Citadel of Dreams
Roots: Ace compares the Doctor to James Bond's nemesis, Blofeld. The Doctor mentions Gog and Magog (from the Biblical books of Daniel and Revelation).
Continuity: Hokesh City has regions where different time zones are mixed up, and is dimensionally unstable. This is due partly to its proximity to the galactic hub, and also affects its human inhabitants. The City is alive, and its inhabitants are symbiotic. Prior to the arrival of humans on the planet, the Dracori were the sole inhabitants and grew no more than a metre in diameter. The inhabitants of Hokesh include dog-like animals native to the planet, known as jackals, and the Dracori. The Dracori are also natives of the planet and have hundreds of eyes and multiple pseudopodia. The weakest Dracori are still twice as strong as the strongest human. Once human colonists arrived and started to inhabit Hokesh, the Dracori were forced to evolve rapidly. The humans also became symbiotic, no longer needing to eat properly (they chew food and they spit it out). This disrupted the ecosystem of Hokesh, which started to die. The City requires an Avatar to give it form and allow it to connect to its inhabitants, on which it [psionically] feeds. Sloater, Hokesh's current Avatar, is made functionally immortal by his role, but has become old and tired and has lost interest, causing the City to lose coherence. It uses Joey Quine as an ersatz Avatar until it can breed a more suitable replacement. The Avatar can seize control of the City's inhabitants and can also consume them to provide itself with more energy. The colonists' descendants are no longer technically human - when Hokesh City regenerates, its inhabitants disintegrate, but the Doctor explains that they are not actually dead, since they were not exactly alive in the first place. The "human" inhabitants of Hokesh chew a weed called kamo leaf, presumably as a narcotic. Animals called hauler-beasts are used for food and leather, and are apparently descended from Donkeys brought by the colonists. In the future, when Joey Quine has become Magnus Solaris, he renames Hokesh Radiant City. The sewers of Hokesh empty out into an area around the city walls, known as the Outmarsh, where derelicts and outcasts dwell.
The Doctor wears a pale suit, presumably the same one he later dons in White Darkness [the absence of Benny sets this prior to Love and War. Ace's confidence and general demeanour suggest that this story takes place during the early New Adventures, probably between Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark and Nightshade]. He is still currently a vegetarian (see The Two Doctors) and is trying to force Ace to become vegetarian as well, without much success. Ace believes that the Doctor's clowning around is displacement behaviour, indicating that he is worried about something. He carries a device capable of jamming electromagnetic energy.
Ace has a new baseball bat (Remembrance of the Daleks). She carries half-a-kilo of explosive, which she uses to destroy a house.
Location: Hokesh City, in two separate time zones, date unknown [the future].
Future History: The human inhabitants of Hokesh City arrived on the unnamed planet on which Hokesh is located several centuries ago. Their City-dwelling descendants know Earth as Erth. Joey Quine is a psycholeptic, which means that he can go into a waking trance and alter reality.
The Bottom Line: The length constraints of the Novella format force Dave Stone to rein in his considerable imagination, resulting in an unusually streamlined and hugely satisfying piece of work. The Doctor and Ace are firmly in New Adventures territory, manipulating events from the background and thus allowing Joey Quine to take centre stage without creating a feeling that they are being neglected. The deliberately predictable twists are never explicitly explained, thus ensuring that the reader never feels patronized.