Ship of Fools

Goofs: The time warp makes very little sense, apparently being looser and sloppier than the ludicrous chronic hysteresis in Meglos. There's also no real reason why time would catch up with the passengers on board the Flying Dutchman II once it leaves the vortex, except to provide a Shocking Twist.

Continuity: Kroton's lifeless ship, with the still-deactivated Cyberman on board, drifts into a spatial vortex in which gravitic warping of normal time-progression results in lateral stasis, where it encounters the Earth space liner Flying Dutchman II. The passengers bring Kroton's ship aboard and recharge him. Kroton still has a Cyber-Gun, which he uses to destroy the door of the bridge on the Flying Dutchman II. He is able to reprogram and override the robot pilot. After the passengers die, he is still charged with energy and presumably either takes control of the ship or refuels his own.

The Flying Dutchman II has been trapped in the cloud for six hundred and twenty-eight years; the passengers have never heard of the Cybermen. The effects of the cloud keep the ship and its passengers in a sort-of time loop, although they seem to be aware of their situation at least some of the time, despite repeating the same actions over and over again. The pilot is a robot, human pilots having "gone out of style" thirty years before the ship set off. It deliberately guided the ship into the spatial vortex when a blowout in two of the fuel tanks made it unlikely that the ship could reach an inhabitable planet, since it calculated that the lateral stasis caused by the field would preserve the lives of the passengers. The vortex itself has drifted to within three days journey of an inhabitable planet during that time. The passengers age to death as soon as the ship leaves the vortex.

Links: Kroton first appeared in Throwback The Soul of a Cyberman. This is second and last appearance for nearly twenty years; he next appears in Unnatural Born Killers.

Location: The Flying Dutchman II, in an unspecified region of space, some time after Throwback The Soul of a Cyberman.

The Bottom Line: This first time that Kroton is seen trying to help others after he's left Mondaran, which wouldn't have seemed significant at the time but now seems like logical character development building towards his much-delayed return to the strip. The actual story doesn't hold up to scrutiny, but Moore keeps things intriguing and the inevitable twist makes for a tragic ending as a distraught Kroton is left surrounded by skeletons. It's interesting to note that Dillon's always fine art actually looks slicker here than in Throwback The Soul of a Cyberman, even though he apparently pencilled and inked both strips.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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