The Kaldor City audios were just one more Doctor Who spin-off series that thrived in the interregnum between the Virgin New Adventures and Russell T Davies. Based on the works of Chris Boucher, they threw together everything they could that he still owned the copyright to: the world and characters of The Robots of Death (1977) rubbed shoulders with Blake’s 7 (through psychostrategist Carnell, from Weapon (1979), and a there-but-for-the-grace-of-copyright-law Kerr Avon), and when that wasn’t enough the death-god Fendahl (from Image of the Fendahl (1977)). Then, right at the end, (Storm Mine (2004) by Daniel O’Mahony) they just gave up and got downright weird instead. Just a shameless attempt to extract a few pounds from that notoriously lucrative Doctor Who/Blake’s 7 crossover market.
Except that Kaldor City remains one of the best, the most consistent, intelligent, entertaining of any of the Doctor Who spin-offs, telling a meticulously crafted story episode by episode with none of the dips in quality that even the best of its peers suffer. Poke a finger at your New Adventure library, your Big Finish CD collection, and count six consecutive stories. No matter where you started, you’ll find at least one that you think could’ve been better, or maybe shouldn’t even have been published at all. Not so with Kaldor City: everything fits, everything builds, and - in the end - everything makes a perfect kind of sense.
What you have to understand about Kaldor City, though, is that at its heart it is about interpretation. The people behind Magic Bullet have talked about Image of the Fendahl (Alan Stevens’ review of Image of The Fendahl, for example, originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 311) as being tangentially interested in the way that different perceptions can be formed from the same information - from Mother Tyler saying that the world might as well have been flat if people acted like it was, to Professor Fendelman interpreting the pentagram in the skull as a battery that would call the gods and tell them we were intelligent - and right from the off they decided that Kaldor City should have the same level of ambiguity in relation to the reasons why things happen - and sometimes even what has happened: as an audio production, the audience can never see events with their own eyes, and some key events we can only decipher for ourselves (who shot the Chief Mover in Storm Mine - Blayes or Iago? What happened to Paulus when the Fendahl manifests - was he one of the thirteen, or was he rejected?).
If you get into a conversation with Alan Stevens about what happened in Storm Mine, he’ll greet your theory with an ‘Or …’ If you make the mistake of thinking he’s telling you the great secret of What Really Happened, he’ll just as happily suggest a completely contradictory explanation that nevertheless fits the facts perfectly. But that doesn’t make Kaldor City an unsatisfactory experience. It doesn’t just shrug at you ‘Yeah, I don’t know: maybe that, I suppose’: it drops clues casually, carefully here and there, encourages you to find the obvious answers to some of the simpler mysteries, and then provokes your imagination to start moving deeper until you are convinced you’ve found the real answer.
And no matter what answer you find, Kaldor City will support it. Because it is - at its heart - a series about how the same events can be interpreted by different people in completely contradictory ways. A series about how reality is shaped by the way we look at it, and how that reality always seems to make sense.
That’s why it’s perfectly reasonable for Blake’s 7 characters to crop up in what is apparently a Doctor Who spin-off. The society that we first see in The Robots of Death is fiercely hierarchical, overly paranoid and full of political intrigue. Uvanov is self-interested, worried that the others might be secretly against him … and his paranoia is justified, since the crew also includes two undercover Company agents and a revolutionary terrorist. This is a world where plots and intrigues are hatching all around you, and the only way to rise is to do unto others as you think they might be planning to do to you. It is, in short, a world not entirely dissimilar to the world of Blake’s 7, with the Company in place of the Federation.
In this kind of world, a man who promises to tell you not only what your enemies are planning but also exactly how to defeat them is an asset worth paying for. Such a man can rise up through the social structures until he’s working for the very pinnacle of the social strata, providing he gets results. Carnell claims to be such a man, and he doesn’t seem any more out of place in Kaldor City than he did in Blake’s 7. Boucher first introduced him to Uvanov in the novel Corpse Marker, on the run from the Federation after his failure in Weapon, and his role in the world was established: showing the paranoid society’s desire for complete control over the uncontrollable, and highlighting its dangerous blind spot when it comes to truly professional manipulation.
