Having re-joined the TARDIS crew in the previous book ‘Deceit’ a battle hardened Ace, with years of fighting the Daleks in 26th century under her belt, asks the Doctor to travel to the Lucifer system in the 22nd century.
They find the Intergalatic Mining Corporation (IMC) attempting to exploit the alien technology in the system which threatens to cause untold chaos across the universe. For once Ace has manipulated the Doctor, threatening their friendship.
This story can be best described as hard science fiction. There are aliens here but the main danger comes both from the humans and the harsh nature of being in space. In a particularly nasty scene a character explodes due to decompression because he can’t close the helmet of his spacesuit on account of his big, bushy beard.
The attempts to fathom out the function and operation of the alien technology is reminiscent of Arthur C Clarke’s ‘Rama’ series of novels, particularly as the planets themselves are components of the technology.
It is the first of the novels to re-introduce the Adjudicators, a mix of knights and police officers. They would go on to appear in many stories set in Earth’s future and provide the background for the Doctor’s companions Chris and Roz.
It is also one of many New Adventure novels that has a large corporation as the villain. Events are put in motion because the IMC wants to make a profit, although some of their members have more altruistic goals. Published in the 90s it isn’t hard to see the environmental message that this carries, which is still relevant today.
‘Lucifer Rising’ is a solid piece of science fiction, even without its Doctor Who connections. It helps establish that the relationship between the Doctor and his companions will not be a simple as it was before.
Just as in ‘The Pit’ it is the companion that sets the location for the adventure. While Bernice was satisfying her curiosity Ace has an agenda. In the 26th century the Lucifer system is surrounded by an impenetrable force field. The IMC requested that if Ace ever came in contact with the Doctor again she go back and investigate its origins.
In other examples where companions have been duplicitous it has usually been to benefit themselves, Turlough was saving himself from the Black Guardian and Adam wanted to exploit information from the future.
Here Ace is acting out of loyalty to someone other than the Doctor. Her aims could even be seen as noble since allowing IMC access to the systems resources would in turn benefit Earth in their war against the Daleks.
The general view is that a ‘good’ companion is loyal to the Doctor first but that isn’t always the case. Player characters who have the Obligation trait may very well manipulate others to benefit people other than the time travellers.
It is important to note that IMC sending Ace doesn’t in itself create the force field around the system. A IMC operation had already been despatched in the 22nd century, something the company was well aware of.
It is this earlier expedition that prompted the Angels, sentient beings that both created the machinery and serve it, to erect the force field that continues to be in place centuries hence. It is likely this would have happened without Ace’s presence.
The Lucifer system is a true marvel and a template for epic alien artefacts. The planetary bodies are the moving pieces, while forests act as components and bridges between orbiting moons act as a power source, collecting energy.
It is the destruction of a forest by the IMC that throws this great machine into chaos. This is a good metaphor for the dangers of environmental damage, not to mention the ideas of living planets.
The purpose of the Lucifer system is to act as a morphic field device. Morphic fields were discussed in the recent Torchwood mini-series ‘Miracle Day’. The idea is that the fields define the shape and qualities of living creatures.
This story suggests that Gallifreyans were the first humanoid race to evolve and thus set the template for other humanoids to follow. In other words Gallifreyans don’t look human, humans look Gallifreyan.
By upsetting the balance of the Lucifier morphic field device beings across the universe have their morphic field altered, transforming them into other species. During the story this morphic field alteration allows Ace, Bernice and the Doctor to merge into a single being and for a man to be transformed into a forest.
This shows the rich potential in the area of morphic fields. Altering a person field could be an alternative to cosmetic surgery or cybernetic implants. For those with the technology a simple way to create a breed of super soldiers or geniuses would be to engineer a morphic field to make them so.
A particularly evil race could try to alter the morphic field of another species, to turn them into slaves or to make them into the same race. This could be a way for the Daleks to repeat their plan to introduce the Dalek factor into humanity.
Morphic field alteration could also be another explanation for a races shape shifting ability. For example this could explain why the Zygon and Autons often capture the subjects their are impersonating. Once they have a subject they can then copy or project their morphic field, becoming a perfect duplicate.
The IMC expedition are led by an alien named Legion. A multi-dimensional being what we see is only a 3-dimensional cross section of a 7-dimensional creature. This makes it look like an ever shifting mass of tentacles.
This also gives it the ability to teleport, moving through higher dimensions before reappearing in our own. They can use this offensively to move through or into a person, killing them.
Although rare there are other members of Legions’ race that the player characters might encounter. Their dimensional abilities make them a frightening race, similar to the Weeping Angels in their ability to move in a way that is difficult to fathom.
The Doctor is forced to kill Legion. The justification is that the Doctor has already been manipulating others to kill for him, which is in some ways worse. By killing Legion himself he is accepting the responsibility and guilt that comes with the act.
In a manipulation of time the Doctor sends the survivors back to Earth, unknowingly infected with a virus that will spread and provide protection from the Daleks plague. This will ensure that the human resistance fighters who aided him during ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ survive.
This is a neat use of time travel that can be used to explain unlikely or fortunate events in previous stories or tie player characters to the events of established Doctor Who adventures. It can be a thrill for players to know that they are responsible for elements of Classic stories.