Roots: Romani and other Traveller culture. Zombie movies. Old MacDonald and Puff the Magic Dragon. Club Dead (Club Med). Christopher, the Travellers' priest may be named after author Christopher Priest. Benny refers to herself as a 'Tomb Raider' and discusses with the Doctor the Isley Brothers song 'This Old Heart of Mine'. The Doctor quotes Hamlet ('Alas Poor Yorick') and Mark 9:48 ("where the worm dieth not"). Oscar Wilde's quote "we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking up at the stars" is appropriated by Benny. The Doctor mentions Jimi Hendrix and paraphrases Rupert Brooke's The Soldier "A corner of Benny's head that is forever the Doctor" Plato's Phaedrus and James Joyce (the inspiration for Joycetown?) A Prairie Home Companion (Lake Wobegon) There are references to The Wizard of Oz and Pride and Prejudice. Benny borrows the axiom of history being written by the winning side to describe her diary (see: Continuity)
Intertextuality: The Doctor's post-it describing himself is cribbed from Terrance Dicks' own description of the Time Lord. In the prologue Death recalls dancing with the Doctor on the surface of earth's moon, a scene from Cornell's New Adventures debut Timewyrm: Revelation. The inspiration for Ace's real name of Dorothy is based on Ian Briggs' own adoption of the name in Dragonfire.
The planet Heaven reappears in Big Finish's Bernice Summerfield audio adventures, in particular the Axis arc and Death and the Daleks.
Goofs: How does Alish'k'gresnal's skeleton stay intact when all of its other tissues have died away?
Despite Benny's claim (and with some notable exceptions) owls are not social animals.
Dialogue Triumphs: "Everything's possible and some things just happen because we don't want them to'
"You know how to take all the fun out of archaeology, don't you?"
"It's sad, but to learn about anything you have to break it"
Double Entendres: "If the urge strikes you don't hesitate to rifle through my belongings to discover my innermost secrets and appliances"
"That wouldn't have anything to do with wanting to know if I'd been grabbed by the Hoothi, would it?"
Continuity: Heaven (originally called Atagicha) is at the edge of human and Draconian space in the Milky Way galaxy. Its former indigenous inhabitants the Heavenites were bipedal and bear-like with a matriarchal polyamorous society, but were infiltrated and used by the Hoothi as a slave race which they worshipped as gods in a ritual named by the Heavenites 'The Resurrection Dance'. Alish'k'gresnal (possibly a metronymic name, according to the Dopctor) was the Heavenite's greatest astronomer. The Time Lords visited Heaven in the past (Chancellor Loth?) Benny's archaeological team have been on Heaven for five months. Owls are dying out on Heaven.
The fungoid and roughly-humanoid Hoothi (pronounced "Hoot-eye") grew on an unnamed and unrecorded planet otherwise devastated by environmental collapse; they are a psychic race who operate via a greater group consciousness. Hoothi fibres almost transcend dimensions, can penetrate matter, and infect the living tissue of intelligent creatures to at first enslave them and ultimately seed them, feeding off the now-dead organism. Hoothi travel in great moon-sized spheres made of bone and skin inflated by poisonous gases; a chemical reactor at the heart of a Hoothi sphere keeps things in order, the sphere held together by psychic energy. Each sphere contains a group consciousness comprised of four Hoothi plus their slaves. They farm worlds, setting up planets like Heaven to lure other species into supplying vast quantities of dead tissue for feeding and propagation.
Millions of years in the past the Hoothi came to the attention of the Time Lords, who, having at first interacted with them later went to war with them over conflicting interests on the planet Tranmetgura. After a war in which the Hoothi used the planet's dead as an army, two-thirds of the world's population were wiped out and the Time Lord ambassador was infected also. Superior Time Lord technology and biochemistry ensured the end of the war, and the Hoothi fled before they could be timelooped. They have heard of the Doctor.
The credo of the Church of Vacuum contends that the Universe was created by mistake and is essentially without meaning, the death of the individual being the only way to numb the pain and express control over a pointless existence.
For over a million years the Monks of Felescar have sworn to preserve the most dangerous knowledge in the Universe. Their thousand-year old Papers are thought lost and include Rigelian recipes, a palimpsest of poetry (including that of Heavenites) and a Gallifreyan translation by one Castellan Lode, regarded as Gallifrey's greatest-ever literary historian.