Carnell fits as snugly into Kaldor City as the series’ ostensible hero Kaston Iago does: a self-interested master manipulator who meets his own ends by pretending to be subserviently plotting for other people’s. Iago probably isn’t Kerr Avon (but there is - again - ambiguity here: Carnell apparently only realises that Iago is from the Federation when he knows what a psychostrategist is, not because he recognises the man he manipulated previously in Weapon; Iago calmly announces that he killed the Butcher of Zircaster, also known as Travis - a man killed by Kerr Avon), but he’s the same kind of man, ready to do anything to or with anyone if it gets him what he wants, or stops someone else getting what he might want, one day. He is, like Carnell, an outsider: he exists in the story to show how easily the paranoia of Kaldor City can be made to work against itself with the application of some forward planning and a simple outside perspective.
Both characters - whether they come to the story via Blake’s 7 or not - define the society of Kaldor City: they feed on the Company’s political paranoia, they indulge its taste for intrigues, plots and grand manipulations, they use death without thought as a way of achieving their ends, increasing their power. And, at the end of the day, they are complacent. They are convinced that they know who their enemies are, and that they can outwit or out-gun them. They can’t consider that somebody - something - might be better at the game than they are.
With a society like that, you start to see that the perfect adversary for it is the Fendahl. Even the methods of Taren Capel seem like the half-remembered ghost of the Fendahl’s technique: affect a physical and mental change over a period of time before providing a trigger that makes the change complete. If Boucher hadn’t created the grand manipulator death-god, the producers of Kaldor City would have been on the phone to whoever had because the Fendahl’s whole modus operandi is the Company turned up to eleven. The fit is so perfect that the existence of the one even implies a motive in the other, makes Kaldor City the only place the Fendahl would appear next.
We know from Image of the Fendahl that the creature from planet five manipulates its victims on a historic scale, working through the ancestral line of all humanity just to move thirteen people and a skull into a priory at the same time. And it is defeated, partly because the Doctor arrives on the scene with knowledge of what it is and how it works, but also because a race memory of how to defeat it still lingers in humanity. This is the same Fendahl that manifests in Kaldor City (Image of the Fendahl explains that the creature is the only one of its kind, and the Doctor intends to destroy its indestructible skull in a supernova lest it crops up and starts again elsewhere; one of the first things the Kaldor City Fendahl tells us is that it survived a supernova and came back stronger), and so it must have used the same techniques to shape these people and this world. Lance Parkin dates The Robots of Death arbitrarily to 2877 (A History of the Universe (1996). Arbitrary is his description, not mine, based on the level of robotic technology in relation to other stories that have dates defined) but there is nothing in the story to indicate the year: the story could occur another 12 million years after Image of the Fendahl, after the death-god has steered a whole new race to form a human society, but one distracted by petty political paranoia and far too technological to even remember what rock salt is, let alone that it can be used to fight against evil.
Once you know that the Fendahl is entrenched in Kaldor City, you can see it everywhere. The ‘Red Wallbank’ painting that Iago admires on Justina’s wall is often touted as the first subtle clue (and it’s a pretty subtle one: not even Google knows that Pete Wallbank did a painting of a red pentagram) that the Fendahl is coming to town, but even in the first outing - Occam’s Razor (2001) - the Fendahl is everywhere: I’ve talked about Carnell and Iago as Fendahl analogues, but the plan that both collude in - the reliance on the human propensity to see a logical pattern to events hiding a reality that is outside their ability to even consider - neatly foreshadows the Fendahl’s methods. Even Uvanov - power mad, paranoid and desperate Uvanov, the furthest thing to an all-powerful death-god you could probably imagine - exists as a comparison to the Fendahl: his instinctive use of death to ensure his own survival, and his - albeit amateur - attempts at manipulation to ensure his survival.
And then there are the robots, those beautiful Art Deco robots that gave The Robots of Death such a visual impact. They are a contrast to the humans in the play - intelligent, even a new form of life (according to Storm Mine), but unable to entertain any notion outside of their programming: they are controlled by, and form an intricate part of the schemes of, manipulators and plotters, casually destroyed if the games their masters are playing require it. Iago destroys robots to cause the deaths that convince Uvanov he needs to hire a new security advisor just as easily as the Fendahl destroys to ensure its manifestation. The robots have complete freedom in the city, but it is the freedom that Iago describes to Blayes in Storm Mine; the freedom of a knight alone on the board, going round in circles because of the ingrained rules that control its movements.
