8th Doctor
Interference: Book One
Shock Tactic
by Lawrence Miles
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Cover Blurb
Interference (I)

Five years ago, Sam Jones was just a schoolgirl from Shoreditch. Of course, that was before she met up with the Doctor and found out that her entire life had been stage-managed by a time-travelling voodoo cult. Funny how things turn out, isnít it?

Now Samís back in her own time, fighting the good fight in a world of political treachery, international subterfuge, and good old-fashioned depravity. But sheís about to learn the first great truth of the universe: that however corrupt and amoral your own race might be, thereís always someone in the galaxy who can make you look like a beginner.

Ms Jones has just become a minor player in a million-year-old power struggle... and as it happens, so has the Doctor.

Both of him, actually.

  • Featuring both the Third and Eighth Doctors, Interference is the first ever full-length two-part Doctor Who novel.
  • Released: August 1999

  • ISBN: 0 563 55580 7

The Doctor travels to Foremanís World to discuss matters with his old acquaintance I.M. Foreman. He is trouble by aspects of his most recent adventure on Earth, the one in which he lost Sam, and is convinced that he is missing something vitally important -- something that is connected to his previous encounter with I.M. Foreman on Dust. I.M. Foreman puts aside her new creation, a Universe in a bottle, to listen to the Doctorís story...

Coldicott, an official at the United Nations, uses the Doctorís space-time telegraph to summon him to Earth in 1996, and the Doctor responds reluctantly, knowing that this means Sam is going to leave him. The UN has been contacted by aliens called the Remote who have offered to sell them weapons far beyond anything the Earth has developed at this point in time, but when the Doctor watches the Remoteís promotional video he realizes that they are lying -- and that theyíre human. Sam agrees to wait in London while the Doctor follows a possible lead; meanwhile, Fitz goes to Geneva to ensure that none of the struggling factions in the UN -- particularly not its new Security Yard division, UNISYC -- get their hands on the new weapons. The Remote fail to show up at the appointed time, however, and the Doctor also seems to have disappeared. Sam therefore follows a lead to COPEX, an international conference for ďinternal securityĒ devices -- weapons of torture sold on British soil to countries known to be guilty of appalling human rights violations. Sam, using a set of binoculars borrowed from the 50th century, observes the exhibition from a distance and sees the leader of the Remote, Guest, and a young man named Kode who seems oddly familiar, leaving the exhibition with a man named Alan Llewis -- and with Ogron bodyguards, whom the other exhibitors all assume to be badly-dressed foreigners.

Sam follows Guest back to his hotel, where Sarah Bland, another of Guestís contacts catches her spying; fortunately, she turns out to be an undercover Sarah Jane Smith. Guest has demonstrated his new weapon, a spray called the Cold which can remove its targets the physical Universe, leaving nothing behind at all. Sarah also shows Sam pictures sheís captured from the hotelís television screens; ever since Guest, Kode and Compassion showed up at the hotel, odd interference patterns have been appearing on the hotelís sets. Sarah had a friend of hers blow up the patterns, and she and Sam pick out images of screaming faces and other horrendous images like bat wings -- depicted in fractal patterns more detailed than should be possible on an ordinary 625-line television screen. They attempt to use the binoculars once again, but this time Kode has re-inserted the receiver in his ear which enables him to pick up the local media transmissions, and he sees an image from the binoculars and realizes that he and his associates are being spied upon. Guest and Compassion kidnap Sarah and Sam, intending to question them and determine whether this is the attack that theyíve been expecting.

Compassion fits Sam with a receiver, and Sam experiences something like a flashback to the time she took hard drugs in order to see how far her parents could be pushed. She recalls being in her attic and telling her frightened friends that she was in the hotel and that tomorrow was when it would all fall apart. Compassion doesnít understand Samís need to fit the images sheís receiving into a coherent story, or Samís outrage that the Remote are selling weapons of torture; after all, motorcars kill millions of people by accident, so why isnít Sam outraged at that instead of weapons that kill just a few dozen people deliberately? Compassion claims that the ďprinciplesĒ Sam claims to hold are in fact just attempts to impose meaning on the random signals she picks up in life. Sam isnít convinced, and is appalled when Compassion explains that her people base all of their decisions upon the signals they receive from local media via their implanted receivers.

The Doctor is in a prison cell with a man named Badar, a writer accused of heresy for calling some of his countryís ancient customs into question. Badar and the Doctor are being brutally beaten and tortured with electric shock batons, and the Doctor is finding it difficult to concentrate upon escaping. Every other time heís been locked up, heís escaped by finding the holes in the prisonís routine, but this time thereís no reason for whatís happening to him. He was captured by accident, charged with espionage, and is being tortured not as part of a master plan, but because the guards have nothing better to do. In order to stay sane, Badar has retreated into a world of ideas, and to help him cope, the Doctor tells him about the TARDIS and the Time Lords. To escape from harsh reality they build up a picture of the world of the Time Lords, but Badar canít make sense of it; if the Doctor can change the history of other worlds why canít he change history on Earth? If he can topple dictators on other worlds, why canít he bring down brutal governments on Earth, and why canít he change history to prevent himself and Badar from ever being in this cell in the first place? Is it really because there are devastating forces waiting outside time and space to swarm through the cracks in causality to consume the Universe -- or is that just a lie the Doctor has convinced himself to believe, because heís too frightened to try? The Doctor claims that he doesnít get involved in local politics, but by choosing a side and fighting for it on other worlds in other times, isnít he taking a political stance? What makes Earth so inviolate? Badar is taken away to be executed, but before going he begs the Doctor to finish off their world of ideas, and make it make sense.

