Walking to Babylon
Roots: There are references to the Bible, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Sherlock Holmes, Saddam Hussein, The Times, Aladdin, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Alice in Wonderland. There is a quotation from Herodotus.
Dialogue Disasters: "Transistors!"
Dialogue Triumphs: "I am prepared to marry you, if required."
Continuity: Interest Groups mentioned here include the Obscure and Unlikely Civilisations Interest Group, the Abnormal Psychology Interest Group, the Weird Aviation Interest Group, the Seriously Primitive Societies Interest Group, the Apathy Interest Group, the Wilderness Gardening Interest Group, the Temporal Interest Group, the Interpersonal Dynamics Interest Group, the Weapons Development Interest Group, the Primitive Cooking Interest Group, the Freak Accidents Interest Group, the Ke Chedani Interest Group, the Immortality Through Not Pissing Off God Interest Group, the Solar Mechanics Interest Group, the Creative Writing Interest Group, and the Celibacy Interest Group.
God briefly possesses Joseph in order to communicate with Benny in her rooms at St. Oscar's. I!qu-!qu-tala, WiRgo!xu and !Ci!ci-tel build a time machine that creates a Path from the Worldsphere to Babylon c570BC, in direct contravention of the Treaty with the Time Lords; God is forced to consider destroying the Path, and Babylon, to prevent a war. I!qu-!qu-tala, WiRgo!xu and !Ci!ci-tel create the Path to deliberately start a war between the Time Lords and the People, hoping that the People will lose and find it a valuable learning experience.
The Ikkaba were technologically advanced enough to rival the People, but spent most of their time writing poetry and committing suicide (see SLEEPY). Their relics are found in at least three galaxies, including the Milky Way and the galaxy containing the Worldsphere. The Ke Chedani are a teddy bear like species in the People's galaxy. They have been studying Ikkaban relics in their region and are trying to develop time travel.
Clarence is wounded when the Worldsphere's sun is briefly sabotaged; God repairs him.
Bernice is currently writing an article entitled "Devil Gate Drive: The Influence of The Descent of Inanna on Twentieth-Century Popular Culture". She also writes An Eye for Wisdom: Repetitive poems of the Early Ikkaban Period, published by St Oscar's University Press, 2595. She has written some notes for a paper entitled Alien Honour: from the Klingons to the Minbari. Bernice visits the Worldsphere again here: God sends the S-Stone to pick her up. She dons a tough brown shirt, industrial-strength jeans, leather jacket, boots, and white hat. She also carries a leather satchel and has her hair cut short. She orders a Shirley Temple and cheese-and-onion crisps on the S-Stone. For the party, she changes into black trousers, white shirt, and off-white jacket. After getting horribly drunk on Surprisingly Sober, she sobers up with Purge and orange juice. She brings a small model of the Worldsphere back to St Oscar's as a gift for Dr. Follett. She drinks Crimson Star Lager. She watches Danger on the Frontier: the Next Generation. Benny has read Edward Watkinson's Beer Before Bread? A Theory Revisited. She travels back to Babylon c570BC by picking up the Path on MD20879; God provides her with a translator unit. Benny learnt about the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft expedition at school. She drinks fermented palm sap in Babylon. She has sex with John Lafayette. She teaches a course on historical attitudes to sex at St Oscar's. At some point, Benny writes her Memoirs, which incorporate extracts from her diary. When she gets back to the Worldsphere, she eats chocolate ice cream and peanut butter. She visits Sara!qava whilst on the Worldsphere.
John Lafayette is a Victorian linguist with a complement of psi powers that allow him to see the Path and signs of temporal displacement around anyone who has travelled through time. The genes encoding for this psi-power based time sensitivity are genetically engineered; God hypothesises that this is a distant early warning system scattered throughout the Milky Way through its history by the Time Lords as a defence [or, it could be a result of interference by the Dæmons and the Sodality - see Child of Time]. Following the destruction of the Path, God arranges for one of the Time Lords to return him to his own time.
Mark Mbangi is one of Benny's colleagues in the History Department. Anne-Marie Rose is one of her students.
MD 20879 is inhabited by a small mining interest. The natives of the newly discovered world of Jalkejai resolve their conflicts via group sex.
The Shugs were wiped out after discovering time travel when one of them brought a lethal plague back from a previous century.
Links: The Also People. Clarence first appeared in Ghost Devices. There are references to the Ikkabans and Yemayans (SLEEPY). Benny recalls her first meeting with Jason and having a knife held against her throat on Jaris (Death and Diplomacy). Kapteynians are mentioned (Return of the Living Dad, The Room with No Doors). Benny tells Lafayette that she has met Martians (Legacy, Happy Endings, The Dying Days).
Location: Dellah, on board the S-Stone, the Worldsphere, and Planet MD 20879, c2594; Babylon, 12th December 1901 and c570BC.
Future History: "Walking to Babylon" is a song by Comes The Trickster, from the HvLP All the Way From Heaven, released 2465.
Ninshubur, Cosmo, K'tiansolnerilii: the Role of the Hero's Best Friend in the Literature of the Milky Way by Edward Watkinson is published by St Oscar's University Press in 2537. Watkinson's Glory Under the Mud was published by the same in 2524.
Watkinson is also the author of Translate This, You Invading Bastard.
Unrecorded Adventures: Benny was on Capella 4 in 2563, where she embarked on a solo dig to find the remains of Aurigan civilisation; she fell off a cliff, broke both her legs, and spent nearly a month crawling back to camp. She ate night crawlers, large spider-like creatures, to survive.
The Bottom Line: "We need suffering! How can we grow, change, evolve, survive without it? Just think how much is being learnt here in Babylon!" "I'm sure it's a lot easier to believe that when it's not you doing the suffering." Despite being the subject of an unintentionally hilarious rant by Lawrence Miles, Walking to Babylon is great. Orman, who collaborated with Aaronovitch on So Vile a Sin, is well suited to writing a direct sequel to The Also People, and the Babylonian scenes are great fun.