But the robots offer more than just a contrast to the fate of humanity in a Fendahl controlled world: they are the pawn that is promoted in the endgame to reveal the true shape of the conflict. Carnell muses in the second episode - Death’s Head (2002) - that he looks forward to the possibility of facing up to an enemy so alien that its motives will be a complete mystery, not realising that he has made the same mistake he made in Weapon. His inability to think outside of the boundaries of the society he is part of mean he cannot see the truth of the situation: that conflict has already begun, and his role in it is already mapped out.
It begins with the appearance of a skull apparently belonging to the late - and expected to rise again - revolutionary Taren Capel. Carnell is happy to use the skull, coated with a contact poison, in a pre-arranged attempt on Uvanov’s life because he thinks he knows it actually belonged to a recently dispatched worker at a research station (there is a clear lineage explained through the plays - and the story Skullduggery in 2008’s Shelf Life - that has Rull kill a technician who ends up in a morgue where Cotton has an undue influence over the Head of Forensics: the plan is articulated that Cotton should and probably has stripped the flesh from the technician’s head and used his skull as the one that Uvanov is presented with. However, Cotton never explicitly says he went along with the plan in its exact detail, and the principle of - ahem - Occam’s Razor would suggest that the simplest explanation is he just used the skull that was already sitting around in the Company stores). Uvanov is not worried about Taren Capel because he watched him die, and besides Carnell warned him to expect an attempt on his life to make their scheme together work. Iago suspects that Carnell is secretly behind the attempt, and it gives him the motivation he needs to move against the psychostrategist.
But the skull isn’t the window-dressing in a human intrigue: it is itself the plot, the beginning of an endgame that leads us inexorably towards Checkmate (2003). It is there, right in plain sight (even the play it first appears in is called Death’s Head!) and none of us see it - not the characters, not the audience - because we all know Kaldor City as a place of political intrigues, and that is the expected pattern that we manage to discern in the apparent randomness. None of us even consider that, were we to x-ray the skull, we might see a pentagram growing within the bone.
The skull moves through the story, seemingly forgotten and then somehow key to the Tarenists’ plans to destroy the robots and the Company, as the other pieces are carefully moved into position: a young woman called Justina, with the trappings of coming from a founding family but actually of an altogether different pedigree; the mad, dead god of the robots Taren Capel; Iago, the ruthless killer with enough knowledge to alter the minds of the robots as only Capel had managed before; and poor Poul, driven so out of his mind by his robophobia that he can’t clearly recall the events of The Robots of Death (according to Corpse Marker) and lives now as Paulus with the mad, dead god’s voice giving him instructions from the static of Capel’s wiped audio-diaries.
And, of course, Blayes: the link between Company and Tarenists.
The woman who frees the skull.
Even as the skull - a mutation generator (Image of the Fendahl tells us) - slowly changes Justina from a distance, altering her DNA to recreate itself, the rest of Kaldor City is still distracted by plot and counter-plot. Iago and Carnell both independently realise that Taren Capel had ample opportunity to alter the majority of robots in the city, and both suspect a long-term plan is in action. But only Carnell manages to glimpse the truth of it, discovering that as well as freeing the robots to kill, Capel’s alterations seem to have other, unexplained side-effects. Through a game of chess with a Voc robot, he sees that somehow the robots are themselves connected to a manipulation being carried out on an impossible scale; that - through the chessboard - they can show him not only each move in the carefully laid plan, but also how the plan changes and shifts as events change in Kaldor City.
In the chessboard, Carnell sees his own death, just another step in the game.
It’s hard to say what his motives are next. It would be pleasing to think that Carnell - who so resembles Max Stael (from Image of the Fendahl - played by Scott Fredericks, as is Carnell) that he could be a direct descendent - in realising the truth of the situation, acted as Stael did to disrupt the Fendahl’s manifestation. It would certainly fit Carnell’s character that he wouldn’t sacrifice himself as Stael did, but instead Kaldor City. As he escapes the planet in a transport stolen from Iago, Carnell releases the trigger phrase that transforms the robots of Kaldor City into Capel’s army of death.
‘It is sometimes necessary to destroy the world in order to save it’ is Carnell’s only explanation for his action, but he also warns Iago that they are all being manipulated by a force older than humanity itself and it is clear he is in some way seeking to defeat that force, whilst also getting himself to the safest possible distance. It would fit with the ruthless logic he demonstrates throughout the story if he saw the easiest way of destroying an army of robots as setting them against a population of humans, no matter how many lives would inevitably be lost in the battle. But if these are his objectives - defeat the Fendahl, escape to safety - Carnell fails on both counts.