Guest finishes his deal with Llewis to distribute the Cold, although Llewis is utterly terrified by what heís become involved in. Guest then takes Sam and Sarah to the warehouse where the Remote is storing the Cold, hoping they will be able to learn more once the women are away from the interference of the local media transmissions. Sarah tricks Kode into letting her summon K9 for help, but in the resulting confusion Compassion manages to spray Sam with the Cold, and she vanishes. Sarah escapes, and decides to call in the Doctor for help; first, however, she has to find him. She speaks with Coldicott, tricks him into giving her Samís last name, and has K9 hack into UN records to find Samís home address. Surprisingly, this turns out to be in a quiet suburban neighbourhood -- but when Sarah, snooping around, hears voices in the attic and recognizes one voice as that of a young Sam, she realizes that the Sam she met comes from the future -- and that sheís broken into the house of a Sam who hasnít yet met the Doctor. In the attic, the drugged-out young Sam, picking up on random signals from the world around her, warns her frightened friends not to open the door, or sheíll see Sarah before she met her for the first time, causing a paradox...

Fitz, meanwhile, is being quietly kept out of the way in Geneva to prevent him from interfering where he isnít wanted, but while surfing television channels he is attacked by two figures who step out of thin air and spray him with the Cold. By the time heís brought out of the Cold, six hundred years have passed, and heís stuck on a human colony centuries in the future with no way back. The true rulers of the colony turn out to be Faction Paradox, the Time Lord voodoo cultists with a special interest in the Doctorís companions, and they inform Fitz that he was sent into the Cold by a general in the UN who wanted him out of the way while he conducted his own political power play -- which came to nothing in any case. Fitz agrees to undergo an initiation into Faction Paradox, believing that the Spirits are all hokum and that heíll be able to resist easily -- but when Mother Mathara fits him with a receiver he realizes, too late, that just because the spirits arenít real that doesnít mean the signals entering his brain canít change him... Fitz emerges back into the colony with little memory of what passed, or of the one-armed man who showed him his personal future. Word comes that the Time Lords, aware of Faction Paradoxís interest in the colony, are coming to destroy it, and Fitz is one of the chosen few who are evacuated by Faction Paradox to start a new colony elsewhere...

While trying to get out of the Jonesí house, Sarah is contacted by one of Guestís Ogron bodyguards, Lost Boy, and is surprised to realize that he intends to betray his masters. When K9 offers to act as a translator, Sarah realizes that most of the Ogronís speech is subsonic, and thus inaudible to human ears; this is why they sound brutish and stupid to humans most of the time. Lost Boy explains that the Remote are trying to interfere in history to attract the Time Lordsí attention, and have thus brought TARDIS detection equipment which Sarah can use to find the Doctor. While Lost Boy steals the equipment from the hotel, Sarah goes to Llewisí company to investigate further. Guest is making a deal with Llewisí company to distribute the Cold across as much of the world as possible; heíd originally intended to make a deal with the U.N., but changed his mind due to the media transmissions he was picking up, started making deals with individual countries, and then went to COPEX. Sarah learns that Guest has supplied surveillance equipment to the company as samples of his technology, and manages to steal one of the surveillance units.

While passing through the skin of the Cold, Samís subconscious puts together the signals sheís received and makes a story to string them together. Faction Paradox, like the voodoo cults of Earth, dresses itself up in symbols meant to unnerve its enemies, the Time Lords; thus they mock the Time Lordsí immortality by dressing in symbols of death, and challenge the sanctity of Time by breaking causality and worshipping Paradox. Sam emerges from the Cold to find that Compassion has brought her to the Remoteís home city of Anathema, a world built by the signals beamed out from a central media transmitter, where space fighters destroy buildings at random simply because thatís what fighters are supposed to do. Again, Compassion is forced to point out that Sam herself is a product of a signal-dependent civilisation; the thoughts she believes are her own are the result of signals from her parents, her television, books, radio... As Compassion leads Sam to the transmitter, where Guest hopes to find out how much of a threat she poses, Sam starts to pick up further images and string them into a story. She sees the ancient Gallifreyans, led by Rassilon, bursting open a sun to tap its power, only to poke holes into another Universe and let free the vampiric beings on the other side. After a long, brutal war the Time Lords sealed off the holes beneath shells which to the lesser races would seem like ordinary planets, and parked agents near each world to ensure that nobody ever tried to destroy them or drill through to the core. But Sam isnít sure how much of the story is real, and how much is Faction Paradox propaganda; are there really evil spirits on the other side of the Universe? All Sam knows is that on the surface of the dark suns, she saw the screaming faces sheís seen in the Cold...

