Monday, August 31, 2015

Electric Gypsy Excerpt

Given the sheer dearth of any internet evidence that Electric Gypsy (an unauthorised biography of Doctor Who) - ISBN 9781-894959-89-6 - actually exists, it would not be unknown for people to think I've made the bloody book up. As if I'd ever go for a cover like that.

So, to prove the point - and convey the arse-destroying ghastliness of the actual work - I reprint the preface by Mr. Dave Thompson (c) (you're welcome to it) - which will surely prove I'm not making this up. I trust anyone who knows my writing style would know I am physically incapable of writing in this manner, and should equally be horrified that this is probably the best part of the book.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review: Electric Gypsy


Without doubt one of the most pretentious, arrogant, ill-thought out and downright plagiaristic books that my frontal lobe considers affronted to have ever witnessed. I should sue the publishers for promising "crucial revelation" and "candid insight" when instead some cutup headlines from the average Decades book in bold font are the closest on offer. I mean, the author (the "best-selling" Dave Thompson who has autobiographized Kurt Cobain, John Travolta and David Bowie, apparently) has seen the original edition of Lance Parkin's History of the Universe and thought "wow! I could do that!" without realizing that the difference is Lance was spicing up an otherwise tedious chronology - it's more fun to have Jago's police statement about the events of Talons when someone's arguing about whether this is set in 1888 or 1890.

But this is just unfunny, condescending pap. I shall itemize it so no one ever needs to read it.

Introduction - apparently the Dalek Van Stattan captured had this book in its backpack (wtf?) but it was nicked and accidentally sold at a Time-Slip convention before the mighty Terry Nation deciphered it and learned it was actually written in Klingon. After five years, this book has been compiled for anyone who would want to read us but only total loser freaks would ever want it to make sense and anyone who thought Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower cause it was all a dream sucked because, um, fuck you, that's why.

A Note About Dating (Planet Earth Edition) - all dates were nicked from Lance Parkin anyway. And yes, they do this "Planet Earth" Hitchhiker's shit like it went out of fashion and died of shame.

A Note About Sources (Planet Earth Edition) - please don't sue the author. He has so little in his life.

Index of Publication - a list of fake newspapers vaguely Whoish - Bandril News, Daily Dulkis Herald, Gallifrey Mail, Zygon Times, Rupert Morlox's Space Dirt - Gossup from the Galaxies and sweet fuck he actually thinks any of this ANY OF IT is clever.

Preface - The One That Got Away - apparently the Rani (who's married to Davros) writes Who fanfic, and in this the Tenth Doctor finds a graveyard for all his companions. He meets Ray from Delta and the Bannermen who is apparently the only person in all history he didn't choose as a companion, so she's not dead. Or something. This is atrociously poorly written and means nothing to any casual reader.

The Early Years - the Doctor growing up on Gallifrey. Exclusives revealed

-the Doctor fell in love with Earth when an Academy school trip took him to Heathrow Airport
-a classmate called "Sassafras" hated him for being a boringteacher's pet
-because the Doctor had natural intelligence but poor grades, the Academy let him join after they mindwiped him first, so he doesn't remember his real name, family, et all and generally none of the explanations make sense.
- he became known as "the Doctor" because only Time Lords who pass their exams get titles, if he'd flunked he would have had a normal name like Runcible. I won't even ask how this explains Romana.
- Eric's Sawards Birth of a Renegade is canon.
- the Rani was the Doctor's lover he got her pregnant, but he couldn't be arsed to save her when she got exiled. Even the Master thought that was a dickish move.
- the Rani's baby was taken by social custody, but it eventually spawned Susan who psychically recognized her grandfather when he dropped by the school to give a lecture. He recognized her too.
- all the Doctor's namedropping came from adventures he had before leaving Gallifrey full time. After Morbius went crazy, the Time Lords closed the borders so he had to choose to go or stay.
- during these journeys, he travelled with John and Gillian who mistook him for their grandfather (a man the Doctor was friends with) but why the TARDIS was stuck in a police box shape - and it wasn't even his type 40 yet - is apparently down to him crossing timelines and "wibbly-wobbly stuff".
- bizarrely, all the Neville Main comics are canon but everything after it is not.
- the Doctor was arrested for these adventures but blamed it all on John's stupidity and the Time Lords let the Doctor off with a warning.

- Terrance Dicks' Warmonger is not canon.
- the CIA focussed their attention on the Doctor after he raised a stink about miniscopes (which apparently were built by Lurmans and anyone who says otherwise can go fuck themselves)
- the TARDIS belonged to Marnal (the Master's dad)
- none of the untempered schism stuff apparently happened
- their first visit was to post-revolutionary France where the locals immediately recognized the Doctor and Susan as space-travellers from another dimension here to help the aristos. No, I don't buy it either.

"The First Doctor" - making you wish they'd wiped all the eps.

- the local Gallifreyan press complained when the Doctor visited the BBC
- Za was apparently conscious enough to badmouth the Doctor, despite his claims of being unconscious, actually every story seems to have people spilling their guts to the papers at having met the TARDIS crew even when huge parts of the plot revolve around them never meeting or knowing of their existence.
- The Masters of Luxor is canon, and occurs before the first Dalek story
- The Dalek Invasion of Earth occurs in 1964 and everyone remembers it in the UNIT era. Okayyyy. Oh wait, every story occurs in the year it was screened. Give me strength!
- there was apparently an extra companion in Galaxy 4 no one remembers
- Mavic Chen handled a very rubbish negotiations with the Daleks, simply because it let him mock the mid-90s Middle East peace treaty WHICH IS SO FUCKING FUNNY!!!
- the entry on The Massacre is literally taken from wikipedia.
- Steve Lyon's Salvation is partially canon, but set in a different year to the one in the book.
- eight pages are devoted to The Ark, because the Monoids are immigrant workers, innit?
- Scotland Yard were baffled by the death of a tramp who had been beaten by a crowd of spanner-wielding maniacs before his body was dumped on the doorstep of a warehouse full of spanner-wielding people who had no reason to be there. They really had nothing to do that day...

"The Second Doctor" - making you wish they'd wiped all the eps and salt the earth at the BBC.

- apparently everyone knew the things found on Vulcan were Daleks except the colonists themselves, which means no one bothered to say "You really ought to be careful of those things" and thus are directly responsible for the massacre that followed.
- Jamie went on a website saying he hated the Doctor
- though authorities realized Zaroff were in Atlantis, they refused to rescue him. Fair enough.
- Evil of the Daleks gets seven pages. No real reason, except saying "let's turn mankind evil" takes a really long time in Skaroine newspapers.
- None of the backstory given to Tomb of the Cybermen actually adds to it. Though apparently Professor Parry promised to eat a pick-axe if he found a live Cyberman. Wonder if he went through with it?
- Enemy of the World is covered by a paragraph on white wine. I genuinely have no idea why.
- The Great Intelligence had an interview in which he didn't explain a damn thing he did.
- Apparently in WW2, a mysterious Neanderthal-like creature escaped from the Fortress into the tunnels. No idea what this refers to. None whatsoever.
- Fury of the Deep is covered by comments on the sonic screwdriver. You would have no idea what happened in this story, or what happened to Victoria, or even where Ben and Polly had gone.
- The Mind Robber isn't canon. Niether is The Krotons. Nor are any MAs, PDAs or Telos Novellas after Ben and Polly leave.
- the Brigadier sweet-talks journalists in the pub and denies aliens exist. That'll help be taken seriously.
- The Gallifreyan press covered every single moment of the Doctor's trial, except for the bits with Jamie and Zoe.
- Season 6b consists entirely of the Doctor writing under the wallpaper for Sally Sparrow.

"The Third Doctor" - because it wasn't smug enough already.

- three pages of the wikipedia entry of the Third Doctor are reprinted verbatim
- that stuff with the Autons breaking out of shop windows and killing people? Never happened, it was all a hallucination from bad eggs and sour milk.
- apparently British journos were told by Carrington that Mars Probe 7 was under alien control, so it really is surprising everyone was taken aback six months later when this turned out to be the case.
- the Doctor hated Liz because she acted like a complete cow and told her to get lost.
- Dalek nicknames for the Brigadier include "Bridge Over the River Kwai". Um...?
- the TV show Timeslip is canon. This guy really likes that show.
- the Judoon knew the Master was on the loose but couldn't be arsed doing anything.
- Gerry Haylock's Gemini Plan is canon, but still no explanation for what was so bad about the titular strategem. So is Timebenders, The Celluloid Midas and Backtime. It's also set after Terror of the Autons, which makes a kind of sense. EXCEPT WHERE THE HELL IS JO?!?
- it seems The Mind of Evil, Claws of Axos and Colony in Space nor The Vogan Slaves are not, however, canon. Ouch.
- Um, apparently only 50% of Doctor Who post The Sea Devils is canon. So if you think The Mutants, The Time Monster, The Time Warrior, Death to the Daleks, The Monster of Peladon exist, you be wrong, bitch.
- There is an SS Bereneice and Thaals and apparenly The Goodies were blamed for Invasion of the Dinosaurs.
- River Song believes Jo Grant is the ultimate companion and all the rest plain suck.
- Gallifrey went into mourning when they heard the Master had died the same day as Roger Delgago
- We get five pages of Sontarans justifying their war with Tony Blair quotes. This is why "Sontar-Ha" is better, quicker and witty.

"The Fourth Doctor" - people used to like this bit.

