Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

The Selyoids
Book - Dying in the Sun
Dying in the Sun
(Jon DeBurgh Miller)
 Name: The Selyoids; their name for themselves was approximately translated as ‘the Children’.

 Format: Book.

 Time of Origin: Originated from a distant, unnamed world; were discovered in Alaska in 1945; confronted The Doctor in Los Angeles in 1947.

 Appearances: "Dying in the Sun"

 Doctors: Second Doctor

 Companions: Polly Wright and Ben Jackson

 History: As a species, the Selyoids are some of the more morally complex enemies The Doctor ever fought, as their fundamental intentions appeared to be to encourage humanity to reach their full physical potential at the cost of becoming virtual slaves to the Selyoids, the lives of those who fell under the Selyoid influence focused more on working to better the Selyoids at the cost of their own development as a species.

 Initially, the Selyoids were beings of light on their home planet, where they were apparently known as the Children - in as much as they could be said to have a name of their own -, with scientists considered outcasts in their primarily artistic race, but a devastating climate change cut them off from the sunlight they needed to survive, forcing them to turn to the scientists for survival. To this end, the scientists devised a physical form for them in the form of a primordial soup capable of travelling through space on an asteroid, their few survivors leaving their planet to eventually arrive on Earth. Whether Earth was their original destination or a lucky chance was never specified, but the scientists among the Children concluded that they could survive in symbiosis with the local population, directing them to create a new form for the Children to survive in on their own.

Landing in Alaska, the Children were discovered by mediocre film director Leonard De Sande of Star Light Productions while planning the location work for his next film, De Sande merging with one of them - naming them ‘Selyoids’ as a joke due to their lack of a name - and becoming physically enhanced to the peak of physical human beauty due to the Selyoids altering posture, skin quality, body language, and pheromone production. Their presence in the host also granted a degree of enhanced healing, although particularly severe injuries would still kill them, and Selyoid chemicals could also have a very hypnotic effect on the human mind (The Doctor was apparently immune, but it was never specified whether this was a natural immunity due to his status as a Time Lord or if the Selyoids had just been ‘programmed’ to focus on humans and were thus incapable of influencing The Doctor in the first place). Traditionally, the Selyoids were subject to the will of a living person’s mind when they took a host, although certain Selyoids chose to communicate directly with the world by possessing corpses, allowing them to take complete control.

Concluding that the Selyoids’ purpose was to help humanity better themselves, De Sande had them brought back to America, where he used the influence and charisma granted to him by the Selyoids to form a group known officially as the Friends of the Community of Los Angeles, but secretly operating as a semi-religious group preaching the Way of Light, a set of moral guidelines to encourage people to reach their full potential, while also ‘distributing’ the Selyoids to the group’s members. De Sande was even able to win over Captain Charles Wallis, head of the LAPD, to the Selyoid cause, Wallis regarding the Selyoids as the perfect means to end communism due to the obvious inequality created between the physically perfect Selyoid hosts and normal human beings.

Patrick Troughton
Patrick Troughton
 The Selyoids eventually came to The Doctor’s attention when the Second Doctor, accompanied by Ben and Polly, decided to take a few weeks’ holiday in Los Angeles in 1947, The Doctor becoming suspicious when an old friend from a previous visit, movie producer Harold Reitman, was murdered, with the evidence suggesting that drug dealer Robert Chate - Wallis’s estranged adopted son - was the killer. During a shooting when police tried to arrest Wallis at a restaurant, The Doctor helped save the life of actor Caleb Rochfort, the star of De Sande’s latest movie Dying in the Sun, resulting in De Sande meeting The Doctor and offering him free tickets to the movie premiere, allegedly to see how a film sceptic like The Doctor reacted to his film. After watching the film - a tale of a man who saw monsters which he later learned were the manifestations of his own guilt while he was in Hell, which possessed surprisingly advanced special effects for 1947 -, The Doctor, suspicious at the fact that everyone else claimed to have been deeply affected by the film when he found the story-telling to be rather mediocre, stealing a roll of film to study it in more depth.

While trying to find out more about the film - which, when viewed in private, demonstrated significantly poorer special effects in a time when the film industry lacked the technology to make those kind of changes post-production -, The Doctor and Polly questioned Caleb Rochfort for further information, but when he attempted to use his Selyoid-enhanced charisma to make Polly shoot The Doctor, she fought against his influence long enough to shoot Caleb instead, worsening his old wounds to such an extent that even his Selyoid-enhanced physiology couldn’t heal him, allowing The Doctor to collect a sample for study. Noting the suspicious new interest in anyone related to Dying in the Sun, coupled with the fact that Reitman had left everything to FOCAL, The Doctor, Ben, and police detective Fletcher - the detective initially assigned to Reitman’s death - discovered a strange chemical on the film that bore similarities to the substance in Rochfort’s blood, The Doctor and Ben subsequently following Wallis to a FOCAL meeting where they learned the truth about the Selyoids.

Unfortunately, although The Doctor and Ben escaped becoming Selyoid hosts themselves, they were unable to reveal their new discoveries to Polly before she and Chate were exposed to the Selyoids themselves - Chate having contacted an actress he’d had a celebrity crush on for assistance and being given a Selyoid sample himself, Polly later meeting them at a restaurant -, the transformation leaving Polly arrogant and dismissive of The Doctor and Ben’s attempts to ‘hang on’ to her new celebrity and uninterested in their attempts to stop the film being distributed. As the film went public, the Selyoids began to gain power by drawing on the audiences’ belief in the film - even managing to manifest three-dimensional illusions to attack Ben and The Doctor -, posters subtly influencing the public to watch the film and then travel to the hills, where they would receive a ‘demonstration’ of the Selyoids’ power.

However, things began to go wrong for the Selyoids when Chate learned the truth about Reitman’s murder; Wallis had killed Reitman so FOCAL would get his estate, subsequently framing Chate to protect him from De Sande’s revenge while Chate repressed the memory out of his inability to believe that his father could do such a thing, Chate only being made a Selyoid host so that De Sande could take them away from him later and give him something to actually lose when he died. Rejecting what she had become, Polly turned against De Sande and escaped with Chate, tracking The Doctor to Griffith Park, where Wallis and De Sande intended to give a demonstration of the Selyoids’ power by triggering a police riot and using the Selyoids to generate projections of movie monsters to attack the police.

 In the subsequent confrontation, Wallis was killed when he accidentally fell off a cliff during a fight with Chate, and Fletcher, now desperate to become one with the Selyoids after so much exposure to their influence, attacked the corpse containing the Selyoid director and absorbed it into himself. Although the director could no longer control the Selyoids in a living host, it found that it liked Fletcher’s emotions and decided to stay with him, driving De Sande to try and absorb the Selyoids from others in order to overwhelm his own mind and allow the Selyoid within him to take control and become the new director. Refusing to allow De Sande to escape and spread the Selyoid influence further, The Doctor used a projector to send further monster images into De Sande’s private plane after he took off, the pilot thus losing control and crashing the plane, spreading the harmonious emotional energies of the Selyoids across the city. With De Sande and Wallis dead, Chate inherited control of FOCAL, vowing to use its influence for charitable purposes like it had always claimed to be, subsequently recalling all reels of Dying in the Sun - now the mediocre picture it always was with the glamour having been stripped away with the loss of the Selyoids -, allowing The Doctor and his friends to depart while Fletcher remained in peaceful symbiosis with the director, the two deciding to move elsewhere to start afresh.
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Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at djfs@blueyonder.co.uk
 
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