'The Solar System'
edited by Gary Russell
A star like many others in the western spire of the Milky Way galaxy.
Around it, orbit its planets each one has its own environment; its own history; its own circumstances.
The third planet of the ten is the most-densely populated. And, over time, its inhabitants have reached out to the other worlds.
There, they find surprises, wonders, danger.
Welcome to the solar system.
by Eddie Robson
The TARDIS lands on the domed surface of the Sunwatcher, a half-mile-long mobile monitoring station located on Mercury; despite the planet’s extremes of temperature, the base maintains a constant temperature by moving slowly across Mercury’s surface, always keeping relative to a specific point on the dark side. After the base’s crew mistake them for a rescue team answering their distress call, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe learn that one of the team, Alison, recently discovered the corpse of a silver alien lying on the surface of the planet; however, when the creature was brought inside it soon revived, and has since caused several crewmembers to fall into a mindless state. Realising that the alien was revived by warmth, the Doctor devises a plan to cool down the base by turning off its internal heating system and accelerating its rate of movement, while the crew don space suits. However, it soon becomes apparent that the alien is harmless, its actions merely an attempt to communicate. The alien – dubbed a ‘Mercurial’ by the Doctor – was one of many hundreds of indigenous underground-dwelling creatures who came to the surface to investigate the track that Suncatcher runs on; however, the Mercurials were frightened by giants – in fact solar pylons – and fled in terror, only to become trapped on the surface and then frozen when the sun went down. As the Sunwatcher approaches the mass of dormant Mercurials lying in its path, the creatures begin to unfreeze; the crew allows the aliens to hitch a ride on the domed surface of their base, and as they enter the light side of the planet, the Mercurials fully awaken and return to their homes once more.
*Featuring the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe
by Stuart Manning
After the TARDIS lands in a strange, red forest, the Doctor and Charley encounter a motley group of people, who are all heading towards the farewell exhibition of an artist named Mr Aristede. Although the two time-travellers are put out when the partygoers ignore their attempts to make conversation, their interest is piqued when Aristede unveils the canvas for his work: the planet Venus, as seen through some sort of portal. Initially believing that they are aboard a spaceship, the Doctor changes his hypothesis when he notices that the floor is moving as if breathing – they are in fact travelling aboard a gigantic living creature, and the red forest is in fact its veins and capillaries. Aristede begins his exhibition by dropping bombs onto the planet surface, and announces that the culmination of his work will be to crash the ‘ship’ and all aboard it onto Venus. The Doctor is outraged, but soon realises the purpose of such a mad scheme: everyone on board is terminally ill, and they have each volunteered for the mission so that they can see something unique before they die. Filled with sadness, the Doctor and Charley leave Aristede and his people to their fate…
*Featuring the Eighth Doctor and Charley
*Time-placing: The Doctor and Charley hold hands, so this probably takes place just before their sojourn in the alternate universe
by Jim Mortimore
While visiting New York City in 1939, the Doctor witnesses a young boy steal perfume from a woman. When he gives chase, the boy ducks inside the TARDIS to hide, believing it to be the last place that an officer of the law would look for him; however, the Doctor follows the boy inside the ship, which then jumps forward in time fifty-million years to a barren, desolate Earth where humanity has mutated into strange, cow-like creatures tended by huge, mechanical black ants. The boy – Jacob – is immediately distrustful of the Doctor, but soon comes to realise that he must rely on the strange ‘Zoot’ in order to find a way back to his own time. Together they learn that the giant ant-machines are operated by millions of smaller ants, which are at war with a rival colony of red ants over possession of the only plot of pasture remaining on the barren world. Attempting to broker a peace, the Doctor talks to the Queen ants of both colonies; in the process he discovers that all the ants are in fact mechanical, the ‘descendants’ of an invention by John Stanley Thornton III – Jacob’s great-grandchild. The Doctor also learns that the ants’ religious texts are actually the contents of a time-capsule placed by the Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Company at New York’s 1938 World Fair. These revelations prove too much for Jacob, and he resolves to destroy all the ants by using the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver to generate a powerful electromagnetic pulse. However, the Doctor is able to make the boy see reason, and when he then finds some seeds stuck to the bottom of Jacob’s shoe, the Doctor determines a way for the ants to restore plant-life to Earth.
