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162 'Sword of Orion'

CD adventure released February 2001, 4 episodes

Writer: Nicholas Briggs
Director: Nicholas Briggs

Roots: Alien (a derelict spacecraft with an enormous pilot's chair, a shady android with a link to the master computer, the desire to use the aliens/Cybermen for military purposes), as well as Blade Runner (android replicants who are 'more human' than the real thing, outlawed from human society). Charlie recalls Aladdin's Cave, Star Wars (Charlie describes the bazaar as 'a den of iniquity', sounds, star destroyer, "I've a bad feeling"), Quark, Grash goes Elvis ('we've got her all shook up!') Star Trek (ion storms, and a spaceship called 'Intrepid'!)

Intertextuality: Adapted from the Audio Visuals adventure 'Sword of Orion'.

Dialogue Disasters: 'You've got a high powered space vixen on your tail now, Ike.'

Dialogue Triumphs: 'Good old logic - the last refuge of a cybernetic scoundrel.'

Double Entendres: 'Don't go all soft on me, Digley!'

'That, Charley, is what a sonic screwdriver is for.' (blame Steven Moffatt!)

'You realize I can force you to take me?'

'Continue the revival program.'

Technobabble: Molecular bonding circuits keep one's feet to an anti-gravity flyer.

A surge of temporal feedback strikes the TARDIS temporal energy core.

A 'jigger' opens airlocks.

Continuity: Garazone Central was one of the first cities built within an artificial environment to 'float between the stars'. Because of natural condensation and an ancient air conditioning system it has precipitation inside it. At the time of the story it is well over a hundred years old, and is located well away from Earth authorities, although it has its own Space patrol. It contains a bazaar frequented by both humans and aliens, and horses (or horse-like aliens?) can be heard in the street scenes. In the Garazone bazaar the Doctor finds a gold-plated Cyberhead ('Revenge of the Cybermen'). Grav-pads are around the same size as a paving stone and may be hired. There is a Merchant Space Corps. Working in the area of the hulk were the salvage ships Vanguard, Magenta, Intrepid and Bulldog and the security craft Silver Jackal. Possibly standard, the Vanguard's life support system cabling is yellow and black, as are those of the Nerva space station in 'The Ark in Space'.

The Cyber War took place a long time ago, the Doctor saying that the Cybermen are now 'safely tucked away in their tombs on Telos' (he is uncertain of the pronunciation - 'Tee-los' or 'Tell-os'), and Deeva, having studied Galactic Military history, believes the race is 'extinct' (so the events of 'The Tomb of the Cybermen' haven't happened yet, nor those of 'Revenge of the Cybermen').  According to the Doctor, Cybermen can run faster than people. The Cybermen of this story have a leader and one working Cybermat, which is described as 'wormlike'. It has a powerful highly focused energy beam located in its 'nose' (suggesting that this is the same model as seen in 'Revenge of the Cybermen'), can burn through metal and leaves slight score marks wherever it travels. It transmits to other Cybermen, who receive its signal via a unit behind their faceplates [possibly related to the distress signal seen in 'Attack of the Cybermen', but notably absent here]. From this evidence, plus some sound effects, it could be inferred that the Cybermen in this story are related to or are indeed the same 'model' as those in 'Revenge of the Cybermen'. However, these Cybermen utilise Cyber-control powers over humans, as used by the Cybermen of 'The Moonbase', 'The Tomb of the Cybermen', 'The Wheel in Space', and 'Silver Nemesis''. Their voices recall those of 'Earthshock' and onwards. A partially revived Cyberman goes rogue (as in 'Attack of the Cybermen'). The Vanguard's computer has information on the Doctor's past encounters (in term's of Earth history) with the Cybermen. The Cyber-ship, a star-destroyer, originated from Telos from around the time that the Cybermen went into hibernation. They still regard Telos as their home and have computer records detailing the Doctor, intending to bring him to the planet for brain analysis. Their crippled ship is labeled a 'star destroyer' and contains cyberconversion booths - it was crippled by an ion storm, forcing its crew also into hibernation. Grash's emotional trauma disqualifies him as a candidate for cyberconversion, and he is terminated instead [it would appear that mental stability is required for the process to work successfully].

The Orion War, a conflict between humans and android life forms is part of the recent past, its effects still being felt to the common belief that there are, apparently, no androids outside of the Orion system. It is virtually impossible to tell androids from humans either behaviourally or physiologically. Their structure includes fibrous artificial nerve tissue and pain receptors as a self defense mechanism. Though they do not need to breathe, the extreme cold of space is enough to freeze their systems.

Vortisaurs live on temporal energy (which may contradict or complement their behaviour as witnessed by the Doctor in 'Storm Warning') - the Doctor says he isn't an expert on them. When Ramsay is separated from his natural environment, he develops an allergic reaction (his skin dries and swells around his eyes).

The Doctor allows temporal energy to fill the TARDIS and depressurises its environment, to aid Ramsay's recovery, and is able to patch the TARDIS scanner into the Vanguard's onboard cameras, enabling him and Charley to see what its crew can see. The handle of his sonic screwdriver doubles as a torch. The Doctor, unlike Charley, doesn't have to exercise to keep warm. He can deduce whether a space ship is traveling fast (ie at hyperspeed) just by placing his hand on a wall and sensing its vibrations.

Future History: Antigrav technology invented by Welford Jeffery several hundred years after 1930. Farther into the future space junk is scattered in 'backwaters' of the space lanes, including the Garazone System, but overuse of these leads to clogging and salvage operations by various companies and independent opportunists. The Orion War begins eight years previous to the events of this story, its origins in protests by androids (largely manufactured in factories in the Orion System) of mistreatment and the creation of android tribunals into such claims. In effect androids, along with some other genetic constructs, are outlawed from human society and returned to the place of their creation, issuing an ultimatum to the humans who lived there: accept android life forms as equals or leave. 'Ugly scenes' ensue, including demonstrations and riots, and when Earth authorities respond aggressively, events culminated in all out war.

Location: A Telosian star destroyer in the Garazone System, 'a very long time' after the Cyber Wars, perhaps contemporary with 'Revenge', and eight years into the Orion Wars. (Deeva Jansen died '300507 according to the Vanguard's computer)

Links: 'Storm Warning', 'The Tomb of the Cybermen', 'The Wheel in Space', 'The Ark in Space', 'Revenge of the Cybermen', 'Earthshock'

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor recognises 'disguised' Merchant Space Corps uniforms. He has been to the Garazone bazaar before.

The Bottom Line: 'Shut. It!'

With the televised series pretty much exhausting every option with the Cybermen, 'Sword' instead opts for a 'greatest hits', which perhaps offers more of a re-tread rather than a reinvention. It's also one of the few stories in which the Cybermen are the more interesting prospect, surrounded as they are by a crew of stock characters. Still, the reproduction and incidental music is quite superb, despite some bizarre cell-phone tunes in the bazaar scenes.

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