Vanderken's Children

Roots: The Flying Dutchman, Rendezvous with Rama, Event Horizon. There are references to Jules Verne, Macbeth, Frankenstein, The Wizard of Oz, and Dante's Inferno.

Continuity: The derelict is over four thousand metres long, has eight spokes at one end and is dull green in colour. The Doctor claims that it is an experimental hyperspatial bridge. The derelict is a temporal anomaly, a product of a loop in time creating the future in which a war between Nimos and Emindar wipes out both civilisations. The ship was never created, but a product of the loop. It is populated by ghosts, which are all that remain of the crews of the ships that fought over it and which are shaped by the personalities of those people: the insane ghosts are misshapen fluctuating beings of scales, feathers, claws, fur and beaks.

The Doctor has a copy of Jane's All the Galaxy's Spaceships. He produces fake identity cards for himself and Sam and fakes the Cirrandaria's passenger manifest so that it registers them as passengers who came aboard on Renaris 5. The Doctor has apparently told Sam his real name, which is totally alien and virtually unpronounceable. He poses as a Federation Moderator. He claims to have written an article on post-spaceflight industrial archaeology the Instellar Pangraphic. His nose is very good at detecting subtle toxins. He builds a normaliser to combat the creatures on the derelict in the TARDIS laboratory, which combines some of the frequencies of his sonic screwdriver with bioelectric wavelengths and a narrow spatial-distortion field.

Sam dons a floor-length dress of deep, metallic blue that she has wanted to try for some time. She gets struck by a negative temporal charge on board the dereltic and regressed along her own timeline to ten years old; the Doctor is able to reverse the effect.

There is a dark, twisted, flagstoned corridor in the TARDIS. Vortex discontinuity causes the cloister bell to ring. The TARDIS can intercept video communications from external craft. The TARDIS has a sleep room with a neural dampener.

Location: On board the Cirrandaria, the Hermes of Cyrene, the Indomitable, the Starfire, the shuttles Resolve, Korgon and Doria, and the derelict, deep space, several hundred light years from Earth, 3123.

Future History: The Emindar and Nimos systems have a history of border skirmishes and minor wars dating back a century. The inhabitants of both are humanoid, and possibly human. The Emindians are members of the Federation, whereas the Nimosians are not. The G&C Lines Star Cruiser Cirrandaria is registered on Emindar. A High Council rules the Emindar system. The Stability Party is an Emindian political party. New Renberg is a city on the planet Talasia in the Emindar system. Melconville is another Emindian city. Following the war that destroys Emindar and Nimos, Emindar is not resettled, until a temporal copy of the Cirrandaria created by the Doctor's interference arrives back at Emindar c4123 and recolonises the system.

Moderators are independent trouble-shooters with virtually unlimited plenipotentiary powers, backed by the Federation [and are possibly successors of the Adjudicators].

The Bottom Line: Reasonably entertaining, but as usual with Bulis we get a cast of forgettable characters including the inevitable actor, and a technobabble laden big twist. Still, he's written far, far worse and at least we get a "doctorish" Eighth Doctor who is crucial to solving the mystery.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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