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Monday, October 27, 2014

Doctor Who on The Brothers Grimm & Consonantal Shift

An old monitoring station at the
Cape Canaveral Air Force Space and Missile Museum

Part 4 of a series on the Doctor Who story "State Of Decay" by Terrance Dicks

After meeting the residents of the Village, who insist that the nature of their suppressed society has remained unchanged for a thousand years, the Doctor and Romana are captured by rebels, who escort them to the nearby dump. They find amid the rubbish a variety of old technological components, some of which the rebels have salvaged and gotten working again. As they lack instruction manuals for their use, the rebels have devoted their lives to learning how the computers function. In a culture in which education and reading is forbidden, the rebels pursue a monk-like existence, closeted away in their cave beneath the dump.

The rebels quickly realize that the Doctor and Romana can advance their studies, and indeed, after inspecting the equipment, the Doctor and Romana conclude that the discarded computer systems are from an Earth spaceship named the Hydrax. With a little fine tuning of the controls, Romana retrieves the old ship's manifest.

Ship's Officers. Captain: Miles Sharkey. Navigation Officer: Lauren Macmillan. Science Officer: Anthony O'Connor. The captions were accompanied by a head-and-shoulders identification portrait--a man, a woman, and another man, all in standard space uniform. The pictures, like the lettering, were blurred.

"The read-out's still quite legible," said the Doctor. Not bad after a thousand years!"

Tarak was staring at the screen in horror. "Those faces. They look--familiar!"

"They must all be long-since dead, I'm afraid," said the Doctor. "Some family resemblance perhaps?"

"I was a Tower Guard once, Doctor. I saw them every day." Tarak peered at the blurred pictures and shook his head. "But it can't be."

"Who did you see every day?"

Instinctively, Tarak made the Sign of Protection. "The Three Who Rule."

After leaving the rebels with assurances of future help, the Doctor and Romana head to the Tower, where they meet two of the rulers: Lord Zargo and Lady Camilla. (They will meet the third member, Aukon, the High Counselor, all too soon). Then Zargo and Camilla leave the Doctor and Romana alone in the Tower's audience chamber for awhile.

The Doctor brooded for a moment. "Ever heard of the Brothers Grimm?"

"This is no time for fairy stories, Doctor." 

"They didn't just write fairy stories, they discovered the Law of Consonantal Shift, the way language changes down the centuries."

Romana wasn't to be outdone on points of scholarship. "Oh yes, I remember, b's into v's, that kind of thing?'

"Exactly. And over a thousand years, Macmillan could become...?" The Doctor paused encouragingly.

"Of course! Camilla!"

"And O'Connor...?"


"That's right. And Sharkey, of course, turns into Zargo."

--From the novelization Doctor Who and the State of Decay by Terrance Dicks

The similarity in names and appearances suggests to the Doctor and Romana that the current rulers are direct descendants of the Hydrax's officers. Of course, there is another possibility, but for the moment, it's enough that they have discovered where the inhabitants of this planet came from, as well as why there is only one Village on the entire planet.

Now take some time to read one of the Grimm brothers' classic fairy tales*, and then come back for "Doctor Who & Yes Minister on the Brothers Grimm & Consonantal Shift"**, which I guarantee you'll find either sublimely interesting, or tediously and mind-dullingly boring.***

Dragon Dave

*With apologies to the Doctor's companion Romana, there's always time for a classic fairy tale. Am I right, or am I right?
**Possibly the longest title for a post in the entire history of the blogosphere.
***Preferably the former. But then, given the circumlocutory nature of my loquacious writing style, who can say?

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