*Featuring the Fourth Doctor
*Time-placing: the Doctor is travelling alone, so this would take place between 'The Deadly Assassin' and 'The Face of Evil'
by Trevor Baxendale
Detecting a distress call, the Doctor, Steven and Vicki learn that the spaceship belonging to the son of the Jarnian Ambassador is suffering from serious engine trouble. When no rescue is forthcoming, Steven commandeers a spaceship from Phobos Station and sets off to help; but just after he gets Hazam on board his ship the Jarnian’s vessel explodes, sending the rescue craft hurtling out of control towards the surface of Mars. Steven and Hazam survive the crash-landing, but the Jarnian is badly wounded; realising that a vicious storm is approaching, Steven attempts to get them both to safety, but the alien stubbornly refuses to cooperate, preferring to await their inevitable death. Meanwhile, at Phobos station, the Doctor and Vicki clash with Commander Tugwell, who refuses to mount a rescue mission to Mars due to the ferocious storm conditions. However, after much insistence from the Doctor, who demands a ship that he can pilot, and under pressure from the Jarnian Ambassador, Tugwell eventually relents and agrees to pilot a rescue vessel himself, and Steven and Hazam find themselves saved just as their oxygen supply runs out. Safely aboard the rescue ship and reunited with his friends, Steven finally receives a word of thanks from the Jarnian he rescued.
*Featuring the First Doctor, Steven and Vicki
by Andy Russell
While en route for Earth in 1927, to meet aviator Charles Lindburgh, the TARDIS and the Doctor come under attack from psychic fallout. Forced to materialise on board a gas dredger owned by the Lorannon-Ycole Corporation, currently refining gas in the atmosphere of Jupiter, the Doctor and Evelyn manage to convince Captain Norma Kelligan that her uninvited guests are in fact company scientists who have recently teleported aboard. The two time-travellers learn that Norma is telepathic, which enables her to communicate with Hepton, her boss on Earth; however, Norma also seems to be under telepathic attack, and although her husband Thom was believed killed when his dredger plunged into Jupiter’s Red Spot – a violent raging storm of deadly gases – she is still hearing his voice aboard her ship. As the vessel continues through Jupiter’s atmosphere other strange events occur: a crewman sees the ghost of his former colleague, and then walks out of the ship’s airlock without a space-suit; an unidentified spaceship appears nearby; and a malfunctioning warning buoy almost sends Norma’s ship to its doom. When the faulty buoy is brought aboard, the Doctor discovers a telepathic circuit planted inside it; meanwhile, Norma becomes convinced that the ghost ship is her husband’s lost vessel, and so sabotages her own ship’s controls to send it falling unprotected towards the Red Spot. The Doctor and Evelyn learn that events are being caused by Hepton – seeing the emergence of a gestalt telepathic entity from within the Red Spot as a threat to Lorannon-Ycole’s mining operation, Hepton plans to destroy the creature by using the dredger as a gigantic bomb. However, the Doctor is able to reactivate the ship’s shields, and as Norma steps out of the airlock and merges with the entity – which comprises of what is left of Thom and his crew - Hepton’s brain telepathically overloads with shock. With the threat ended, the newly created entity – Jove – is allowed to exist in peace.
