...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Day 1937: Faction Paradox


Daddy Richard and Daddy Alex went to a BIRTHDAY PARTY for Daddy Richard's NIECE who is called HOLLY. She is THREE. Which means I am TWO years older that Holly and she has to do what I say! Except on her birthday. SHUCKS!

As it is a long drive in the car to where Holly lives, they listened to a CD on the way called "The True History of Faction Paradox: Coming to Dust" and ANOTHER CD on the way home called "The True History of Faction Paradox: The Ship of a Billion Years".

This may SOUND like overkill, but in fact they are like PART ONE and PART TWO of the same adventure.

These CDs were written by Mr Mad Larry who also wrote ABOUT TIME. They are LIKE Doctor Who, except that is a big SECRET and you must not tell ANYONE or else Mr Mad Larry will get in TROUBLE.

The first part is set in NAPOLEONIC times and has dumb idiots from ENGLAND summoning up Justine and Eliza, the last survivors of FACTION PARADOX, in order to help them with a SCARY APE, that is actually…

Well, you see AGES before this ISLA BLAIR who was a Time Lady, oops, Agent of the Great Houses who comes face to scary masked face with SUTEKH from Pyramids of Mars, er no, the Osiriyan Court and Egyptian Mythology. He makes her into a Vampire, no, no, no a Malakh.

Anyway, the Time Lords, pardon, Great Houses couldn't cope with SUTEKH so they sued for peace and he buggered off back to Phaester Osiris, sorry the Throneworld of the Osiriyan Court leaving the Malakh right in it.

So, back up to date (er if you’re a mad Franco-Sardinian Dwarf Emperor) now Isla Blair wants to summon SUTEKH back to Earth to finish the job. So she's gotten a sarcophagus with a space-time tunnel in it. Yes, just like the one in "Pyramids of…" well that thing. Off the telly. With the same sound and everything. But obviously completely different. And she needs to do in something gooey to get it going.

Anyway, the FACTION discover that the something gooey is actually made out of some of what SHOULD have been their children if SUTEKH and the Tim… them fellows hadn't mucked about with it.

This made Justine a BIT CROSS so she jumped into the space-time tunnel with the intention of DOING IN SUTEKH.

End of Part One.

This was all very thrilling but also rather confusing. Isla Blair was REALLY JOLLY good and the little bits of GABRIEL WOOLF as SUTEKH are absolutely fabulous. In a CHILLINGLY evil kind of a way. (He was in "Py…" you don't need to know that though, do you?) On the other hand, Justine and Eliza not only have NEW VOICES from the OLD Faction Paradox audios, their ACCENTS have almost SWAPPED OVER. Which, no offence to the new ladies involved, is a bit confusing at times. I miss their old voices.

Having said all that, Part Two is a BILLION times better. This is partly because it makes a lot more sense on its own, and partly because it ties up and explains a lot of what was going on in Part One but is mostly because it stars Isla Blair's MRS who is called MR JULIAN GLOVER (who is in JAMES BOND as Kristatos, and also something called "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".) He's been in Doctor W… no, no it's really not important. He plays Lord Upshe

[R: it's actually, Lord Upuat, Grey Jackal-headed son of Anubis. Apparently. Oh, and Upshe is from COUNT DUCKULA.]

Be quiet Daddy.

He plays Lord UPSHE and what with being totally godlike (and so is the character he is playing) he has enslaved silly Justine in the blink of an eye. He takes her on a tour of the place where she has ended up, which is the travelling vessel of RA and the rulers of the Osiriyan Court, called THE SHIP OF A BILLION YEARS. If I say it's like a DYSON SPHERE that really doesn't do it justice, because that is just too… TECHNOLOGICAL a description. This is the cruise ship of the gods. Even the swimming pool is divine!

The Ship is protected from the T… Great Houses by the DIVINE SHIELDS, who are basically OSIRIS and SUTEKH (because they're good at it and everyone else is RUBBISH, even though LORD UPSHE gives it a go, later).

The power of the Osiryans is derived from RA, an ENORMOUS maybe-living SUN! (Though remember, there are SOME FOLKS about who draw their power from a BLACK HOLE!)

Anyway, it turns out that OSIRIS has gone missing and SUTEKH wants to be in charge now. No prizes for guessing what's happened to OSIRIS. Think "pushing up daisies" and you won't be FAR wrong.

