'Faction Paradox' - the Science Fiction Series
Created | Updated Aug 6, 2014
This Entry contains spoilers.
Faction Paradox is a fictional religious/political/criminal organisation with an obsession for ritual and power. It was created by Lawrence Miles for a series of Doctor Who books, and has since spun off into a short-lived series of stand-alone novels, a rather unique reference book, a comic strip and a series of audio-plays. Many of these deal with the Faction's attempts to survive its decimation in a mysterious War between unnamed powers. The Paradox novels and audios are a mixture of gothic horror and science fiction, and feature conspiracy theories and exotica such as Babbage's Differential Engine, the Romantic poet Byron, Native American shamanistic rituals and the Cthulu mythos.
Faction Paradox itself is perhaps best described as a group of renegade voodoo Time Lords, known as the Great Houses. Where most members of Time Lord society would be horrified by the idea of a temporal paradox, members of the Faction actively promote such things. Partly for this reason, the Faction is no longer counted as part of Time Lord society, and has no base on Gallifrey. By creating paradoxes, they hope to win the favour of the loa, intangible spirits that allow them to bend reality. The most famous example of a temporal paradox is known as the 'Grandfather Paradox', where a time-traveller kills his own grandfather before his parent is born, thus preventing himself from killing his grandfather, thus allowing him to be born and to kill his grandfather...
The founder of the Faction has taken his name from this, and is known as 'Grandfather Paradox' or simply 'The Grandfather'. This shadowy and mysterious figure never appears directly in any published fiction, but is hinted to be a version of the Doctor (or possibly the future of all living things). He has only one arm1, having severed the other to escape Time Lord control, and no longer inhabits the normal universe.
Other members of the Faction are given a title reflecting their seniority, with junior members being known as Little Brother or Little Sister2, 'regular' Faction members addressing each other as Cousin, and more senior members known as Father, Mother, Godfather or Godmother. Part of the initiation ritual involves each Little Sibling travelling through time to kill their ancestors, thus severing the initiate's links with the universe.
Faction members wear elaborate ceremonial armour made largely of the bones of some unknown species. This includes a full-face mask, and the bat-like white gaze has become somthing of a motif of the Faction. It is speculated that many of these bones are taken from creatures that lived only in alternative realities that never actually existed. Their presence in this universe is as horrifying to Time Lords as their gory nature is to humans.
Sombras Que Corta3
On becoming an initiate, potential Faction members lose their shadows. If selected, each Faction Paradox member undergoes an initiation ritual, during which they are fused with a weapon of their choice and their shadow is restored. This weapon is removed from the physical universe, and is visible only in its owner's restored shadow; however, it remains just as deadly in combat as it always was. These weapons are known as sombras que corta. Faction members find it almost impossible to drop their spirit weapons. A Faction member's shadow is their link to the loa, and can move independently, and can be used for espionage or combat. Cousin Justine, the focus of the Faction Paradox Protocols audio stories, successfully bonded with the knife that Grandfather Paradox used to cut off his arm, before becoming a semi-renegade Faction agent. This powerful relic replaced her shadow with that of Grandfather Paradox, which has the ability to select any weapon as a sombra.
Faction members derive much of their power from their ability to manipulate the biodata of others. This is something like a combination of DNA and timeline. Extracted from blood or flesh in rituals that bear more than a passing resemblance to the voodoo rituals of horror folklore, these threads allow Faction agents to trace or even alter an individual's past, and sometimes to predict or control their future.
The War in Heaven
The setting of much of the Faction Paradox material concerns a mysterious War (always capitalised) between the major forces of the Spiral Politic4. The Faction is very much an observer during this War. Since both sides in this conflict are capable of time-travel, this War features whole timelines being created and destroyed. When one side loses a battle, they tend to travel back in time and wipe out their opponents before the engagement occurred - which then leads the other side to travel back further in time - leading to more and deeper paradoxes of just the kind that the Faction so loves.
Some of the history of the War is outlined in The Book of the War. The main Wartime powers include:
- The Great Houses, also known as the Time Lords. Their primary weapons are War Tardises and soldiers who have been artificially regenerated under hostile conditions to make them harder to kill.
- The Enemy, revealed in the Doctor Who universe to be the original life in the universe, although it is unclear whether this applies to the continuity of the stand-alone series. They are only ever seen to act through proxies, and never appear in any published material.
