Winner Takes All (novel)
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (February 2008)|
|Series||Doctor Who book:
New Series Adventures
|Set in||Period between
"Father's Day" and
"The Empty Child"
|May 19, 2005|
|Preceded by||The Monsters Inside|
|Followed by||The Deviant Strain|
Winner Takes All is a BBC Books original novel written by Jacqueline Rayner and based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was published on May 19, 2005, alongside The Clockwise Man and The Monsters Inside. It features the Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler and Mickey Smith.
The time travellers return to present-day Earth and become intrigued by the latest craze, the video game Death to Mantodeans. Is the game as harmless as it seems and even if it is, why are so many people going on holiday and not coming back? The Doctor and Rose need Mickey Smith's help as Earth is threatened once more by aliens known as the Quevvils.
On finding that her Mum has just won the lottery, Rose decides to visit Earth. Contrary to Rose's expectations, however, the lottery is just a test promotion in the area, where on buying an item, they get a scratchcard. If it is a winning one, a person apparently dressed as a porcupine gives the winner a game console or a holiday ticket. Rose's mum had given her console to Mickey.
Rose and the Doctor go to visit Mickey, who tells them that everyone is playing Death to Mantodeans, the game that is complementary with the console. Interested, the Doctor starts playing it, while Rose goes out. She passes the local bully, Darren Pye, on the way. On her way back, she encounters the Doctor, who tells her that Mickey chucked him out when the Doctor beat his score by several thousand points.
As Rose and the Doctor walk around, the Doctor starts to wonder how humans could fit into the promotion's porcupine costumes. The doctor suspects alien intervention, so they visit the prize booth, which is where winners collect their prizes. But since they do not have a winning card, they are denied entrance. They go back to Mickey's.
When they arrive, Mickey is nowhere to be found. The Doctor confirms that the console is alien. They determine that the aliens, for some reason, had meant to get the Doctor (because of his very high score in the game), but had assumed it was Mickey who played it, and had taken him instead. The Doctor deducts that he has been teleported. Since they don't know where Mickey has been taken, they decide the only way to find him is to play the game again and reach a higher score, so that the aliens come to teleport him too.
The game's introduction gives Rose and the Doctor the full story. On planet Toop, the two inhabitants Quevvils and Mantodeans are at war. However, neither of their natural attacks work on each other. This causes Quevvils to create teleportation technology. In response, the Mantodeans protect their strongholds with a force field, making it impossible for the Quevvils to access it. To get past this, the Quevvils decide to take over other beings that will infiltrate the Mantodean stronghold for them and place a disruptor there that will bring down the force field. They decide upon humans for this mission, and introduce the promotion on Earth. The later also find out that the humans in the game are actual humans (called "carriers") that are controlled by the human players of the game. The carriers were the winners of a the holiday promtion ticket, who instead of being taken on holiday, were transported to Toop.
The Doctor plays, and beats his own high score. He then tells Rose to hide behind his chair and hold onto his ankle so that she will be brought along while teleporation without the Quevvils' knowledge. A few moments later, they are telported by the aliens to an unknown location, though somewhere on Earth. Without being detected, Rose runs into a hallway. She goes through the door on one end, and finds herself at the newsagents where she'd bought milk from earlier.
Rose returns to the prize booth and saves the Doctor and Mickey, using the Quevvils' love of salt to distract them. When they hear the Quevvils coming back, the Doctor sends Rose and Mickey back to his flat via the teleport. He tells them to collect up as many of the games as they can. The Quevvils come in just as they are teleported, wounding Mickey, though not seriously. Rose goes out to collect games by herself.
The Quevils tie the Doctor up, during which he tries to figure out where their home planet is. The Doctor finally escapes using his sonic screwdriver. On reaching his place, Mickey shows him that someone on-line has figured out what is going on with the game, and is trying to sell them. The Doctor tells him to start spreading rumors about the games being dangerous, and then heads back to Rose's. The two of them head out to try to collect the games, but with little success, because Darren Pye has already threatened people into giving their games to him. Rose and the Doctor head back to Mickey's.
