Home : Archive : TSV 11-20 : TSV 13 : Regular

The Doctor Who Exegesis - The Dalek Invasion of Earth

By Richard Scheib and Michael Chisnall

Characters

The Doctor
I fail to see how the Doctor could recognise the river on the TARDIS viewscreen as the Thames from looking out at a ruined building site and a stretch of polluted river. More likely he is cheating and has looked at the TARDIS direction finder out of the corner of his eye or maybe recognises some landmark in the background. Ian finds the Doctor's attitude of expecting him to come up with answers that the Doctor has already worked out annoying.

The Doctor demonstrates amazing reaction time in the warehouse he is not only able to react to, but jump forward and grab Ian by the collar in the time that it takes Ian to fall the length of his arm, which is pretty fast timing. But then The Ambassadors of Death novelisation states that Time Lords have reaction timing 10x faster than humans.

Susan
Left Gallifrey when she was very young and has been travelling with the Doctor ever since. As a result has never had a sense of belonging anywhere. Believes her grandfather needs her to look after him. And here she meets David Campbell whom she falls in love and chooses to stay behind with.

Ian
Seems to demonstrate either a remarkable constitution or incredible luck - he can fall down a mineshaft without breaking anything.

Barbara
Used to drive her own car during her time and became competent in its own maintenance to save on bills. Seems to have also picked up a heavy-truck license somewhere too.

Time Lord biology

Time Lord bones are constructed very much like our own - Barbara is able to perform first aid on Susan's sprain - which is logical, as so is most of their skeleton. From the attendant symptoms so to is much of their bloodstream - bruising etc.

The Daleks

The Doctor wonders how the Daleks could have survived his turning their power off on Skaro (The Daleks) but believes they are incredibly tenacious, with strong powers of survival, that they possibly had colonies on other parts of Skaro.

He also notes that they have evolved and changed their basic design slightly (perhaps in freeing themselves of their dependence on the irradiated atmosphere) as well as adding the anti-grav disc, thinking it to be on something of the hovercraft principle. This is obviously to allow greater mobility.

The first Dalek we meet rises up out of the river to meet them - one wonders what it was doing down there? Trying to find the missing Roboman perhaps? The Dalek outer casing is made of a metal they call Dalekenium, impervious to most Earth tactical explosives. There seems an incongruity - the casing is impervious to explosives but when the miners revolt they are able to smash the Daleks with their bare hands.

The Daleks have a hierarchy - the Earth Expedition Commander is larger than the other Daleks and has a dull jet-black casing. One wonders how such a species would calculate their hierarchy.

The Doctor postulates that the lens and magnet set-up in the ship is put there for a Dalek to get out of the room, and kyboshes the idea that a Dalek could push the door up - in fact the most logical suggestion for a sucker arm whereas the magnet arrangement wouldn't be. Why can't a Dalek simply install an intercom? Perhaps in being such an efficient race this is how they deal with the eventualities they may get locked in the cell - requesting another Dalek's help would be a waste of man- or Dalek-power resource and so a means by which the trapped Dalek could get out on its own, but one which would not occur to the prisoners of obviously inferior intelligence, would be a logical solution.

Why do the Daleks speak English all the time? Granted they might learn it to communicate with their subjugate species but why speak to one another in the same language when people (ones without Time Lord language gifts) can understand them, especially in the discussion of their vital plans. Perhaps this is because, being a very efficient species, it is much easier for they to pick up the subjugate species language than to try and teach the whole world to speak the Dalek language. They also write their control dials in English, although the likely explanation of this could be that they are using pirated Earth technology.

The Doctor thinks that by blowing up the Dalek mast they will destroy the Dalek radio communication network and give the Daleks a brainstorm - I don't see how, this will only cause silence. Perhaps the mast also serves as a power broadcast system, which would seem to be the case when it is cut.

The Invasion

Would seem to have taken place in 2164 - the year of the last calendar in the warehouse - or at least this would be the date when the warehouse was commercially abandoned, assuming it was not disused at the time of the invasion. Began ten years (approx.) before present with meteorite storms that brought some plague wiping out whole continents - Asia, Africa, America. No cure was found.

Chaos ensued, the world splitting up into tiny, isolated communities too small to help each other. Six months later the Dalek saucers landed, ruthlessly quashing all resistance. Offers of peace were made from human leaders but such were ignored.

A poster in the underground entrance says that rainwater is unsafe for drinking - Why? Fallout? (No, Susan gets a nil radiation report. Although perhaps not a nuclear arsenal used directly - I mean, London is still standing but perhaps fallout carried from other countries that were perhaps using a nuclear arsenal against the Daleks). Although more conventional solutions such as smog or acid rain making the rainwater unsafe could be likely possibilities. England appears to be the Earth centre for the invasion.