- Somehow, Seven Keys to Doomsday is canon.
- For the record Robot, The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment, The Brain of Morbius, The Seeds of Doom, The Masque of Mandragora, The Hand of Fear, The Robots of Death, Horror of Fang Rock, Image of the Fendahl, The Sunmakers, Underworld, The Pirate Planet, The Androids of Tara, The Power of Kroll, The Armaggedon Factor, City of Death, The Creature from the Pit, Nightmare of Eden, Horns of Nimon, Shada, The Liesure Hive, Meglos, State of Decay and Warriors' Gate never happened.
- Davros was interviewed by Mr. Blobby before his accident (Davros's, I mean). This is not nearly as interesting or funny as you'd think. It turns out his entire life was just like Rudolf Hess and Mr. Blobby thinks the Doctor's a wanker for not wiping out Daleks.
- Harry Sullivan is not canon, but the 1977 Dalek Annual is.
- Jago wrote a play called The Talons of Weng-Chiang but left it with Mr. Sin in a storeroom for some reason.
- K9 was the posterdog for RALF - the Robot Animal Liberation Front.
- Drift occurs before Leela joins. (WTF?) Oh, Leela joins and leave in The Invasion of Time.
- Romana regenerated in her second story.
- Davros also uses Tony Blair speeches to justify killing Thals. Yay.
- The Iron Legion, City of the Damned and Dragon's Claw are canon, the latter of which apparenly featured Romana and not Sharon.
- Adric is described as a "loathesome untrustworthy callow child with eyes too close together" who's "constant irritating presence was never going to satisfy the Doctor's need for both compliance and conversation" and Nyssa was way better. Tegan gets worse having said to have "a mental condtion" called "being Australian". This is apparently River Song talking.
- the control panel of the TARDIS is called a consul

"The Fifth Doctor" - or, where it all went wrong according by those we are not permitted to name

- These stories never happened: Four to Doomsday, The Visitation, Time-Flight, Snakedance, Terminus, Enlightenment, The King's Demons, Warriors of the Deep, The Awakening. I mean, how could anyone think any of them merited attention?

- Adric gets called "poor loathsome youth Sadric" and "I like Adric" are "three of the most despised words in all the universe". Tegan's last name is Jovanovich, "treacherous redhead" Turlough's first name is Vislon
- some bloke called Gaye Advert refused to watch Peter Davison because of hate at first sight. Bye!
- K9 and Company is a fifth Doctor story
- Black Orchid is a TV show based on the book and starring Peter Davison
- The Five Doctors gets six pages waffling about the Gallifrey scenes because obviously that's the most interesting part of the story. Obviously.
- The Supreme Dalek talks like Margaret Thatcher. HAR-HAR-HARRRRRRR!!!
- Erimem is a companion, but she has no stories and apparently joined and left before Peri did
- According to River Song, Peri was "the most unusual companion" who had "the loudest mouth, the harshest accent, the ghastliest wardrobe, the stubbornnes streak, inexplicbly attracted to the Doctor despite she was incapable of doing anything but companion" and "for Peri, the proverbial bottle was almost always half-empty and about to tip over and spill what was left onto the floor. Is it any wonder, locked into a box with this dreadful woman, the Doctor's next regeneration should transform him into possibly the only creature in the universe that could successfully deal with such a woman - a man who not only shared her failings but amplified them even further? Like Peri, the Sixth Doctor had few friends and many enemies. They deserved one another." Oooh, you kiss your mum with that mouth?

"The Sixth Doctor" - even Colin Baker's latest DWM interview doesn't deserve this.

- Not canon: The Twin Dilemma, Attack of the Cybermen. Well, we already rewrote them didn't we Jared? Jared?
- John Ringway's The Shape Shifter is canon, as is Frobisher, Davros, The Ratings War, Jubilee, and Thicker Than Water.
- Borusa did not perish in The Five Doctors.
- The Sixth Doctor is "rude, temperamental, boorish, stupid and selfish" and chose to sulk for 18 months rather than deal with chairman "Michaelgrade", oh god my sides have split
- Somehow the Sixth Doctor's DWM comic strips occured while he was on trial. Maybe he got nights off to be with Peri and Frobisher - HEY, HANG ON A MINUTE THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE!
- And River Song on Mel (or "Bush" as she insisted on calling her): "Little is known about Bush. What we do know, however, is extraordinarily unlikeable. A constantly questioning irritant whos insatiable bubbling optimism sucked the will to live from any creature that came into contact with her with her high-pitched shriek. Kissing Bush is like smooching Margaret Thatcher. If the ice caps melt, this most shocking example of womanhood could replace them easily."
- The Doctor only let Evelyn travel with him out of pity for the raddled-old hasbeen.

"The Seventh Doctor" - for some reason.

- Time and the Rani (surprisingly, given the Rani-worship of the author), The Happiness Patrol, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Battlefield, Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric, Survival. In short, only five McCoy stories happened.
- The Seventh Doctor is better than the Sixth who was "an eccentrically costumed, bad-tempered blustering moron" because, um, the Seventh must be different. He wears "a bowler hat".
- Five pages for Paradise Towers.
- Apparently it's front page news that Ray wasn't a companion - and that the Seventh Doctor must be deranged and blind to stay with Bush - but again I have to boggle at the strange obsession the author has with Sara Griffiths. Wil Chandler never got this fetish...
- "Abominable" Bush married Glitz. Glitz hated her and everyone thinks Glitz doesn't deserve this horrible, horrible fate. Apparently Ace was a girlfriend swap with Glitz and Ace was a better character than the Sixth Doctor and River Song totally is in awe of her.
- Hex apparently travelled solo with the Doctor and Ace joined the Time Lord Academy.
- Apparently the only Doctor Who story between 1989 and 1996 involved a portable toilet that disappeared. No one cares about DW post-Survival.
- The TV Movie is not canon, no matter what anyone says. Indeed, the Eighth Doctor is not canon.

"The Eighth Doctor" - ah, those quotation marks make sense.

- Brought to you by Gabriel Chase incorporated, the Eighth Doctor isn't canon. Thus, he gets one page.
- The only story of the Eighth Doctor is Dust Breeding which we might recall is a 7/Ace story.
- There's aslo an essay insisting the Time War is a rubbish idea and also not canon.

"The Ninth Doctor" - I don't think he's really interested in this any more.

- Not-Canon: The Long Game, Father's Day. And of course, every mention of the Time War.
- Rose Tyler was 23 and not 19 as everyone claimed. And Ray was better than her, anyday.
- Really, how can we believe that top-secret developments are splashed over the local papers? Tosh's promotion (rather stupidly missing the whole 'locked in a UNIT prison for three years' bit) to Torchwood on a memo? The SLC Inquirer detailing the massacre in Van Statten's vault?
- Nancy apparently waited 64 years to turn her story into a novel.
- 4 pages of Margaret Blaine's interview which notes every time she farted, the volumes thereof. Seriously.
- despite wanting the Slitheen on war crimes, the Raxicoricofallapatorians refuse to actually do anything about them because humans are stupid

"The Tenth Doctor" - and then he just gives up, thank Christ.

- Not canon: New Earth, Tooth & Claw, most of Love & Monsters, everything from The Next Doctor onwards.
- Abduction of the Daleks is not only canon, it's the first story of David Tennant.
- Mickey is called "Sticky"/"Jockeyby a friend, Ross T Davies.
- The Sycorax were really nice and weren't invading at all.
- there's a two page rant on why people forget alien invasions
- Oh, hilarity, the Cybermen sue "John Lumis" for nicking their franchise! What wit!
- Magpie Electrics shuts down in 2006, owned by Lyn Gati(t)ss - "wife of Mr. Magpie".
- Elton Pope (a teenager, apparently) was arrested for the murder of Victor Kennedy whose decomposing corpse was found....

Actually, you know, fuck this.

If you ever see a copy of this book. Burn it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"There's no one in here, Mr. Balowksi! We're all holograms!!"

(aka a minute-by-minute review of The Shining, using the format pioneered by Jared "No Nickname" Hansen. Ah, poor Jared. I wonder whatever became of him?)

0:03 - ah tedious, tedious longshots with pretentious tuba music. You know, take these away and 2001: A Space Oddessy runs slightly longer than a funeral insurance infomercial on daytime TV.

1:09 - oops. We see the shadow of the helicopter the cameraman is in. And they call Kubrick a perfectionist. What? Was Jack Nicholson's character being stalked by the Channel 9 copter or something.

1:119 - what a ghastly font. Neon blue block capital Arial? It's not just 80s, it's cheap as shit!

1:25 - ooh, nearly collided with the love bug.

1:45 - Scatman Crothers. The lamest supervillain ever.

1:50 - this is all supposed to emphasize how alone and isolated this love bug is, but it's passed no less than three other cars in the last ten seconds and one of them was highway patrol. Not really giving the air of totally being cut off from civilization, is it?

2:08 - how unstuble is the music with banshees going "brrrrr!" and "hahahaha!" and "oooooh!" It sounds like clowns being sexually molested.

2:45 - holy shit, what maniac would commute here? I guess in the 70s the prices of petrol allowed such gargantuan indulgence.

3:16 - did Jack Nicholsen ever NOT look like a hairtrigger psycho? He's like a thin American version of Bill Filer only with a worse combover. And does he ever play characters not called Jack? Dear me.

3:44 - for such a huge hotel, the manager's office is tiny. Is that so he can "accidentally" grope his secretary without having to take a run-up?

4:02 - so Jack did an eight-hour round trip for a job interview? Man, I'm reluctant change trains at Central. I hope he got it or his ride home's going to be even more depressing and tedious than the one out.

4:18 - and you can tell this is the family the other people in the apartment block avoid like the plague at a glance. I mean, seriously, just a snapshot of this moment and you'd instantly go "they're the ones that'll go apeshit." Like the mum who never takes off her ghastly apron or the son who munches his sandwich staring blankly in the empty wall. I bet if this was on BlueRay I could see how many first editions of Stephen King are on that shelf. These people own way too many books and not enough shelves. Bound to get mouldy...

4:25 - dear god, boy, swallow your food before gratuitously expositing over the place. Why are you asking questions now in the middle of a roadrunner cartoon?

4:57 - did she get anorexic between camera shots.

5:00 - you couldn't do this in a film nowadays. Whether it's smoking in front of child actors or not putting that kid on a course of ritalin and electroshock therapy. How irritating is the wiggly finger? And yet it's a better actor than the child it's attached to.

5:34 - wow, people felt uncomfortable with a school teacher who looks like Jack Nicholson. Hold the freaking front page, people.

5:52 - so, who are these assholes in Denver who suggested this creepy-faced monotone psycho was good for the position. And even if I were desperate for a job, being told "Normally I fundamentally disagree with everyone who supports you on principle, but this time..." I would be a tad suspicious. Especially when said assholes told me nothing about the job they were putting me forward. They're screwing with you, Jack!

7:32 - wow, Jack wants isolation so he's going for the one job where you're warned about the dangers of cabin fever. What could possibly go wrong?

8:08 - wait, so mum and son are geared up for this and he hasn't even got the job yet? Must be 1980s confidence in the job market.