*Featuring the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn
*Time-placing: reference is made to the Clutch and the Galyari, which places this immediately after the events of 'The Sandman'
by Alison Lawson
Arriving in the Forty-Seventh Century, the Doctor and Nyssa enjoy the pleasant surroundings of Saturn’s utopian society, taking tea in an open-air café. However, shortly after meeting married couple Hel and Keep, the Doctor is arrested by the authorities for “denial of retirement”; it seems that anyone reaching the age of one-hundred is retired from life on Saturn, and instead sent to the moon of Titan to carry out menial tasks for the betterment of their juniors. While the Doctor is set to work emptying dustbins via remote control, Nyssa finds herself invited to a party thrown by Hel and Keep, who are celebrating becoming parents; however, Nyssa is appalled to learn that under the rules of their society the couple will never actually meet their child, a situation they find perfectly acceptable. Meanwhile, on Titan, the Doctor manages to create a distraction and escape with another ‘inmate’, an elderly man named Lors. With the help of Lors partner, Raich, the two men are able to steal a shuttle and set course for Saturn. However, Lors soon realises that he would rather be with the woman he loves, and after the Doctor has been reunited with Nyssa, the elderly man returns to Titan to live out his remaining years with Raich.
*Featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa
by Craig Hinton
The Doctor takes Mel to the year 4010, when a huge asteroid designated Maleficent is due to smash into Uranus and create the most spectacular pyrotechnic display ever seen in the solar system. The Doctor also tells Mel that in several billion years a new entity will be born out of Uranus, and he intends to ensure that nothing goes wrong; to this end he plans to gate-crash the prestigious party being held on one of the planet’s moons, Cressida, which has been hollowed out and fitted with a drive system. On arrival at the party Mel meets a particularly shallow film star named Mercy, while the Doctor is reunited an old friend, newsreader Prentis Duke, who is currently annoyed that he has been sent to cover events on the spot, rather than from the cosy confines of his studio. Meanwhile, Branko Chen, grandson of the traitorous Guardian of the solar system, Mavic Chen, begins a scheme to restore his family to power: he sets Cressida on a collision with Maleficent, and when the asteroid is successfully knocked it off course, prepares to use the confusion to stage a political coup. Back on Cressida, Mercy is revealed to be an impostor also wanting to alter history; the Doctor promptly banishes her by disrupting her time-ring, and then sets about piloting Cressida to knock Maleficent back on track. Prentis tells Mel that he is suffering from a terminal illness, and has decided to expose the government’s corruption on this, his final broadcast; as Prentis begins his revelations, Chen’s control slips through his fingers, and he is arrested by his own people. Having sent the TARDIS on ahead, the Doctor instructs Mel to get everyone at the party inside the ship. Learning that Prentis is dying, the Doctor asks his friend to pilot the asteroid in his place, and as the TARDIS leaves with its passengers, the solar system is witness to its greatest fireworks display of all time…
Three billion years in the future, the Doctor returns to Uranus just as a new life form emerges. The entity contains a remnant of Prentis – it seems that the brave newsreader gained his immortality after all…
*Featuring the Seventh Doctor and Mel
by Richard Dinnick
The Doctor and Sarah arrive on board a huge ship on the planet Cerulean, home of the Siccati – six-armed aliens whose constantly-changing features alter to reflect their moods. Having learned that these art-loving people are under attack from the nearby planet of Vermill, the Doctor and Sarah only just reach a shelter in time to avoid an approaching missile; when the device hits it damages the ship’s shields, letting in the toxic atmosphere from outside and killing hundreds of Siccati. The Doctor offers to help repair the damage to the ship’s systems, and even manages to stave off another missile attack; he then tracks the projectile’s path back to its origin, which is revealed to be Sedna, the tenth planet in Earth’s solar system – meaning that Cerulean is in fact the planet Neptune. When the Siccati’s enemies, the Arrangers, suddenly make contact and request to broker peace, the Siccati ask the Doctor to help with the peace treaty; however, the Time Lord is unable to accept as someone is attempting to time ram his TARDIS; Sarah is angry that they have been forced to leave, but the Doctor informs her that the person responsible for time ram is his own future self. As the time-travellers depart in the TARDIS, another TARDIS materialises in its place…
