Publisher's summary Edit
London, 1900. The First Doctor is missing both his hand and his granddaughter, Susan. Faced with the search for Susan, a strange beam of soporific light, and a host of marauding Soul Pirates intent on harvesting human limbs, the Doctor is promised a dangerous journey into a land he may never forget...
The Doctor is visiting Aldridge, a Xing surgeon, at his practice in London, England in the year 1900. He negotiates getting a hand replacement, after having lost his previous one in a fight with Soul Pirates twenty years earlier. Aldridge agrees to do the Doctor a favour, but only if he becomes the surgeon's assistant for a number of days, to which the Time Lord agrees.
As the Doctor exits the practice, he walks from the Strand and takes a cab to escape the collective fumes. Before he can give his granddaughter Susan a call, he receives a number of messages from her through his wrist communicator. Although he is at first confused by the multiple messages, he recalls Aldridge's jamming dishes. Listening to Susan's pleas for help, the Doctor redirects the cab to Kensington Gardens. At the destination, the Doctor enters the almost unoccupied house of three children Susan befriended. Upstairs, through a window, Susan, the children and their guardian are mesmerised. The Doctor almost takes his granddaughter's hand, but is careful not to enter the enemy Soul Pirates' deadly anti-gravity beam. The Doctor climbed around the beam on to the roof where a Soul Pirate, Igby, is standing watch. Igby promptly knocks the Time Lord's cane to the side, but he catches the Pirate's sword with his prosthetic hand. The hand tears, and Igby falls backwards. As the Soul Pirates' ship's beam retreats with its occupants, the Doctor jumps in to it to follow.
As the beam takes the six members up, the Doctor hallucinates of his mother on Gallifrey. He snaps out of it, and they enter the ship, which is well above the clouds. The Soul Pirates shoot them with water, to wake them up. Gomb, one of the Pirates, discovers that among them is a Time Lord. Susan wakes up and asks her grandfather what to do, but he requests she rest until needed. Gomb picks up two of the children, laying them out. As he returns for Susan, the Doctor pulls the release switch on the hose in the Pirate's belt, and gives them time to group as Gomb is blasted away. He directs Susan to get the others to the centre of the space gates. The six of them all connect in a "circuit". Following yelling from a close corridor, the Captain enters the room, welcoming the Doctor back to their ship. The Doctor is further annoyed when he spots his shrunken hand around his neck. The doors of the space gates open, and the group of six fall down to Earth. The Captain of the Soul Pirates is at first confused, and checks the computers. The anti-gravity beam powers up and the space gates close, causing the ship to explode. Pulses from the explosion reach the band and slows their fall to Earth.
Some time later, Aldridge is discussing the ordeal with Susan, and is mildly surprised. Susan plays with several of Aldridge's things, to which he tells her off, and they exchange conversation while waiting for the Doctor, who is in the back room, post-operation. They hear noises, and go to see him. Aldridge admits to the Time Lord that he almost regenerated twice during his hand operation, but it seemed to be successful. Susan comments on how her grandfather's new hand looks slightly big for him.
In an epilogue, it is mentioned that a man, who was sitting in Kensington Gardens, saw a large part of the fight between the Doctor and the Soul Pirates. Being an author, and having little success in his profession, he was stunned by the occurrence, forever unsure as to if the event actually happened. The man began writing with haste his piece of literature that would attain him "literary immortality" in the future to come.
- First Doctor
- Susan Foreman
- Captain Douglas
- Child 1
- Child 2
- Soul Pirate captain
- The Doctor's mother
- J. M. Barrie
- Grunt the Naysayer is mentioned.
The Doctor Edit
- The Doctor complains about humans and buttons, and makes remarks about Velcro.
- The Doctor recalls "the Inscrutable Doppelgänger fiasco", and the two litres of TL-positive blood he'd had to part with.
- The Doctor has parked the TARDIS in Hyde Park.
- The Doctor references the school Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series, noting that no one would appreciate his reference for almost a century.
- The Doctor's real hand was cut off by Soul Pirates.
- There are numerous things that do not make the Doctor happy, including the paintings of Gallifreyan Subjunctivists..., the Earth spread known as Marmite, the human TV show Blake's 7, which was patently ludicrous, and the clammy, pungent squeeze of a Victorian London crowd." Susan Foreman is listed as one of the few things that could make him happy.
- The Doctor had been eaten twice before, on the same holiday, by blarph whales in Lake Rhonda.
- The Doctor sees his mother.
- Susan, in Aldrige's office, flicks her fingers against what looks like a tiny TARDIS. Aldrige claims that an octo-shark is inside it.
- Aldridge closed his practice on Gallifrey because he found the Time Lords pompous, particularly in calling themselves "Time Lords".
- Aldridge has a group of "amphibi-men" waiting for tail extensions in "the back".
- Aldridge is a Xing surgeon.
- Aldridge jokingly suggests that the Doctor regenerate, and that maybe the next one will have a better sense of humour, as well as a sense of fashion.
- The Soul Pirates have a tractor beam that uses a soporific agent to make whoever is in it to hallucinate.
- Aldridge uses a sonic scalpel.
- A Time Lord on Gallifrey called the Interior Designer once suggested that the "Time Lords" call themselves "Temperors".
- Time Lord brains are worth a lot of money.
- The writer of this short story Eoin Colfer, peppers the story with references to the novel Peter Pan written by J. M. Barrie who appears to have been inspired whilst watching events at the end of the tale. References include the Soul-Pirates motto "We Never Land", children flying through the sky in a blaze of stars in a euphoric state, second star to the right, pirates wielding swords and hands that aren't hands. Kensington Gardens was also the story's location for the second appearance of Peter Pan that appeared in 1904 following an earlier mention in 1902 only two years after the Doctor and Susan's encounter with the Soul-Pirates.
- An audiobook of the story was read by Nicholas Briggs.
- The epilogue reveals that the events of the book, from the children being trapped in the anti-gravity beam to the Doctor fighting off the captain, was being watched by J. M. Barrie, who would later write Peter Pan.
- The First Doctor loses his hand in a sword fight battle and has to have a new one made for him. The Tenth Doctor also lost his hand in a sword fight, although in his case his grew back. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- The Doctor contemplates saying "Bah humbug," but notes that that catchphrase belongs to someone else. The Ninth Doctor would later meet Charles Dickens, saying "humbug" to him, and note that he was a fan. (TV: The Unquiet Dead) The Eleventh Doctor also used the plot of A Christmas Carol to get Kazran Sardick to save a crashing starliner. (TV: A Christmas Carol)
- The Doctor occasionally sees visions of his future, and wishes that he was as fit and able as his future self. (TV: The Eleventh Hour et al.) He considers that all of the "running down corridors" may have caused him to be more fit in the future. (TV: Castrovalva, TV: Vengeance on Varos, et al.)