Mickey tells them that things have gotten worse. Now, not only are the games being sold, but someone is selling the holiday tickets so that people can be wiped off the planet without a trace. The Doctor takes the ticket Rose got from her mother's friend Dilys so that the TARDIS to figure out where the planet is. A force field blocks them, and they arrive at the place where the winning card holders materialize, which is a room with a group of adults and children. The Doctor tries to hurry everyone into the TARDIS, but the Quevvils come in. They take Rose to be a carrier and tell the Doctor that he must play the game for them. As she passes the Doctor, he sneaks her the sonic screwdriver. The Quevvils take the Doctor out, and bring a captured boy named Robert along. They are brought to a room with a large screen, and the Doctor is given a control pad. The Quevvils threatens to kill Robert if he does not play.
While Rose is taken away, a disc is pushed into her forehead and a cube is wired to her body. The disc is activated, and she is teleported elsewhere. Rose recovers from the teleport, but cannot move. Then her arm moves without her will, and she realizes the Doctor is controlling her. She starts to make her way through the maze.
Back at the base, Robert throws a fit to distract the Quevvil guarding them and the Doctor manages to knock it over. He removes Robert's disk and presses it into the Quevvil's forehead, then freezes it in place. The Doctor unties Robert, who searches the room and finds a map of the maze. It includes small white lights that indicate active carriers, and blue ones that are inactive.
The Doctor uses Rose to call Mickey on her phone and tells him to find all the active games. Mickey goes to the youth club, and finds several boys playing the game. He has them help him to stop people from starting new games, and to go through the ones that the Doctor and Rose collected and find saved games.
Robert is watching the map, and tells the Doctor that one of the lights is jumping around. Rose uses the sonic screwdriver to remove the box so that the person can be taken out of the game. Meanwhile, Mickey and the boys keep looking for active consoles, and finds people online who are playing, telling them that jumping around is a cheat of some sort. Mickey and two of the boys visit Mrs Pye and go through the consoles that Darren had collected.
The Doctor and Robert are again interrupted by Quevvils calling to find out why the game wasn't being played as expected. The door explodes before they were able to get the controlled Quevvil to respond, so the Doctor has to go back to pretending to play. He and Robert are taken to another room. All of the other prisoners are brought into the room as well, and the Doctor is told that one will be killed every time he deviates from the game.
Rose makes it to the center of the game, and the Quevvils get ready to teleport, but the Doctor has Mickey send a signal that disrupts it, which atomizes all the Quevvils. Rose finds that she can move and talk on her own again. As she moves through the maze, she finds someone else trapped there. She turns out to be Robert's mother, who was taken as a carrier. Rose is trying to think of a way to use the sonic screwdriver to get the two of them out, when she hears the sound of the TARDIS approaching. The door opens, and Robert and his mom are reunited, and all four go back to Earth.
Later, Rose and the Doctor leave London.
- Rose tells the Doctor 'You've reversed teleportation before,' a reference to "The End of the World".
- Mention is made of Rose being gone for a year, and Mickey being a suspect in her disappearance, a reference to "Aliens of London".
- The Doctor's dislike of guns in this book anticipates his comments in "The Doctor Dances" about destroying the weapons factory on Villengard.
- One of Mickey's video games is called Bad Wolf.
- In this book, Jackie seems to be much nicer to the Doctor then she is in the usual Ninth Doctor episodes.
References to popular culture
- When asked by Rose how he knew she was in trouble on her way back from the market, the Doctor replies (with a whole biscuit in his mouth) that his "fpider fenfe waf tingling", a reference to the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man and his spider-sense that helps him detect trouble.
- When briefing the Doctor and Rose about the new game, Death to Mantodeans, Mickey mentions the PlayStation, the Xbox, Gran Turismo, Resident Evil, TimeSplitters 2, The Blair Witch Project, and Sonic the Hedgehog and Bad Wolf.
- A reference to Harry Potter is made when a character daydreams about being a boy whose parents turned out to be great wizards and died fighting an evil sorcerer and is now sent to a special wizarding school to become the great wizard he is destined to be.
- The same character makes references to Star Wars in how he daydreams meeting a character who remarks "I am your father," in a cold, deep voice and how it is his destiny to defeat his father (although he interprets it as his mother) in order for good to triumph over evil.
- Several references to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are made by the Doctor and Rose when they are searching for a winning scratch card.
- Rose mentions the Thunderbirds.
- Robert mentions Bob the Builder.
- Winner Takes All title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Winner Takes All at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Cloister Library - Winner Takes All
- Winner Takes All at The TARDIS Library
- Winner Takes All reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
- Winner Takes All reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
Reviews of the first three books
- The Clockwise Man, The Monsters Inside and Winner Take All reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
- The Clockwise Man/The Monsters Inside/Winner Takes All reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide