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
As the story opens, American Gabriella Nicks is sitting in her
London apartment when her rich, old-family fiancé, Nigel
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
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
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
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
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 to 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.
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 jive 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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".
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.
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.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 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
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
Page 153 mentions the BBC. This is the
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
The London mothership is captured by the IRA at
the end of the book!
Back to Episode Studies