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Galaxy Who?

A postulation on the phenomena that was Galaxy Five, from The Daleks' Master Plan to The Monster of Peladon

By James Grant

They are the most nefarious and threatening galactic union known to civilisation. They are the greatest acknowledged threat to the Federation since the Cybermen. They are Galaxy Five, made slightly famous in no more that two Doctor Who stories; but how much do we actually know, and how much more can we potentially learn about them?

Well, you could do worse than consult that vast repository of knowledge, Jean Marc Lofficier's The Universal Databank. In this they are described:

GALAXY FIVE: Militaristic space power located in a neighbouring galaxy. During the 38th century [Caution: J-ML dating - highly spurious!] Galaxy Five went to war with the Federation. It used Azaxyr and Eckersley to try to take over the trisilicate mines of Peladon. When they failed, it was forced to sue for peace (YYY). Later, Galaxy Five's self-proclaimed Master, Zephon, allied himself with the Daleks to attack the Solar System, but was killed by them (V). Presumably, Galaxy Five's power was then crushed by the Federation.

Fair enough. Let's go to the stories.

In Mission to the Unknown (or Dalek Cutaway, T/A, - please yourselves) Marc Cory states that the Daleks have "gained control of over seventy planets in [the] Ninth Galactic System and forty more in the Constellation of Miros." In Dragonfire there are at least Twelve Galaxies - we know this because Glitz and Mel head off to see them at the end, so, okay maybe there are more than twelve. Thirteen perhaps. But back to Space Security Service agent Cory. Lowery, his crewmate claims that both the Ninth Galaxy and Miros are "both millions of light years away from our galaxy" - that galaxy being the one host to Kembel - location of the gathering Dalek allies. This galaxy isn't identified in the story, but let's say for the sake of argument (and common sense in the Daleks' case) that it is in or at least near the edge of Earth's galaxy (Earth and the Solar System are used almost constantly as interchangeable terms in this episode). In fact, it's useful to see a model forming where Earth's galaxy - Mutter's Spiral to use the Who term - is (or is in) the geo-political centre of the known Universe, that is to say, that every other galaxy is identified in relation to its position or distance from Earth. This makes sense because if we take the alien delegates at the Dalek Conference to be representatives of individual "outer galaxies" then we have evidence for eight other galaxies besides Earth's: Gearon, Malpha, Trantis, Warrien, Zephon, Beaus, Celation and Sentreal - though not necessarily in that order. Add to that lot Mutter's Spiral and you have the Nine Galaxies - simple mathematics. Even Zephon seems to acknowledge Earth's place in the scheme of things, as he says: "The Solar System is exceptional. In its power lies influence beyond its own sphere..." (The Daleks' Master Plan, episode 2) So there you go.

"But hang on", you say. "What about Galaxy Four?". Indeed. Is the Fourth Galaxy, home (look it up yourselves) of the Drahvins and possibly also the Rills, part of this system, or is it from another part of the Universe altogether? ls it represented at the Council, and if so, by whom? It's a bit tricky and it can't be answered easily - this is the Hartnell Era after all - but let's say that it is one and the same, or that it's at least part of the system, because if nothing else, we're fans and no one else in the world is going to give a monkey's if we do or not. The rest you'll have to decide for yourselves - don't ask me. Incidentally, it's interesting to observe how these delegates see themselves and their newly formed alliance. In Mission to the Unknown Gearon is the first to arrive on Kembel, and apparently Malpha is the last because they can then start with him having finally arrived. Malpha later says of the delegates and the Daleks with them: "the seven of us represent the greatest war force ever assembled! Conquest is assured!" which is curious, because at that point one delegate is yet to arrive - Zephon, self-proclaimed Master of the Fifth Galaxy. Oops.

Zephon's an interesting bloke anyway, because no one seems to rate him very highly anyway, and that's if they recognise him at all. Mavic Chen thinks he met him at "the Intergalactic Conference of Andromeda" (The Daleks' Master Plan, episode 2), but it turns out that this was another delegate sent by Zephon's lot to keep an eye on things, as they weren't invited and suspected shenanigans while they were having their own Dalek Conference. Oh, and the Doctor found it easy enough to disguise himself as Zephon using that fellow's cloak and helmet - so if anything he's humanoid, and slightly non-descript. Mistrust or non-compliance must run riot throughout the Outer Galaxies too, because Zephon tells Chen "The Daleks needed me. Without my help, they would never have got the cooperation of the masters of Celation and Beaus..." - perhaps the latter two are his neighbours, or were at loggerheads with each other, or are smaller galaxies, less in touch with the goings on of the rest of the known Universe (but strong enough to resist the Daleks?), and needed a helping hand from Zephon to ally themselves with the Daleks? Nice guy. He may well be speaking the truth, for pretty much upon his arrival, and after he opens his big mouth about how tough he is compared to the Daleks, his hosts decide his usefulness is over. Zephon of course, is a fine one to talk about civil unrest, because as we know from The Discontinuity Guide (courtesy of Mavic Chen, who's clearly done his homework) the Fifth Galaxy's Master had been challenged by the population of the planet Tisar and also the entity Gris. Sadly that lot are never heard of again (perhaps Zephon' response to their challenge was a pretty final one) and Zephon, a seaweedy creature, is like all the other delegates in that his kind never appear in any other Who story again - unless he's a Usurian? Nah. That would be silly. Besides, Bob Holmes would never be able to afford Terry Nation's fees.

There's not much more to say about Zephon except that he is obviously very stupid and as indiscreet as hell (he's the first of the delegates to be exterminated - Trantis is next by quite some time; being the shortest delegate he supposedly resembles a guinea pig the most and is therefore used accordingly). He is also familiar with ultrasonic weapons - maybe that knowledge came from the Martians who worked with Galaxy Five later on? Whatever. And that's where we come to The Monster of Peladon, the second and last (and probably coincidental, not that this word is readily taken up by continuity buffs) showing of Galaxy Five. Not that either Eckersley or Azaxyr are necessarily from there - in fact, it's most likely they're not, and in any case this, according to the Doctor, is a galaxy smaller than Earth's, and somewhat on its back foot for being reliant on the Federation's trisilicate (between needing trisilicate - found only on Peladon, and taranium - found only on Uranus, Galaxy Five certainly know how to make bad mineral decisions; it's probably their greatest failure besides having such a rotten Master). It's a shame then that the only identity seen on screen from the Fifth Galaxy then is Zephon - and even then he was tragically taken from us in the early Seventies by the representatives of the planet Bibicorpus. But that's another story.

[Dalek Master Plan delegates]

This item appeared in TSV 52 (November 1997).

Index nodes: Mission to the Unknown, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Monster of Peladon