Story Notes for Shadow of the Daleks
I distrust writing about my own fanfiction, and usually I lose more than I gain whenever I offer comments on it. But as Shadow of the Daleks is a departure from my norm, I will explain a few things:
First, the story relies heavily upon Remembrance of the Daleks from the Seventh Doctor canon. Previously, I didn't acknowledge anything outside of the Third Doctor era, but Shadow is written after I had closed my canon of 24 stories. So I allow more freedom to do continuity-based stories, crossovers, etc.
However,even allowing for references to continuity, I tried to keep such references to the basic essentials. There's a "safe minimum" that can be maintained in fan-fiction, in terms of writing sequels to series stories and relying on continuity references. The key is never to rely on continuity as the major event of the story.
Killing off a character created in the series never works well in fan fiction. It strains story credibility. And it's a sign of a weak story, in which the author tries to shock his or her way to a good story climax instead of legitimately building a good climax out of original and believable story elements. But the death of Allison Williams, which I had to insert to make the theft of the documentation and technology believable, could not be avoided.
Good Doctor Who fan fiction, as I have observed before, must not have anything fannish about it. The structure of the series can be enhanced or expanded, but if it is changed from what the series has established, the fiction invariably falls into making concessions to reader fantasizing and sentimentality, the two pitfalls of fanfiction everywhere. When Doctor Who fiction looks too hard at where it is going or what it is doing, when it excessively comments upon itself, or when it relies upon gimmicks rather than strong originality, then the story becomes the loser.
So in writing Shadow of the Daleks, I tried to focus on a solid goal that has nothing to do with continuity: Liz Shaw's introduction to the struggle between good and evil. Liz starts the story with a rationalistic view of evil, but the evil she encounters is the real thing, not the psychological model she learned at Cambridge. The evil in the story takes Liz by surprise at several points because Liz doesn't comprehend how evil works.
End to End, the Story Behind the Story
Remembrance of the Daleks is an Seventh Doctor story hailed by many as classic Doctor Who. Though it does have much to commend it and is a lively romp through some classic Doctor Who concepts, it is too self referential at times and in some moments it descends to being downright silly. The sight of Ace destroying a live Dalek with a baseball bat is ridiculous to any person expected to take the Daleks seriously as the terrifying lords of killing and conquest.
Remembrance is an ideal piece for showing that by the time of the Seventh Doctor era, there was too much recycling going on in the plots, a failure to take evil seriously as the true foe of the Doctor Who universe, and an inability to provide stories with truly innovative turns. By the 1980's, Doctor Who had started to turn into form without substance. And of course, these problems could have been fixed, but probably not by anybody in charge of the show at that time.
The Seventh Doctor and Ace travel to the Coal Hill School in 1963 to find a small platoon of embattled Daleks being held at bay by a battalion of British Army soldiers. Dr. Rachel Jensen and her assistant, Allison Williams, (both of Cambridge) have been attached to the military as scientific advisors. Needless to say, the Doctor quickly displays enough knowledge and skill to win them over and gain a place for himself on the team. He leads them to ultimate triumph over the Daleks. In the course of the battle, a few Daleks self destruct or are destroyed. This opens the question of salvage. What happens to the little bits of technology that get strewn all over?
If you've read Shadow of the Daleks and are still putting the back story together, here it is: Dr. Schepansky, after finally whining and wheeling her way to her degree at university, is able only to get a job as a clerk with an engineering firm. Meanwhile, the more capable Dr. LeFranq is trying to extend her own career but keeps finding her progress blocked by the superior skills of scientists like Rachel Jensen and Elizabeth Shaw. LeFranq recognizes that she can only expand her importance by racking up allies and people who owe her favors. She knows Schepansky and pull strings to get her on staff at Cambridge as a clerk under Allison Williams.
|Schepansky spies out the situation and begins gathering information for LeFranq. Some powerful technology is under lock and key in Williams' archives. Schepansky ingratiates herself with Williams and eventually gets all the information. Meanwhile, LeFranq positions herself with TSRG and begins the process of lulling the stupid Major Redbird into a false sense of security about her ability to manage the scientific and technological side of the projects under his care.|
|Once LeFranq realizes that Liz Shaw has a part in the investigation of TSRG, LeFranq is highly motivated to destroy Liz. For one thing, Liz Shaw has continually outclassed LeFranq in the fields of science and technology. And Liz is more brilliant, more beautiful, and more likeable than LeFranq----also more highly principled, in spite of her occasional snobbery or aloofness. And so LeFranq has Hawthorne turn on the propaganda machine to convince the vigilantes that Liz is a key agent against them.|
Liz Shaw and the Rationalistic View of Evil
Most of my readers know that I'm a Christian, but I write Liz and the Doctor true to the series. She's an atheist, and he's either atheist or agnostic or some type of polytheist. In the series, the Doctor says different things at different times about divinity, so it's hard to define his views.