Carnell fails to stop the Fendahl, and when it comes it can still speak to Iago with Carnell’s voice: even though he was only a visitor to Kaldor City, Carnell was still a part of the Fendahl and its meticulous plan, and so therefore – probably (in his review of Image of The Fendahl Alan Stevens argues that it’s difficult to ever truly distinguish between the motivations of people and those acting under the influence of the Fendahl when the two are sometimes one and the same) - was his activation of the robots of death. And so his attempt at escape must therefore also fail: how do you escape from something that is part of you on even a genetic level?
As the robots begin to kill, Iago and Uvanov focus on the immediate threat and send a command to stand-down through every robot in the city like a virus. But down in the sewerpits twelve acolytes guided by Paulus surround the Core that was once Justina and the skull that was found in the Blind Heart desert. The Doctor himself told us there was no hope if the Core and twelve Fendahleen formed their gestalt (it was only because a number of the Fendahleen had been killed that he could even consider trying to defeat the Fendahl in Image of the Fendahl), and the Doctor isn’t visiting Kaldor City. There is no canny Mother Tyler to deter even one of the twelve. The Fendahl manifests towards the close of Checkmate, and from that point on there is no hope for Kaldor City.
The Fendahl has won.
But the play doesn’t end there, and neither does the story. We hear the Fendahl manifest, and then it’s just a matter of time before the population of the planet is reduced to one: the Doctor estimated it would take a year for Earth to be consumed - how long for Kaldor City? But instead the Fendahl - or the Core, or perhaps just Justina? - visits Iago, fresh from his killing of Blayes for reasons of professional jealousy. It seems to offer him a Faustian bargain, the ability to go back in time and change things so that none of this ever happened, because his ability to choose is somehow important. He appears to make the wrong choice, going back and killing Justina only to be mocked by Carnell - the Fendahl? - as the sound of its manifestation merges into the closing credits.
With the sad passing of Russell Hunter, it looked like this was how Kaldor City was going to end, with a confusing, impenetrable riddle. But instead another two chapters duly arrived (the ‘short story’ audio play The Prisoner (2004) and the fully-fledged Storm Mine (2004)) … and at first glance didn’t seem to make anything any clearer. But the people behind Kaldor City are big fans of Chris Boucher, and in particular identify an ability to hide vital aspects of characterisation or story in plain sight for the viewer to pick up on themselves. An article by Fiona Moore with assistance from Alan Stevens (Vocs Extended: What’s the Big Deal About ‘The Robots Of Death’?, originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 304) argues that despite everything Taren Capel says and does, subtle links with Poul show that the mad god of the robots’ primary motivation was a fear of - not love for – robots (an idea that Carnell later agrees with in Taren Capel (2003)). Would such a production team try to extend Boucher’s work without trying to throw in a little similar subtlety?
Perhaps the biggest clue to the ending of Checkmate and the entirety of Storm Mine is The Prisoner. A brief one-act play apparently set three days after the end of Checkmate (interpretation again: once the Fendahl manifests, everybody is only interpreting what is happening to them based on their own perceptions, and so time may not have any meaning at all) and featuring Landerchild interrogating Iago, it veers sharply away from the political intrigue that Landerchild and the audience expect and into a philosophical deconstruction of the nature of reality. Are the two of them, Iago asks, just being imagined by someone - something - else? The deconstruction is so effective that at the end of the play, the two men simply disappear. It’s a tricksy little throw-away thing, added onto an interview CD of Paul Darrow, and clearly relishing the opportunity to play with two fictional characters who realise they’re fictional without affecting the established Kaldor City ‘canon’.
Except that the Fendahl won.
It reached the point where it couldn’t be stopped even by someone as resourceful and intelligent as the Doctor, and then cheerfully passed it. And three days later, Landerchild has this conversation with Iago about the nature of reality, whether they only exist within the mind of something greater. We know that the Fendahl is a gestalt (the Doctor tells us as much in Image of the Fendahl, and the Core confirms this in Checkmate) and - if we’re paying attention - we even know that its victims are fed into that gestalt (the Doctor implies as much when he warns that the entire human population of Earth will be reduced to one within a year. He doesn’t warn that they will be wiped out: he warns that the Fendahl gestalt will reduce them to one, still human, individual) … but what we don’t know is what that feels like for the people absorbed. We know that the Fendahl has manifested, and after three days it will still be getting busy assimilating others - but we don’t know exactly what it feels like to join a gestalt.
