| Steven Taylor Adventures
| Preceded by|
| Followed by|
| Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart Adventures
| Preceded by|
| Followed by|
Originally posted: 11th October 1996 - 16th December 1996
K. Michael Wilcox
- Various genres and stories are evoked and parodied: Warner Brothers cartoons (the falling anvil), Mills and Boon novels, detective fiction (Chandler, etc.), the Narnia books, and traditional mythic narratives.
- Greek mythology: Sisyphus puts in an appearance, as does the all-powerful Zeus (the Greek god, not Susannah Tiller).
- There's also a new twist on Lewis Carroll (a Cheshire leopard).
- The scenes in the library are reminiscent of both Ghostbusters and The Addams Family movie.
- The First Doctor's "This civilization is sterile, easily led, and extremely xenopho- zenofo- afraid of the unlike" and "I don't want to see you turning this into your private Shangi- shanril- version of paradise."
- Talk of an "old Elder".
- In Chapter One, the transport of choice is an ornithopter, but in Chapter Three it seems to be a flitter. [Many types of vehicles with a connection to the Doctor are kept around the place - the flitter in honour of Chris Cwej, the ornithopter from the Doctor's Merlin period.]
- The future companion's name is spelt as both Alessa and Allesa when introduced in Chapter Two, Allesa in Chapters Three and Four, Alessa again in Chapter Five, Allesa in Chapters Six and Seven, both in Chapter Eight, and Allessa in Chapter Nine.
- Some stuff about fictional energy and dimensional crossovers in Alessa's dialogue in Chapter Three - justly summed-up by Kadiatu as "Bollocks".
- What happened to all the fictional and dream characters? [They went back to the Land of Fiction with Valaxia.]
Doctor Who In-jokes
- Steven to Kadiatu: "Have you been to Thirtieth Century Earth yet? Some of our historians found an incomplete record of your being there. They were in the process of reconstructing it when their data storage crashed." "Ouch." "[...] Just shows the importance of keeping a hard copy." [Well, quite.]
- "It might be a good idea if you were to pretend that we didn't have this discussion. If Dodo thought I'd coerced you into staying, she'd probably never forgive me." The First Doctor upholds TV continuity. Thankfully, the Seventh Doctor never thought of it, or else countless NA-authors' careers may never have taken off.
- The planet has a Foreman City, a Benny Lane, the Perpugilliam Brown Greenhouse, a Mel Bush trench ("it's quite thin, and surprisingly deep even though it doesn't look it"), a memorial to Sara Kingdom, the Grant Markham: MIA monument, and a huge, gold memorial statute of Adric in Conscience Square.
- "This world practically worships the Doctor! Your people have created an entire mythological structure around his exploits." Wonder who the Elders and Outsiders are meant to be, then. At least they aren't parasites, like they used to be.
- The Moderator — the new guiding intelligence of the Land of Fiction, created by the Time Lords.
- "aM!xitsa and I are going to use the back entrance and launch a sneak attack."
- "Oh bugger this, I've got two more of these things going on and writers dropping out all over the place, so just stab her with the bloody sword and we can all get on with our lives." The Moderator hath spoken.
- "Too close to the truth. A spot of re-writing is necessary."
- Valaxia questions Steven's show of courage: "This Taylor thinks to bring me down with nothing more significant than the prick of a needle?"
OK, so some of these are obviously intentionally disastrous. In which case, the authors can feel pleased with themselves ;-)
- Kadiatu, to a man two decades older than her: "Don't talk down to me, boy!" (Ch. 2)
- "Garth. Garth Pectoral, and I will always be your humble slave." [Game on!] (Ch. 5)
- Just about every word that comes out of cliché-wielding demoness Valaxia's mouth.