Puterspace is a shared technological virtual world where users (human and others) can interface using a jack plug inserted into one's neck, or via special headsets. The TARDIS and Hoothi are able to physically land in Puterspace, and it is evident that, like other fictional dreamscapes, one's experiences in the virtual world can have immediate real world consequences (i.e. you can die in real life by being killed in Puterspeace)
The Travellers Jan, Christopher, Rhosa and Maire were soldiers in the Earth Imperial army, presumably all fighting in the Dalek Wars (Maire was a D-K - see: Intertextuality) Jan and Christopher were both affected by drug trials into psychokinetic substances - Jan became a pyrokinetic while Christopher, to protect the younger Jan, took his share and what was left of Jan's drugs to (presumably) achieve other telepathic powers. As a consequence of this drastic action Christopher's 'sex' melted away. Fiona is the only other named traveller, though she has no lines. Their gods include Eros, Diana and Death, as well as Time, and like some Earth's Travellers ride horses, worship gods and goddesses and have secret names. The Travellers' Wheel is on a pivot and shows time in the real world as well as in Puterspace, allowing the Travellers to commune with their gods. After his bodily death Christopher transforms himself into a slowly decaying program in Puterspace, vulnerable to [bandwidth, essentially.]
A Morpheus thorn can put people to sleep.
Professor Bernice 'Benny' Summerfield was born on the Earth colony Beta Capris thirty years ago (her birthday was the day before her meeting the Doctor and Ace). Her father was a figure in Spacefleet, although was rumoured to have deserted his duty. Benny was looked raised by her mother who died during a Dalek bombardment of the planet when Benny was seven. Benny was later shipped off to the military academy, but often went AWOL and lived in the woods nearby where girls would slip out to visit her for advice. Her location was ultimately betrayed by a boy, Simon, who was her first lover. Benny was made the youngest private in the academy, but jumped ship en route to Capella and, faking her qualifications, joined an archaeological unit. She professes to be an expert in Earth history circa the early Space Age (but is caught out by Ace). Benny once was attracted to a young research assistant called Ian whom she took dancing at the Elderstrasse ballroom - he told her he thought of her as an older sister. Benny has a tendency to annotate and embellish her diary with post-it notes, is good with a sword and refers to herself as an exhibitionist.
Ace prefers guns to grenades. Included among Ace's school exploits are smashing a boy's head across the desk after she thought he had made a face at her, setting fire to the curtains in the main school hall, and putting laxatives in the head's tea. When Ace was still at school she had an older, gay friend, called Jules who had a car and whom Ace thought of as an older brother. She kissed him once. On their second-to last ever meeting Jules turned up outside her school one morning and the pair drove to Scrane End, Lincolnshire. On the way back, they followed some lights in the sky along a road that seemed to go nowhere but led to a prison. Julian died two years later, presumably of an AIDS-related illness, and his consciousness was absorbed by the Hoothi. . Jules had a telescope in his back garden and one evening, Ace looked through it and saw Saturn. Jules told Ace they'd both go into space one day
Ace has already done most of the things she said she'd never do, including getting engaged. It's implied that Ace's father's name is Liam and that he travels a lot. In his absence, her mother Audrey (see: Links) had a string of male "friends" who kept her distant from Ace. Ace's real name Dorothy was given to her after the main character in The Wizard of Oz. Ace's Gran knew some homosexuals from her time in the navy and thought them very brave.
The Doctor says he's not the type to own a train set and admits to Benny that he likes chaos, big explosions, and rebellions. He has his sonic screwdriver [but appears to abandon or misplace it again before Shadow of the Scourge]
Future History: Elsewhere, the Dalek war still rages, though Earth is, according to Christopher, winning. In the 26th Century, they still use sleeping bags, tents.
Untelevised Adventures: A future Doctor attached a post-it note to the Papers of Felsecar, telling humans what it was called on a felt tip note in Draconian on the Gallifreyan/Heavenite translation. The Third Doctor spent ten years dying of radiation poisoning in the TARDIS whilst travelling back to Earth at the end of Planet of the Spiders, a memory of dread for the Doctor thereafter.
Links: The Brain of Morbius, The Three Doctors ("Contact!" "Liberty Hall, Professor"), Planet of the Spiders, Frontier in Space. Sara Kingdom and Dodo Chaplet, as well as (implicitly) Susan. The Curse of Fenric (Ace's grandmother)
Location: The planet Heaven, during the Earth Empire (the novelisation places it at 2570)
The Bottom Line: Jac Raynor adapts Paul Cornell's novel with sensitivity and alarming economy - stripped of the novel's slow lyricism. sometimes to the deficit of normal development of relationships (in particular Ace and Jan's) Chekhov's Gun is also well-posited in the first act. Truth told, there are some casualties, including an abbreviated developing mutual trust between the Doctor and Benny and, sadly, a convincing love affair for Ace. In the latter Jan still is unconvincing as the boy who could replace the Doctor, and Love and war's release so soon after the Black and White TARDIS trilogy suffers somewhat for its similar ending. Despite this, the Hoothi and Phaedrus are brilliantly realised, and it's clear that this adaptation was a love affair made real. Recommended.