So there are LOTS more exciting CONFRONTATIONS between SUTEKH and the other Osiryans, which means LOTS more Gabriel Woolf. And it has a real sense of huge "war of the gods" epic STUFF!

Sutekh ALMOST wins but is stopped by Huge Ra and Upshe Rises…

[R: groans]

…rises to the occasion and saves the Ship.

A long time ago there was a Doctor Who Missing Adventure by Justin Richards called "The Sands of Time", which is not a BAD story, but manages to make the Osiryans a bit SMALL and WEEDY.

"The Ship of a Billion Years" is COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE. It is FANTASTIC and really makes you feel like a small fluffy elephant listening AGHAST to the super-being DUKING IT OUT. And VERY cleverly, if you KNOW the Egyptian myths of Osiris and Sutekh and Isis and Horus then you SHOULD be able to work out what's coming… but STILL find it a satisfyingly CLEVER and very FACTION PARADOX outcome.

This would have been the BEST bit of new Noooo, not Doctor Who at all really! in ages… if we hadn't listened to it the day after "TOOTH AND CLAW"!


Millennium Dome said...

Why...? Is it RUDE?

Andy said...

You're being a little unfair with all the digs about Sutekh just happening to be the same as in DW, aren't you? After all, (this version of) Sutekh is the intellectual property of Robert Holmes, and is being used in all officially licensed glory.

It's just the Time Lord part that's covered up, and to be honest, I think Larry handles them better than the actual series did half the time. He does enough differently to make him at least a step or two up from some of the pretty barefaced things BBV used to do!

Alex Wilcock said...

I’m not sure how you can think Millennium was being unfair - after all, you might say that the thrust of his review is that it’s a chuffing marvellous story, which is hardly damning ;-)

While Millennium is of course a wholly na├»ve and innocent elephant, concerned not to let Bast out of the bag and get ‘Mr Mad Larry’ into trouble, were it to have been written instead by someone with some underlying satirical intent it might suggest that the attempts to obscure where all the old elements - albeit superbly fashioned into a new shape - come from are just funny, because in fact everybody knows that it’s Doctor Who with the serial numbers filed off.

Were I making a satirical point, I’d suggest that much of this new series ‘Doctor Who’ is in fact Lawrence Miles with the serial numbers filed off – the Time War, the Sycorax with their bone masks and blood rituals, the Doctor encountering Sarah Jane and K9 years later when they investigate the same thing, with Sarah giving an invitation to the new young blonde to come along with her after she leaves the Doctor and a companion lost but the Doctor building a new version, even 18th Century France and flouncy dresses – but that it doesn’t matter because it, too, is brilliant.

I suspect your defence of “Of course it’s not Doctor Who; it’s only a little bit of Doctor Who, and that’s licensed; all right, it’s some other bits too, and though they’re not licensed they’re better than the licensed bits, so it’s artistically justified; and anyway someone else stole much more outrageously than this does,” while I’d agree it’s accurate in almost every respect, is the sort of defence your counsel might suggest you not attempt to advance in court. Even the Osirian Court. The important thing about the review is not the asides about the story’s provenance but that Millennium enjoyed it very much.

I did, too.

Alex Wilcock said...


And, to look at the most obvious Miles-into-Who reference so far, the Cybermen are now the Remote.

I knew there was another one I meant to mention…

Andy said...

I agree wholeheartedly. But then, both you and Elephant seldom make any little comic asides about the new series nicking Larry's ideas, do you?

The Remote were indeed lifted almost without any change at all for use in Tom MacRae's Cybermen story (that's the trouble with separate titles for each part, you don't quite know what to call them. Presumably, fandom will settle on something eventually. Maybe it already has, I've stopped reading the OG forum since the new series filled it with intolerable idiots...)

Also, I would argue (spilling over into your own blog), that the whole Chips-don't-get-too-wrapped-up-in-small-minded-concerns message of the new series is lifted wholesale from the sentiments of most of Loz's interviews.

Maybe I was being a bit stroppy in writing the comment I did, so sorry about that. But I'm afraid I still disagree with you, I don't really find the name changes funny in the way you do, because they make sense to me as part of a universe that is, unquestionably, more a product of Loz's imagination (inspired by DW, granted) than anything else.

The BBV name changes like "The Dominie" are, to me, funny in a way that "The Great Houses" aren't.