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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: To Conquer the Throne V
To Conquer the Throne

Written by Tim Sullivan

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, published November 1987)

Medea is placed in command of stopping the English resistance.

Story Summary

As the story opens, American Gabriella Nicks is sitting in her London apartment when her rich, old-family fiancé, Nigel Smythe-Walmsley, stumbles through the door, injured, and tells her to get away immediately, admitting to her he is a member of the resistance. He dies and she flees through a window just as the Visitors bust their way in.

She meets with a friend of Nigel's, Robert Walters, but he betrays her and informs the Visitors of her presence. But she overhears his report and escapes the area before they can move in on her.

She winds up bumping into resistance member Shree Subhash in the theater district and he invites her to use his spare ticket to a play. The play is interrupted by a troop of Visitors who arrest Gabriella and Subhash. But outside the theater, the resistance strikes and frees them. However, they soon find they are out of the frying pan and into the fire as the resistance leader, Ian, makes a power play and has his men take Subhash and Gabriella into custody. Just then, a Visitor attack destroys the resistance base, killing almost all within. Subhash and Gabriella escape.

On the London mothership, the Visitor commander Medea (previously seen in The Florida Project and Symphony of Terror) is currently in charge of stopping the English resistance. Her precarious grip on sanity after two previous defeats has left her fasting in an attempt to lose the bulk she had put on in her depression. During an interrogation by her, Nigel is revealed to still be alive. A clone was used to convince the resistance of his death.

Meanwhile, Gabriella and Subhash are met by IRA leader Seamus Patrick Kelly. They wind up joining with him and training in Ireland to strike back at the Visitors. During a Visitor attack on the IRA camp, Gabriella manages to capture a skyfighter, making her a hero to the men around her. Soon she meets one of the group's new benefactors...Lord Smythe-Walmsley, Nigel's father!

In the British Parliament, Lord Fotheringay proposes to allow the recently deceased commander of the European Visitor fleet, Kaspar, to be interred in Westminster Abbey. Lord Smythe-Walmsley stands against him, but is immediately arrested by the Visitors and taken to the mothership. He refuses to cooperate under torture or conversion and Medea has a clone of him created which she sends down to Parliament to announce his support for the burial of Kaspar at Westminster Abbey.

Robert Walters meets with a human agent of Medea's who turns out to be Ian, the supposedly dead resistance leader. The two traitors discuss Gabriella's recent successes with the IRA and Robert demands protection against her vengeance. Medea agrees to take him aboard the mothership for his protection and they arrange for the transfer to take place during the funeral of Kaspar at Westminster Abbey.

When the day of the funeral arrives, crowds of protestors gather at the Abbey. Then the Queen sends a messenger to announce that she and the Royal Family will not be attending and can not condone the ceremony. Acknowledging the Queen's dissent, the protestors begin to riot, but suddenly the London mothership moves into position over the Abbey and Medea uses its tractor beam to suck them all up into the ship to be processed into storage pods for future consumption. When she meets Robert and Ian, she decides to break her fast and orders Robert prepared as a meal, forcing Ian to watch.

In Ireland, Gabriella and Subhash return from their resistance activities in England to meet with Kelly, who shows them the previously concealed prize of Kramden Castle...six captured skyfighters! They make plans to attack the London mothership and free the captured protestors.

The attack commences and in the course, Gabriella is reunited with Nigel. Ian goes insane from everything he's seen. Medea once again escapes. And the IRA captures the London mothership for their own use. 



Didja Notice? 

As the book opens, we learn that the Visitors have occupied England. On page 5, Nigel says that England's climate is mild enough to for the Visitors to survive, meaning the red dust bacteria has died off without a strong winter period to rejuvenate. This does seem to more-or-less jibe with the map of red dust effective areas of the world seen in "Dreadnought", though the other portions of the United Kingdom, Scotland and Northern Ireland, appear to be protected by the bacteria. Later events in the book, however, go on to show Visitor patrols and a mothership in Ireland.
red dust effective areas

Page 7 mentions Gabriella's apartment on Amen Court near St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Amen Court is real and lies at the end of the Amen Corner, so named for the monks who would make their way from Paternoster Row reciting the Lord's Prayer, saying "Amen" when they reached Amen Corner on the way to St. Paul's Cathedral in the 17th century.

After her fiancé Nigel is seemingly killed, Gabriella makes her way to Davies, Lang and Dick (sic) on page 8 to meet a friend of Nigel's. This is a reference to Davies, Laing and Dick College, near Tottenham Court Road, also mentioned as part of Gabriella's route of escape from the Visitors.

Page 14 mentions London's theater district on Shaftesbury Avenue. This a major artery of London and several theaters do exist on this road.