What The Prisoner suggests, though, is that there is a process of acclimatisation. In it, we see Landerchild shepherded towards the idea that he might not any more be himself, that he might be just a memory of himself in another creature’s imagination. That he might be the remnants of Landerchild, absorbed into the Fendahl. Once he starts to consider this idea - once he accepts it - he disappears. The Prisoner suggests, if we look hard enough, that the individuals within the Fendahl have to acknowledge and accept their new status before they can completely be absorbed. And if that’s the case, then what exactly are we seeing at the end of Checkmate?
Most likely, we are in Iago’s head at the end of Checkmate: Justina is already established as the Core, and Iago has just been involved in a mutually fatal shoot out with Blayes. That we see a manipulation taking place (Justina offers Iago the chance to prevent the Fendahl’s manifestation and clearly, somehow, triumphs when he takes it) - that we see Iago himself outplayed - would fit very well with his character: it is only in his defeat that he will accept the truth, and when he is defeated he sees his adversary revealed as Carnell, the one man he actively plots against because he is the one man he fears might cause him trouble. But equally we could be in Justina’s: what we see is Justina confronted with the truth about Iago - that he doesn’t love her and can kill her without compunction if it suits his ends - and then she disappears.
Was it Iago who needed to accept that he was defeated, or Justina that her love wouldn’t save her - or even both - before they could truly surrender to the Fendahl? We’ll probably never know, but what is clear is that both did accept: the next time we see Justina and Iago, they are both on the other side of the conversation, talking to someone who has not yet accepted and convincing them to let go. And probably, if only in part, representations of the Fendahl: after all, when we next hear Iago, he tells Blayes that his voice could probably only be heard in the static of a listening device’s recording.
So then comes Storm Mine.
At first glance, it is impossible to get a grip on: it apparently shows that Blayes survived her gun fight with Iago (it even replays it as a pre-credit sequence to ensure we remember that this happened) and then mysteriously turned up in the Blind Heart desert 18 months later, to be saved by an odd bunch of survivors who were once the disciplined crew of a Storm Mine. Kaldor City has been quarantined, and everybody is just killing time as best they can until life can get back to normal. But something else is clearly going on as well, with Iago a disembodied voice in Blayes’ head and her body wiped clean of all its scars - and the mysterious Chief Fixer tinkering with the robots in the lower levels played by the same actress as Justina.
Look at Storm Mine with the idea that those consumed by the Fendahl must accept the Fendahl, and the thought that we are seeing the process of Blayes’ assimilation into the gestalt is inescapable. The voice of Iago cajoles and pushes Blayes into not accepting the situation she is apparently in, into fighting, into killing. He suggests at various points in the play that Blayes is simply experiencing the random bursts of electricity in a dying brain and that her companions are mere projections of herself. The refrain of ‘We’re all in this together’ echoes through the play, and the characters she meets are described by the Commander as reduced to archetypes, with each seeming reminiscent of characters we have seen before (Philip Madoc’s Commander feels like Uvanov, announcing that he wanted a good vantage point to observe events and telling Blayes that they have met before, although she does not remember; John Leeson’s Chief Mover feels - and sometimes sounds - like the other Chief Mover we have met, Paulus/Poul - a company agent who secretly fears that things might not work out for the best; Gregory de Polnay’s V23, a representative of all Kaldor City’s robots - and particularly its killer robots - played by the man who was D84).
But Storm Mine is more than just a longer replay of the last moments of Checkmate and the conversation in The Prisoner. Blayes does come to a realisation in the play, facing up against Iago weaponless but able to talk him out of existence by acknowledging the need to ‘kill’ the projections around her (one of the subtleties of Storm Mine is that we’re never quite sure if Iago is the Fendahl trying to bring Blayes to realisation and acceptance, or if he is the remnants of Iago trying to find allies in an attempt to fight the Fendahl from within, or even a part of the Fendahl that thinks like Iago and turns on itself). But that realisation doesn’t cause her to disappear into the reality of the Fendahl gestalt, to become one with an omnipresent death-god. It leads her down into the depths of the supposed illusion, and into a discussion with the Core/Chief Fixer/Justina and the last of the killer robots. Something is different this time, but what?
