The Land of Fiction
Name: The Land of Fiction
Format:Television Show, Book and Audio
Time of Origin: Outside reality.
Appearances: “The Mind Robber”, “The Crooked Man” and “Conundrum”; the Land played an important role in “Head Games” but The Doctor never visited it directly; The Doctor visited it in “City of Spires” and “The Wreck of the Titan”, but his location was only identified as the Land of Fiction in “Legend Of The Cybermen”.
Doctors: Second Doctor, Fourth Doctor, Sixth Doctor and Seventh Doctor
Companions: Jamie McCrimmon, Zoe Heriot, Leela, Ace, Bernice Summerfield, Roslyn Forrester, Chris Cwej and Melanie Bush
While the Land of Fiction has never been a threat to The Doctor of its own free will, it has nevertheless been the catalyst for some of The Doctor’s most unique adventures. Existing outside reality as we know it, the Land of Fiction is a realm where fictional creations are real, The Doctor’s visits to the Land resulting in him encountering classic fiction characters such as Gulliver of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, Rapunzel, Sherlock Holmes, Alice of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Captain Nemo’s Nautilus from ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’, and even variations on characters like Batman and the Famous Five. A particularly significant detail about the Land of Fiction is that, while it is possible to write reality to receive the outcome you want, writing the future and then fulfilling it will trap you in the Land forever as a fictional character, with the result that the Doctor has been forced to rely on very unorthodox means when he finds himself trapped in the Land.
The Doctor’s first visit to the Land of Fiction was only an accident; with the Second Doctor having just triggered a volcanic eruption that would destroy the island that he and his companions were currently on in order to defeat The ruthless Dominators (“The Dominators”), and the TARDIS controls too damaged for him to depart the island the normal way, he was forced to escape by triggering an emergency circuit that took the entire ship out of Time itself, into the void outside the universe. Although The Doctor tried to repair the TARDIS, his attempt to return to reality resulted in the apparent destruction of the ship as he, Jamie and Zoe were scattered throughout the Land of Fiction, finding themselves in a forest where the trees were letters when viewed from above.
As they travelled through the forest, they faced such diverse threats as Jamie being turned into a cardboard cut-out and The Doctor bringing him back to humanity by putting his face back together only to make a mistake that he had to correct later, being betrayed to toy soldiers by Gulliver, being attacked by a unicorn, and culminating in The Doctor and Zoe confronting Medusa and the Minotaur in a labyrinth – defeating the three mythical creatures by confirming that they didn’t exist – while Jamie narrowly escaped a soldier by climbing up a cliff with the aid of Rapunzel’s hair. While Jamie fled the robot soldiers, The Doctor and Zoe were confronted by the Karkus, a cartoon character from Zoe’s home era; although The Doctor couldn’t stop the Karkus by confirming his non-existence as he hadn’t heard of him before now, Zoe was able to win the Karkus’s allegiance by defeating him in a fight, allowing him to take them to the citadel where they were reunited with Jamie.
Confronting the Master of the Land of Fiction, the Master – not to be confused with The Doctor’s later Time Lord enemy – revealed that he was an Earth writer who was kidnapped by the Land to serve as its creative source due to his writing skills – in 1926 he wrote an adventure serial for boys in the Ensign magazine, producing 5 000 words per week for 25 years -, who wanted The Doctor to take his place. Although Jamie and Zoe were trapped in one of the Master’s books and seemingly turned into fiction, The Doctor, despite being unable to simply write his victory without becoming trapped in the Land anyway, refused to become the slave of the Land of Fiction, allowing the Master to connect him to the controlling computer so that he could use the Land’s resources against the Master. As the two summoned armies of fictional characters to fight each other, they eventually overloaded the master computer, seemingly destroying the Land of Fiction while The Doctor, Jamie, Zoe and the former Master retreated to the TARDIS, with The Doctor managing to take the Master home before he returned to his usual travels.