The Doctor tries to use what little wits he has left to scrawl temporal equations on the floor of his cell, in his own blood. Unfortunately, his mind is wandering due to the brutal torture inflicted upon him, and he starts to think about Sam. Blonde Sam was created by paradox and biodata to be a part of the TARDIS crew, so what happens when she leaves him, like his past companions such as Ace and Sarah? There will be no place for her in the world, and he must find some way to give her a new life. He manages to complete his equations, temporal mathematics which remove his entire body from time and space; since he is nearby the TARDIS, automatic procedures pick him out of the Vortex and place him in a store room to await return to his original position. He was hoping for time out in which to pull himself together, but since his mind was wandering heís accidentally included Sarah in his calculations, and sheís ended up in the storage room with him. She gives him the surveillance device from Llewisí office, but he has no idea what to do with it, and her presence has destabilised the equations. Before he can regain his sanity and come up with an escape plan, heís back in the cell and the torture has begun all over again...

It has been a very long day on Foremanís World, and the Doctor is tired of talking. I.M. Foreman senses this and offers to tell her story for a while instead...

Shortly after leaving Quiescia, the Third Doctor finds an unexpected door in the TARDIS, and enters it out of curiosity to find a long, dark passageway leading to a prison cell -- where one of his future incarnations lies dying in a temporal equation scrawled from his own blood. Somehow, this future Doctor has made an error in his calculations and has crossed his own timeline, or else Faction Paradox has changed his past -- but by warning his third incarnation about the Faction heís made another error, since he didnít know of the Factionís existence until his fourth incarnation. The Third Doctor, troubled by what heís seen, returns to the main corridors of the TARDIS, only to find the horrified Sarah standing in the middle of the console room as the TARDIS itself begins to drip blood as if from some trauma to come. The ship then materializes in the distant future, on the planet Dust, the dead edge of the human empire where the human race got as far as it was ever going to get in the galaxy and then gave up.

The dying settlements on Dust are being captured by the last survivors of the Remote, who crashed on this planet some time ago, drawn by some force they donít understand, just as the Doctor has been. The agents of the Remote sent to this settlement, however, have found themselves rebuffed by a newcomer, a blind showman named I.M. Foreman whose travelling caravan seems to have arrived from nowhere. The townís defender, Magdalena, doesnít understand how I.M. Foreman got past her defenses or where the Doctor and Sarah have come from. All she knows is that her gun has a single bullet, and that before the day is out it will be called into play to defend her people. As she holds the Doctor under arrest and questions him, Sarah visits I.M. Foremanís show and finds it grotesque at best; he has somehow assembled eleven freaks of nature together, to display them as examples of how far the human body can be pushed if it opens itself up to the extreme limits of possibility. One of the freaks, the If, is a lump of flesh which breathes out raw Time; just by being in the same room with it, Sarah sees her own future as a married woman, and sees her best friend give a eulogy at her funeral -- attended both by United Nations soldiers and by people wearing a black seed emblem of some kind.

Despite Sarahís revulsion at the exhibits, sheís starting to understand that they somehow give the people of the village just what they need to complete themselves, when suddenly a sandstorm blows up and a giant spaceship arrives. The leader of the Remote, investigating his agentsí story, has detected Gallifreyan life signs and has pulled his entire army out of the dust to track down what may be their only means of escape. The Doctor and Sarah retreat to I.M. Foremanís tent, number one in a set of thirteen, while the Remote land and capture the town. What nobody yet realizes, not even the leader of the Remote, is that programmes buried in the Remote shipís controls have alerted the leaders of Faction Paradox to the events taking place on Dust, and that the Mothers and Fathers of the Faction have realized their significance. Even now, one of the Factionís warships is on its way from the Eleven-Day Empire to take action...

Night has fallen over Foremanís World, and the Doctor and I.M. Foreman both go to sleep on the grassy hills, lit by the stars from the bottled Universe. They will finish their stories tomorrow.

Source: Cameron Dixon

Continuity Notes:
  • The Eighth Doctorís attempt to remove himself from the cell brings to mind the ďtransmigration of objectĒ which he demonstrated in The Ambassadors of Death.
  • The Time Lordsí battle with the vampires was first described in State of Decay, and was revealed to be the Time Lordsí own damn fault in The Pit. Itís suggested here that the holes in the Universe have been sealed off by shells which resemble planets, and that the Time Lords keep close watch on them because terrible things will happen if anyone tries to destroy the or drill through to their core... which has worrying implications for the Earth, when one considers the events of Inferno. It may also explain the fact that the Time Lords of The Infinity Doctors were keeping an eye on the planet Tylerís Folly, which appeared in the Bernice Summerfield novels Down and Where Angels Fear.
  • For the Third Doctor and Sarah, this takes place just after their brief sequence at the beginning of Alien Bodies, which, as mentioned here, takes place just after the Doctor and Sarah left Peladon in The Monster of Peladon. At least, it does now. Or did. See Book Two.
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