Planet) Obviously in this timeline, Mondas still broke up, leaving Cybermen stranded in Antarctica]. There is a nuclear power station in "the Dome" in London. Passing through the Loop creates temporal duplicates of a person, representing different possibilities.

The Doctor is already planning to find a permanent home for Susan, due his concern that the Time Lords will catch up with them (see The Dalek Invasion of Earth). He can drive a car.

Susan never wears a watch, and appears to be able to sense the passing of time instinctively.

Ian's national service number is 15110404; he was a Private. He once taught identical twins, who used their anonymity to wind their teachers up; Ian was forewarned that one of them had a mole just above his lip and that the other had darker eyebrows, and was always able to tell them apart. Ian once asked Barbara out for a drink after a parents evening that dragged on until late. Ian has had training in the martial arts. He and Barbara drink beer in London in the alternate 1972. The Loop creates two temporal duplicates of Ian; one of these is married to Barbara in his timeline, and is shot dead on arrival in the London - the original Ian keeps his wedding ring. The second duplicate travels back to 1948 to try and find the TARDIS, and ends up living a vagrant life in the vicinity of the submerged ship until 1972 in the alternate timeline; he spends some time in prison and, unable to prove his identity, is given the name John. He tries to contact the Doctor in Totter's Lane in October 1963, but the old man assumes that he is a beggar and gives him money, and Ian lacks to confidence to explain himself by this time. He takes up smoking at some point. After leaving the Doctor at the end of The Chase, Ian and Barbara return home on 26th June 1965. The Doctor gives them an envelope of coins and notes, including a twenty-pence coin minted in 1982.

Barbara's mother Joan's racist attitudes were overturned when she saw newsreel footage of the passive civil rights resistance in America. Barbara is forced to kill a man here, by stealing his knife and stabbing him in the back with it. Barbara is not a big drinker, and used to make a single spritzer last all evening.

TARDISes are built specifically never to change history, hence the chameleon circuit, as long as the occupants never step outside and merely observe events from the scanner. If the TARDIS is neglected for a long time, it shuts down systems, updates its appearance, and tries to pass unnoticed. The TARDIS spends twenty-four years at the bottom of the Thames after being pushed through the Loop in the alternate 2006 and ending up in 1948. The TARDIS has previously disguised itself as a Corinthian Column and a Christmas Tree.

Links: This story takes place somewhere between The Aztecs and The Dalek Invasion of Earth, probably between The Reign of Terror and Planet of Giants and after City at World's End. The War Machines, The Tenth Planet, The Chase. Scientists in the alternate 1972 use Dalek technology found at Coal Hill School (Remembrance of the Daleks). Ian suddenly gains an insight into what Susan meant when she used dimensions D and E in class in An Unearthly Child. Barbara notes that she learnt her lesson about changing history in Mexico (The Aztecs). Barbara's Mum Joan first appeared in Short Trips Companions: A Long Night.

Location: London, England, 14th July 1968, 17th July 1948, 29th September 1948, 14th May 1954, 11th October 1962, 1st November 1963, and 16th March 1964; London, England, 16th September 1967; London, England, 26th June 1965; London, England, 24th June 2006, in an alternate timeline in which the British Army developed time travel technology based on the TARDIS; 28th July 1966, 16th September 1967, 18th April 1971, and several days from 15th October, 1972, in an alternate timeline in which WOTAN's plan was partially successful.

The Bottom Line: "That's why you don't change history. It's not that you can't, it's that you won't. It breaks everything up." After the recent spate of alternate history stories in Doctor Who novels, another one hardly seemed necessary, but The Time Travellers makes thoughtful and interesting use of the series' usual model of time travel. The decision to set much of the story in a timeline negated later on during The War Machines is a novel idea and well utilized, and the two different possible futures presented here are both dark and disturbing; the wasted, vagrant life of the duplicate Ian is nightmarish. The characterisation of the regulars is spot-on, although many of the supporting characters are forgettable; nevertheless, a promising debut for Guerrier.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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