Ship of Fools

Roots: Detective fiction, especially the works of Agatha Christie and P. D. James. Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu novels (Doctor Po). The Fountains of Paradise (the skyhook line). There are quotations from Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor, Ethel Barrymore, and Francisco Reguero. There are references to Finnegans Wake, Austen, Titus Andronicus, Schindler's List, A Tale of Two Cities, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Woolfe, Bell, Arliss, Von Däniken, Edith Wharton, Alice in Wonderland, Armitage Shanks, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Odysseus.

Dialogue Disasters: "Thou roguish, vexing pignut!"

Dialogue Triumphs: Benny's drunken ramblings at the Pit: "Buggers. They come over here with their... with their... with their special trousers and they think they're so... and they, and they're all just... Bugger."

"I'm a slave to the scientific process, I'm intelligent enough to make grown geniuses weep, I'm sex on yummy legs and I can do an extremely fetching soft-shoe shuffle."

Continuity: Olabrian joy-luck crystals are complex, interlocking, lattice-globes of quasi-living crystal hewn from the heart of Olabria's satellites. The Olabrians are renowned for their surpassing peace and tranquillity, which comes from the contemplation of these crystals. The moonstones are so important to the Olabrians that they have a fleet of dreadnaught warships each capable of destroying a sun dedicated to protecting them. Three millennia before, a species called the Thraal made contact with the Olabrians and unwittingly crushed a small garden of the crystals with their ship: the ensuing retaliation obliterated both the Thraal and their home planet.

Dellah has temperate seas of roughly the same composition as those on Earth. Marek Dha is a landmass and island chain on Dellah. The island chain is a popular resort for the sector's rich criminals. Dellah is nearer to the Galactic Hub than Earth. There are twenty-six hours in the Dellah day. The Mons Venturi dock is located in a geostationary orbit directly over the primary Dellah spaceport, to which is connected by an extended monomer skyhook line. Dellah has one of the lowest crime rates of the sector and a correspondingly small planetary police force.

Plumptious Minor was original a standard Earth colony, but became isolated for several hundred years, during which time it rebuilt an extensive culture from its surviving planetary archives, which included Carry On films, Benny Hill shows, Up Pompeii and Love Thy Neighbour. As a result, their society is largely based on innuendo. Their ruler is called the Big High Hooha.

Recent high profile robberies committed by the Cat's Paw include a raid on the Temple of the Ashwar Pogi Khan of Praxis, the theft of a head-sized ruby from the Empress Ragalongata of Glomi Prime, a raid on the First National Bank of Rensec V, a raid on the clockwork apiary of the Sultan of Daraquoi, and the theft of some items from the museums on Czhanos. The Cat's Paw is actually a young woman who uses the alias Isabel Blaine whilst on the Titanian Queen. She is a vat-grown artificial human from the Catan Nebula, implanted with memories of a ludicrous swords-and-sorcery past.

A Fnarok is employed as a doorman at the Pit on Dellah (see Death and Diplomacy). Fnaroks are dog-like. The Rododamans of Rensec IV have their nervous systems cybernetically rewired to respond to certain precise and entirely formalised stimuli and procedures.

By 2594, the militarism of Czhanos is now vestigial, but lingers in the Czhan speech patterns that introduce archaic insult into everyday speech.

Bernice is currently a vegetarian. She gets spectacularly drunk partly to celebrate the end of semester, and partly to drown her sorrows about Jason's departure. She then gets sedated and kidnapped. She has an antique typewriter in her rooms at St. Oscar's. Whilst working for Krytell, she dons a raw silk twin set from Sontan Beta and pearls from Barsoomia IV. She also wears an antique Earth brooch and gets an entirely new wardrobe by Frocontiér. She also gets a make-over that includes hair coifed by an assistant of Monsieur Boogie, and make-up by la Sallé. Krytell provides her with a manservant named Kruger. She eats part of a smoked salmon, cream cheese and sea cucumber sandwich at Krytell's. She adopts the alias of the Right Honourable Bernice Summersdale, a young widow, whilst on the Titanian Queen. The Producers is one of Bernice's favourite twentieth century films. She drinks Elysian Mescal, plus a large selection of expensive alcoholic beverages during a meal on the Titanian Queen.

Jason has suddenly left (see Beyond the Sun), leaving a note for Bernice with a GalNet number on it which he can supposedly be contacted; the number is protected by so many security systems that she can't actually get through to it. She later manages to contact him; he is working with a woman named Mira, who is apparently a business partner.

Braxiatel's armchair is upholstered with genuine Nauga hide from genuine Naugas. He drinks Albareran clarets from the twenty-fourth century. He has a Silurian wristwatch. He has been known to provide the product-development facilities of the Catan Nebula with historical research.

Krytell's genetically engineered guard "dogs" are part bull-mastiff, part-Chihuahua and part Sesquipedalian squid. Horace Krytell unearthed Matebelian bungo beads on Matebelia. Molopian slards envelope and digest their prey. The planet Stromabula is located in the Arion Ring. Stromabulans have two mouths and four legs. Emil Dupont is from Nova Belgique. The Titanian Queen was supposedly made in the New Ceres Yards. Space Central is located in Parsidium. Bartle and Boglie's Stationary Theatre is located on Praxis. There are oceans on Quoquetalan. Goblanian bog seal blubber is the basis of an entire industry. The Kun Sum Samurai are from the Reblominium Bouncing Asteroid Cluster. Ursan fnangor-cubs may be kept as pets. Other species mentioned here include Betelgeusian womprats, and Squoldavian bloat-squids.

Bernice has been sent a review copy of Franz Kryptosa's Lost Gods and the Fall of Empire. Kryptosa's other works include The Reappearing World and In Search of Ancient Mu.

The septilateral gestalt entities of Poprog use complicated numbers instead of names. Each gestalt is subliminally linked to every other gestalt in the universe. Assuming that it actually exists, the Poldarkis colony was destroyed by nuclear weapons several centuries ago. Shokesh is on the Titanian Queen's route and is a desert planet in a system with an unusually heavy asteroid belt. Shokesh's main industry is tourism, as it is famous for its edifices, artifacts and its markets. Annual celebrations on Shokesh include the Festival of Truth and Lies, the Mardi Gras of Household Gods, and the Bacchanal of Cheese and Wine. Most of these were made up to fleece gullible tourists. The people of Shokesh are derived from many different cultures, including the Zendacians. Tingkli is a renowned ice world in the Kinos system; the practise of tourists visiting wearing thermal suits has catastrophically damaged the climate, which will collapse within a century.

Plybocyclitropomopzippedydoodadaine is a synthetic hallucinogen.

Links: The Cat's Paw was previously mentioned in Oh No It Isn't!, Dragon's Wrath and Beyond the Sun. Krytell was previously mentioned in Beyond the Sun. The Czhans last appeared in Death and Diplomacy. There is an oblique reference to the Doctor.

Location: Dellah, Shokesh, and the Titanian Queen, c2594.

Future History: By 2593, Earth's seas are a thick black sludge. Marcus Krytell is one of the richest men in the sector. His corporation's Advanced Genetics division is located in the Catan Nebula. The Catan Nebula is famous for producing artificial intelligences and artificial beings. Tantra Industrial Cleaning and Sewerage Services is a well-known corporation.

The Bottom Line: "Why do I get the feeling that we're all in danger of seriously losing the plot?" Arguably Stone's best novel, Ship of Fools has a supreme degree of focus, telling a tightly plotted murder mystery with no loose ends and a great twist (two, if you include Appendix II). However, what really makes it stand out is the fact that it's very, very funny.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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