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Difficult to Listen To

What:The Time Travellers: Only Human (BBV Audio Adventures in Time and Space)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 24 October 2023
Rating:   3

This story is the low point for The Time Travellers series. It seems to be a kind of throwback to the Hartnell era Doctor Who kind of story that jumps around from place to place in largely episodic fashion with each bit only loosely connected. The Time Travellers go off course, arrive somewhere, get in trouble, then pick up a new companion. They do this three times. The new companions themselves are almost unbearable in conception, especially the android Vixie. There is a circularity to it in that the questions of the early part are resolved in the last part. That still does not make up for some very loose plotting, mediocre characterizations, and clunky information-dump dialogue.



Intriguing

What:The Time Travellers: Ghosts (BBV Audio Adventures in Time and Space)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 24 October 2023
Rating:   7

Ghosts is a rather complicated story. The Time Travellers are still looking for a vacation. They go to the volcanic Hedistic islands, where the locals are now working as servants for a giant corporation that pretty much runs the planet. While on their way, The Professor apparently dies, but how is unclear. This prompts Ace to go on a mad investigation to find out the cause. She believes he was murdered, but how to prove it? The story has an interesting set of distinct characters, well performed. There is a central idea to the whole plot, which explores trauma, painful memory, loss, grief, and the various ways people deal with or do not deal with those feelings. The villain's plan is intimately tied to those feelings, so in many respects the villain is not a villain, just misguided and obsessed. The plan itself stretches credulity for me, even in a science-fantasy production. Overall, I found this story worthwhile.



Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

What:Second Chances (The Companion Chronicles audiobooks)
By:Andrew Munro, Corby, United Kingdom
Date:Thursday 12 October 2023
Rating:   8

When I picked up the CD and saw that this was written by John Dorney I knew everything would be alright and it was.

Added to this, a brilliant performance from Wendy Padbury and it is a must listen.

The story deals with the aftermath of Zoe's time with the Doctor and trying to retrieve her memories of that time after they were taken by the Time Lords and the end of the War Games.

What memory is being recovered and what impact does it have for Zoe in the present?

Listen and find out you wont regret it.



Creepy

What:Guests for the Night (BBV Audio Adventures in Time and Space)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 3 October 2023
Rating:   7

"Guests for the Night" gives the listener a haunted house, sci-fi style. The Professor has dragged Ace to some dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere to find a "point of stillness." There, they meet a belligerent American looking for his missing sister. As they walk to the house, it mysteriously comes alive. Inside are the creepy brother and sister, upper class twits if ever there were any, and their strange butler, both menacing and incompetent. Are they vampires? The difficulty for the writer is how to turn the haunted house tropes into science-fiction tropes. There are a few interesting twists to get there. The problems in the story mostly involve The Professor, who is alternately reluctant to enter the house, then eager to enter the house, reluctant to cooperate with the bizarre family, then eager to get on their good side (they don't really have one). The Professor's behavior is driven more by the need to get him somewhere in the plot than by consistency of character. Also, the American looking for his sister is there as a contrivance to get the characters into the house, and once they are in, he is quickly dispatched, and no longer relevant, forgotten by the end of the story. So, my assessment is that the story has much that is entertaining and interesting, but these elements are mired in an ill-constructed plot.



Obvious

What:The Other Side (BBV Audio Adventures in Time and Space)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 3 October 2023
Rating:   6

The second of the Ace specials is a bit less of a two-hander than the first one. The Professor has more to do in this story. The plot is that Ace gets apparently killed in a road accident, and in the waiting zone before passing on to The Other Side meets her Nan, who seems just a bit too desperate to get Ace to admit she is dead and "cross over." The dialogue between Ace and Nan gets a bit tedious, and it seems obvious to me, anyway, that Nan ain't really Nan. She just tries too hard and remains vague about too many important matters. So the dialogue gets a bit tedious, not a good thing for a dialogue-heavy production.



A Two-Hander

What:The Left Hand of Darkness (BBV Audio Adventures in Time and Space)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 3 October 2023
Rating:   7

The first of the Ace specials, call them Professor-Lite, is the better of the two. In this story, Ace was apparently abducted and placed aboard a slaver ship that crashes, leaving her the only survivor. A mysterious person named Dorsai rescues her, but Ace, ever belligerent, doesn't trust him. Ace is apparently blinded in the crash, so must remain dependent upon Dorsai, a fact she bitterly resents. For his part, Dorsai lives alone on this planet, tending the graves of his mentors. Dorsai is strangely unemotional, but seems to have motivations at odds with normal human behavior. The story is basically the interaction between Ace and Dorsai across a few weeks, while she waits for The Professor to rescue her. The production, therefore, is heavy in dialogue, with much back-and-forth about trust, companionship, and friendship. The story allows Sophie Aldred to do a heap of emoting, returning Ace to the character as she was at the end of the TV Doctor Who run, and less like the Ace of previous Time Travellers audios.



