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Dr Who - Radio Special 01 - Slipback - Eric Saward 0.9

By Sandra Mcdonald,2014-06-13 23:02
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Dr Who - Radio Special 01 - Slipback - Eric Saward 0.9

DOCTOR WHO

SLIPBACK

ERIC SAWARD

***

    Based on the BBC radio serial by Eric Saward by arrangement with the British Broadcasting Corporation

***

A Target Book

    Published in 1987 By the Paperback Division of W.H. Allen & Co. PLC 44 Hill Street, London W1X 8LB

    First published in Great Britain by W. H. Allen & Co. PLC 1986

Novelisation copyright ? Eric Saward, 1986

Original script copyright ? Eric Saward, 1985

    'Doctor Who' series copyright Q. British broadcasting Corporation, 1985, 1986 Typeset in Baskerville by Fleet Graphics, Enfield, Middlesex

    Printed and bound in Great Britain by Anchor Brendon Ltd, Tiptree, Essex

ISBNO 426 20263 5

    This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way

    of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed upon the subsequent purchaser.

***

CONTENTS

Part One: In the Beginning ...

1 The Vipod Mor

2 The Life and Times of Shellingborne Grant

3 Something Nasty in the Ducting

4 'This Is the Captain of Your Ship ...'

Part Two: ... Goodnight and Amen

5 The Dissolute Time Lord

6 Bath Time

7 The Voice Within

8 'Mr' Seedle and 'Mr' Snatch

9 The Search Begins

10 The Meeting of the Minds

11 The Search Ends

***

For Jane, with fondest love.

***

PART ONE: In the Beginning ...

***

1 The Vipod Mor

    The galaxy of Setna Streen was not unlike our own so-called Milky Way. At its centre, a mass of stars seemed to form a flat dice or hub. Spiralling out from this were what appeared to be 'S'-shaped spokes that tapered into thin mists. In fact, the whole thing, when viewed from afar, looked very much like a Catherine wheel frozen in all its glory.

    The more romantic' preferred to see it as another sort of wheel, its rim now broken and decayed, but one that was once part of a chariot that carried some long-forgotten god across the heavens. As most galaxies are of a similar shape, cynics were heard to echo that this mobile deity was a rather reckless and messy driver. Not only did he appear to break a great many wheels, but he was very casual in the way he abandoned his debris all over the universe.

    Now, it is interesting to note that towards the end of the twentieth century, a man from Earth, by the name of Horace Noakes, set out to prove that the 'chariot wheel' theory was true.

    Of course people laughed, especially as he cited the so called myths put about by the ancient Greeks. Horace reasoned that these were not stories inspired by a surfeit of retsina or ouzo, but genuine sightings.

    When the scientific establishment had stopped sneering, they started to examine his evidence more closely, hoping that it would provide them with a few more smirks and sniggers.

    In his book The Giants Who Walked the Heavens - An Every-day Story of Cosmos Folk, Horace went on to argue the significance of the Zodiac signs.

    As we now know, the various group of stars we call constellations are not related in any way at all. In fact, many of the stars making up such a cluster are often separated by hundreds of light years. It is only the perspective placed on them, when viewed from Earth, that gives them any form of tenuous relationship. This, of course, is known by any three-year old with an IQ of minus ten. The real puzzle was why those particular stars had been chosen to make up the configuration imposed upon them, when it was obvious to a dead Voltrox that they didn't resemble the image they were supposed to represent.

Horace had an answer for this.

    He reckoned that the ancient Greeks knew that these stars were vast distances apart and that the various clusters were never meant to represent the named images they were given, but were simply reference points to establish the size and shape of. a living person or creature they had seen in the heavens.

    The howls of hysterical laughter from the scientific establishment grew louder and coarser. -

    In an attempt to create some sort of credibility, Horace set about proving mathematically that the proportions of his heavenly giants were on the same scale as the spiral galaxies, and that such enormous people required wheels of similar dimension for their carts and chariots.

    This was too much for the scientists. Sick with laughter, they took

    out their pocket calculators and started to prod and jab at them, in the laid-back way mathematicians do, pausing only to crack subtle, academic jokes such as: 'I'd've hated to clear up after a horse the size necessary to pull such a chariot!'

    But as the digital answers flashed up on their digital screens, they paused and wiped the tears of laughter from their faces. Horace's calculations seemed to be correct. 'It wasn't possible!' they cried as one voice. And not wanting to appear any more foolish than they were, they immediately set about trying to find other ways to discredit him.