8:42 - "Oh yeah, last guy who did this job went psycho crazy and murdered his entire family with an axe. Let's repeat the exact same experimental conditions and hope you don't do the exact same thing..."

10:00 - so, in the nine winters since Grady's psycho killing, absolutely nothing has happened? Does that mean the evil forces of the hotel who also do absolutely fuck all seven months a year were on strike or something? If nothing bad happened, why haven't other caretakers stayed in the job?

10:31 - a "confirmed horror addict" marries Jack Nicholson. Oh the inevitability of it all!

10:47 - so spooky Tony can see the future!!! But as mom and son already thought the job was a done deal, it's not that impressive, is it?

11:32 - "Cause the hotel is evil and turns people psychotic!" See, Invisible Tony, NOT THAT FUCKING HARD TO EXPLAIN!

11:48 - "Odd, the blood normally gets off on the third floor..." Yes, I nicked that gag, because it's the fakest blood you'll see outside of the Goodies' bunfight at the OK Tearrooms.

12:10 - hah. You can't find that frightening. The Olsen Twins stare, bored, at a tidal wave of red cordial while that kid who saw Bernard Black shit on a wicker chair gawps in terror. Playing some violins makes it no less hilarious.

13:06 - so, does she think he had an aneurysm? If so, why did she take his trousers off? How does that help?

13:38 - yeah, and no one's ever once before thought this kid was wierd. I mean, most serial killers act more normal than this freak.

14:25 - no wonder the kid went crazy in this empty white house.

14:51 - actually, kids having near epileptic fits and ranting about an invisible parasite that climbs out of his stomach and predits the future IS something that probably merits further investigation.

15:37 - light up another cigarette in front of the doc, that makes you look rational and in control. (Yes, I know, ethnographic differences but still it looks like both mum and visiting GP know 9/10ths of fuck all about the whole thing).

16:55 - shit, woman, use an ashtray!

17:30 - so... Jack accidentally dislocated the kid's shoulder and he immediately develops this invisible friendship just five months ago and no one actually thought it worth mentioning before now? Christ. Americans, idiots! Didn't the doctors at the time notice?

17:42 - that was a natural edit if ever I saw one.

18:20 - Jack might be a bit terse in this scene, but look at that kid who obviously trying to piss him off. Why they don't play some music or listen to a radio or something escapes me. They barely cope a four-hour drive, how are they going to cope with five months?

18:39 - oh, so we're blaming this place for the Donner Party too? Except the Donner Party suffered a huge and explicable trauma before survival drove them to cannibalism. It's not like they all went psycho one afternoon...

19:27 - well, at least the little bastard didn't watch Cannibal Holocaust.

20:23 - yeah, wait until the last second before giving the new caretaker a tour and run down of his duties before catching a plane out of town. That's bound to cover every possible contingency, that is.

21:17 - what possible use could that giant fireplace be apart from burning human corpses en masse?

22:10 - yes, they're not actually identical twins, are they? And their evil modus operandi is... to walk out of the room. Not even vanish creepily. To be honest, Parkinsons-suffering-emo-kid seems to have freaked out the ghosts.

22:39 - I think Spaced took the piss out of this bit, but seriously, that hotel bedroom is way better for a kid than the isolation tank he has at home.

23:09 - Monsieur Nicholson, can you deliver any lines without seeming eye-rollingly sarcastic. You're supposed to actually be happy about this!

24:43 - why would you build on an Indian burial ground? It's just asking for trouble of the non-supernatural kind, what with plague-ridden corpses, subsidence, unstable foundations not to mention insuring every Native American is out for vengeance to this impossible-to-reach half-a-year shithole which is clearly barely making enough cash to survive...

24:05 - "Yes, we paid someone to hang up gold curtains and a sign saying "You are now in the gold room if you ignore all the red furniture, pink walls, white ceiling and brown floor. This is why we don't make much cash here."

25:06 - given the provisions in the game room consist of a pool table with no balls and a dart board, it seems unsurprising any kid would get bored there. Was there originally some pinball arcade where Danny could "bomb the universe"?

25:44 - this guy was obviously the inspiration for the melted head black guy in Time Hiest. It's like someone slammed an anvil into his forehead and his jaw extended like an opening cash register drawer. He's pretty sarcastic, too. "Oh, so you're going to be the helpless murder victims this year? Yay!"

26:56 - "Doc?" or "Duck?" Either way, this guy seems to be possess with the spirit of Bill Crosby. That's nasty nowadays, but even at the time it must have been as irritating as fuck.

27:57 - is he telepathic? Austistic? Tinitus sufferer? Or all three. Man, this kid makes Romulus and Remus look like the cast of Outnumbered! EMOTE, DAMN YOU!

29:10 - the point of a ghost ship is you DO know people were there, you dim tart.

29:46 - communicating without speaking a word? Yeah, we do it nowadays with texting. Isn't it fortunate a little telepath happens to bump into another telepath at the haunted hotel? Why people aren't claiming this as canon for the The Tomorrow People, totally escapes me.

33:05 - Yes, you telepaths sure are clever to sense some bag vojoo in this hotel after the highly-publicized massacre a decade ago. God damn it, this stuff isn't exactly hidden. HOW DUMB ARE YOU AMERICANS? You could look it up in a library and find out more than Bill Crosby the Psychic Pratt!

33:28 - a young Steven Moffat finds that dialogue worthy of giving to Peter Capaldi when he wants some characterization. Oh let joy be unconfined.

34:09 - yeah, act cryptic and spooky, that'll work. The kid thinks an invisible man lives in his mouth! Just tell him there's a monster in room 237 and the credulous cretin will believe you! These idiots are jumping through hoops to avoid doing something sensible like saying "get the hell out of here while you can!"

34:23 - well, evil has had free reign for twenty-eight days and done absolutely sod all. It seems while everyone bends over backwards to provide victims, the hotel bends over backwards not to do a damn thing - as it has for the last nine years straight. It seems ancient Indian vengeance is a once-a-decade thing.

34:49 - didn't they do this shit with the kid on a trike in The Omen?

35:16 - wow, this hotel is so huge! The kid is just going in circles as a metaphor and not because we've only got one set, no siree. Any kid would go stircrazy in this place. He should be the one with the freaking fireaxe...

35:24 - odd, that dispensing machine has Gallifreyan heiroglyphs on it...

36:46 - she's right, you know. Write down the crap ideas, get them out of your head. And it's not like she isn't being supportive of her slacker husband, is it?

37:25 - and yet none of this psychic precognition would be a good idea for a book? Gimme strength.

37:55 - Christ, doesn't anyone have a record player? And yes, instant confirmation Jack is a slacker who couldn't write a letter let alone a book. Reinacting Cool Hand Luke is lame by any standards...

38:23 - yeah, run into the maze. Without a map. Despite the map being on open display. Yeesh.

38:33 - ooh, more evidence Kubrick nicked ideas off Douglas Camfield, including the soundtrack to The Web of Fear. Except Camfield had it over a the revivification of a robot Yeti that ripped an annoying git's head from his shoulders and here... some characters fail to get lost in a maze. But in both balls are thrown at windows. I could probably get rich with a thematic link like that - The Shining ripped off The Web of Fear. Badly.

40:29 - I flinched, I admit it, because I expected a Yeti killing spree. And now I'm expecting Flacco to say "Tuesday... 4am..." in his private eye voice. I mean, the last forty minutes can be summed up with "Ah, this is a cushy job up here in the mountains." "What about the last guy who went crazy?" "Tch! What are the odds of that happening twice?"

42:00 - hang on, that's exact same bit of music! It might as well be on a loop! How can I be frightened of something that sounds like a ringtone repeating? And only 42 minutes into 143 minute film? Like anything nasty is going to be behind that door anyway...

43:08 - what a waste of time. Kid finds spooky room, tries door handle, thinks of a threesome with some retarded twins, then heads off. I'm tempted to rescore this with some more interesting lift muzak.

43:53 - mein gott, thrill to man at typewriter! God damn it, this is boring. And if he is typing out the words "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" over and over, surely the ABCDEJKLMNOPRW buttons should be worn clean?

45:21 - sarcastic bastard. Why does he have to write in a damn foyer - bit selfish him claiming it as his own. People need that part of the hotel to get to the damn front door! And why doesn't he use a pen and fucking paper instead of typing? I'll tell you why, he's a cunt. This movie would be better if the wife just biffed him in face with a frying pan at this point... it would certainly be more surprising than creepy, twitchy aggressive character acts in a creepy, twitchy and aggressive manner. I mean, Ren Hoek's nervous breakdowns are more unpredictable than this. Look, sod it I'm going to wait for something scary to happen. Or something interesting. Or, you know, something at all.

50:20 - okay it's the twins. But this admittedly tense moment is ruined by the fact their "play with us forever" stuff is too obviously menacing. I mean, no one would ever hear that and think "cool, I'm up for that". And the ghosts wait nearly two months before picking on the telepathic defenseless kid? Why?

And also, to be honest, I've seen it piss-taken and better. Stewie Griffin immediately using the girls as target practise is precisely what this loser Danny should have done. Or that episode of Rocko's Modern Life tackles it better while likeable Heffer - having already chucked out a real employe of the place he's a security guard of - meets an identical pair of accountants who are much creepier because they're genuinely friendly and not so obviously ghosts. "We work here, Heffer. We've always worked here." And then they fade away. It's subtle compared to this which is basically a neon sign flashing screaming "FEEL FEAR, MORTAL!!!"

Fact is, the twins are just a trick of the light and can't effect anything. Who gives a shit if they want to play forever? Even the invisible psycho finger is unimpressed. And you'd think the kid would mention this to his paranormal-investigating mother...

55:24 - oh, christ, not this music again! Are you so damn cheap, Kubrick?! Oh, and why is even an insane Jack confused at the idea his son would be worried about being hurt? You dislocated his fucking shoulder six months ago!

58:29 - stop playing around room 237 if you don't want its evil escaping! Goddamn it, this isn't rocket science which (judging by your appalling jumper) is clearly something of an obsession! I bet he runs with scissors, too!

1:00:29 - yeah, "cut you up to little pieces with an axe" is not really as scary as it once was. The axe is simply not a precision instrument. Now, if it was the mum that had that nightmare, it would be worrying...