During the 21st century, a rift was created in the Land of Fiction when it began to become ‘overpopulated’, as the sheer volume of fiction in various mediums meant that some of the more obscure characters had to be erased (“The Crooked Man”), prompting characters such as fictional caricatures of actresses or murderers in obscure crime novels to relocate to the real world (one of them described it as them choosing to leave, but The Doctor described it as choosing to jump rather than push), killing real people to take on their essences and ensure their stability in the new world. When a young woman called Laura Corbett was abandoned by the father of her child after she told him she was pregnant, she created a fictional father of Simon Corbett to explain the pregnancy to her friends and family, with the Land’s current instability allowing Simon to travel to the real universe via the rift due to both his strong fatherly instincts and the large collection of books belonging to Laura’s father, Laura choosing not to question this twist despite the obvious strangeness. Tracking the source of the instability after witnessing a murder in a second-hand book store where the storage cabinets and door were broken from the inside, the Fourth Doctor and Leela realised that various obscure and ruthless characters were using the breach to escape the Land. This culminated in The Doctor, Leela and the Corbetts facing the ‘leader’ of the constructs in the form of the Crooked Man, a character in a book written by Laura’s father that drained imagination (Laura speculated that her father created the Crooked Man as a story to discourage her from reading and potentially damaging his books). Although the Crooked Man attempted to trap The Doctor, Simon, and others in the Land of Fiction after the other characters drove them into the library, The Doctor was able to destroy the original Crooked Man manuscript to kill the monster. Realising the truth of Simon’s origins after the Crooked Man revealed that he only found the breach to reality rather than creating it, The Doctor told him that the only way to stop the invasion was to seal the breach from the other side. Although aware that this would separate him from his family, Simon’s strong will and his love for his child allowed him to hold off the villains long enough for The Doctor and Leela to escape, Laura subsequently forming a relationship with local policeman Ellis Andrews, concluding that reality was more important than perfection.
The Land of Fiction played a crucial role in The Doctor’s reunion with Jamie and Zoe when Zoe, after returning to her own time with her memories erased (“The War Games”), was captured by the Cybermen during an attack on the space station where she worked. Although the Cybermen attempted to convert Zoe into a Cyber-Planner, the process resulted in her memories of her time with The Doctor being restored just as she gained access to the ship’s control systems, allowing Zoe to send a feedback wave into the propulsion systems that opened a rift in space-time to send the Cyber-ship outside of Time into the Land of Fiction, concluding that the Land was somewhere where the Cybermen could do no harm. However, after she and the Cybermen arrived in the Land, Zoe realised that the Cybermen could use the Land’s master computer to destroy human imagination by reversing the polarity to suppress imagination rather than enhance it, making all sentient races easy prey for the Cyber-conversion process. Although now experiencing reality on a different level as she operated as the Mistress of the Land of Fiction – to the extent that she referred to The Doctor’s adventures as ‘a tale for children which adults enjoy’ -, Zoe nevertheless dedicated herself to the task of leading her fictional army against the Cybermen, her generals include Alice Liddel – of Alice in Wonderland – and Count Dracula (As well as Sherlock Holmes before his capture), but eventually had to accept that she needed help when most of her forces were destroyed or converted, such as when the Cybermens’ conquest of the ‘Four-Colour Kingdom’ of comics cost her access to the fictional superheroes.
Unable to create a fictional version of The Doctor herself, Zoe opened a small hole in space-time and sent a stream of data through to the TARDIS navigational circuits, bringing the Sixth Doctor into the outskirts of the Land, where the Cybermen were mining ink to produce more fictional armies for themselves (“City of Spires”). She then provided The Doctor with a companion in the form of a fictional duplicate of Jamie – albeit older than the Jamie she had known as he had to create his own heroic backstory as rebel leader the Black Douglas in the absence of The Doctor – in order to keep The Doctor safe until he could reach her, passing through such realms as an Arctic sea after landing on the Nautilus (“The Wreck of the Titan”) until The Doctor learned their true location and Jamie’s true nature. Using the Cybermens’ ‘datamats’ – data-based Cybermats that functioned in a similar manner to computer viruses -, The Doctor was able to rewrite the datamats’ programming so that they could rewrite notional reality, releasing the reprogrammed datamats into the Cybermen computer systems and disrupting the Cybermens’ grasp of reality, causing the Cybership to wink out of existence and restoring the Land to normal – with Alice taking over as the Land’s Master -, although Zoe’s memories of The Doctor were once again lost as the Time Lord conditioning reasserted itself when The Doctor took Zoe back to the Wheel (“Legend Of The Cybermen”).
The Doctor returned to the Land of Fiction in his seventh incarnation when searching for a foe that had been manipulating her personal history, attributing the restoration of the Land to his enemy’s manipulation (This initially appears to contradict the Sixth Doctor’s visit to the Land, but it may be that the Doctor was more focused on the presence of a new Master of the Land of Fiction – an adolescent who called himself the Writer – rather than the fact that the Land still existed, given that it was last seen under the control of Zoe’s allies) (“Conundrum”). While exploring their new destination of the town of Arandale, The Doctor’s companion Bernice Summerfield befriended Norman Power, an old man who claimed to have once been a superhero, while The Doctor and his other companion Ace investigated recent murders in the city, Ace noting that American PI Jack Corrigan was too cliché to be real. As they investigated the mysterious Force underneath Arandale Keep, The Doctor appeared to share his companions’ assumption that they were just in an ordinary small American town, The Doctor had actually been suspicious of their current location from the beginning; upon their arrival in the Land, the TARDIS’s recently-repaired chameleon circuit (“The Left-Handed Hummingbird”) had turned it into a gingerbread house, a disguise that could only make sense in the Land of Fiction (The Writer was unable to access The Doctor’s mind and predict how he would react to everything around him, most likely due to his status as a Time Lord granting him superior mental barriers).