    But they could have saved their effort as they had already succeeded in planting the seeds of ridicule in people's minds. When Horace's book was finally published, it was viciously attacked by the critics. This was sad, as no-one had been able to disprove anything he had written. It was even sadder that the critics, blinded by their own prejudice, could not see the energy, grace and skill that had gone into the book's construction. Even if, as they believed, every word was untrue, they chose to ignore the incredible flights of imagination necessary to argue such a theory. But worse still - as they were supposedly people of education and letters - they could not see or appreciate the pure, good writing which was on the page.

    Although the book sold well, it was bought for all the wrong reasons. People would memorise passages from it, then regurgitate them at drinks parties, laughing. like blocked drains as they did. It had become chic to mock Horace.

    Unable to cope with the ridicule, Horace retired into obscurity. Two years later he died of a broken heart.

    While Horace had been suffering his terrible torment, a scholar by the name of Grigory Constintine had been working on deciphering a language known as Linear A. Now, so-called Linear A was the written language used by the ancient Greeks. Although scholars had spent a great deal of time attempting to interpret the script, it had remained elusive. That was until Grigory had discovered the key.

    Possessive of his new-found knowledge (and concerned that he might be mistaken), Grigory would not allow anyone in on his secret until he was satisfied that he could decipher any random' Linear A inscription.

    Locked in a small room at the Athens museum, he worked on the many clay tablets which had been discovered on archaeological digs all over Greece.

    But the more he studied, the more he became withdrawn, until people began to believe Grigory had been mistaken, and that he had not been able to decipher the script.

    Then one day he announced that he was to publish his findings. Unfortunately, Grigory showed the only copy of his manuscript to a colleague. Later that evening his work room was broken into and the manuscript along with several vital clay tablets were stolen.

    Neither thief, manuscript nor tablets were ever found. Grigory was convinced this was because the scientific establishment never wanted it, for the missing tablets confirmed Horace Noakes's theory to the last detail.

    Of course, no-one believed Grigory and dismissed his claims as some sort of publicity stunt, which was considered to be in rather bad taste- for a man of his brilliance and academic standing.

    Like Horace, Grigory died a broken man, even though he went down in history as the person who had deciphered Linear A. The year was 1996 AD.

    Now, although Setna Streen was not unlike our own galaxy in shape, there were many major differences. Whereas the Milky Way can only boast of two planets inhabited by intelligent life forms, Setna has seventeen.

    Why Setna proved more conducive to the production of life was a bit of a mystery, as was the fact that the life forms evolved much faster than those in the Milky Way. Some anthropologists have put this development down to the cultivation of the grape.

    On Earth, so-called homo sapiens in his early stage of development seemed happy enough to live in caves, hunt mammoths, dress himself in skins and win the company of a spouse by killing her relatives and then carrying her off to his part of the swamp.

    In Setna Streen it was very different. Long before any member of the galaxy had even learnt the art of making fire, they discovered the joy of over-ripe grapes fermenting on the vine.

    Such was the pleasure derived from eating such fruit that they wanted to experience this delectation all year round. But vines, even in Setna, only produce one crop a year. Therefore it was necessary to find ways to store the grapes.

    To achieve this, they first had to invent the barrel. Once this had been done, they soon learnt that only the juice of the grape was necessary to produce what became known as wine.

    But drinking from a barrel was not only difficult, but wasteful, as it was inclined to be spilt. It was then necessary to invent glass. Not only was it more pleasant to drink out of a leaded crystal goblet, they also found that wine kept very well in bottles.

    Now, as any good vintner knows, cork is still the most effective way to seal a bottle, which meant they had to learn how to smelt iron so that they could invent the corkscrew.

    As we all know, the production of wine also attracts the people from Customs and Excise, who, somehow, along the way, had managed to invent themselves. Now, why the people from C and E should be so interested in wine is still a mystery, for all they want is to tax it, not enjoy the pleasure of its consumption. So it then became necessary for the population of Setna to invent ships and aeroplanes so that they could justify the duty free shop.

And so it went on.

    It is interesting to note that when the joy of wine was discovered on- Earth, massive, wonderfully creative civilisation soon followed - Egypt, Greece, Rome. When these empires crumbled, and wine became a scarce commodity, civilisation sank into the Dark Ages. It wasn't until wine once more became plentiful that surges of energy known as the Renaissance occurred. Fortunately, during one of these periods of creativity, the off-licence was invented, and since then the people o? Earth have never looked back.

    The other inhabited planet of the Milky Way, Snibbits 9, never did invent wine. So, until this day its people still live in caves and commune closely with nature. In some parts of the universe, this planet is known as Paradise; in others as Hell.

