Transit was the tenth novel in the Virgin New Adventures series. It was written by Ben Aaronovitch and featured the Seventh Doctor. It was the first novel to feature Bernice Summerfield as a companion following her introduction in the previous novel.
Publisher's summary Edit
"Oh no, not again..."
It's the ultimate in mass transit systems, a network of interstitial tunnels that bind the planets of the solar system together. Earth to Pluto in forty minutes with a supersave non-premium off-peak travelcard.
But something is living in the network, chewing its way to the very heart of the system and leaving a trail of death and mutation behind it.
Once again a reluctant Doctor is dragged into human history. Back down amongst the joyboys, freesurfers, chessfans, politicians and floozies, where friends are more dangerous than enemies and one man's human being is another's psychotic killing machine.
Once again the Doctor is all that stands between humanity and its own mistakes.
Plot summary Edit
In the year 2109, the Earth’s colonies throughout the solar system are connected by the Sol Transit System, or STS, a system of train “tunnels” through the fabric of reality itself. Travel is fast, nearly instantaneous; and the ambitious human race is about to open its first interstellar addition to the system. The first Star Tunnel, or “Stunnel” for short, will go to the colony at Arcturus, 26 light years away. Something goes drastically wrong, however, when something unknown pushes its way out of the stunnel and into the body of the system itself, vaporising everyone on the platforms for the opening ceremony.
Lunar University (or “Lunarversity”) student Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart—a distant descendant of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart from an illicit relationship in his early military days in Africa—gets briefly involved with a group of special maintenance workers on the Stunnel project, and develops a hasty but passionate relationship with Zak, or Blondie as he prefers to be called, the youngest member of the crew. Related events lead her to be at King’s Cross station when the entity from the stunnel passes through, destroying everyone; but she is saved by the sudden appearance of the Seventh Doctor and the TARDIS. The TARDIS itself, with Bernice Summerfield still inside, are hurled to the end of the line, somewhere in another station. Stuck with few options, the Doctor falls in with Kadiatu, who connects him to a family friend, a woman named Francine, who is—famously—a completely blind veteran of the war on Mars between the humans and the Ice Warriors some twenty years earlier, and also an accomplished underworld boss. Unknown to the Doctor, Kadiatu knows exactly who he is.
Benny finds herself in a slum near the last station in the solar system, on Pluto, and falls in with two prostitutes, Roberta and Zamina. (By coincidence, Blondie is also from this slum, and is well known to both girls.) Benny quickly uses the girls, as well as a local gang, to seize power and then spark a riot that sends destruction careening through the slum. Roberta is killed in the fighting, and Benny escapes. Meanwhile, the Doctor knows a thing or two about Kadiatu, as well—he realises that she has been genetically engineered, probably as a soldier. He discovers her rather complete files on him, and learns that she is very close to discovering time travel, a few centuries early for humanity. He considers deleting the files, but decides against it, fearing the repercussions. He also realises—though she didn’t tell him—that she is a descendant of his old friend. When she awakens, he helps her solve a minor problem she is dealing with, and in return, recruits her to help him recover Benny and put an end to the crisis in the STS.
Blondie’s crew, led by a former—and highly augmented—soldier called Old Sam, begins to search the now-closed system for the source of the problem, using a modified maintenance train they call Fat Mama. They are assaulted by a group of mutated individuals, and barely escape with their lives and heavy damage to the train, though one crewmember—Dogface—is critically wounded and whisked off to a hospital. They report in to their supervisor, the System’s manager, Ming, often called “Ming the Merciless”. Meanwhile the Doctor and Kadiatu make their way to the slum on Pluto, where the fighting has ended and the relief workers have arrived. There they find the TARDIS; it struck the wall of the station with enough force to embed it deeply in the wall, with the door unfortunately facing the wrong way. Benny arrives at the station, and tries to kill the Doctor; it becomes clear that she is possessed by the transit system entity. He is saved by Old Sam and Blondie; Benny flees, collecting Zamina as she does, and joins a refugee group headed for Mars. During the fight, Kadiatu discovers—and is disturbed by—her own preternatural fighting skills, which she does not understand; a flashback shows that she herself is not her parents’ natural child, but was found by her father on a military mission, organised by Francine. She was genetically engineered by the Imogen corporation as a supersoldier of incalculable ability; however her father couldn’t bring himself to kill the infant warrior, and adopted her instead, vowing to overcome her creation with a good upbringing and psychology. She knows none of this, however.