- "Of all the worlds in all the galaxies, why did you have to walk into mine?" (Ch. 9)
- "It's so wonderful here." "It's hot." "But in a wonderful way." (Ch. 2)
- "A large...horse brought me here." (Ch. 2)
- "Something's wrong. With the universe. Can't you feel it? It's like an orchestra with one instrument out of tune." (Ch. 2)
- "What've you done with your brain?" (Ch. 4)
- "There is an unusual weather disturbance occurring locally." "Where?""In aisle three." (Ch. 5)
- "Excuse me, but you aren't actually real." (Ch. 7)
- "My music is the little sleep that brings death to us all." (Ch. 8)
- "You're learning sarcasm. There's hope for you yet." (Ch. 9)
- Steven is 47 and feeling his age. He was on Mechanus for five years, and has been on the Elder's planet for twenty [so he is about 26 in The Chase]. He trained as a fighter pilot. He remembers Scoopbills on Mechanus. He seems to know what a Jackson Pollack mural looks like. He thinks of his time with the Doctor as "the glorydays". The Doctor convinced him to stay on the Elder's planet. During that discussion, the Doctor mentioned Braxiatel and the Monk. Both he and Steven knew the consequences they would face should the Doctor contact his own people. (All from Stephen's memory.)
- Kadiatu's voice is "an alto, extremely pleasing to the ear [...] with no trace of hesitation or fear". The Worldsphere is her home away from home. She drinks a citrus drink. She doesn't appear to have met the Eighth Doctor yet ("Nobody can be the Doctor. I am most certainly not the Doctor, I am his opposite").
- aM!xitsa is in constant communication with the Worldsphere. He dreams of binary rain.
- Alessa comes from Arizona. She is psychic (her abilities include making people remember things that didn't happen, as Kadiatu finds out), and travels with a post-Seventh Doctor. From her point of view, people always turn to her in a crisis.
- The Doctor is held in high esteem by the Elders (as he reminded Steven, several times). They are no longer parasites, and live happily with the Outsiders. Their knowledge of the Doctor is much more detailed and full than when we last saw them.
- This story comes closer than "The Savages" did to giving the Elder's planet a name. They seem to have given it this name within living memory. It has ten syllables, though is usually shortened to its acronym, and Stephen can't bring himself to say it. [We're guessing it's Time and Relative Dimension(s) in Space.] The planet has fields, seas, "a somewhat shorter year than Earth", and more than one sun. The planet's Council building also houses the Library, and is near a Librarian Square.
- The title comes from the animal associated with Kadiatu in the The Also People, and Steven's mascot, Hi-Fi, in The Chase. The setting links to Steven's departure in The Savages.
- Stephen knows about either Vicki or Dodo's death ("It's a long, sad story" — so, that's either the Greek myth of Troilus and Cressida, later one of Shakespeare's tragedies, or Who Killed Kennedy).
- Jadi Morok seems to have been a recent visitor to the planet (Steven can't remember his name properly), and the library contains a book called A Life Full of Surprises: The Unauthorised Autobiography of Jadi Morok, Bounty Hunter.
- There is a brief, mythic synopsis of The Curse of Fenric in Chapter Five.
- The planet of the Elders and the Outsiders, the far future (twenty years after The Savages)
- God and aM!xitsa stopped the Time Lords' attempts to extradite the First Doctor after he had negotiated a treaty between Gallifrey and the Worldsphere (see: The Also People, Walking to Babylon and Dead Romance). The Doctor was travelling with Steven and a young woman at the time. [Presumably, Steven learnt about the Time Lords during these events.]
The Bottom Line
"For a brief second, every dream or song or fable or lie he'd ever been told had seemed true." The IAs' first (and most subtle) open foray into both fantasy and metafiction starts and ends very well, wanders a little in the middle but remains generally good throughout. The brevity of the story suits the light subject matter and sustains the central image.
Highlights include the presentation of aM!xitsa in Chapters Four and Nine (both illustrating that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery), and the legend of King Steven at the start of Chapter Five. The hard-boiled dick narrative ascribed to Kadiatu jars, but does ultimately work in context. The legend and description of Valaxia are good, even though her dialogue is agonisingly trite.
Kadiatu's opinion of Alessa in Chapter Nine is engaging and well-written. Alessa herself is a strong creation - interesting and original, confrontational without being unsympathetic, and she works well with Kadiatu (perhaps showing some signs of how a Kadiatu-Dorothee relationship might work).
Ultimately, despite Valaxia's claims, reality is stronger because it refuses to co-operate. And that's beautiful.