This was the final novel featuring the Sixth Doctor. It is also the final Sixth Doctor adventure overall, as the ending leads directly into the television story Time and the Rani. It was also the first Past Doctor Adventures novel to be published after the start of the revived series.
The novel reveals the circumstances behind the Doctor's regeneration into his seventh incarnation, which were left a mystery in the televised version of the event. According to the novel, the Sixth Doctor was already dying by the time the First Rani boarded his TARDIS after the events of this story, and her attack propagated the Sixth Doctor's inevitable death sooner than it would have occurred.
It is the first account of the regeneration in a BBC-licensed venue. In 2015, Big Finish would later approach a different version of the regeneration in audio form by releasing The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure. However, it remains the only official account of the regeneration in prose form, novelisations not withstanding.
Carsus: the largest repository of knowledge in the universe — in any universe, for there is an infinite number of potential universes; or rather, there should be. So why are there now just 117,863? And why, every so often, does another one just wink out of existence?
With the ties that bind the Lamprey family to the past, present and future coming unravelled around him, only the Doctor can stop the descent into temporal chaos. But he is lost on Janus 8. And Schyllus. And a twentieth-century Earth where Rome never fell. And...
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- Sixth Doctor
- Melanie Bush
- Monica Lamprey
- Julien Lamprey
- Shepherd Mullen
- Joseph Tungard
- Richard de Calne
- Sir Bertrand Lamprey
- Helen Lamprey
- Alan Bush
- Christine Bush
- Anabel Bush
- Brother Ralph
- Brother Lucien
- Goodewife Barber
- Stephen Pike
- DiVotow Nek
- Praetor Linus
- Captain Rovia
- Emile Schultz
- Hilde Schultz
- Haema Smith
- Kevin Dorking
- Empress Margarita
- Marlern Jarl
- Natjya Tungard
- Luka Tungard
- Within the same system as Carsus were the nearby planets of Minerva and Schyllus, then Tessus, Lakertya and Molinda further out, and the gas giants Hollus and Garrett at the fringes. Narrah was also in the system, but its proximity to Carsus was not detailed.
- Earth, Halos III, Halos V and Utopiana had buildings resembling the Library of Carsus.
- Rummas is a Time Lord and a friend of the Doctor who lives on Carsus.
- An alternate version of Peri Brown is said to have sacrificed her life for her version of the Doctor.
- Among the alternate versions of Mel is a human-Silurian hybrid known as Melanie Baal.
- The Spiral Chamber is a portal to the spiral in the Time Vortex.
- In an alternate timeline, the Doctor visited Janus 8 in 66.98, Yestobahl in 1494, Luminos in 2005, Huttan in 2267, Narrah in 2721, C'h'zzz in 3263, Schyllus in 4387 and Helios 3 in 5738.
- Among the phenomena mentioned by Professor Rummas is strange matter fragments.
- Monica Lamprey used Joseph Tungard to create a subspace rift.
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- The novel and chapter titles are named after the EP and song by British punk band the Buzzcocks.
- The Sixth Doctor is the second Doctor to have the circumstances of his regeneration explained in spin-off media rather than a television story, the previous being the Second Doctor, whose regeneration was seen in the comic story The Night Walkers.
- The Doctor and Mel have recently visited Kolpasha. (PROSE: Instruments of Darkness)
- Mel witnesses several different versions of the Doctor, including one with a penguin, presumably Frobisher. Two Doctors wear blue coats. Both are accompanied by a lady in her fifties, who is meant to be Evelyn Smythe. (WC: Real Time)
- Before arriving on Carsus, the Doctor encounters one of his future incarnations outside the TARDIS Library. It is not specified which incarnation it is. The only hint given is that the Doctor did not recognise the appearance of this future version of himself, meaning it's an incarnation he had not previously seen. As such, it couldn't have been the Seventh Doctor (AUDIO: The Sirens of Time), the Eighth Doctor (AUDIO: The 100 Days of the Doctor), or the Tenth Doctor (TV: Time Crash).
- A different version of the regeneration depicts a final battle with the Valeyard. (AUDIO: The Brink of Death)