*Featuring the Third Doctor and Sarah
*Sarah mentions wanting to visit Florana, so this could take place after 'Death to the Daleks', in which she and the Doctor are diverted en route to that planet
by Dale Smith
Arriving on Charon, Pluto’s moon, the Doctor, Ben and Polly discover the body of a terraformer, but before they can investigate further they are greeted by the arrival of a space ship and its three occupants, Ray, Spinks, and Magellan – a professor whose brain is encased within a robotic shell. After Magellan determines that his colleague must have committed suicide – as he had talked of “black dreams”, following the mysteriously disappearance of another team member named Ash – the Doctor surmises that the group are mining Charon for its considerable supplies of frozen water. Investigating a hole in the icy surface, the Doctor and the others discover a cavern containing a large sphere connected to suspended animation caskets occupied by several aliens. On finding Ash in one of the containers, Magellan immediately kills the aliens and takes his team mate back to base camp. That night Spinks is murdered and the Doctor disappears; a search of the cavern reveals him lying inside one of the caskets, but before he can be removed a vicious, shadow-creature appears and attacks Magellan. Keeping the monster at bay with a wall of water, the Doctor telepathically instructs Ben, Polly, Ray and Magellan to connect themselves to the caskets, explaining that the beast is a pan-dimensional creature imprisoned by the aliens; when one of their number died Ash took their place, but things have gone disastrously wrong since Magellan killed all the aliens. Using their link the Doctor is able to imprison the monster forever, while Ben finally realises that the Doctor really is who he claims to be. With the menace dealt with the Doctor leaves in the TARDIS with Ben and Polly – choosing not to tell anyone that he placed a portion of the creature’s aggressive tendencies within each of them for safe keeping…
*Featuring the second Doctor, Ben and Polly
*Time-placing: Ben is still suspicious that the Doctor is not who he says he is, so this would place the story just after ‘Power of the Daleks’
by Andrew Frankham
Landing on the planet Sedna, the Doctor recognises its inhabitants as Siccati; instantly realising that they are responsible for the bombings on ‘Cerulean’ – Neptune – the Doctor resolves to learn the reason behind the attacks. To gain an audience with the Siccati rulers, the Arrangers, the Doctor and Jeremy must prove their artistic abilities; the Doctor arrogantly believes that his painting will win over the art-loving aliens, but his portrait is dismissed as rubbish; his disappointment promptly turns into indignation when Jeremy’s terrible attempt at pottery is proclaimed as a marvellous success. While the Doctor attempts to make a second, more successful work of art, Jeremy wanders off and discovers a bomb hidden underground; after he warns the Doctor the two of them confront the Arrangers, who reveal that they plan to blow up Sedna as part of their ‘Great Tapestry’. The Siccati on Neptune are an advanced party of settlers charged with preparing the planet for the arrival of the rest the Siccati, who then plan to blow it up for the next component in their tapestry; however, the Settlers have refused to move on, and are now being bombed into submission. Jeremy suggests solving the impasse by holding an art competition, proposing that the winners get to stay on Neptune; the leader of the Arrangers agrees, and appoints Jeremy as one of the Adjudicators, with a second appointed on Neptune. The contest is held, and after much deliberation over the quality of the entries it is decided that the Settlers have won; the Arrangers comply with the rules of the competition, and agree to leave the Settlers to their existence on Neptune. When the Arrangers worry that their Great Tapestry will never be finished, the Doctor, having learnt that Jeremy’s vase was only picked because it was imperfect, points out that the Arrangers’ unfinished tapestry will also make it imperfect, and therefore of artistic merit. The Arrangers are satisfied, and as time-travellers leave in the TARDIS, the Doctor informs Jeremy that they must now visit Neptune – it seems the Doctor was the second adjudicator…
*Featuring the Third Doctor and Jeremy
*Time-placing: the Doctor is travelling with Jeremy, so this takes place after 'The Dead Man's Story'
*Published by Big Finish
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