A Tempest

What:Prosperity Island (BBV Audio Adventures in Time and Space)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 3 October 2023
Rating:   8

To my mind, this is the best of BBV's "The Time Travellers" audios. Tim Saward has written a science-fiction version of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" that is in many ways much closer to the original than is "Forbidden Planet." The planet Millanno is a business primarily providing holidays so expensive that people will sell limbs and organs to pay for them. The government also runs a side hustle in hospitals and arms dealing. It has, though, an even darker past. The former Director, a man named Projoy (Prospero), is abandoned on Prosperity Island with his son, Milo (Miranda), who has extraordinary mental powers. For 16 years Projoy has been plotting his revenge against the current Director, his wife Antoinette (Antonio). Now, with the help of his android assistant Gabriel (Ariel), he strands his wife on Prosperity Island where he can confront her with her crimes. However, the plans go awry when The Professor and Ace have stowed away on the ship that Projoy crashes, and so end up on Prosperity Island as well. Saward has chosen not to copy the original plot in all particulars, but adds another layer regarding the history and politics of Millanno. This involves an experiment creating super-babies of extraordinary mental abilities, which went horribly wrong and involved an official cull of said babies, except for Milo, the only one left. Saward has also elected not to redeem Projoy as Shakespeare had redeemed Prospero, the apparent tyrant at the beginning who turns benevolent at the end. Projoy is a monster through and through, played extraordinarily well by Peter Miles. The whole is a thoughtful exploration of both family and national politics. There are some problems with the science behind much of what goes on, and the subplot involving Calida (Caliban) feels more distracting than integral. On the whole, the production is a worthwhile listen that fits the "Doctor Who" format quite well.



War what is it good for

What:The War To End All Wars (The Companion Chronicles audiobooks)
By:Andrew Munro, Corby, United Kingdom
Date:Tuesday 3 October 2023
Rating:   9

Peter Purves turns out one hell of a performance as both an old version of Steven(Telling this story to his granddaughter) and the younger version in the middle of his adventures with the Doctor and Dodo. The script is well written and moves at pace. I wont give away any spoilers but this drama sums up the futility of war and how people can get swept up into it and to a stage where they don't know what they are fighting for but keep going as its the only thing they no. This could easily been set within the realms of the first world war but this setting adds to the puzzle on what is going on. Please give it a listen.



Disappointing

What:Iceberg (New Adventures novels)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 23 September 2023
Rating:   7

Iceberg suffers from first novel syndrome. Actor David Banks, who had played the Cyber Leader on TV a couple of times and written a good non-fiction book about the Cybermen, here tries to write a Cybermen story set, for them, between "The Tenth Planet" and "Tomb of the Cybermen," with a few references to "The Invasion" and one or two oblique references to "The Wheel in Space." Because of the historical setting on Earth, 2006, there are also a few references to later Cybermen stories. Banks relies upon the timeline he created for his "Cybermen" book. As far as the Cybermen go, there is not much original in this novel. They are hiding away with a secret army frozen ready for use, waiting for the opportunity to nab a bunch of humans and convert them into Cybermen. This novel also fits into the Virgin Books story arc for 1993, which is basically that the TARDIS crew can't really stand each other, and certainly can't work together, so The Doctor has, without telling the other two, separated everybody so they can have a good think, while still fighting some monsters of course. In Iceberg, we get The Doctor on his own, sans Ace and Benny. He picks up a new temporary companion in plucky young journalist Ruby Duvall. The story follows the standard 2 1/2 plot lines writing that is usual for long-form TV drama. Plot line 1 involves the impending magnetic flip, Earth's magnetic field swapping poles. To prevent this disaster, Earth governments are using the same base in Antarctica that was the scene of "The Tenth Planet" to launch a new technology called FLIPback. For this mission, they have chosen General Pam Cutler, the daughter of General Cutler from "The Tenth Planet." Plot 2 involves Ruby Duvall, daughter of a crippled computer programmer, now a journalist given the job of writing puff pieces about a cruise to Antarctica. The half is The Doctor confronting what he has become. The novel is reasonably well written, with decent characterization, naturalistic dialogue, and enough energy at the end to make up for some slowness at the beginning.