The Doctor takes Blondie and Kadiatu to his house in Kent, where the couple’s relationship deepens. The Doctor realises that the STS hasn’t been invaded by an outside intelligence; rather, because it is structured in the form of a complex neural network, it has evolved its own intelligence. He builds a device to communicate with the system, and finds that while he is correct, he only has part of the story. The system, though certainly intelligent, was invaded by a competing intelligence—a virus of sorts—from another dimension, which breached the system where reality was thin along the Stunnel’s path. The Doctor decides to help the system expunge the virus. He contacts Ming and her fellow executives and offers to help—and none too soon, because something in the system is preparing to open the Stunnel again.
Benny and Zamina are placed with a family on Mars, but Benny quickly kills them. She heads out, intending to get to STS control and advance the virus’s plan—but she manages to resist the virus’s control long enough to send Zamina away with a warning for the Doctor. The Doctor gets the message, and takes Kadiatu to Mars via the tunnels, finding that Benny has fled in a vehicle out onto the wilder parts of the surface. She leads them to a dormant Ice Warrior nest, where she tries to shoot the Doctor; Kadiatu kills her. The Doctor is furious, until he realises it’s not the real Benny; it’s a mutant made to look and sound like her. She was a decoy; they are forced to race back, having lost time on this distraction—and moreover, the Ice Warriors asleep in the nest will eventually awaken, not knowing their war with Earth is over.
Waiting to be picked up, Kadiatu compares notes with the Doctor about her family history, and then reveals something disturbing—she has dreams about an old woman, whom the Doctor identifies as the Pythia of Gallifrey’s past, giving a curse against childbirth. Francine arrives in a modified jet and picks them up, but is shot down by an automated system that misinterprets her intentions. She lands safely somehow, though the plane is destroyed. A chance encounter with one of the rescue crew that collects them makes the Doctor realise that he may be far too well known to humans now, and he considers deleting knowledge of himself from human records.
Benny makes her way to STS control and sets the reactors to overload, pouring power into the Stunnel’s grid, preparing to open the gates on both ends. The Doctor and Kadiatu arrive, but find that it’s another false Benny. The Doctor sends the maintenance crew’s drones to build a machine to draw power from the TARDIS, and then he heads to the Stunnel station by freesurfing the tunnels—that is, travelling them on a board, without a train. Inside the tunnels, he picks up an unidentified, disembodied hitchhiker, telepathically entering his mind. At the other end, he finds a battle in progress, between the entity’s mutants and the human security forces, with Blondie and Old Sam there holding the line as well. Blondie dies in the process, horrifying Kadiatu. Benny—the real Benny this time—is there as well. As the Doctor arrives, the gateway opens, and the full entity emerges, possessing Benny; it seems the version that was already inhabiting her was only an agent of sorts. As it claims no name, the Doctor calls it “Fred”. However, before it can act, the machine connected to the TARDIS fires a powerful burst of artron energy through the tunnel, channelled through the Doctor, striking Fred and driving it back into the tunnels and into its own dimension, taking Benny with it. As the Stunnel starts to collapse, the Doctor follows it in, trying to rescue Benny; Kadiatu follows him.
The Doctor finds himself in a world of subjective reality, malleable to the wills of those inside it. He shapes reality into a form he can navigate, and leaves messages for Kadiatu to follow. He also finds that the artron energy—representing the TARDIS itself—takes the form of two cats, one green, one silver. He battles his way through to a confrontation with Fred. Fred admits that it has concealed its true purpose until now; it can’t act with impunity in the real world, but here, it has more power; and it saw the potential in the Doctor, and wanted to take him to augment its own power. To that end, it kidnapped Benny, planning to lure the Doctor here so it could acquire his mind. Kadiatu arrives manifesting as a leopard, and attacks Fred; the Doctor transfers the hitchhiker from his own mind to Benny’s, forcing Fred out, and Kadiatu devours Fred. The hitchhiker then vacates Benny’s mind and takes form—it is the Transit entity, and now, without any opposition, it feels comfortable vacating the system and remaining here in this dimension, where it can reach its full potential. The Doctor, Benny, and Kadiatu return to reality just as the gateway collapses..