Liz starts the story with a rational view of evil. In her view, evil doing comes from unmet or frustrated needs. Evil is reactionary according to Liz, an attempt to overcome obstacles by socially inappropriate actions in order to get what is needed for survival.
She recognizes that the protestors are people who have been wronged. The fact that they clearly believe that murders have been committed causes her to want to amend the situation. Liz's premise is that if she acts in good faith with them and calls for an investigation, she can bring back peace and end the conflict. She fails to take into account prejudice against her and the agency of Hawthorne deliberately lying to the vigilantes and misrepresenting her.
Her first view of the reality of evil is from the Doctor's confused memories of the Daleks and their victims. Her vision of them, through him, awes her because---actually---this is almost a divine revelation for Liz. The universe is a bigger and more dreadful place than she had ever guessed, and the Doctor therefore becomes a mythic hero to her because he has battled the dreadful evils of the universe. For the next several hours, Liz is humbled by his friendship. But even the Doctor wants her to get over this.
From the time that Boyd is killed to the moment that Hawthorne delivers her back to TSRG, Liz undergoes an initiation at the hands of evil. Fittingly, she is bound through most of it, as helpless before evil as any human being is helpless before evil.
|Boyd's death is murder, but by a stretch of rational thought it is understandable, for Boyd is viewed by the vigilantes as one of the enemy. The threats against Liz and the promise to shoot her are terrifying, but in the morality of vigilantism, they are understandable. The vigilantes are fighting for the lives of their own people. Killing Liz may be the means required to get what they want. Even the killing of Rafe and George, ghastly as it is, has some rational explanation, because they were dividing the unity of the vigilantes with their moral absolutism that forbad mistreating Liz. But the killing of Harry is where Hawthorne's evil shows itself to be irrational.|
Hawthorne kills for pleasure. Is it sexual pleasure? If so, the reader is brought back to the rationalist view of a hierarchy of needs. Yet Hawthorne does not rape Liz, even though he does terrorize her. He lets her know that watching her die in agony will be satisfying to him, though it is another agent that will kill her. If Hawthorne's pleasure is sexual, it's a sexuality without benefit, as no procreation is actually going on. He is not extending his genetic code. He is not expressing unity and affection, which could be considered essential reasons for sexual pleasure. In fact, if he's getting sexual pleasure from terrorizing Liz and watching her die, then he is acting contrary to any rational use of sex, for killing her ensures that any sexual activity would be a failure to achieve progeny.
Hawthorne is a good microcosm of evil incarnate. He's irrational. And Liz finds herself resorting to the non-rational reaction of incredible rage to help her mind and psyche in combating him. Against Hawthorne, Liz abandons rationalism, and through intuition, in the heat of the moment, with her own death right upon her, she tricks him into getting himself killed. But her powerful rage against him, I believe, would probably frighten Liz over the longterm, as it is a departure from all her beliefs about herself.
And then there's Dr. LeFranq. She's actually as evil as Hawthorne, only smarter. She can bring his animal hostility into a rational and scientific framework. Cruel to friend and foe alike, she can hobknob with the influential and brilliant and get what she wants while enslaving and destroying those weaker than herself. Her total power over Schepansky is a portrayal of evil in the human heart, the desire for complete control.
|By the end of the story, the reader sees that not one real Dalek has shown up. The Doctor and his allies are dealing with disjointed memories and fragments of accounts of things that happened years ago. The powerful evil that they encounter is not the evil of the Daleks but the evil of human beings. And there is no more telling statement of human depravity in the Doctor Who universe than to show that when human beings are given bits of Dalek technology, they use the exact same thinking processes to start building human versions of Daleks.|