In Image of the Fendahl, the Doctor casually mentions - once - that the skull is a mutation generator, and alive. What he doesn’t tell us is what kind of experience that living skull has, what it feels like to begin the process of re-creating an old life in a new world. In Storm Mine, the Chief Fixer tells Blayes that she is a mutation generator, and that V23 was given to her because she is helping it to emerge as a completely new life-form. The process was begun by Taren Capel, and then the virus that Iago spread between the killer robots left behind random code that opened up the potential for true life. Blayes pushes the process to completion through Storm Mine, leaving V23 emergent as a living creature by the close. More, as a complete gestalt of everyone, because - as Blayes closes the play with - ‘We’re all in this together’.
We know that the Fendahl has won. We saw it manifest, and we’ve seen our ‘heroes’ acknowledge the change in their reality and join the gestalt. In Image of the Fendahl, the life-form the mutation generator created was the Core, the pre-manifestation Fendahl. In Kaldor City, the Fendahl is manifest already … and so whatever else it is doing, the mutation generator is not helping the Fendahl manifest. Perhaps the 18 months between Checkmate and Storm Mine are significant: in 18 months, the Fendahl could have reduced all life in the city and the outer zones to one, and might be ready to leave the planet behind - as the Doctor told us it left Mars behind on its way to Earth. Perhaps we are watching the events of Image of the Fendahl on some other unsuspecting planet, but from the skull’s point of view.
Or perhaps something else is going on.
The events of Storm Mine are taking place within the Fendahl, but even so it is here that it is creating new life from a robot that appears to be an archetype of all Capel’s killer robots. The Doctor told us that the Fendahl was evil, that it was an abomination of evolution turned in on itself, that it goes beyond acceptable survival by consuming all life, soul and all. But the Doctor has been wrong before - he decided to throw away an indestructible skull that threatened the safety of the universe, after all. He says that the Fendahl killed even its own kind, but doesn’t consider what becomes of the souls that are consumed. Kaldor City has shown us that in some way they survive within the gestalt, so isn’t it only a matter of interpretation as to whether the Fendahl really destroyed its own kind, or any of its victims?
And now it is trying to create new life where there was none, creating a gestalt creature in its own image, steeped in death but evolutionarily perfect for its habitat. This life is created inside itself, but that is where the Fendahl lives its life: we are all, after all, in it together - including the Fendahl - and its interaction with the universe outside is simply a process of bringing more into it, together. What if the Fendahl isn’t merely moving itself on to another world to continue its assault on life itself, but instead creating its offspring in a way perfectly befitting for its life cycle?
After all, the Fendahl is the pinnacle of evolution. And, despite what the Doctor tells us, the process of evolution isn’t about survival of the fittest, the survival of the individual at the expense of the lives of anything else that threatens or can feed that individual. The process of evolution is about the survival of the species, the passing of strong genes through the generations, and the prime motivation it provides isn’t to live or to kill. It’s to reproduce.
But all of that is only one interpretation of the series, my interpretation. The beauty of Kaldor City is that there are others, there is compelling evidence for others. Take the end of Checkmate - look at it again and consider whether it really is the moment that the Fendahl manifests. In its conversation with Paulus, the Fendahl associates him with corruption, pollution and evil: does it, instead of manifesting with a full thirteen, actually reject him and then start looking for a replacement? Paulus is told that a place is needed for ‘the one that kills’, and then we see the Fendahl visit Iago and make him an offer: once he accepts, we next see him moving round the ghosts of humanity in the Fendahl ‘killing’ them and moving them into the greater gestalt. If you look at it that way, Storm Mine becomes not the story of new life being created but the story of Blayes coming to replace Iago as ‘the one that kills’, his eventual ‘death’ ending the months of moving in circles that the society, the Fendahl, has been suffering.
Look at the evidence, and you’ll see it - and other, equally contradictory, theories - depending on how you chose to interpret what you perceive. Six years on and with no new Kaldor City on the horizon (Alan Stevens has said that many talented people tried to come up with the next chapter, and many talented people failed), we’ll probably never have a definite answer to any of the questions that the series posed as it unfolded. But then the same is true if the next chapter had followed Storm Mine the following year. Kaldor City is a series that suggests to its audience, and challenges them to decide for themselves what they think is happening, what they think is real. It is without a doubt one of the best, the most consistent, intelligent, entertaining of any of the Doctor Who spin-offs, and if you haven’t discovered that for yourself already, perhaps now’s the time you did.