1:01:55 - see, it's impossible to tell if he's catatonic or traumatized. He's always like that. Frankly, whoever tried to strangle him shoulda worked harder.

1:02:31 - if you're so damn convinced he'd try to throttle his own son, fail and then fall asleep before having a screaming nightmare as an alibi, tie him up and get the hell out of the hotel. You have a snow-durable transport and a radio link to civilization. There is really no excuse for this stupidity.

11:03:11 - so someone tried to throttle your child. Your wife thinks you did it. Reasonable you'd be pissed off, but wouldn't you be more concerned about the infanticidal maniac hiding in the hotel? But does Jack try to do anything? No, he goes around fighting off the invisible bats and screaming misogynistic abuse. WHEN THIS WOULD BE THE PERFECT MATERIAL FOR A BOOK! FOR FUCK'S SAKE!

1:04:47 - seriously, who the hell offers their soul for random goods? That's just stupid. "I'd sell my chance for spiritual enlightenment for a new iPhone!" "I'd trade my ennui for an Opal Card!" Who says things like that? Really? At least in RML, Heffer's offer made sense. The one time he met Satan he was stupid enough to abandon heaven for a chicken drumstick. And Floyd/Lloyd was actually charming and friendly, not this version who might as well have been dissecting live puppies for all the good will he shows. Forget his mysterious appearance, Jack would have to be totally insane to think this guy was in the mood to talk about Jack's day!

1:06:15 - you've been on the wagon for seven months, you retard, not five. Did they change the captions at the last minute. Also, Jack is a total wanker even if you take away his insanity. He gave up drinking because it lead to him harming his son so... he's going back to drinking because someone else is? Seriously, that's the most pissweak excuse for falling off the wagon ever! It would be more effective if Lloyd was the one pushing Jack to have a drink.

1:08:35 - wait, your drunken antics nearly crippled your son but it took three years before you took the pledge? Christ, this guy has less get up and go than Ben Chatham. Who is presumably further along the bar drinking absinthe and trying to seduce the waiting staff with his degree from Cambridge.

1:09:50 - fair dos, you could apologize for accusing him of child abuse at least.

1:10:33 - he's a black man, of course his apartment is covered with porno portraits of black chicks with giant affros and full-frontal nudity! Thanks, Stan, for helping demolish stereotypes.

1:13:08 - of course, if his wife came into the room with him to investigate this apparent psychotic child-harming intruder, this seduction routine would be rather less successful and a tad more interesting. Go on, make out with the zombie while your wife is in the room. I dare you! But no, please, do leer at the woman who tried to kill your son because she's got her norks out...

1:14:49 - and of course this is the moment my mum comes in to see what I'm watching. This just proves you're not only molesting one zombie but all the other zombies they've been with. And I'd say the view of a drooling kid apparently arroused by this JUST edges it over the Xtro sex scenes of inappropriate naughtiness. Plus Xtro had more likable characters.

1:16:13 - the implication that decomposing zombie old woman is standing naked by the door to her room for the rest of the film laughing uncontrollably. She's not even on facebook or anything. And how was this supposed to aide the evil spirits - all they've done is alert the family to their presence, but them on the defensive. I mean, why the hell do they attack the one person they're trying to corrupt? This plan has more holes than a Kaldor City credibility test!

1:16:57 - is Hallowran is a psychic, why did he try ringing the hotel? Shouldn't he have known the lines were down?

1:18:00 - oh, so now Jack has either gone more mental or lost his memory. How convenient. That explains the whole gratuitous nudity sequence as justifiable. It'd be more enigmatic if we hadn't seen what was in the room, but no, Kubrick wants a sagging-boobed zombie granny, the dirty bastard. And also, despite apparently being a big believer in the supernatural, the wife never considers the place might be haunted. Or suggest that Jack stays in the fucking place if he likes it so much while she takes the son to recieve the medical attention Jack himself has all but stated the boy needs. OK, he's getting irrational, but come on! It's like they made this out of sequence...

1:20:00 - OK, he's evil, we get it. Mute screaming kid and the oceans of blood are just boring now. And isn't it good Jack's wife is such a spineless wimp she doesn't use a shard of logic to get through to him that she isn't asking him to leave. Fucking idiot. Nowadays, she'd have pepper-maced him and got the hell out.

1:24:34 - what an idiot. Even by the logic he's just used, he's a moron.

1:27:22 - is Jack SUPPOSED to be creepier than the ghosts? Including the ghost of the actual homicidal axe-wielding maniac? And why does Jack recognize Grady from the papers when he'd never heard of him before? Hah? Answer me that!

1:31:38 - the actor playing Grady's very good. Rather than acting batshit crazy all the time like Jack Nicholson, he hints at rage under a placid surface. But again, this is surprisingly low key and subtle.

1:32:43 - OK. You're a young scared boy/schizophrenic telepath and you've worked out that your father is going to slaughter you with an axe. Do you run away? Barricade yourself in a place of safety? Go on the attack? Or chant the word "murder" backwards randomly in the hope your hysterical mother might at somepoint work out the palindrome of "redrum" before it's too late? Jeez, this family are more determined to get killed than chronically-depressed lemmings.

1:33:57 - no joke, Timmy the finger monster is a better actor than the actual kid. You think I'm joking but I'm not.

1:35:19 - god damn, is Halloran still by the phone? What a shitty psychic.

1:36:40 - what a slacker Jack is. Pure evil enlists him to slaughter his family and the first thing he does is... cut and fricken paste his one sentence novel again. Homer was more motivated in the Simpsons version...

1:38:24 - wow, Halloran must be psychic to know the Torrences are totally unreliable assholes. Or, you know, he's just met them.

1:29:00 - Wolf Creek?!? Now THAT is foreshadowing...

1:40:09 - yeah, don't warn her she's walking to her death. It's much more sensible to write REDRUM on the wall like some dyslexic Russian doomsayer.

1:41:46 - oh yeah, babe, you'll really encourage rational behavior wandering around with a baseball bat. How could you possibly go wrong?

1:42:41 - he can't even type that properly! LOSER!

1:43:23 - yes, I think we can all safely guess what the next 927 pages will feature. You can stop now.... OOh, that triangular one is clever. That would have been murder to format that on a typewriter...

1:44:11 - this has been OVER FOUR MINUTES of someone looking at the same pages. I dare say even the most nervously-disposed of viewers will have got bored by now.

1:45:09 - "What do you want to talk about?" "Let's start with the way you've taken three months to write one sentence a billion times and think it's novel material. Are you Chris Lilly, perchance?"

1:45:33 - mein gott, this kid is useless. The baby in Look Who's Talking had more an engaging plotline. OK, you've got a psychic kid... let's have him deny being a psychic and sit upstairs catatonic and not doing anything. Was Eric Saward involved with plotting this?

1:46:03 - give Mr. Nicholson his due, he's much more convincing playing a wisecracking criminally insane killing machine than an ordinary, likeable person. I'm getting a real honesty vibe from him now. In fact, this is very much like Yana stalking Chantho in "Utopia", even down to her being armed and him screaming if she ever thought to do something. That said, Wendy should be able to say "What about your responsibilities as a father, you stupid drunk fucker? I'M the one actually doing the work while you type one sentence over and over again!" And then break his legs with her baseball bat instead of snivelling like a drowned rat. Because she actually looks like a drowned rat, it's uncanny.

1:49:00 - "Give me the bat." Tch. Beat him down, dammit! FINISH HIM OFF!!!

1:50:23 - yes, darling, we've established the door is locked.

1:50:56 - Hah! Jack Nicholson sprained his ankle! MWAHAHA!

1:51:22 - see, he's just not convincing as a normal human being, is he?

1:56:12 - Yeah, a REAL man kills people and then kills himself pointlessly. Life is just for losers who can't handle death, amirite?

1:57:49 - Some viewers argue that the fact Jack escapes from the pantry the only real evidence of supernatural influence in the movie as the rest could all just be some random guy going crazy. Apart from the fact his son and the cook are telepaths and ghosts have been strangling people, of course. Morons.

2:00:26 - yes, this is very helpful behavior. Thank god you wrote REDRUM in lipstick on the door AFTER Jack went mad and was subdued. And wandering around with a knife squawking "Redrum" really got Wendy in the mood to deal with that axe-weilding nutter for the three seconds' warning she had. For fuck's sake.

2:01:49 - god damn that is a convenient snowdrift.

2:02:28 - yeah, let's pad out the scene. That'll add some tension, cause cripe knows people are blaise about being hacked to death by an insane loved one. So let's see Wendy try and fail to get out of the window FOUR TIMES. I thought she would be waiting to stab Jack in the head the moment he got through the door.

2:04:23 - "Here's Johnny!" has, of course, totally lost any credibility from countless mockeries and misquotes. In fact, I think the only one to give it any gravity was Alexei Sayle's "Here's Jerzei!" tribute in the Young Ones (in fact, he's arguably playing the part straighter than JN, given Balowski was a far more sympathetic character). It's a pity, since it's the culmination of twenty minutes of film. And to his credit, Jack really does look like he wants to kill someone.

2:06:03 - so he's got a skull fracture, a broken ankle, a slashed up hand and is presumably suffering from malnutrition and dehydration. He's like Rob Stitch in Shitscared or that accident prone Kenny Everett character. Or, to put it another way, he's well on his way to becoming the Black Knight from Monty Python.

2:06:28 - OK, she's traumatized but it takes a mother six minutes to remember she's sent her son out into a subzero wasteland? And then tries to open a door smashed apart by an axe with a carving knife? This is not an approach that wins.

2:08:05 - I suppose Halloran's death was very shocking at the time; this character basically designated as the cavalry rushes to the rescue and then is instantly killed. But, seriously, who thought he'd be much of a help? I mean, he's a fucking psychic and he didn't notice a limping, drooling growling axe-weilding nutter screaming to himself as he dragged himself across the corridor. And he was EXPECTING trouble already! You are as useful as a eunuch's posing pouch, Dick! Mind you, the kid's not better. Macauly Caulkin retains more dignity from this gurning screaming business...

2:09:15 - this kid is too stupid to live. Seriously. Arthur McArthur (aka the Little Fat Kid from Hey Dad) merits oxygen more than this. When your psycho dad murders someone right in front of you and then calls for you to emerge from hiding so he can kill you... don't. But that's too complicated for Danny.

