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The Egg-Thing Replies

By Richard Scheib

A certain few individuals have tried to outsmart his sort-of Editorship by pointing out holes in his reasoning in the Exegesis. This issue His Magnificence has handed the reins over to Master Young to take on the first historical story. However you didn't think you were going to get away that easily - here are some replies to your feeble attempts at outsmarting:

1) Jon Preddle & Paul Scoones in TSV 8, on the Doctor's buying the junkyard. Here I am taking the novelisation as gospel, which does mention this. With the unavailability of many of the original episodes this is sometimes all one has to go on. But where available video-copies or failing that photographic material will be used.

2) Mr Preddle again (TSV 8) on why the Doctor and Susan speak English. I don't really consider this superfluous. They would look mighty silly speaking German or Russian in England. It seems logical to speak English in England to me. My original point was that I consider it improbable to the point of impossible that another culture could have evolved a language identical to English. If you consider the number of root languages English derives from then any culture would virtually have to have paralleled European history. And yet we have an English-speaking alien culture every week. Statistics demand the use of a translator.

3) Paul Scoones on the alternate origin story offered by the novelisation of The Daleks (TSV 9). What a ludicrous suggestion that the writers might fabricate different beginnings for stories. As any serious exigetician knows you cannot approach a document with the initial premise that some of might be made up. God knows, the temptation to do so is strong - like trying to tie The Silurians in with small things like evolutionary and geological evidence, or block transfer computation with modern physics.

One should at least consider all possible possibilities - alternate worlds, that the characters in the stories asked the translator of the exploits to change them for some reason - before one reaches the conclusion that an author is a perpetrator of untruth. To attribute anything less than noble intentions to these long-suffering chroniclers of the Doctor's exploits would be beneath the composure of a gentleman like myself.

4) The ubiquitous Mr Scoones again, this issue, on why I have to get technical about Marinian oceans. I agree it is very easy to say 'it is a substance unknown on Earth', save complication and be done with it. But if you are going to qualify a substance in terms of Earth definitions i.e. calling it an acid, then it should obey those definitions. Well, yes, it could be an acid of potency unknown of on Earth, but the potency of an acid is dependent on not so much what it is, but upon the degree of dilution. Even in saying that the acid is one stronger than known you are not going to get an acid that dramatically increases its potency, certainly not without the attendant problems mentioned in the exegesis.

5) Andrew Tarr, this issue, on problems in Dalek motivation. Don't blame me for these problems, I didn't write the scripts. But these are problems I am quite aware of and will deal with when I get to World's End. I will say that the Daleks were quite obviously running on independent power before The Daleks in Genesis of the Daleks where they were wandering around in the middle if the wasteland. And obviously they can't have been running on static power while building the city. Batteries, the most likely source of power, have a tendency to run down, so building a static grid is a good way of remaining in constant contact with the power supply. This doesn't quite explain how the Daleks weren't able to go back to batteries to leave the city.

And finally to the last Michael Chisnall, an exceedingly clever bastard to whom I shall show how humble I can be and admit defeat to on one or two minor points. I shall concur on the point of the fourth dimension. You've got the maths degree, you know the subject better than I do, although the discussion has evaded the original issue - that the fourth and fifth dimensions have nothing at all to do with a problem set in vectors. I shall also concur on the issue of Time Lord hearts. It does appear to be an evolutionary quirk, not necessarily adapted for higher gravity. As you pointed out the hagfish on Earth has four hearts.

But I shall debate the issue of TARDIS shape-changing, maintaining that it is more economical to create an illusion than actually physically rearrange matter. The best argument for is the Master's TARDIS materialising as a shrubbery in Logopolis, which was obviously too small to have a door, but which an illusion would have permitted. The Castrovalva novelisation states that the TARDIS' outer walls are made of plasma. Although An Unearthly Child reports the exterior as faintly throbbing which would need to be solid, not plasmic, to transmit vibration. On the issue of TARDIS portals the Full Circle novelisation conclusively mentions the existence of such. A full report on TARDIS engineering and design will follow at a later date.

Mr Chisnall was also one of those who pointed out in an error in The Daleks - it is not Venus' gravity that is heavy enough to splatter people, it is its atmospheric pressure. Don't blame me, I found this piece of information in an encyclopedia. While on the subject of Venus I would like to take the issue of metal oceans mentioned in this issue's exegesis. Our Venus, I'm afraid, doesn't have any metal oceans, it doesn't have any oceans at all. The series makes it fairly obvious there must be another more hospitable Venus, but it is unlikely that this would have metal oceans either. For metal oceans what would be needed would be either a very high surface temperature, for molten metal, or metals that are liquid in their natural state e.g. mercury. Unfortunately a mercury ocean would prove quite toxic to the atmosphere; both scenarios would end up with worlds rather inhospitable to humans, which this Venus needs. Or at least lifeforms with digits and pressure points not too far removed from ours - where else did the Doctor learn his various Venusian martial arts? The first Doctor also has a predilection for fish from this world. There is always the third possibility that there is a third world named Venus.

My thanks to Michael Chisnall for help with the scientific information I have used.

This item appeared in TSV 10 (December 1988).

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