    When the history of the universe is finally written, it will; be seen that wine was the greatest single factor in promoting, both artistic and technological evolution.

    Although Setna had had its fair share of both domestic and interplanetary wars, it had also enjoyed periods of harmonious peace, as, in fact,

    it was doing now. Whenever one of these lulls occurred the interplanetary council would meet and try and decide how best to exploit the peace.

    Inevitably, the word tourism would creep into the conversation.

    Now as a rule, tourism usually assists peace. After all, there is nothing better for curing racial prejudice than to pack a-bucket, spade and flip-flops and spend a fortnight visiting foreigners in their own lair. Usually it takes no more than a couple of days to unwind before you become aware of how pleasant and agreeable the natives are. By the end of the first week you have learnt that, apart from the language, you aren't that different from each other after all. By the end of the second week you don't really want to go home. When you finally do, you then spend the long winter months pining over a collection of out of focus holiday snaps and saving to go back, or to somewhere even more foreign.

    Only fools say that travel doesn't broaden the mind. It's true that it is very difficult to develop any major insight into another nation when all you do while there is spend your time activating the melanin in your skin by lying on the beach. But simply being in a foreign land does slowly develop empathy, while at the same time whittling down to size our own national arrogance.

    The same would have been true for the people of Setna if only they had allowed themselves to get on with their holidays. But the authorities wouldn't allow them to.

    Each planet felt that it had more to offer than any of the others, and therefore wanted to be the centre of all tourist activities. Unfortunately, such silly selfishness had led to several interplanetary wars.

    It wasn't until someone suggested that an independent committee be set up to study the tourist possibilities of each planet that any progress was made. Wisely, the committee decided to ignore all 'official' information supplied in favour of their own separate survey.

    When announcing their intention, the committee had expected resistance from the various governments. However, instead, they became very excited and suggested the project be expanded to include a thorough archaeological and anthropological study of each planet too.

    So instead of hiring a freighter, as had been the original plan, money was found to build a proper survey ship, which was to include all the

necessary facilities vital to such a mission

    It took five years to construct the craft and, when finished it was the finest of its kind. As a token of good will, it was painted green, the Setna colour for peace.

Now all the ship lacked was a name.

    At first this proved difficult, as each planet wanted one which reflected its own particular endeavour and commitment to the project. It wasn't until someone suggested the name Vipod Mor that the problem was solved.

    The story concerning Vipod Mor is interesting only in as much as he was an enigma. He only ever made one appearance, but such was its technological brilliance that it has never been forgotten.

    About five hundred years ago, when the planets of Setna were busy putting up artificial satellites, sending out deep space probes and generally showing off by putting people on their respective moons, an old man, looking very much like an Old Testament prophet, came amongst them. He said that his name was Vipod Mor, that he was a Time Lord, an that his mission was to warn the people of Setna against the dangers of experimenting with time-travel.

    Now this seemed rather strange advice, given that technologically the people of Setna were as far away from time experiments as the inventor of the wheel was from being able to build a motor car. This made the people of Setna wonder whether the old boy had simply got the wrong galaxy, or that the whole thing was a massive hoax.

    Neither did it help to clarify the confusion with the method he had used to announce his message. Unlike the prophets of the past, who would drift into town, make their way to the market square, rent a soap box and deliver their message of doom or salvation to a bemused crowd, he had used

television.

    But not in the conventional way. That would have been too simple. Instead he had somehow managed to cut into the regular transmission of every television company on each and every planet of Setna Streen.

    To have achieved such a take-over on just one planet would have been, for those days, a brilliant technological feat. But simultaneously on

all seventeen was a near miracle.

    Of course the various planets didn't know that at the time. It wasn't until a hundred and fifty years later, when the warp engine had been perfected, and interplanetary travel was possible, that the people of Setna learned the truth.

    Yet the mystery remained. Why had Vipod Mor gone to all that trouble? And why had he made his declaration so long before anyone in Setna had the technical skills necessary for time travel?

    The crew of the survey ship Vipod Mor, much to their distress, would find out why.

***

2 The Life and Times of Shellingborne Grant

***

    Running at quarter speed, the Vipod Mor coasted gently through space. Something was wrong with one of the main warp engines. Although the onboard computer searched frantically for the fault, she was unable to locate the precise problem.

    The crew twiddled their thumbs and waited. Waiting was something they weren't used to.

    The ship was now into the eighth year of its ten year mission to survey all the planets of Setna Streen. Up until a week ago the ship had functioned perfectly, requiring nothing more than routine maintenance. Now everything seemed to be going wrong: niggling things that took hours

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