The Lifeboat and the Deathboat was the third story of the audio anthology, The Diary of River Song: Series Five. It was written by Eddie Robson and featured Alex Kingston as River Song and Eric Roberts as the Master.
Stranded in the Vortex, a father and daughter do their best to survive, living on salvage in a ramshackle vessel.
Elsewhere, an obsessive ship’s captain hunts down a vengeful monster, whatever the cost.
Stranded in the Time Vortex due to a malfunction in her vortex manipulator, River had taken refuge with Daniel, an expert in biology from the 42nd century, and his daughter Alison. They had been stranded here from some time, now, living in a refuge built out of the wreckage of other space-time vessels. Their survival is constantly threatened by a Vormatoda, a creature living in the Vortex, which attacks various ships coming in, and seems particularly attracted to Daniel and Alison's vessel.
Somewhere else, the disgraced engineer Ayrton Valencia is recruited by the cold Admiral Eno for an expedition into the Vortex. Eno is hunting the Vormatoda responsible for attacking her previous ship and massacred her crew, and she is out for revenge. The ship also carries onboard a stasis chamber holding an unconscious Kaliopi Mileska, a dangerous criminal, to be carried off to those she hurt.
In the Vortex, River, Daniel and Alison get track of another ship, a destroyed TARDIS, and settle in, using anything they can find useful to power their ship and protect themselves from the Vortex. While doing so, Alison notes her fragility, highlighting that she wears a stabiliser to protect herself from serious damage. As they all settle, Alison stops River from going into a specific room, saying that Daniel doesn't allow anyone in there.
Admiral Eno finds the Vormatoda and attacks it, only for the beast to split her ship in half, separating the engines from the control deck. River, Daniel and Alison witness the fight and climb aboard, half to help survivors and half to see if they can find something useful. The three of them find Valencia unconscious but alive, and the stasis chamber with Mileska inside. Daniel and Alison take the latter to their ship to see if they can harvest useful technology from the chamber, while River stays with Valencia as he recovers consciousness.
Daniel awakens Kaliopi, who attacks him and Alison; they also find out she is a psychic, capable of reading the minds of other people. Daniel tricks her into letting Alison go, then he drives her off as a diversion. Back in the wreckage, Eno manages to contact Valencia, and together with River they think of a way to pull the ship back together using the emergency power from the engines and lowering the shields. The ship will then be able to come out of the Vortex. Alison reaches River and tells her what happened; River goes off to help Daniel, leaving Alison with Valencia.
Together, River and Daniel lead Kaliopi to the forbidden room, where Daniel stashed some weapons for self defence. As they try to think of a way to hold her, River suddenly recognises the room as belonging to the Doctor's TARDIS. Noticing that Daniel too recognised a TARDIS when they boarded it earlier, she puts the pieces together and comes to the conclusion that "Daniel" is actually the Master. He confirms that, and tells her that, after his fall into the Eye of Harmony, he was able to reconstitute his stolen body because of the TARDIS' connection to the Eye and materialized in a room of the TARDIS - the one they are in now, and that the ship detached the room as soon as it realised what happened. He had been stranded ever since, trying to figure out a way to escape, and welcomed River hoping she could help him.
River and the Master briefly abandon their feud and work together to trap Kaliopi in a trapdoor in the room, before River returns her attention to the room's contents, wanting to know more about the Master and especially who Alison is. She finds a VHS cassette of a 1980s movie, Anyone but Me, about a teenager, and realises Alison is based on the main character of the movie. Right at that time, Alison reaches them, to tell them Eno and Valencia are ready to put their ship back together. The Master releases Kaliopi and offers them safe passage if she helps him dispose of River, but the professor is instead able to persuade Alison the Master is not her father, and convinces her to take off the stabiliser. As soon as she does that, she transforms into a Vormatoda cub.
River takes advantage of the situation and flees to Eno and Valencia's ship; they take off, leaving the Master and Kaliopi stranded together. River explains to Eno that the Vormatoda who attacked her ship was trying to find their child who had been kidnapped by the Master and transmutated into Alison; Eno begrudgingly concedes to cease her hunt. Eno and Valencia then leave River into a century where she can find someone to repair her manipulator.
- River Song - Alex Kingston
- The Master - Eric Roberts
- Alison - Lucy Heath
- Admiral Eno - Sasha Behar
- Ayrton Valencia / Engineer - Himesh Patel
- Kaliopi Mileska / Robot - Eleanor Crooks
- Number Two / Computer / James - Christopher Naylor
- "Daniel" and Alison claim to be travelling from the 42nd century to the Triassic Period.
- Kaliopi uses a sonic scimitar.
- The TARDIS room the Master is trapped in contains a cricket bat.
- River believed that she had met all the Master's bodies.
- The Master acknowledges that his current body was stolen.
- The Master recalls the Daleks killing him, his possessing of a human body, and falling into the Eye of Harmony. (TV: Doctor Who)
- River identifies the room as having been part of the Doctor's TARDIS by finding a cricket bat amongst its contents. (TV: Castrovalva)
- River notes that TARDISes have multiple control rooms. (TV: The Masque of Mandragora, The Doctor's Wife)