Just so you know where I'm coming from, I subscribe to the Doctor Who Omniverse Theory. I'm sure there are others like me. Instead of blowing a blood vessel in my brain trying to keep track of the separate media lines and going schizophrenic trying to remember small details, I just don't. That's right. I don't. I believe in one inherent time line for DW and will gleefully cram everything together.
Doctor Who is an inherently fluid fictional environment, a constantly shifting alternate universe, if you will. I can and will ignore minor inconsistencies, I do so. That's what makes DW great. It can all fit together, yet be radically different, at the same time. I see one great big beautifully complicated story, instead of TV, some other Videos, Books, those other Books, some other Books, Audios, some other Audios, Comics, etc.
It infuriates me, temporarily, when one of those lines attempts to differentiate itself from the others. For what end? There aren't enough fans to spread that thin, forcing people to choose which continuity line they'll believe and consume. Besides which, there is no such thing as "original" in science fiction or any fiction. All that exists is the individual vision and style of each creator. For one line to claim "we'll be different and distinguished by killing character A or by renaming characters X, Y, Z" is plain silly.
People like me will still combine all aspects like an intellectual jigsaw puzzle. I suppose I'm the bane of continuity hounds everywhere.
So what about those alternate realities that existed in the show and books, anyway? They exist all right. They're bottle universes. Let's envision them like so:
That loop is the bottle universe. Take the Grandfather Paradox for example. This large event occurs. It is meant to occur. It irrevocably changes the entire time stream - for the duration of the change. But there is only enough energy in the universe to support one time stream. By nature, a paradox will return to its point of origin. Ergo, the previous timestream continues, unchanged. What will happened has already happened.
All you have to do is stop thinking in linear, finite terms. There is no beginning, middle or end. There is no sequence to space time. What we perceive as time is merely our recognition and memory of flux. So any character that can travel through space/time is able to recognize the existence of both a regular or alternate time stream. It becomes an aspect of their individual memory.
But it never really happened. Or rather, it did but they just don't remember. Blinovitch Limitation Effect, you see.
Maybe you should imagine a great big river instead. It winds around and from above it looks like a straight line. But there are tributaries, feeder streams, lakes, etc. So it's already not so simple. A character may pass through a portion of the river. Then there's a landslide, a damn, etc (a temporal event, whether natural or deliberate) and suddenly the course of that portion of the river is changed. Possible the course of the entire river. If the character goes back through that same "time" things are different. The them that was there originally no longer is. But, it did happen within the history of the character, so they can remember that event if they try, because they are a temporal anomaly.
It's like that whole history future the Doctor mentions probably having in Colditz, or any other number of stories. He knows it must have happened to bring him to his current point. Or all those times we see evidence of Ace being dead. Confronted with a tombstone in Prime Time. Gunned down in Final Frontier. All those events happened, but they exist within recursive timelines.
This is how you can fit in things like Death Comes to Time. Perhaps it's an offshoot tributary. Stuff happens. The Doctor sort of dies, if you want to assume that. Ace becomes a Time Lord and everyone is terrified of bad eighties punk. It's a temporal dead end, except, that Ace is a temporal anomaly and perfectly capable of raveling back into the river. :D
See? You don't have to throw away stories you don't like.
You know what I hate? Continuity badgers. Or rather, I hate the generalized phenomenon: people who get so caught up with the details, they forget to look at the obvious things: those people who can't see the forest for the trees. For instance: Ace has a Danny Pain CD in Colditz. Now, I'll tell ya something, Danny Pain is a running gag throughout the later NA's. The presence of this CD is obviously an easter egg. You shouldn't jerk the entire story out of sensible continuity because of it. (I should point out that I adore the Doctor Who Reference Guide and recommend it to everyone, but like all things, I take it with a grain of salt).
The bulk of evidence in the story suggests that this adventure takes place during the Post Nightshade Era. Ace seems a bit more cool and collected because she's probably around 20 years old. But she's carries her rucksack (full of rope ladders and canister nitro) and no gun or weapon, insists on calling the Doctor "Professor" and is squeamish about the gross sergeant's advances. That's not Space Ace.
As for the Dorothy McShane bit, well, you can't place it anywhere until there's further development. It may be BF's attempt to break for continuity or it may turn out to be a subplot with ultimate closure down the line. I wouldn't worry about that either. After all, Ace is not Batman. Unless she's having a severe identity crisis I'm sure she'll realize that her name is "Dorothy 'Ace' McShane" and accept that people will call her what they choose and there's no need to worry about it so long as she understands that Ace is her, not a role.
In fact, let me put it this way:
"...something something, Professor!"
You listened to any BBV stories: Adventures in Time and Space? Yeah, I know, they're not licensed, and oh, woe, the names are different. But what, are we stupid or something? They're obviously doctor who stories, specifically 7doc and Ace. They're great, too. As someone once described them to me, they turn to the Blue. They have an oomph that the Big Finish stories don't have. Also, I've yet to find any content in them that can't mesh with the NA's. In they go.
This isn't a slam against Big Finish. Those audios are fun stories with traditional plots and "yay, the doctor saved the day" endings. They're perfectly fine stories, but they have a clear vested interest in maintaining status quo. That's important in any series. Yet, it's nice to have a break from that mentality every now and then.
The BBV's were made on the assumption that there was no status quo to preserve. Consequently, they take more risks, while oddly maintaining enough continuity to fit back into the omniverse. Both the Doctor and Ace confront personal issues and deal with more emotional trauma. They're more serious in their melodrama. For some people, this is contrary to the very spirit of camp doctor who. But, for others, it's like a breath of fresh air that allows me to whoop in cheer in equal glee when listening to a BF audio.
Mike Tucker and Robert Perry
Let me just belch loudly now.
I don't mind their writing for the most part. In general, its worst fault is the sheer tepidness of the "drama". Their stories begin and end at the same point with very little of consequence having happened. They seem to like plot devices, which are fine, but not when they're meant to be the focal point of CHANGE and DRAMA.
But I definitely do not like character obsessions being crammed down my throat. I don't need to read about the "real" Ace dying and being replaced, because I don't need to have concepts spoon fed to me. I already got the point that Ace went through a spiritual change when I read Love and War and Deceit in succession. Judging by various nods I see from BBC, BBV, Big Finish and others, I have no reason to believe the NAs are not continuity. In other words, get the hell over it and accept the facts. Ace got hurt, went through a few very traumatic years which accentuated her worst traits, was mean to the Doctor and eventually regained equilibrium.
It's okay for characters to change and grow and they don't always have to do it in nice ways. I don't need that change and growth excused away by some silly clone theory so I can pretend that "bad things don't happen to good people" and the "real" Ace didn't turn into that horrible space bitch. And let me be even more frank: A lot of people found Space Ace unpleasant but they seem to accept it happened, because even they're complaining about the rubbish called Loving the Alien.
Jeez, don't you get it? Doctor Who is a serial, just like a soap opera. To a certain extend, status quo cannot be changed, but characters are expected to age, change, leave or die unless the authors can come up with a great plot device like regeneration. Events build atop each other, following a loose, if somewhat convoluted and occasionally contradictory continuity. This is normal. But, fans will invariably resist a raw retcon of a whole body of work unless it is openly presented as "alternate".
So don't try to tell me Space Ace ain't the real thing. Because if you're saying that it's actually a clone with all the original's memories, then honestly, what is the bloody difference? All I see is another stupid plot device.