- The People, a super-advanced society living in a Dyson sphere5 and co-ordinated by a supercomputer so powerful it is known as God. The People see no distinction between living species, including artificial intelligences, and have no central government. All their activities, including combat and espionage, are carried out by Interest Groups with voluntary membership, often under the manipulative guidance of God.
- The City of the Saved, which exists at the end of the universe and contains the resurrected forms of every human who has ever lived. It is not known how the City came into existence, why humans have been selected, or what purpose it serves, but it provides a terminus beyond which none of the Wartime powers can pass.
- Faction Paradox themselves. Like the People and the City, the Faction are powerful bystanders rather than active participants in the War.
In the Eighth Doctor Adventures, the Time Lords only slowly become aware of the significance of the Enemy and its actions. Traditionalist and opposed to active interference, the Doctor's people are slow to respond. In the non-Doctor Who books, this War becomes increasingly abstract, and has been described as being between cause and effect, or between two different types of history.
The Eleven-Day Empire
The Faction's headquarters at the start of the War is London, 3 September to 13 September, 1752. The significance is that these dates never existed, due to the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendars. The Faction is believed to have legitimately purchased these days from the British government. It is of course entirely within the fashion of the Faction to use such an impossible time-space location as a setting.
The Empire itself is time-looped, so there is no limit on the length of time one can stay there. The architecture is a mixture of many time-periods including, for example, the modern Houses of Parliament (built 1840 - 1888), where the the Faction's governing body, the Shadow Parliament, sits. The sky is permanantly black and red, and the buildings are coated in black soot.
Pre-History: the New Adventures
The first hint of the existence of Faction Paradox came during the period that Virgin Publishing held the license to original Doctor Who fiction. Miles was commissioned to write a seventh Doctor novel entitled Christmas on a Rational Planet. This featured an enigmatic background presence; a one-armed man known as Grandfather Paradox.
Origins: the BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures
When the BBC took the Doctor Who novel range back in-house, they began to make more use of Miles as an author. Faction Paradox became occasional villains in eighth Doctor novels such as Alien Bodies and the two-part Interference.
BBV, a company that had made a series of unofficial Doctor Who-based audio adventures, acquired the rights to produce Faction Paradox material in 2001, and released six CDs featuring a much more sympathetic Faction, but with no reference to any BBC-copyright entities. The audios were collectively called the Faction Paradox Protocols and centered around the travels of Cousin Justine, following the destruction of the Eleven Day Empire. This series came to an end in 2004.
Later, Mad Norwegian Press released a series of six stand-alone novels (plus a re-issue of the New Adventure Dead Romance) in its Faction Paradox range. A comic-strip run was planned, but this was aborted after two issues.
The Book of the War
One of the more unusual literary outings for Faction Paradox was the first Mad Norwegian publication, The Book of the War. The Book of the War is a reference work allowing readers to familiarise themselves with the alternate, non-copyright names for characters and organisations carried over from the BBC television series and books. Presented in the form of a encyclopedia, there are several hidden storylines buried within its pages, usually in the form of linked entries that occur in alphabetical order. It also features such devices as an intelligent entity addressing the reader directly through the entries6 and a pseudo-philosophical investigation of the background to the Spiral Politic. Thus, although the purpose of The Book of the War is to act as a readable introduction to the Faction for readers who have not followed the BBC line or the audios, the result is a unique literary genre.
The Present and the Future
The return of Doctor Who to the small screen has lead to a decline in sales of spin-off material, and the Mad Norwegian Press range of books has now been terminated after the sixth title, Erasing Sherlock.
The license to produce audio materials has passed to Magic Bullet Productions, who have released five True History of Faction Paradox CDs from 2005 to 2009. These continue the adventures of Cousins Justine and Eliza from the BBV audios and deal with their attempts to re-establish the Faction with the aid of the Osirian Court7. Since the last of these ends on a cliffhanger, further releases seem likely, although no plans have been announced. In 2007, Random Static acquired the rights to produce new Faction Paradox novels. So far they have published just one book, Newton's Sleep, the text of which is now available free online. This sexually explicit epic deals with the consequences of an escaped Time Lord weapon and the events leading up to the establishement of the Eleven Day Empire, and is thus set before the destruction of the Empire in the audios.