On page 16, Subhash says his parents were from Bhaktipore, India. "Bhaktipore" is the same name and spelling mentioned by Sir John Augustine in Symphony of Terror in his quote about the siege of Bhaktipore. As I mentioned in the analysis of that novel, I am unable to find any real world references to a region or community with that name.

Page 18 describes a never-before-seen Visitor device. Visitor troops bust in on a theater performance and use a pencil-sized device to shine an orange light on all the patrons. When they reach Gabriella, who is apparently the person they are searching for, the light drains of yellow until it becomes red, indicating the target has been found.

As Gabriella is being taken into custody by the Visitors on page 20, she says, "Take your filthy claws off me, you miserable snakes!" This may be an homage to Charlton Heston's line in the 1968 film Planet of the Apes, "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"

Page 26 introduces the current leader of the London resistance, Ian. Coincidentally, The Chicago Conversion names the commander of the London mothership as also being called Ian!

Page 37 introduces Jimmy McHugh, a member of the IRA. The IRA is the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army (not to be confused with other versions and splinter groups calling themselves the IRA) which continued to fight for complete Irish freedom from the United Kingdom even after the peace accords which created the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.). The group existed as a paramilitary and political organization from 1969-1997 and is classified as a terrorist group by the U.K.

Page 50 mentions that Medea has gone from being portly to anorexic due to a nervous nature she has developed over the possibility of losing the battle for Britain. Page 94 says this is largely due to her bungled commands in Florida and the American Southwest. The first command is obviously the one depicted in The Florida Project and the second must be her low-level command of the area around Phoenix, Arizona seen in Symphony of Terror. This suggests that To Conquer the Throne takes place some time after Symphony of Terror even though that book was published six months later! It seems odd that Medea would rise back to the level of mothership commander after failing in her already demoted position in Phoenix, especially knowing Diana's vindictive nature. Possibly, Charles or Philip placed her in command in London to give her a second chance.

Page 55 mentions Soho as an unsavory part of London. For most of the 20th century, Soho was known for its sex shops and night life. Since the 1980s, however, it has been spruced up a bit, featuring upmarket restaurants and media offices.

Page 55 mentions Wardour Street. This is an actual street in Soho.

On page 58, Kelly mentions that his grandfather was killed by the Black and Tans. The Black and Tans were a group of largely WWI veterans hired by the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1920 to suppress revolutionaries in Ireland. They became known for brutality against the IRA and even non-aligned Irish civilians.

On page 69, the Visitor Beverly uses an Earth saying, "If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, then Mohammed will go to the mountain." This is an Arab proverb about the prophet Mohammed, founder of the religion of Islam.

Page 71 mentions AK47s and Uzis. The AK-47 is a Russian automatic rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1947. The general Uzi line of weapons was designed by Israeli Captain Uziel Gal in the late 1940s and named after him.

Page 72 introduces Colonel Abdul Alhazred who is described as wearing the same mufti as the other terrorists. The author's use of the term "mufti" may be incorrect here, as a mufti is an Islamic scholar who interprets Muslim law, not a piece of clothing to my knowledge.

Page 73 mentions the Jordan River. The Jordan flows along the border of Israel and Jordan into the Dead Sea.

On page 77, Beverly, disguised as Gabriella to trick Nigel, speaks the Visitor slogan used during the first invasion, "The Visitors are our friends."

Page 78 reveals that the IRA has been more successful in their attacks against the Visitors than the British resistance itself. This is probably due to it members having already been long-trained in guerrilla warfare.

On page 78, the false Gabriella mentions the House of Lords. This is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The lower is the House of Commons.

The false Gabriella also mentions that the House of Lords is speaking claptrap about Vichy France. Normally, Vichy France would be a reference to the French government of 1940-1944 which collaborated with Nazi Germany during the German occupation of the country. Here it is possibly meant to suggest that the French government is now collaborating with the Visitors, as England has.

"Gabriella" also mentions House discussion of Britain's great victory in the Falklands. Possibly she is speaking of the U.K.'s defeat of Argentine forces during the Falkland Islands War in 1982. It seems odd though that the House would be discussing it at this late date that the novel takes place (1984 or 1985). It seems unlikely it could be a recent victory in the Falklands over the Visitors, since the islands are located at the tip of South America, well within the red dust protected zone. Perhaps Argentina took advantage of the Visitor occupation of much of the rest of the world to attempt another takeover of the islands and were again repulsed by British forces?

Page 82 describes Gabriella swinging off of a tree branch like Tarzan. Tarzan, of course, is the world-famous character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, a British boy who was lost in the African jungle and raised by apes.

