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Titanic Science Fiction

Everybody else is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the disaster, and we’re never a site to miss a bandwagon (though we’d like to miss the iceberg, thanks)

Time Bandits (1981)

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When the time-hopping dwarves in director Terry Gilliam’s warped fantasy fall out of a hole in the universe and onto a luxury cruiser, they reckon they’re luck’s in. They hit the deckchairs, sip the booze, take in the sea breeze and wonder where they’ve seen that love-struck couple before. (Michael Palin and Shelley Duvall play a drippy pair of lovebirds who pop up in various eras for some wonderfully inexplicable reason). But Randall and his mates should have looked more closely at the lifebelts (and possibly point out that they should have been labelled RMS Titanic, rather than SS Titanic, as they are in the film). Asking the waiter for “More champagne… with plenty of ice!” was asking for trouble.

Doctor Who “Voyage Of The Damned” (2007)

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Naming your alien space liner “Titanic” and generally designing her along the same lines (four funnels) should be filed under “Asking for it”. And so it proves, as Doctor Who goes all disaster movie for its third Christmas special; more Poseidon Adventure than Titanic to be honest (hell, there’s even a fat lady who dies heroically!) but the link to the 1912 disaster is clearly made.

The real Titanic also gets a mention in another couple of Doctor Who stories. In Tom Baker’s first full story, “Robot”, the Doctor says he never much cared for the word “impregnable” as it sounds too much like “unsinkable”. When companion Harry asks, “What’s wrong with unsinkable?” the Doctor responds, “Nothing. As the iceberg said to the Titanic.”

In Christopher Eccleston’s debut “Rose”, his soon-to-be new companion Ms Tyler is shown a picture of the Ninth Doctor on the Titanic.

And in “Let’s Kill Hitler” Melody suggests that the main reason the Titanic sank was because the Doctor wasn’t there to save it.

The Seventh Doctor also briefly pops on board the Titanic in the New Adventure novel The Left-Handed Hummingbird .

The Time Tunnel “Rendezvous With Tomorrow” (1966)

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Time Tunnel was producer Irwin ( Land Of The Giants , Lost In Space , Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea ) Allen’s stab at a time travel series. Scientists Tony Newman and Doug Phillips become trapped in an experimental (and very groovy-looking) time tunnel bouncing from one time period to another.
In the pilot episode, they end up on the Titanic, and try to alert the Captain (played by The Day The Earth Stood Still ’s Michael Rennie). The show used stock footage from the 1953 film Titanic, because Irwin Allen was legendarily thrifty and would never film something new if somebody had done him the favour already.

Ghostbusters 2 (1989)

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"Well, better late than never,” says the dock-master at Pier 34 when a phantom version of RMS Titanic finally pulls into New York 67 years after it launched. It then unleashes the ghosts of its dead through the gaping hole made by the iceberg, and they spill out onto the streets of Manhattan to join in the general spooky mayhem that’s being caused by the negative Psychomagnotheric Slime . Historically, the Titanic was actually due to pull in at Pier 39, but that was probably already being taken up by The Flying Dutchman or something.

Starship Titanic (1998)

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Douglas Adams’s hugely ambitious Mac and PC game was launched with a huge amount of hype in 1988… and then rapidly sank into obscurity. Part puzzle game, part adventure, it was set on a gorgeously designed art deco alien liner called Titanic that starts the game by crashing into your house. Boasting an innovative “intelligent” conversation interface through which the players communicated with the on-board robots (apparently over 14 hours of dialogue was recorded for this function, covering all the various responses the robots might give) and revolutionary graphics (it even attempted motion blur, of a sort) it was a technical marvel. Trouble was, the puzzles were too obscure and fiendish, and the interface too complicated, leading to most players simply giving up out of frustration or boredom.

Titanic: Adventure Out Of Time (1996)

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Another far more successful Mac and PC game with Titanic in the title was Titanic: Adventure Out Of Time . It was the most successful game to come from the Knoxville, Tennessee based game creator Cyberflix (also well-known for Dust ) and while it may not be well-remembered now it was a best-seller in ’96. A guy from 1942, called Frank Carlson (which incidentally, was the name of a lucky man who bought a ticket for Titanic’s maiden voyage but never boarded the ship because his car broke down) is whisked back in time and deposited on the (strangely underpopulated) Titanic hours before it’s due to collide with the iceberg. There he assumes the identity of a secret agent and has to solves various mysteries, not all of them essential to finishing the game.

Futurama "A Flight To Remember” (1999)

"The Mutants Are Revolting” (2010)

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Bender is Leonardo DiCaprio and the Countess de la Roca is Kate Winslet in Futurama ’s sensitive and heartrending spaceship-based retelling of James Cameron’s take on Titanic . In “A Flight To Remember” Captain Zapp makes a fatal change of course and pilots Titanic into a black hole. Bender and co escape, but the Countess sacrifices herself to save her robot lover. Sob.

Another Titanic appears in the episode “The Mutants Are Revolting” though this one travelled on land! The Planet Express crew is hired Mrs Astor, a wealthy widow who once rode aboard the “Land Titanic”, a massive luxury bus, basically, which struck a mailbox on its maiden voyage.

Amazon Women On The Moon (1987)

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Amazon Women On The Moon was supposed to resemble the experience of watching a sci-fi B-movie on TV, complete with ad breaks, trailers and channel flicking; it ended up like a mix between a sketch show and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 . One of the brief cutaways from the main film was a trailer for a show called “Bullshit Or Not” which promised viewers a “dramatic” recreation of the sinking of the Titanic… using cotton wool, a washing up bowl and some polystyrene by the look of it.

Voyagers “Voyagers Of The Titanic” (1983)

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Voyagers was a series about a historically-ignorant time-travelling pirate who’s supposed to keep history on track and his (then) contemporary teenage sidekick. In “Voyagers Of The Titanic” Phineas and Jeffrey try to recover the stolen Mona Lisa from a thief aboard the doomed ocean liner Titanic. The episode features footage filmed for, but not used in, Raise The Titanic (1980) . That legendary box office flop was originally going to open with a prologue showing Titanic sinking; model effects were shot but ultimately never used.

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Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow (2004)

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A surprisingly intact-looking Titanic makes a cameo during an underwater battle sequence in Sky Captain . She still appears to be floating down to her watery grave, is still in one piece and the lifeboats are still in place. We suspect an “off-the-peg” Titanic 3D model at play…

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.