As Ace uncovered the truth about their current location when she ran to the edge of the town before the Writer could compensate, The Doctor provoked the Writer into revealing his presence by playing a game of Scrabble and laying down a word that couldn’t fit on the board, exposing a continuity error that forced the Writer to confront The Doctor directly. Although the Writer believed that he had trapped The Doctor in the perfect dilemma by putting him in a position where he would either save Arandale and become a fictional character, die in the town’s imminent destruction, or take the Writer’s place, The Doctor had actually already outsmarted him. By tricking the Writer into defining the nature of the Force that had given Norman Power his abilities as McAllister’s Radiation by claiming that it could be responsible for the powers that Norman had manifested if humans were exposed to it under rare circumstances, The Doctor was able to escape the Land when the Writer triggered that radiation source to explode, the resulting energy release disrupting the Land long enough for The Doctor and his companions to return to the TARDIS and escape the influence of the Land.
The Doctor returned to the Land of Fiction when he discovered a rift in the Land that had opened over a distant planet (“Head Games”), with The Doctor being forced to seal it despite the fact that it would deprive the planet’s civilisation of the power source they had come to depend on due to the dangers such a rift could pose to reality. Unfortunately, the energy from the rift reached Jason, the former Writer of the Land of Fiction, allowing him to manipulate reality as the fictional energies contaminated the real universe, allowing him to recreate The Doctor’s fictional counterpart, Dr. Who, who he had competed against in the past. Having recovered his ‘companion’, in the form of Jason, and claimed the TARDIS for himself, Dr Who captured The Doctor and set out to trap his associates for their ‘crimes’, Dr. Who’s more straightforward nature causing him to see the world only in black and white analogies of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ rather than The Doctor’s ability to recognise when morally complex actions were necessary, such as when he had been forced to allow a solar system to be destroyed in order to preserve history even when he had an opportunity to stop it (“The Pit”).
Oblivious to the wider issues facing them, Dr. Who and Jason agreed to help the humans of Detrios defeat The green lizard monsters ‘threatening’ them – in reality the lizards had a rich natural culture and were objecting to their human oppression -, with Jason’s resentment at the criticism of the ease of their solution prompting the creation of a monstrous dinosaur that Jason defeated just to make a point. Although Dr Who and Jason were able to capture The Doctor, Benny, and The Doctor’s former companion Melanie Bush, they were able to escape Jason’s prison as it was a fictional construct that vanished when he wasn’t paying attention; even when Jason gave the TARDIS weapons to destroy the ship that the Doctor was using to escape, his subconscious caused him to bring them back as Jason’s writing always featured the arch-foes being inexplicably reborn in the sequels. After failing to capture Ace during a visit to England in 2002, Dr Who and Jason decided to stage a ‘revolution’ against the ‘dictatorship’ of Queen Elizabeth II, but Dr Who’s ‘smart bullets’ – bullets that avoided other objects to focus on their target – failed to even wound the Queen, suggesting that Jason realised on some level that what he was doing was wrong.
As The Doctor and his companions confronted Dr Who and Jason in Buckingham Palace while UNIT soldiers attempted to storm Jason’s force field, The Doctor countered Dr Who’s charges of genocide by pointing out that the crisis on Detrios was the fault of the ruling class who spent more time arguing about their dying sun than actually taking action, as well as forcing Jason to acknowledge that he had been wrong to kill the native Detrians just because they looked like lizards. As Jason acknowledged the need to grow up and take responsibility, Dr Who faded away, his work done, allowing Jason to work with The Doctor’s companions to seal the rift over Detrios and give the natives the chance to work out a more appropriate solution to their power problems (Although The Doctor was left uncomfortable at the experience as Mel’s anger at what he had become made him more aware of his own guilt over his past treatment of her, his guilt and the energy released by the rift causing his fears to manifest as his memory of his sixth incarnation, now corrupted into the Valeyard, until The Doctor sealed him away again, with The Doctor requiring some time to accept the need to forgive himself (“The Room With No Doors”).
To date, the Land of Fiction has yet to reappear in the series; although the Eighth Doctor once visited a planet populated by cartoon animals (“The Crooked World”), this was a planet in the universe where the beings that lived on it could be influenced and shaped by others, with the cartoon-like appearance of the inhabitants the result of a human child crash-landing on the planet in the distant past, with The Doctor’s influence helping the planet grow beyond its original limitations to become a more complex and free society.