On page 86, Gabriella laughingly compares herself to Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is a DC Comics super-heroine character created by William Moulton Marston in 1941.

A couple of times in the book, the Visitors create clones of human individuals and "program" them with enough of the original's memories to briefly pass as the real thing. Since we know from "Reflections in Terror" that they possess cloning technology from Diana's attempt to clone Elizabeth, it's surprising they wouldn't use this tactic more often.

Page 94 reveals that Gabriella's capture of the skyfighter took place somewhere in Ireland's County Kerry. This is a real county, located on the southwestern edge of the Republic of Ireland, facing the Atlantic Ocean.

On page 95, Medea thinks of her second-in-command and political rival, Beverly, as an "overstuffed rhinoceros iguana". The rhinoceros iguana is an actual species of iguana in the Caribbean Islands.

Page 96 reveals that the IRA has been allowed to use Kramden Castle in Ireland as a temporary base to plan and train for attacks against the Visitors. This does not appear to be an existing castle in the real world, but it may be a reference to the "Curse of the Kramdens" chapter of the Honeymooners which appeared as part of episode 7 of The Jackie Gleason Show in 1966. In this chapter, Ralph and Alice Kramden and their friends the Nortons are on a trip through Europe and must spend the night in the allegedly haunted ancestral Kramden home in Ireland called Kramden Castle. If this was intentional by the author, it may also be a nod by him to Jackie Gleason's own interest in UFO's and possible alien visitation to our planet (Gleason portrayed Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners).

On page 109, Lord Fotheringay proposes to allow the recently deceased commander of the European Visitor fleet to be interred in Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is a large gothic church in London which has traditionally been the internment site of monarchs and other important figures of the United Kingdom.

On page 114, Beverly and Medea are perusing a copy of The Times. The Times of London is the original newspaper known as Times, and many other papers around the world have borrowed its name (such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, etc.). Consequently, it is often referred to as the London Times to distinguish it from the others. Later in the book, Gabriella reads the Irish Times, also a real newspaper named after the original.

On page 126, Robert and Ian are strolling along Bishopsgate. This is a real road in the eastern part of London.

Also on page 126, Robert compares Gabriella to Che Guevara. Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary who was instrumental in the overthrow of the Batista government of Cuba in 1959, allowing Fidel Castro to became the island nation's ruler and establishing a communist government there.

Once more on page 126, Robert asks if Medea chose her forbidding name purposefully. He is referring to the Medea of Greek myth who poisoned or manipulated others into killing many men and women (often her own relatives) for her own selfish purposes.

On page 136, Ian compares Gabriella to Jeanne d'Arc, more commonly known in the English-speaking world as Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc was a peasant girl of the 15th century who led the French army to several victories in the Hundred Years War.

Page 137 mentions Gabriella's victories in Glasgow and Liverpool. Glasgow is a city in Scotland and Liverpool a city in England.

Page 153 mentions the BBC. This is the British Broadcasting Corporation, the largest broadcasting organization in the world, run under the auspices of the UK Government.

Page 153 also mentions a tabloid headline, "Princess Di Related by Blood to Visitors." This is a reference to Princess Diana who was married to Charles, Prince of Wales at the time of V. The royal couple was probably a partial inspiration for the Charles and Diana storyline that ran through several episodes of the TV series.

On page 164, Robert muses that they could play whist together if Ian were to accompany him to the mothership. Whist is an English card game that originated in the 17th century.

Page 165 mentions several streets from which spectators pour around Westminster Abbey to witness the funeral of Kaspar: Smith Street, Peter Street, Victoria, and Millbank. These are all real thoroughfares in the area of the Abbey.

On page 169, Robert admonishes one of the protestors at Westminster Abbey, saying, "My dear fellow, this isn't Hyde Park, you know." Hyde Park is one of the Royal Parks of London and has become known as a site for mass demonstrations.

On page 173, the Queen sends a messenger to the Abbey to announce that she and the Royal Family will not be attending and can not condone the ceremony. The Queen is never named in the book, but is presumably the same Queen of England known in the real world since 1952, Queen Elizabeth II.

On page 175, a protestor holds the Union Jack aloft. The Union Jack is the flag of the United Kingdom.

Page 176 reveals that the motherships have tractor beams which emit a green light.

Page 178 mentions the Thames. This is the River Thames, which flows through London.

On page 179, Kelly mentions the city of Manchester. This is a real city in England.

On page 187, Medea says, "Frankly, Mr. Walters, I don't give a damn." This may be a reference to the famous line from the 1939 classic film Gone With the Wind spoken by Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Abdul shouts, "Allah Akbar!" during his battle with the Visitors on page 204. It means "God is Great," a common Islamic expression.

The London mothership is captured by the IRA at the end of the book! 

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