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The Beginning of the Beginning

Reconciling Terminus and Slipback

By Jamas Enright

There have been a few articles trying to correlate Terminus with Slipback (at least, for those that consider Slipback canon), with either having the Vipod Mor going back to the beginning of the previous universe, or helping to end the previous universe. Yet there is a simpler answer which uses the facts given.

First, though, we need to look at time and the universes. That there is a universe before the Doctor Who universe shows that time itself is somewhat independent of the universe, so that one universe can be considered to be ‘before’ another. That the matter of the previous universe went into creating the next one is a fairly natural idea that goes along with it. This does make the phrase ‘since the beginning of time’ have little sense.

Obviously, time is considered relative to the universe, so ‘the beginning of time’ means ‘the beginning of this universe’; few people consider a previous universe so this sloppy phraseology is accepted. There is a more absolute frame of time, in which one universe follows the other. This is the time frame we look at when considering Terminus and Slipback.

[Sixth Doctor and Peri]

In the universe before the Doctor Who universe (‘the previous universe’) the Terminus ship (for ease of understanding, this is what I'll call the ship in Terminus), suffered damaged to one of its engines, which it jettisoned while jumping forwards in time to avoid the explosion. However, the physics of the previous universe are different to those of the Doctor Who universe, and the engine explosion resulted in a chain reaction that collapsed the previous universe into a monoblock of matter. As this happened before the natural death of the previous universe, the matter didn't undergo the normal chemical reactions, and thus didn't explode on its own.

Now, we can tell that the physics of the previous universe are different because, for one, consider jumping past the relative time barriers, in effect going from one universe to another. The TARDIS can't do it, but the Terminus ship could. While most of the TARDIS is in an alternative dimension (alternative dimensions being all part of one universe), there is a part of it in real space (N-Space, if you will), which would have to traverse the Big Bang which created the universe. As it can't without being destroyed, the TARDIS can't travel between universes (a similar argument applying as to why to it can't travel to the next universe). The time drives of the Terminus ship operate differently, perhaps by going outside the universe as the TARDIS did in Logopolis (although it could travel outside the universe, unlike the TARDIS, which could only go in and out, not move around), and thus no part would be in the universe to be destroyed, allowing it to exist in the next.

With this being so, we'd expect to see other things from the previous universe cropping up, but the New Adventures claim that this is where the Cthulhu gods come from anyway.

Also, time flows more slowly in the previous universe. Even a small jump, as the pilot of the Terminus ship planned, would seem like centuries to us. See how long it took for the jettison lever to move in Terminus. This also explains why the Doctor Who universe had time to expand and clear the centre of the universe (which was centred around where the engine had been jettisoned, which was where the Terminus ship was), before the Terminus ship arrived, the pilot dead from the conflicting time flows, without blowing up when reappearing where matter should be.

However, this leaves a large block of matter there, ready but unable to become our universe. Enter the Vipod Mor. It travels back in time, doesn't leave the real space of the universe (as Doctor Who time craft are wont to do), encounters and combines with the monoblock of matter, and explodes. And thus provides the Big Bang for the Doctor Who universe.

So, we get Slipback and Terminus sitting side-by-side continuity-wise, and only slight headaches from trying to wrap our minds around the physics of it all.

This item appeared in TSV 56 (October 1998).

Index nodes: Terminus, Slipback