The problems of this novel rest in all the things Banks wants the novel to do. He has a pretty good idea of what a novel, as opposed to a TV episode, should have. He just cannot quite make it all work. Because this is a novel, Banks feels he has to give his original characters a full background, plus has to show them in normal circumstances. The problem is that he takes too long to do this. Far too much of the novel is made from scenes of life on the cruise ship and life on the base, without the details getting to anything meaningful in terms of the larger plot. Thus, the arrival of The Doctor and The Cybermen is delayed to well after half the novel is already done. There are little vignettes of The Doctor wandering in the TARDIS and the Cyber Controller thinking to itself just to remind the reader that, yes, this is a Doctor Who novel about The Cybermen. Yet, the vignettes serve no other function, and only highlight the idea that maybe Banks was writing some other kind of novel. Banks also tries hard to create thematic connections, such as conceptually linking The Cybermen to the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, and thus having a running Wizard of Oz theme (The Doctor is like the Wizard, an actor dresses as the Tin Man for the OZ-themed costume ball, and so on). He also focuses on the environmental damage humans are doing to Earth, suggesting that similar actions on Mondas are what led those people to turn themselves into the Cybermen. Here, the ideas are sound, but the connections not well made. The tie-ins to previous episodes are first-thought tie-ins rather than carefully worked out plot connections. Why should the commander in Antarctica be the daughter of the original commander? There's not a good plot reason, and once the Cyber plan is in action, the character is pretty much an irrelevancy. Why use the old base anyway? Once again, there is no good internal logic for doing so, just that it makes a nifty tie-in to "The Tenth Planet." There's a side character named Barbara who could be, perhaps, just maybe, but probably isn't, Barbara Wright. Big portions of the plot are there for convenience and misdirection. For example, Mike Brack's ice sculpture in the iceberg is the location of the Cyber invasion force, yet, since he is not, as it turns out, a Cyber agent, and no one on the cruise liner is, how would the Cybermen know that he would use that exact iceberg?

So, while Iceberg has much going for it, the novel still does not hold together well enough for a high rating.



Decent, but Fairly Standard "Doctor Who"

What:Island of Lost Souls (BBV Audio Adventures in Time and Space)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 22 September 2023
Rating:   7

The second adventure of The Time Travellers finds The Professor and Ace at a secret military base in Greenland during WWII. The base is conducting experiments attempting to mix sound and radar. Of course, some weird things have been happening and our heroes arrive just as the situation is starting to go a bit tense. The experiment has disturbed something, causing hideous mutations in the local fish, and other troubles. Plus, someone on the base is definitely a German spy. It's classic Doctor Who fare, with McCoy and Aldred playing their roles in a somewhat more understated manner than on TV. The Professor is not so scheming and is a bit friendlier, while Ace is more mature. The story itself is one of those Doctor Who variations on Professor Quatermass. It is, therefore, entertaining, but with a few questionable details regarding science and plotting.



Episode 2 Is Still A Bit Murky

What:The Stranger Chronicles: Eye of the Storm (BBV Audio Adventures in Time and Space)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 22 September 2023
Rating:   7

The next installment of The Stranger Chronicles starts from the ending of the Eye of the Beholder video. Saul (David Troughton) and Egan (John Wadmore), Soloman's former terrorist partners, have tracked him down and drawn him back into the Interdimensional Web, or so they think. In a remote British locale, a top secret experiment is going on using the extraordinary extrasensory mental powers of a young woman named Meta. As the three preceptor terrorists attempt to escape, her mind encounters them in the Web, breaking a hole in the Web and drawing them back to Earth. As the Web cuts off this location and starts to repair itself, it closes in tighter and tighter on the band stranded at the house - Meta, the lead scientist experimenter, the police/agent government representative, and our three terrorists. In the process, Saul and Egan slowly learn that perhaps the lives of those in the universe are not as worthless and disposable as they thought. As with the previous Stranger Chronicles audio, the acting is pretty good, but the sound design is not. The Interdimensional Web, the Protectorate, and all the rest of the series background still do not make much sense. The Web seems a kind magic, anything the writer wants it to be.



Decent, If a Bit Confusing

What:The Stranger Chronicles: The Last Mission (BBV Audio Adventures in Time and Space)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 22 September 2023
Rating:   7

BBV decided to build out their Stranger Chronicles series of videos by providing a couple of audio prequels. In doing so, they move away from the "alternate Doctor Who" that was the videos. In this series, The Stranger (Colin Baker), here called Solomon, turns out to be a terrorist from another dimension, referred to as "The Web." He is the leader of a terror cell containing two others. They seek to strike against The Protectorate, a shadowy hegemony that apparently protects this dimension and our universe. What the terrorists have against The Protectorate is not entirely clear. So, the terrorists go about primarily killing random people of no consequence to prove that The Protectorate is not all powerful. Beyond that, their actions do not seem to accomplish anything of value. This audio tells of the "last mission" of Solomon when he gets nabbed by The Protectorate, in particular by a Protectorate agent played by Elisabeth Sladen. They have decided to put Solomon through The Estrangement Program, to force him to experience the material universe with no recourse to the interdimensional web, and thus learn the errors of his ways. One can tell that much is left in the murky background. Just what the Web is remains unclear, as do The Protectorate, the motives of the terrorists, and just why the universe should be their battle ground. The acting is all very good. The sound design a bit so-so. The story just feels like the background has not been properly worked out.