2:10:03 - meh. Probably the least scariest bit of the film. The red-eyed knife-wielding mentiad Wendy has become is scarier and, hey, if you don't want to be watched dressed as an arseless bear giving blowjobs to aristocrats then CLOSE THE FUCKING DOOR! Is this saying alternative sexual practises are now part of dark and evil corruptions? Sanctimonious bastard, Kubrick.

2:11:01 - christ, Danny does it again! He must want to die! Wile E Coyote has a better survival instinct than this loser!

2:11:41 - skull fracture, broken ankle, slashed hand, starvation, exhaustion and now he's limping through a blizzard. Obviously this suicidal behavior is genetic.

2:12:42 - maybe it's realistic acting. Maybe it's bad acting. But it looks like Wendy's doing a half-hearted minstril hand jive with a knife when she finds a bloody corpse. I mean, Ellen Ripley hit the cinema only the year before.

2:12:56 - yeah, he seems pretty happy for a damned soul of a murdered man. Still, he's more endearing than those twins. I bet there's a funny story behind that head wound.

2:13:42 - that skeleton in the phone booth looks hilarious. I bet he's on hold. But seriously, evil hotel, this is the best you can do? Some cobwebs and skeletons? It's not really going to do much bar scare our fey, limp-wristing heroine and surely Halloran's bloody corpse is more likely to get fear out of her than these incredible hallucinations. Even if they're somehow trying to slow her down, wouldn't it be cheaper to rearrange the architecture?

2:14:03 - sweet zarathustra! A glimmering of intelligence!

2:14:51 - and blood out of the elevator. What is up with that? Seriously? Are we supposed to think in some decadent past they filled the lift shaft with blood? Apart from get Wendy sticky, it's not going to do anything, is it? Plus, having seen this scene about five times in the last two hours, it's lost some spontenaity if you ask me.

2:17:27 - and she throws away that knife with the same care and attention she's been carrying it. Danny's lucky he was skewered in the head. Really, the evil spirits aren't really helping Jack, are they? They've got no one else to blame, really. They won't even guide him out of the maze...

2:18:30 - just stop yodelling and use your axe to cut through the hedges, you moron! This lackadasical dearth of initiative sums you up to a T, Torrance.

2:19:33 - eww. I bet that's his sex face.

2:21:23 - So, what does Jack appearing in the photos mean? Is he some identical grandson summoned back to Overlook after 59 years? Has his spirit been absorbed into a Fendahl-like gestalt? But why? He failed to kill his family, and all he's achieved is to draw attention to the mess. Even those not of a supernatural disposition will realize that the caretaker job is asking for trouble. I have to ask myself... why? I mean, whether it's down to Indian burial curses or an evil hotel, I'm not getting any understanding of what the dark forces get out of this. They only got four souls last time and at best get two here. They don't cause much pain and destruction for 3/4s of the year or no one would work there. They could have killed the whole family right away. They clearly have a way of nullifying telepaths, so that can't be a reason. They can cause much more carnage than they do, but instead they draw out this situation pointlessly for as long as possible and end up with nothing. Rather like the director and producer, really.

2:22:45 - what do you think is the moral of the story? Stupid people deserve to die seems to be the main theme. Oh, and everyone does it better than Kubrick.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kaldor City: What Subtext??

Idly reading around I learned that several Kaldor City pitches were abandoned because they actually provided answers to the not-that-interesting questions. So, sod that, right? So, here's a missing segment to the story to explain absolutely every possible vagueness and interpretation - because if some yokel can make a fortune saying Olag Gan's a sex killer, I can show that Kaldor City is a waste of time.

(Apologies to Paul Dale Smith for unwittingly causing this.)

(set betwixt The Robots of Death, Image of the Fendahl, Corpse Marker, Occam's Razor, Metafiction, The Time Waster, Checkmate, The Prisoner, Storm Mine, Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge, Robophobia and Dark Eyes: The Traitor all at the time time!)

The quarters of Kaston Iago, senior security consultant to Firstmaster Chairholder Kiy Uvanov and self-described homicidal maniac, were a wreck. The body of Elska Blayes, former Company security agent and part-time terrorist-cum-agent provocateur, lay sprawled by the overturned desk and surrounded by broken glass. The cauterized hole punched through her heart was the cause of death, but her empty plasma rifle, the bullet-ridden wall opposite and the several litres of spilled blood made it clear her murderer would soon be joining her in the afterlife.

A Voc robot entered the room and looked at the carnage dispassionately before turning away.


Kaston Iago himself was on the main thoroughfare in the towerblock outside. His angular black tunic was sodden with blood, and his ghastly pale skin brought out his eye makeup in dark contrast. Blood bubbled over his lips as he managed to make his way to the air vent on the fourth transverse gangway to the east.

With numb, nerveless hands, he tried to remove the junction box panel to find the strange device he had hidden there many months earlier for something approaching this emergency. Iago was criminally insane, but he was not stupid and there had always been the chance this backwater planet would blow up in his face. But if he was quick enough he could quite literally cheat fate...

Unfortunately, he'd lost too much blood. He swayed unsteadily and toppled to the pavement.

It was the middle of the night, and no one knew he was there. And no one would have tried to help him if they had. Kaldor City was not a place known for its charity.


Firstmaster Chairholder Kiy Uvanov looked triumphantly at the Company Board members lining the long table before him. There was a feral excitement in his eyes in great contrast his sullen, almost skeletal face. He was certain he had them all. He'd rammed home the circumstances of how he'd blackmailed his way onto the Board by keeping quiet about the Storm Mine 4 killer robots. He'd used the Oxygenator 4 Hostage Crisis, the attack on Company Central and the latest robot uprising to his favor.

Of course his arch enemy and rival Landerchild and his former-employee and manipulative scoundrel Carnell had turned upon him and provided a dossier damning Uvanov as the biggest villain Kaldor City had ever known, revealing all the details of his genocidal purposes and organized terrorism to secure his own powerbase. It was all true, but the truth meant nothing - Uvanov had taken the precaution of preparing his own dossier which blamed Landerchild for everything. In fact, he had a specialized dossier for every single boardmember for just this sort of catastrophe.

Even so, he'd not expected Landerchild to get his hands on incriminating evidence. That could be difficult, but Uvanov was going to have to gamble his entire empire on the wayward paranoia of the rest of the board members - those who had survived the months since Uvanov had started his purges, anyway.

"It is for you to decide," he announced proudly. "Am I guilty? Or is Landerchild? Or both of us? Or neither? Or," he added making sure everyone knew this was the real option being given, "is Carnell a damned liar and has in fact forged all of this information to topple Company board integrity for ever?"

"Carnell was in your direct employ!" the weedy Landerchild sneered.

"Carnell was an advisor, I concede, but his services were offered to anyone willing to pay for them," said Uvanov smugly. "Including you, Landerchild. Even the most cursory examination of the last two years will show that these turbulent times began the moment Carnell began advising topmasters and firstmasters in Kaldor City. We are being manipulated by an outside force and we might pull together to stop it."

The secretary rose. "We will discuss this new evidence and return in one hour."

The other board members left the room, closing the doors behind them before either Landerchild or Uvanov could follow. The former Storm Mine captain chuckled in amusement. "I warned you, Landerchild. You've played your hand without checking it was the strongest."

"It is the strongest!" shouted Landerchild. "Because it is true! From the moment you forced your non-entity presence into these hallowed institutions, you have been responsible for countless murders and butchering your way to the top. Don't bother denying it, Uvanov. I at least care about the fate of Kaldor City, but you have been willing to destroy it just to get to the top of the power structure!"

Uvanov snorted. "What else is a power structure for? You and the other founding families never really understood - you created a pyramid. And I've seen the top and the bottom and I will not return to the Sewerpits for anything. I thought, maybe, in younger days I might have improved Kaldor City but it was rotten to the core. And in true founding family tradition, I put myself first."

"You're very confident," Landerchild observed.

"Yes, Landerchild, I am." Uvanov poured himself a drink. "I've saved Kaldor City several times and undermined both you and every scrap of evidence you could put against me. The Company will not dare turn against me at a time like this, when the Taranists are out of control."

"Out of control because you encouraged them for your own ends!"

"You're only bitter because I managed it first."

"I could be recording this!"

"Voice prints are easily forged." Uvanov knocked back his drink. "I have the Tarenists under my control, the media under my wing, and the Company in my pocket. I suggest you enjoy some sweet wine now, Landerchild. You'll be lucky to be thrown in the sewerpits after this..."

A door opened in the boardroom to reveal a human assistant and a Voc robot.

"What is it?" shouted Landerchild, glad to have someone to shout at.

"V143 reports there has been a violent incident at the residence of Kaston Iago," reported the human. "The body of known terrorist Elska Blayes has been found."

"And Iago?" asked Uvanov, mildy-interested.

"Unknown, however all forensic analysis suggests he has been badly injured."

Uvanov paled. With Carnell gone, Iago was his most powerful ally and by the same logic a crucial weakness. Iago knew where the bodies had been recycled, and would have no qualms about turning on Uvanov if it became in his best interests to do so. "Then get all the security teams looking for him! Where's Rull?"

"Still in hospital," Landerchild said smugly. "I think it best Cotton take over the operations."

Uvanov arched a grey eyebrow. "Why not? I knew he was in your pay, Landerchild. He's been more use bringing you down than he ever was to me. Just find Iago and find him now!"

And then a strange noise rolled around the boardroom. It was a noise none of them had heard before, like a strange muffled explosion in the sky. Both Uvanov and Landerchild went to the windows overlooking the complex mass of towers and spires below. The air seemed to be thickening with electrical discharges.

"What is going on in this city?" demanded Landerchild. No one had an answer for him.


Paullus backed away in horror. The Tarenist HQ was full of howling, moaning noises like desert winds or static. The Tarenists were pressed to the walls of the main hall, recoiling in terror. A pentagram blazed with impossible light on the floor while twelve hand-picked diciples had withered into nothingness and left strange hissing, gobbling cobra-like beings in their place. Justina, the One Who Kills, stood at the centre of the pentagram, burning with light. Her tunic and leggings became long robes, her skin and hair turned golden and large insect-like eyes grew on her eyelids as she smiled.