Dalek Technology

The Saucer: Silver-coloured, oval shaped rows of windows around the exterior. Would appear to work on anti-grav principles.

Other Technology: The blockbuster bomb - built mobile, can destroy whole city blocks at a time. Have also invented a photoelectric alarm that amazingly shorts out when its beam is reflected back on itself.

The Robo-Men

Are controlled by metal helmets, which fit around the neck and over the head. The helmet also contains an ultra-high frequency radio receiver. The Roboman receives verbal commands from his control centre by radio wave. It is unlikely to be simply verbal commands being received as the form of control is far too strong for it to be simply hypnotic.

Control is achieved by an operation called the Transfer, which almost completely wipes the memory. Movements are described as stiff, jerky, robot-like and (if I wanted to be pedantic I could say only a robot with a poor design system - most cybernetic prosthesis are a lot quicker and faster than human, unless of course we are talking about contemporary attempts to create a system that simulates walking) and the voice slurred and dragging, like a record at the wrong speed.

The Robomen are still capable of some feeling and emotion - the one in the first page kills itself to avoid misery and pain. Control always wears off after a time, the process burning out the circuits of the brain, which drives them mad and usually into suicidal urges. The slurred voice is obvious evidence of brain damage. A healthy supply of prisoners is needed to keep up the supplies of Robomen. One wonders - Are there any robowomen?

There is not a large Dalek occupation force on Earth which is why they have employed the Robomen. One wonders why they aren't using the Ogrons, who would do a better job. Probably they haven't discovered the Ogrons yet (both Day of the Daleks and Frontier in Space, where we encounter the Ogrons, take place in the future)

The Mining Operation

Established in Bedfordshire. Presumably the Daleks must have some prisoners working as farmers as it seems unlikely that such a number could be feasibly sustained on food raided from then ruins of the cities. Or perhaps they produce some highly nutritious chemical sludge, which may be part of the reason Ashton smuggles real food in.

Ashton manages to make a living smuggling food into the camp for profit - small valuables. The Daleks appear to have brought their own mining equipment with them - a costly procedure in terms of interstellar fuel. Why such a network of tunnels - why not just one bore hole? Undoubtedly a good deal of machinery for directing the flow of energy has to be installed as well.

The mining operation succeeds in penetrating within 4 miles of the Earth's core - why are none of the problems experienced in 'Inferno' experienced here? There are a number of problems associated with getting down to the earth's core - primarily one of decompression of the mantle material around the tunnel unless the tunnel walls exert the same pressure as that of the mantle. Once the Outer Core has been penetrated there exists the problem of trying to drive a tunnel through molten metal. Presumably they are using force fields to create a tunnel wall as the heat down there is around 6000 degrees, too high for any metal tunnel. The problems then exist as to how they will be able to remove the solid Inner Core, although this would have to be done with force fields as well. All of the energy it would take to do this would be about as much as it would take to propel the Earth under normal means.

Spaceship Earth

Why Earth? Why not any other planet which will also have a magnetic core? Possibly because Earth has a resident slave population to help tunnel the core out, although this would mostly have to be robot control. The Doctor says that penetration of the Earth's crust will cause enormous earthquakes - such is not the case - unless they have found a way of tapping the living energy.

The Doctor rather pompously states that the Daleks must be stopped for tampering with the very forces of creation. The Dalek plan is to detonate explosives at the earth's core so that the drilled fissure will expand and release the molten core. I don't really see how this is possible - the molten core exists as such because the mass of the Earth crushes it so. In removing it, what is above it will simply fall to replace it. The resulting implosion will cause major geological chaos, the basic implosion of the whole sphere. The resulting earthquakes would be on an utterly unimaginable scale.

Also the molten core of the Earth is about 4800 km (the outer molten core 3500 km, the solid inner core 1600 km, although the story never can quite make up its mind which core is being removed) in diameter. There will be a great difficulty in removing mass on this size out a hole less than 10 metres in diameter, which would have probably collapsed anyway as pressure down that deep would crush it inwards. What's more I don't really see where they're going to store it all anyway - perhaps pumped off to Iceland or somewhere ? They then somehow intend to use the flow until all gravitational and magnetic forces at the core are eliminated. I don't see how the elimination of magnetism, it being generated by the movement of the more solid crust above, revolving on the molten core, or of gravity, which is generated by the mass of the Earth itself, would be possible, or in the latter case to what ultimate purpose, the Earth's magnetic core being too weak to be of any major influence, although removing the molten core will undoubtedly stop it.

This is not really going to do much to change gravity as there are no gravitational forces at the core -it is a zero gravity zone. The removal of the core will decrease the earth's mass which will reduce the Earth's gravity by about a sixth. This would have some noticeable effects - the oceans, held in place by gravity, now lightened, will expand in volume and cause a higher sea level and much flooding, and there will be a slight drop in air pressure.

