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Reversal of Fortune was the third short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: Steel Skies. It was written by Graeme Burk. It featured the Eighth Doctor. Fitting the title of this story, the events are revealed in reverse chronology, and in eight parts, paralleling the incarnation of the Doctor featured in this story.



Mikhail, blind and hooked up to machines on the Amandala, hears ghosts in the beeping of the machines. He is suddenly aware that the Doctor is standing near. The Doctor doesn't know who Mikhail is, but Mikhail knows the Doctor. Mikhail argues with the ghosts, and with his dying breath, forgives the Doctor.


Mikhail, blind, hobbles through the ship, talking to Pris, which is a new eccentricity for him. He checks on the ship; nothing is wrong. The Doctor appears, and seems to realise that he is meeting Mikhail out of normal order. Mikhail is bitter about something the Doctor did.


Mikhail drinks vodka while he listens to jazz. When he wakes, hungover, the Doctor is here. Mikhail grabs the Doctor and yells at him. He wants to kill himself but doesn't have the guts. The Doctor carefully mentions Pris, saying she wouldn't want him to kill himself.


In the Recreation Dome, Mikhail is about to finish his task. He is carving the names of the ship's dead, and he has one last name to finish. It has taken him almost three years to finish the job. The last name he carves is Pris's, and as he finishes he becomes violently ill. Once again, the Doctor arrives. Mikhail threatens the Doctor with his cutting torch.


There is an emergency on the ship. Mikhail and his assistant, Wilbur, are working desperately to prevent a core breach. Mikhail sends Wilbur away for his safety, and is relieved when the Doctor shows up. The Doctor suggests shunting the energy away, but if they are mistaken, an EM pulse could occur, killing everyone on board.


Mikhail attends a promotion ceremony in the Recreation Dome. When the Doctor arrives, Mikhail tells him that he's been promoted to Chief Engineer, and that the Doctor's encouraging him to listen to jazz helped him to understand engineering. Mikhail proudly shows the Doctor a picture of his wife Mariana and his infant daughter Pris.


A teenaged Mikhail has climbed to the Periscope on the ship in an attempt to get away from everyone. He is surprised by the Doctor. As they talk, the Doctor encourages him to listen to jazz, and also encourages him to become an engineer, as Mikhail has an aptitude for it. They also discuss Mikhail's girlfriend, Mariana.


A young Mikhail is crying because he has lost his balloon. A man brings him a new one. Mikhail realises it is the Doctor, the man who saved the ship from space privateers. The Doctor hugs Mikhail and asks him for forgiveness.



  • The Recreation Dome walls are made of duralynium.
  • The Doctor once told John Coltrane that the way he improvised was like he was dismantling time itself and putting it back together.


  • The stories in Short Trips: Steel Skies are divided into four sections dealing with different types of confinement. This story deals with flight, that is, "travellers who left their homes for far-away destinations".


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