Paullus ran to his office in the antechamber. The skull - not of Taren Capel, he now realized - was burning with an outrush of energy. The computer screen showing the static suddenly coalesced to form a pentagram blazing red. He looked back into the main hall as the snake-like monsters grew larger and larger, shuffling towards the other Tarenists who were now unable to move, as if frozen in terror.

As Paullus watched, they struck and bit their prey on the back of their necks and sucking the life out of their screaming victims. "What are you doing to them? Tell me what you're doing to them!" he screamed at the skull. "What have you brought upon us?"

Your corruption will be stripped away, said a voice from the skull. Ander Poul.

The red-haired man collapsed, howling in pain as he felt his mind buckle. Suddenly he could remember it all - being a security agent for the Company, his robophobia getting the better of him not once but twice until his personality had disintegrated and he'd become another man together. Then he remembered Storm Mine 4 and the Doctor and Leela...

They were the ones who made you what you are, Ander Poul. Just as they made me. I used them, to bring me here to start afresh. The Fendahl is once more manifest.

Paullus - or rather Poul - scrambled to the doorway. Only a few of the congregation were still alive, the rest rotting to skeletons on the floor. The snake-monsters were two metres tall now, hissing and roaring hungrily.

"You're killing everything!"

I am removing physical corruption. I feast on your bodies. But your souls? They are another matter.

One of the snakes shuffled on a carpet of slime towards Poul. And Poul suddenly couldn't move.

Humanity shall be within me. The gestalt shall grow. The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

"You're going to consume Kaldor City!" he screamed as the snake drew closer.

Kaldor City must be destroyed to start again. But why do you fear becoming part of a greater whole. You may well appreciate the experience but then again you might not. You let yourself be swallowed my madness and cults and paranoia. You have always wanted to be part of something, Poul. And now you shall.

Poul thought miserably of how he'd let Carnell to convince him to infiltrate the Tarenists and assist Blayes, of how he'd so wanted their idealistic beliefs to be true he'd let this Fendahl control him simply because it told him what he wanted to hear. He could think of a million chances he'd had to turn away and he'd wasted them all. He didn't even bother to cry out as the monster pounced.

He was too depressed of how he'd wasted his life to care it was over.


Voc robots were running up and down the residential complex, while overweight and sadistic company security guards also attempted to find the missing Kaston Iago. With the damage to Company Central in the recent terrorist attack, they had no sophisticated surveillance to find him. They were forced to rely on human inginuity and that was in short supply.

Overhead, the unnatural storm expanded and bellowed.

On a little-known cross-walkway, Kaston Iago was bleeding to death. Dimly he was aware of someone standing over him. It was, he realized groggily, Justina - the woman he'd had sex with on many an occasion, though she was probably stupid enough to think it was some kind of relationship. He'd barely noticed the news she had apparently been kidnapped by the Tarenists. Frankly, he didn't want to deal with the lovelorn parasite. If he still had his gun, he'd shoot her now.

Iago, she said in a voice not her own. You are dying. Justina wants you to live. She loved you.

"How..." he rasped weakly, "how are you going to do that?"

The gestalt is powerful. It knows what you intend to do. The not-Justina pointed at the device in his hand. You wish to go back, to have free will and alter events. You have done it before, so many times. You know that device will not transfer you back in time, its power source is exhausted. But the gestalt can reverse you along your timeline and prevent this from ever occuring.

Kaston peered blearily at her. "And if I do go back in time..."

You will have free will. You will remember what has and will happened.

"You know who I am... what I am..."

The Fendahl is within humanity and humanity is within the Fendahl. Part of us wishes to save you, therefore all of us wishes to save you. But we can only do this if you are willing.

"Fendahl," Iago croaked. He dimly remembered the red pentagram by Wallback, the artist who had forseen the end of the world. The Fendahl tryptich, three paintings of a skull and a snake and a pentagram. Somehow it had been prophesized that the world would end. And Justina was part of it.

Iago grinned. "Well, let's cut the chat and get on with it..."


A Voc robot detected the blood trail of Kaston Iago and followed it onto a walkway. The trail ended by an open junction box and a small chronometer device. There was no sign of any body. The Voc turned away to make a report to its human masters.

All evidence suggested Iago had vanished from the surface of the planet Kaldor.


Kaston Iago was in Uvanov's office with Justina. It was like he was dreaming, or maybe he was having a flashback. As he remembered, he was speaking with Uvanov's secretary, discussing arrangements. He told Justina to get rid of the Wallbank painting of a pentagram, warning her red attracted psychopaths.

And then all of a sudden, Iago could move and speak and do things different from how he remembered.

So he grabbed the painting off the wall and cut it to shreds with a knife.

When Justina tried to stop him, he drew his clipgun and shot her. And then he emptied the rest of the clip into her twitching corpse to make sure.

Justina was dead. The painting was destroyed. The future he had witnessed now could not occur, at least how he remembered it. Iago was free, and out of the Fendahl's reach. He could resume his work with Kaldor City with the benefit of foresight, killing more people than before, creating more chaos...

"Do you ever get the feeling you've been cheated, Iago?" asked a voice from the doorway.

Iago spun around. It was Carnell. But he shouldn't have been there. They hadn't met yet. Carnell should have been in his office on the other side of the city, contemplating Iago's powerplay. But even as he looked, Iago realized that this wasn't Carnell any more than it had been Justina on the walkway. It was just their shape.

The Fendahl.

"Is this real? Or just some hallucination?" Iago demanded.

It was a test, Iago, sneered Carnell. Or should I say Archer? You've long lost any touch with right or wrong, rewriting history again and again so you could kill people. Criminals, potential criminals and then anything with a pulse. Until your time machine stranded you here in the future with the face of a notorious intergalactic terrorist. Kerr Avon. Kaston Iago.

"I suppose I liked the man. He certainly killed enough people to earn my respect," Iago admitted. "When he shot that fool Blake on Gauda Prime, I was able to take over from him with that stupid computer. I learned a lot about his pathetic life, and it let me have great fun with the rebels until they finally worked it out."

And so you came here, to Kaldor. I hope you had fun, Frank Archer. Because you had the ear of the gestalt, the love of Justina. And you've shown her how you repaid that love. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, Iago. Shall we put that to the test?

The office was fading away, Carnell was golden and glowing, strange eyes forming on his eyelids.

Iago or Avon or Archer or whoever he was, tried to think of something witty to say.

He failed.


The Sewerpits were full of screams. The Tarenists and the cutthroats and the whores and the rapists and thieves were running for the ladders and shanty towns. Giant headless green serpents sprouting frothing red fronds were surging out from the lower levels, freezing those around them into paralysis and feasting on them at their liesure. A golden figure appeared on a walkway.

The Fendahl rises and this world shall shine...


"Dead?" exclaimed Uvanov incredulously. "But where's the body?"

"There's no sign, sir," said the nameless security guard Uvanov intended to have thrown into the sewerpits stark naked at the earliest opportunity. "The body just vanished, the blood splashes and everything. Even if he found some medical attentions, chances are he still would have karked it."

"That's unacceptable!"

"Well, what do you want me to do about?"

"You can show some damned respect for my position for a start!"

"Or what?" scoffed the guard. "Your pet psycho's gone, mate. We're the one with the stun-kills, so maybe you show a bit of respect for us."

Uvanov was apoplectic with fury. Landerchild was amused. "Your natural authority in evidence once again, Uvanov," he sneered. "No founder family member would allow such familiarity. See, you loosen discipline and the entire structure just falls apart."

"Shut up you anodyne stream of vegetarian piss!" Uvanov bellowed, then turned to the guard. "Do you want to end up in the sewerpits?"

The guard aimed his gun at Uvanov. "Do you want to end up in a mortuary?"

Despite his enjoyment of seeing Uvanov squirm, Landerchild's instincts were to side with him. After all, Uvanov was the superior of the guard and ergo the guard should obey. "Must I summon a hoarde of stop-dums into here to deal with you? You are on Company property and..."

There was another thunderclap from outside.

At that moment, the doors opened and the boardmembers emerged from their discussion. Ingrained obedience made the guard snap to attention, forgetting his mounting rebellion in the face of an organized authority. "Uvanov, Landerchild, we have discused this matter at some length. We have agreed that Carnell has been trying to destabilize the natural order of Kaldor City and has provided evidence to undermine your reputations and authority. However, while we are not convinced either of you are the single mastermind behind the recent outrages, both your integrities have been breeched. We have no confidence in either of you taking the post of Topmaster Chairholder and thus both of you are hereby exiled from this committee until such time as evidence can be found establishing your innocence completely."

"What?" spluttered Uvanov, his voice incredibly shrill.

"This is precisely the ill-considered reaction Carnell was trying to provoke," said Landerchild angrily. "There are no other alternatives to run the Company Board who match our experience or authority."

"We have chosen not to choose," the secretary said flatly. "Kaldor City has gone to wrack and ruin during the leadership of Uvanov. Whatever his abilities in dealing with crises, they continue to happen and Landerchild has offered no viable reparations. The time has come for a new beginning..."

"A new beginning?" squawked Uvanov furiously, pale blue eyes bulging out of his head. "Three times now I've saved this miserable civilization from Taren Capel's robots of death and nothing has changed! What is this new beginning going to be? The same old cycle as ever before, with a needless surplus population on the verge of constant rebellion while we continue to mine useless ores and build useless robots!"

"This anarchic paranoia is one of the many reasons we have lost confidence," began the secretary.

"Paranoia? You're only paranoid when you're wrong and I'm never wrong!" shouted Uvanov. "I fought my way to rule this planet and I will not give up now. I could unleash a robot revolution before the hour is out - I know how it's done. I can use the Tarenists to take away the air you breathe or have killers slaughter each and every one of you in your beds! I am not in your boardroom, fellow members - you are in mine!"

"At last," drawled Landerchild. "The truth."

"Yes, the truth!" Uvanov ranted. "I've got rid of everyone who could possibly stop me. You and the others in this room are just for show, a pretence at there being another option to my rule. It is your resistance to me, your sickening refusal to accept the situation, that has forced me to take these measures."

"Measures?" exclaimed the secretary. "You really are guilty of all the crimes?"

"And more!" said the ex-Chairholder with relish. "So you should all be very, very afraid of me. Kaldor City is a dictatorship and I am the dictator - you are nothing more than scenery dressing that I no longer require!"