The crisis is resolved; but before leaving Earth again, the Doctor visits the Stone Mountain data repository on the moon, which contains the sum total of human knowledge. He has deduced that its AI management software has become sentient, and threatens to expose it to humanity—who are paranoid about such things—if it doesn’t accommodate him. He persuades it to delete all records of his own existence on Earth, and he personally destroys what hard copies are available; and in return, he gives it pointers on how to live with humanity. It names itself FLORANCE, and immediately begins establishing a presence on Earth, before revealing itself. The Doctor returns to the station on Pluto, and has the maintenance crew cut the TARDIS free of the wall, and takes a very shaken Benny with him when he leaves. He sends Old Sam to make peace with the newly awakened Ice Warriors, and sees that Kadiatu gets a job with STS. He offers her a chance to come with him, but she refuses—but warns him that she’ll give him a head start, then come after him. Later, she completes her time machine, and then destroys all her research, before setting off after the Doctor—but where her allegiance lies, remains to be seen.
- Seventh Doctor
- Bernice Summerfield
- Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart
- Old Sam
- Credit Card
- Dog Face
- Kadiatu's great grandmother of the same name wrote The Zen Military.
- Because of that book, and the general residual footprints the Doctor has left through history, UNIT and he are something of a cultural phenomenon — including an opera based on Battlefield.
- The Thousand Day War was fought with the "Greenies", a slang term for Ice Warrior.
- Ubersoldaten were augmented soldiers that fought in the Thousand Day War.
- Moneypens are used to transfer currency.
The Doctor Edit
- The Doctor refers to his third, fourth and fifth incarnations' liking for wine, beer and cricket respectively.
- The Doctor gets drunk celebrating the universe's birthday with Kadiatu.
- Earth's official First Contact with aliens is embodied in the Arcturan Treaty of 2085.
- "Personspace" refers to the area of space explored by humans.
- "Catfood-monster" refers to a homeless person.
- "Joyboy" refers to male prostitutes.
- "NAFAL" means to "not-as-fast-as-light".
Transport technology Edit
- This novel is often noted for its multiple use of expletives; the F-word is used ten times in this novel.
- A prelude to this novel appeared in DWM 195.
- The novel is based on an idea that Ben Aaronovitch submitted to the Doctor Who production team for Season 25.
- Kadiatu reappears in PROSE: Set Piece, The Also People and Happy Endings (also a brief cameo appearance in PROSE: The Dying Days). She also reappears and meets Benny once again in AUDIO: The Final Amendment.
- The Doctor's house last appeared in PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Warhead.
- The infection of the TARDIS is referred to once more. This occurred in PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark.
- The Doctor dreams of Ace running like a cheetah, (TV: Survival) but says she was always a wolf to him. (TV: The Curse of Fenric)
- The Doctor taunts a possessed-Benny by saying he never built her a boom-box. (TV: Silver Nemesis)
- FLORANCE appears again in PROSE: Sleepy and PROSE: Seeing I.
- The unknown future incarnation of the Doctor that first appeared in Marc Platt's novelisation of Battlefield reappears here in a cyberspace encounter with a supporting character.
- The Doctor mentions that he has visited "all three Atlantises." (TV: The Underwater Menace, TV: The Dæmons, TV: The Time Monster)
- The Doctor calls the entity "Fred." He'd previously attributed this name to a Robot Yeti (TV: The Web of Fear) and Romana I. (TV: The Ribos Operation)
- The Doctor, if he has to die, wants to do so alone and believes it would be best if all traces of him were erased. The Doctor's next incarnation would share this belief. (AUDIO: Scherzo) This would eventually change by his eleventh incarnation. (While he explained his actions after having the idea to use the Teselecta, he is describing his choice to send the invitations while he still believed he was going to die.) (TV: The Wedding of River Song)
- Prelude to Transit as published in DWM #195
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Transit at The Whoniverse
- The Cloister Library: Transit
- Bewildering Reference Guide to Transit