But as the Daleks seem to imply there is some way of totally negating gravity, this will cause unimaginable chaos, but I can't imagine that the Daleks will be too worried about this, they intending to stay in their saucers at a safe distance, leaving the rest of the population to perish. What may cause them more upset would be that if all gravity were to stop most of their oceans and atmosphere is going to go flying off into space along with everything that is not nailed down. Once the core is removed the Daleks plan to replace it with a power system in order to make the Earth a spaceship capable of travelling around the universe.

There are many problems associated with the idea of Spaceship Earth - There's no mention of any hyperspatial drive so how does it attain faster-than-light speed? It's a awfully huge mass to get anywhere near light-speed, and would take a awfully long time to get anywhere. Further as there only appears to be one borehole how does the ship change direction? We must assume that there are other rockets. The main hole is probably at one of the poles - islands like Iceland, NZ, Greenland are probably attitude jets. It is unlikely that England is the main bore despite because of size of the hole. The velocity of driving the Earth in one direction would cause tides to go absolutely haywire and flood everywhere. Although there is some possibility that the hole could be used to create artificial gravity by centrifugal spin, having apparently negated all gravity, although this would be rather pointless as this would direct gravity outwards, like on a space station where the floor becomes the highest gravity point. If one imagines a cross-section of a space station like a rotating stereo turntable - the outer edges with higher velocity have greater gravity, the centre less because it moves slower. Hence normal gravity arrangements would be reversed on Earth, with anyone standing on the surface would be flung off. The best place to live would be just under the surface, although one's head would be facing inwards in order to walk upright i.e. a person walking on the inside would be walking upside down compared to a person walking the way we do now. Further to produce a comparable gravity the same magnitude as the Earth's would require a spin about 130 times faster than present, leaving us with a day of 11 minutes.

Also at the end when the bomb does explode it turn the mine workings into an active volcano which seems strange - why was there no lava encountered all the way down to the crust, surely there must be if they have gone down to within 4 miles, why now with the bomb stuck only a few hundred metres down? The explosion this far up is not going to affect the penetration of the core. Perhaps the bomb ruptured the area where they had pumped the lava off to or destroyed the force-field generator that kept the lava flow back.

The Slyther

Its shape is huge and bulging, a vast lumpy blob of a body, powerful flailing tentacles, two tiny, deep-set eyes. Has keen hearing. A carnivore, used to a warmer environment than Earth. The Daleks keep it as a guard dog, letting it devour anyone caught prowling in the grounds at night - one wonders why it doesn't attack the Robomen or huts? Conditioning?

The Ruins of London

Where does all the debris in the Thames come from? - it is said to be choked with it. This is some time after the invasion, London is virtually deserted - who would be polluting it in such large amounts? Possibly Dalek construction sites in the city? The Daleks have classified London as a forbidden zone to humans, regularly patrolling it with Robomen to rout out humans. Regular radio broadcasts are made by the Daleks telling the remaining humans that resistance is futile and such like. The Dalek landing base has been established at the Chelsea Heliport. The city is filled with a number of hostile other survivors, not part of the resistance group, who are always a danger, as they will kill for food. The dangers in the city include the escaped animals from the zoo - most died off, but the large reptiles survived in the sewers, making the areas dangerous. Along the way to Bedfordshire Tyler manages to get a car working so that they can continue the rest of the journey in it - I find it incredible that someone could get a car working that has been abandoned for a good part of ten years, and amazing that it will start considering that in that time its petrol supply has probably evaporated. And again people seem to find it very easily to start cars and vehicles up when they return to London. Perhaps fossil fuels have been replaced by solar batteries or some such.

The Rebels

Have built a hideout in a secret room in an underground terminal that probably was originally a staff-room. (One wonders with teleport technology in use why the underground still was? A poster relating to the invasion would indicate that it is not something abandoned. What is more likely is that if the city has fallen to the point where water supplies are no longer working is that the underground are being used as air-raid shelters). There don't seem to be many of them in this cell - 20 able-bodied men + aged people and children. They survive on food foraged from department stores. They seem a pretty inefficient bunch of freedom fighters - taking a wounded person with them on a raid. What happens to the women, children and invalids who seem to mysteriously vanish after the attack on the heliport? Most of the resistance groups are hiding out up in the North - possibly Scotland, the terrain would make for a good place to hide and keep up a guerrilla defence.

Earth - 22nd Century

Moonbases have been established. London seems to have been redesigned with moving walkways.

This item appeared in TSV 13 (May 1989).

Index nodes: Exegesis, The Dalek Invasion of Earth