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Recap / Doctor Who New Adventures Death And Diplomacy

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Three empires, the Saloi, the Dakhaari, and the Czhans, are on the brink of war. The Doctor is commanded by the Hollow Gods to mediate between them. Meanwhile, Chris and Roz pretend to be Czhan officers and Bernice gets stranded on another planet and has to rely on Jason Kane to help her get back to the Doctor.

Tropes

  • Abusive Parents: Part of Jason's backstory.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Benny and Jason. Eventually Jason's Non-Human Sidekick gives them an infuriated psych evaluation on the grounds that "If I hear one more sexually-charged and mutually misunderstood argument I'm going to shoot the pair of you!"
  • Chaste Hero: Lampshaded when the Barbarian Queen of the Dakhaari attempts to seduce the Doctor to get him to favor her people in the negotiations. He apparently completely fails to notice her overtures, but also makes a comment on the fact that that always happens, and suggests that it's a deliberate strategy of Selective Obliviousness on his part.
    The Doctor: I'm well-known for failing to notice such things, or getting them slightly but distinctly wrong. It saves so much trouble.
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  • City of Spies: Spying, deception and intrigue are the Hat of the Saloi, to the point that every Saloi is secretly spying on not only their two enemy cultures, but every other Saloi. (Except it's not a secret, because everybody knows that, so maybe that's just what they want people to think, and so on...)
  • Decoy Leader: The Saloi emperor doesn't actually do anything. The real leader of the Saloi is an apparently minor official. And the real leader was his assistant, who had had himself mentally conditioned to not be consciously aware that the decoy wasn't really in charge.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: Jason Kane was abducted by aliens at the age of fifteen and didn't see another human being for over a decade; it didn't crimp his social life one bit.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: It's implied that the usual technological appearance of the TARDIS interior is this, and that its default appearance is something that would have a terrible effect on the average human brain. At one point in the story the interior camoflage breaks down, and a character who ventures into the TARDIS with the Doctor when he goes to fix it comes out with Trauma-Induced Amnesia and claw marks.
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  • Fourth Date Marriage: At the point when Bernice and Jason get engaged, they have known each other for maybe a week, including the day or so when she thought he was a creepy alien as well as the later period when she just thought he was a creep.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Deception is the hat of the Saloi. And everyone knows that. And everyone knows that the Saloi know that everyone knows that. So everyone knows that the Saloi are trying to deceive them in the knowledge that they will assume everything the Saloi say is an attempt to deceive them.
  • Meet Cute: Bernice, separated from the Doctor and his Translator Microbes, is stuck on an multispecies alien planet which she knows has no contact with Earth, trying to communicate with a shifty humanoid alien in pidgin. He's an Alien Abductee, who is partly fascinated by the first fellow human he's seen in years, but is mostly amusing himself playing along with what he considers her patronising attitude to the natives. She is not happy when she figures it out. Belligerent Sexual Tension ensues.
  • Mistaken for Aliens: Benny assumes Jason is a Human Alien when they first meet. It's a reasonable assumption, since they're on an alien planet with no known contact with Earth, but her confident assertion that, to an experienced traveller like her, his body language and so on is clearly off, is a bit embarrassing in retrospect.
  • The Noun and the Noun: The Austen-referencing subtype.
  • Open Secret: The Saloi are a Planet of Hats of devious conspirators, as typified by the fact that whatever the official hierarchy charts say, the true reins of power rest in the hands of an apparently minor functionary with the title of Assistant sub-Administratorial Secretary. And every Saloi (as well as most of their enemies) is well aware of this, "for the simple reason that the subject of such a 'secret' would ordinarily have the life expectancy of a snail in a blender unless everybody knew about it."
  • Planet of Hats: Deconstructed. The Dakhaari, Czhan, and Saloi are introduced as the Planet of the Sex-Obsessed Savages, the Planet of the Uptight Military, and the Planet of the Devious Assassins respectively, but their societies turn out to be more complex than they seem, and most of each empire's characteristic hat is propaganda. It's also noted that to the extent the hats are accurate, it's evidence of external manipulation, because no societies would develop like that naturally.
  • Pocket Protector: Subverted in Jason Kane's cynical anecdote of his grandfather, who went away to war wearing a crucifix of great sentimental value. One day, a bullet fired at him hit the crucifix — which shattered, aggravating a wound that would otherwise not have been lethal.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Once the Doctor gets the three delegations to start actually talking to each other properly, they learn that many of their darkest beliefs about each other are the result of poor translations, such as a legend about the Dakhaari queen sending many men to their death in a single afternoon which was missing the detail that "sending him to his death" was a Dakhaari sexual euphemism. Conversely, it was widely believed that the Saloi were employing euphemisms when they spoke of their secret police keeping society running smoothly by "taking out the garbage", but this was in fact literally one of their important functions.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Czhans are Proud Soldiers, while the Dakhaari are Proud Warriors to some extent (but stand proud in other more salient ways).
  • Self-Deprecation: The Author's Note at the beginning of this, Dave Stone's second NA, describes his first, Sky Pirates!, as just a joke book, "gags being the lowest form of tragicomedy, but the highest tragicomic form of which this author is capable." He goes on to say that Death and Diplomacy is a comedy, which is different from jokes because "for one thing, a comedy doesn't have to be funny". The following 280 pages prove him more than capable of doing something that isn't just gags, while at the same time being extremely funny.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Czan sergeant is a clear pastiche of Sergeant Major Williams in It Ain't Half Hot Mum, to the point that at one point he responds to "Is you soldier boys?" by claiming to be a concert party.
    • The villains result in several shout-outs to Saturday morning cartoons, at one point setting up a death-trap disguised as a village of happy Smurf-like creatures.
    • At the end of the book, when it's revealed the villains are evolutionary-enhanced Gallifreyan rodents, one of them asks what they'll do now; another rants "We do what we always do, try to take over the universe!"
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Bernice and Jason.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Bernice finds herself in this situation after an extended drinking session with Jason Kane.
  • You No Take Candle: The Plobs, as part of their Obfuscating Stupidity.

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