"You're going to murder us too?" The secretary was unimpressed. "How many people have already died because of you, Uvanov? Are you going to murder everyone in Kaldor City?"

"No one's given me a compelling reason not to," growled Uvanov. "You've all chosen to stand against me, well that's fine - but the penalty for you free will is death!"

His voice had dropped to an almost hypnotic snarl. Everyone stared at Uvanov in amazement.

And then the guard casually aimed his plasma rifle to the back of Uvanov's head and blew his skull apart. There was a messy burst of blood, bone and brains yet even Landerchild couldn't deny there was a real dignity with the way the headles corpse slowly sank to its knees and then toppled forward onto the carpet.

More thunder rumbled outside.

"That was for my aunt," said the guard. "Everyone forgot poor old Toos."

He turned and left.


"This is Kaldor City News - all the news, all the facts, all the time. As the City reels from the latest Tarenist attacks, word is coming in that notorious terrorist and mass murderer Elska Blayes has been executed while carrying out an unprovoked attack on the household of Firstmaster Chairholder Uvanov. The Company Board are currently in seclusion following this momentous day but reports are coming in from all across the Sewerpits of a second Tarenist uprising which has already claimed countless lives..."


A flyer sliced through the stormy skies under the dome of Kaldor City to the hospital complex. Inside, Landerchild sat in the passenger seat while his Voc piloted the craft. "Never mind the press release," he was shouting into the communicator channel. "Uvanov's death will be reported later, I want full details released on my sayso. As new Firstmaster Chairholder, I want all exits to this city closed. On no account is anyone to be believed. Carnell is still at large and, like Uvanov, I won't believe Iago's dead until I see his body!"

"Yes, sir," said the personal assistant. "However, the Tarenist uprising has already hit the media. It seems that they are using the same bio-warfare used to attack Uvanov's residence. Hallucinations, mass panic, some kind of rapid decomposition..."

"Chemical weapons, obviously," said Landerchild briskly. "Very well, isolate the Sewerpits. Put Kaldor City under strict quarantine - no exceptions. We need to contain this. I want a thorough search of everything Uvanov was up to. If he can turn robots into killers, we can send a squad of Vocs into the Sewerpits and put those machine-hating maniacs out of my misery."

"Order underway."

"I want to be able to appear on the morning news saying everything is under control and actually tell the truth for once. Uvanov's purges could easily continue for the short term, if I don't like what's happening." The new Firstmaster shut off the comm-link. He'd seen first hand what unchecked threats lead to, but the first days of a new regime needed to be harsh.

"Now, where the hell has Cotton got to?"


Poul was in a sandminer. Everywhere he went, he was surrounded by dead men. Tarenists, company staff, even some of the old Storm Mine 4 crew who'd been strangled.

"Paullus," said a voice. There was someone right behind him, but Poul couldn't see who it was. The voice didn't sound familiar. "Who is that?"

"You tell me," growled the voice. "Paullus, you're the leader of the Tarenists, you worked with Blayes..."

"Did I?" Poul frowned. "No, I'm Company Security. D84 and I were on a mission..."

"This isn't real, Paullus. You've been swallowed up into a group mind. Your body's probably a shriveled corpse somehwere. None of this is real."

"Then how do I know you're real?"

"You don't."

"That's not helpful."

"It wasn't intended to be. Don't you see the truth, Paullus? Look around you..."

Poul shook his head. "No, I have work to do. Those letters need checking out and I'm sure Uvanov is up to something. He and Kerril have been meeting in secret..."

"Paullus! Come back!" Kaston Iago sighed. "This is my damnation. Unable to interfere. I can't even kill that twitching ginger baboon... If I believed in justice, I still wouldn't deserve this..."


Landerchild strode across the hallway into the intensive care ward and stopped dead as he saw Cotton - or, rather, his plasma-bullet-riddled corpse lying on the corner of the ward. Landerchild looked at the boulder-like dimensions of Security Commander Rull, still in traction.

"What happened?" Landerchild gasped.

"I happened, Landerchild!" growled Rull, one fleshy arm pointing a plasma handgun at him. "I worked it all out - Cotton was working for you all the time, and you've been building yourself up to take over from Uvanov using point zero five of my wages!"

"Uvanov is dead," said Landerchild flatly. "I am now Firstmaster Chairholder of the Company Board!"

"Oh, really?" Rull's bloated face creased in merriment. "I've never killed a Firstmaster Chairholder before!"

"Don't be foolish, Rull! I need your experience and authority in this matter. Kaldor City is in quarantine and now Cotton is dead, you are in charge of all security matters - whether you're bedridden or not. Besides, Cotton has six impact points, he's been shot six times. And even I am aware of the calibre of your hand-weapon - it only takes six cartriges."

"Too true - but I damn well reloaded, you skinny streak of piss!"

Rull pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. His finger would not close properly. In fact, his hand wouldn't obey him. He couldn't move. "Wh-what?" he mumbled.

"Well, if we've dealt with that infantile display of feral psychosis," Landerchild smiled bloodlessly, "there is a far greater problem. This hospital complex is situated dangerously near the Sewerpits, dangerously because the Tarenists have unleashed a new weapon and is wiping out..."

"I can't move!" Rull shouted.

"You did break your spine in fourteen separate places." Landerchild took a step forward... but he couldn't. "I... I can't move either! What's happening? Nurse? Nurse!" he shouted, but was answered only by a distant choked-off scream. "It's the Tarenists! They're attacking!"

"Do something!" Rull shouted.

"I can't!" Landerchild yelled helplessly. "Maybe Cotton could have done something if you hadn't killed him..."

There was a slurred, slithering dragging sound from the hallway.

"Help!" screamed Rull. "Somebody! Help us!"

"No, this is not possible, I refuse to accept this!" Landerchild ranted. "I will not be the Firstmaster Chairholder of a doomed empire..."

The snake monster unhurriedly squelched through the doorway towards them.


Outside Kaldor City itself, Storm Mine 6 was drawing into dock. Its holds were filled with rich ores and minerals, more than anyone had expected. But it was also undermanned - the recent robot revolt had claimed all but the lives of the Commander, Chief Mover and Chief Fixer. Having survived the inexplicable murder spree and its equally-random solution, without the comfort of knowing what had caused or cured it, they were tense and irritable as they returned to Kaldor City to find their entrance barred.

The dockmaster, a stern woman with a strong accent who sounded like she had just been eating broken glass, made it clear that Kaldor City was under strict quarantine. Only the Firstmaster Chairholder's direct permission could allow the Storm Mine to enter the city.

"But I have a full cargo!" shouted the Commander angrilly up at the comm screen. "What am I supposed to do until then?"

The three humans watched as a strange sad, almost haunted expression crossed the dockmaster's overly-made-up face. "We're all in this together," she said softly, and broke the link.

Fuming, the Commander barked an order to SV6.

The Storm Mine began to curve away from the doomed city, but not totally escaping the threat.

The Chief Fixer was starting to have headaches...


"Occam's Razor," Kaston Iago told Landerchild.

"Checkmate," he agreed and then disappeared.

Iago fumed. Time had no meaning but he had spent far too long navigating this hellscape. Each soul the Fendahl consumed was dumped in their own foggy, peaceful dreamscape. The individuals of Kaldor City were instinctively refusing to be absorbed into the gestalt. Iago had half-hoped he could organize some kind of rebellion in the style of the far-from-lamented Roj Blake, to tear the Fendahl apart from the inside. Yes, to be the thing that killed Death would definitely appeal to Iago.

But everyone he met was caught in their own dreams. Take Landerchild, for example, who was convinced he was in his own residence and convinced Iago was on some kind of mission for Uvanov. Iago had finally managed to break the illusion, but Landerchild vanished. Had he finally been digested by the Fendahl? Or simply been relocated to another part of this dream world?

Either way, Iago had to start again.

He set off across the non-landscape, trying to cheer himself up with the idea he'd killed Landerchild.


The Voc robot sat at a news desk on Kaldor City News, repeating the same announcement as before - the city was under quarantine and all citizens were advised to stay tuned to the channel for further updates. Hardly anyone was still watching. The broadcasting centre had been abandoned, and mummified corpses dotted those who had already been consumed by the undulating forms of the Fendahleen.

One of them slithered into the studio and regarded the Voc for a moment, before sliding off again.

The Fendahl ate life and there was no life here.

Not yet.


Storm Mine 6 rolled away from Kaldor City into the sunrise. Aboard, the three surviving crew had gone their separate ways. The Commander was in his cabin, beginning his memoirs. The Chief Mover was walking the corridors, convincing himself this mysterious catastrophe was only temporary and that the dockmaster had said "We must all pull together" - the implication being that there was a solution, if everyone just complicated. He liked that, he could believe in that, he had to believe in that.

The Chief Fixer remained in the engineering decks. Only three of the robots had gone on the rampage and then reverted to their normal obedient behavior. Deciding not to take the risk of future attacks, she had spiked them through the heads with laserson probes. At least, that is what she had told the others.

Like any Fixer, she had a deep-rooted fascination with cybernetics and robotics. She had deduced some kind of computer virus had turned the robots into killers, before it had been nullified. But what would that do to a robot brain? When a human caught a disease, the process of fighting off the illness changed it fundamentally - the immune system altered, their very personality changed by the fact of being sick. What would a positronic brain do under that stimulation?

She didn't know. But she wanted to find out.

So she had spared one of the killer robots, and killed another in its place. The former killer - now named V23 - would be her test subject. She would watch and see how he developed. After all, there was nothing else to do until the quarantine was lifted and also, at the back of her mind with what might have been static or desert winds, she felt this was the right thing to do.


By mid-day, Kaldor City had been purged. The remains of any humans - topmasters, firstmasters, security guards, civilians, Sewerpit scum - were all rotting away into biomass. Their full psychic energy spectrums (their "souls" for want of another term) had all been consumed and absorbed into the Fendahl, a gestalt of fifteen billion individuals all together yet all separate.

The Fendahl, the death god, was all-powerful yet powerless. It needed to adapt and accept.

But in the meantime it settled for engulfing the crews of the last three Storm Mines in the desert.

Storm Mine 6 and its odd crew were left the last survivors on Kaldor.


A long way away in both time and space, the Time Lords of Gallifrey watched on. They had watched the Fendahl manifest on the fifth planet of Earth's solar system, and had used their powers to destroy and timeloop the doomed world. A tiny part of the Fendahl had escaped to begin on Earth.

Some said the Fendahl had affected all humanoid evolution and even the Time Lords themselves had been touched by it - why else their humanoid forms, their race memory, their fear of the number thirteen? - but no one listened to them. No one wanted to. Apart from anything else, believing the Fendahl had created absolutely everything in the whole universe made conversations rather dull.

The Time Lords watched as the Doctor stopped the Fendahl manifesting for a second time, hurling a skull into the Canthares Supernova and unwittingly giving it greater energy and superpowers. They saw the skull spat out into the deserts of a distant planet and begin again.

They saw enough.

And the Time Lords acted.


Time froze, cause and effect suspended for a long moment and then history reverberated like a plucked guitar string. Deftly, the timeline of events that embraced Kaldor in the third century of the Second Calender was cut away. The Axis of Insanity, the cosmic vault of redundant timelines, opened wide to absorb this version of reality but instead it was banished from all possible continuities.

No one missed it.


A policeman named Frank Archer returned home one night with his wife and did not find a scorched body on his carpet, nor did he discover a personalized time machine he could use to inflict vigilante justice. He lived a very dull and unremarkable life and died in obscurity. As such, he could never end up in the distant future and take up the name Kaston Iago, but that was of little consequence, given that future no longer existed for him to visit anyway.

If the Doctor suspected that the Fendahl was influencing him into throwing it into a supernova, then arguing with Leela about whether or not K9 counted as a "he" kept him distracted. So distracted, however, he didn't spot the time scoop that snatched up the Fendahl skull en route to the supernova and protect it over one hundred trillion years into the future where the universe was a vast lifeless wasteland of decomposing matter.

The skull drifted in the darkness. It did not have the powers of a supernova now, nor did it have anything to use its influence on. Eventually the binding blocks of the physical universe weakened, and the skull was lost in the soup of disintegrating atoms.

The Fendahl was extinguished. It never sunk its psionic claws into the civilization of the planet Kaldor and so its static civilization, by necessity, also vanished in a puff of logic. A very different Kaldor City flickered into always have been. The fashions were unchanged, but the City itself was one of several on Kaldor. The psychosis and mindless complexity had been removed and the people who lived there were much kinder and friendlier - but probably just as cynical and sarcastic as before.

The Kaldor City Company was not some quasi-aristocratic inbred court that ran the city as a dictatorship. It was just another offshoot of the Conglomerate, with heavy interests in storm-mining desert planets and producing Voc robots for that quadrant of the galaxy. The TARDIS now brought the Doctor and Leela to Kaldor over a hundred thousand years in the past, to encounter different Uvanovs and Pouls and more-straightforwardly-insane Taren Capel. Following the destruction of the mad scientist, the Company hushed up the threat of killer robots - but there was always a robophobic around as Liv Chenka and another version of the Doctor were to discover a few weeks later on the Voc-transporter Lorelei...

The Time Lords had struck at the Fendahl once again, and this time it had worked.

But perhaps they should have turned their eyes to the other side effects of their interference. Although Kaldor was freed from the Fendahl, its mix of hard-working colonists and aristocratic founders had much more to worry about than potentially-murderous Voc robots. For at the edges of the system a battle fleet was gathering, an invasion force of Daleks lead by a time traveling Dalek about to engage a four-dimensional conflict against the Time Lords themselves.

It was said that nature abhors a vacuum. Removing the Fendahl had created a niche for the Daleks to occupy - the position of a threat to all life kind throughout the entire history of the universe.


Of course, the other version of Kaldor City still existed in some form. You can't kill a dream, after all.

And in this furthermost corner of the shadowlands, the desert planet still floated in space as if nothing had happened. The billions of people in Kaldor City had all been swallowed up by the Fendahl, leaving thousands of Voc robots leaderless and tending empty buildings and factories.

Storm Mine 6 described a figure of eight in the Blind Heart desert as its crew continued their descent into madness - or enlightenment, depending on your point of view. The Commander tried to understand the situation, the Chief Mover ignored it and the Chief Fixer had troubled dreams and heard noises in her head. Sometimes her skin seemed to almost glow with golden light. V23 observed and learned and developed.

Days passed. Weeks. Months. Years.


Iago had long abandoned trying to communicate with the others in the gestalt. This was his punishment, to remain the perpetual outsider standing in the shadow of a giant tree formed out of fused bodies. Some, not many, but some had become truly part of the Fendahl. They whispered and thought and hungered.

The Fendahl had fed and now it wished to breed. But there was no organic life left on Kaldor for it to reshape or reprogram, to create anew so it would allow the Fendahl to manifest one day further in the future. Or was there?

There were four individuals left on Kaldor, the crew of the last Storm Mine. And one of them was a robot, a living thinking robot in a mine full of all the materials needed to build more robots on a planet of robots. A new race could be created to take humanity's place.

Iago listened and watched.

The robot could evolve, but it needed stimulation - a mutation generator. A random factor. The Fendahl chose Elska Blayes. The Fendahl had absorbed her too, of course, even after she'd died. Blayes could not truly become part of the gestalt but that was the point. She was a killer, a mass murderer who took life on instinct. And if some part of the Fendahl still Justina enjoyed the idea of using Iago's murderer, then perhaps that was another reason.

The Fendahl used its powers to forge a brand new, living body for Elska Blayes - healthy and unscarred. Blayes untouched memories and personalities from the moment of her death were poured into her flesh and the new creation forced into the physical universe.

Iago was ready. He pounced, grabbed hold of his murderer as she became flesh and blood and they were both spat out into the quicksand like sea of dust. Iago was a parasite, a surge of random data and unwanted thoughts in the resurrected Blayes. But that would be enough. He was real, he could manipulate Blayes, he could make sure that the Fendahl was frustrated.

Somehow, someway, he would make sure Blayes destroyed this new robot and all the other humans and took her chances in the desert. He would have his revenge on Blayes, Kaldor, the Fendahl and the whole stinking disgrace of life kind. Kaston Iago - Frank Archer - would finally achieve his apotheosis...


It had been eighteen months since Kaldor City had been quarantined. The Commander's love of geology had become his occupying obsession as he carved stones into chess pieces and brooded on the ideas that mankind was just part of a greater process of evolution. The Chief Mover was now happily deluded that this was all temporary; every day he listened to the recording of the last communication and every day he pretended it was not falling apart. The Chief Fixer had practically vanished, communicating through V23 and avoiding them all. She had become attuned to the voices in her head, and like the Fendahl she quizzed V23 if it had begun to dream of the gestalt. The robot claimed not; the robot was lying.

One day, in the hours before a lethal sandstorm engulfed the Painted Sea, the Commander and the Chief Mover were performing a ore-sample survey when they spotted a dark shape at the bottom of the hill. They cautiously made their way down the quicksilver-like hills towards the shape. It was the body of an attractive young woman in nondescript clothes, quite unconscious.

"She's alive," the Chief Mover observed, ordering the robots to take her back to the flyer. "But how did she get all the way out here? She couldn't have walked, could she?"

"That would be unlikely, given she would have starved, dehydrated or been cut to pieces by the sand," the Commander agreed. "But perhaps she knows a secret to desert survival that we don't? Or perhaps she fell out of her flyer while passing overhead? Or maybe her flyer crashed?"

"Do you think there are any other survivors?"

"I've ruminated at length upon that subject as you know and I believe..."

"Like this woman!"

"Ah, yes. Well, who is to say she was travelling with others. There is certainly no sign of a crashed flyer, or any other bodies. Besides, according to my chronometer, we have only fifteen and half minutes before the storm hits. Do we spend that time in a desperate search or should we return to the Mine and ask this delectable young lady what's happened?"

The Chief Mover fumed. "Eighteen months and the first sign of another human being like this... It's almost like we're being set up!"

They were crossing back to the flyer. The woman lay unconscious in the backseat between two Vocs.

"The odds of her just ending up where you were doing the survey are astronomical."

"But not impossible. Even unlikely things happen, they just don't happen so often." The Commander smiled through his beard. "Yes, I like that. One for the memoirs."

The flyer lifted up and swooped across the valley to the vast hulk of the Storm Mine.

"Aren't you at all interested? We'd have detected any flyer in the area. We've been sending signals every hour of every day. How could we have missed each other?"

"It doesn't matter."

"Why doesn't it matter?"

"Because she's here, a physical fact. I think I'll let her be your personal project. Assuming she's not already."

The Chief Mover groaned. "Sometimes I feel like everything's falling apart."

The woman in the back groaned as she slowly began to return to consciousness. No one bar her could hear the triumphant voice of Kaston Iago whispering cruel nothing into her mind, any more than they could see the creature that had replaced the Chief Fixer aboard the Mine sense with satsifaction the arrival of Elska Blayes, a mutation generator that would begin a whole new form of life.


Back in reality, a short Scotsman in a straw hat emerged from a charcoal-black police box and helped himself to a data record of the space vessel Lorelei on its course between Kaldor and the neighboring planet Ventralis in the Nixyce star system.

He had temporarily parted company with his friends Ace and Hex, developing a brand new TARDIS to wage a campaign against the sudden rise of Elder Gods. It seemed that while he still had the Animus, the Great Intelligence, Moloch and Weyland to deal with at least the Fendahl had already been taken care of - ripped out of history as though it had never been there.

The screen was a Kaldor City Company security report.

It was eventually discovered that the robotics genius Taren Kapel had smuggled himself aboard the Sandminer, assuming the identity of a crew-member. Having been raised almost exclusively in the company of robots, he had a distorted sense of priorities, feeling that robots had been exploited and that it was their time to rise up and destroy their ‘human masters’. His aim was to create a robot revolution, in which all of humanity would be wiped out by the robots. He therefore broke the fundamental programming of the robots on the Sandminer, causing them to begin the systematic murder of the crew. Luckily, the Sandminer Captain, Commander Uvanov, gained control of the situation and a company agent was able to trigger a robot deactivation device.

No subtexts, no conspiracies, no implied and extrapolated bias. Just the facts, plain and simple.

"Hmmm," said the little man thoughtfully. "Interesting how history gets distorted."

This time, at least, it had been distorted for the better.