Not Doctor Who?

What:Doctor Who Unbound: Deadline (Doctor Who Unbound audios)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 4 September 2023
Rating:   8

For the Doctor Who Unbound what if this time, it's: What if Doctor Who had never been produced? The story is about writer Martin Bannister, played superbly by Derek Jacobi. Bannister lives in assisted living, by himself. He has alienated all the people in his life: his three wives, his adult son, his former co-workers, and the other residents in his facility. He's disillusioned and self-centered, the type that mistakes cruelty for honesty. However, he does have one remaining dream: to finally complete his pilot script for an unproduced BBC serial called Doctor Who. Bannister incorporates those around him into his imaginary script, taking on the role of the irascible time traveler in his own mind. As events go along, Bannister finds it harder and harder to separate fantasy from reality, especially because reality is a bore that requires from him an emotional effort he has no desire to expend. Writer Robert Shearman has some fun rejiggering elements from the original series, thinking of how they might have been different. The story itself fits with Shearman's pattern of plotting: characters get trapped in the imaginary worlds of madmen, such as in the Big Finish Doctor Who stories The Holy Terror and Jubilee. I think some listeners may have trouble with this story because it is not really a full reimagining of Doctor Who and not really Doctor Who at all. As audio drama, though, it is quite good, very well structured, and consistent. What brings it down just a bit for me is that Martin Bannister is too difficult a character to sympathize with.



Surprisingly Good, If Depressing

What:Doctor Who Unbound: He Jests at Scars... (Doctor Who Unbound audios)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 4 September 2023
Rating:   8

This Doctor Who Unbound has the "what if" starting point of what if The Valeyard won at the end of Trial of a Time Lord? Big Finish uses a couple of their own regulars - Coordinator Vansell (Anthony Keetch) and Ellie Martin (Juliet Warner) from the Sarah Jane Smith series. The story revolves around how much The Valeyard is or is not The Doctor. Like The Doctor, he has nothing but contempt for the Time Lords. Like The Doctor, he seems to need a traveling companion (Ellie in this case). And, like The Doctor he feels compelled to meddle. Where The Valeyard differs is that he wants to undo all The Doctor's achievements, which The Valeyard regards as mistakes, collect all the powerful artifacts and weapons, and then remake the universe to fit some ideal that he does not really himself full understand. The problem is that undoing these events starts undoing both the entire web of time and The Doctor's entire timeline. The Valeyard is actually erasing himself from time, and thus becomes desperate to try to "fix" the problem with even more heavy-handed interference that ends up making the problem worse. Into this chaos, Vansell has sent Mel either to reason with The Valeyard and get The Doctor back, or to assassinate The Valeyard. Unfortunately for Mel, The Valeyard erases the Time Lords, so there is no going back for her. Michael Jayston portrays The Valeyard excellently. He is a character who cannot control most of his impulses, but is intelligent enough to know that what he is doing is wrong. Bonnie Langford does really well as a weary, jaded Mel who has left all her young enthusiasm behind and is now just dedicated to getting a job done. The story itself is told by jumping around in time, so it is a bit difficult to piece together. Also, writer Gary Russell has indulged the "what is reality" idea just a bit too much, especially toward the end. The story does provide the listener with a new way to see the virtues of The Doctor.



Welcome back Martha Jones

What:The Year of Martha Jones (Miscellaneous audio dramas)
By:Andrew Munro, Corby, United Kingdom
Date:Friday 1 September 2023
Rating:   8

If you love this era of Doctor who and especially Freema Agyeman as our hero Martha Jones then what are you waiting for buy it now and find out what happened when the doctor was gone and Martha travelled telling as many people about her hero the doctor.



If you love the 4th Doctor & Romana 2

What:The Pyralis Effect (The Companion Chronicles audiobooks)
By:Andrew Munro, Corby, United Kingdom
Date:Friday 1 September 2023
Rating:   6

If you are a child (Or adult) or the classic Doctor and Romana 2 then this is for you.
The sound scape hits the spot and Lalla Ward is fantastic.
The story isn't out of this world but does enough to keep you intesterted.



Too Dumbed Down

What:The Return of Robin Hood (Literary crossover novels)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 21 August 2023
Rating:   4

The audience for this novel is probably ten-year-olds. That, at least, is the way Magrs has written it. I think, however, that he has erred too far on the side of simplicity. The result is a muddled story, a fairly typical Magrs mish-mash of story types in which he has not really worked out how it all fits together. Doctor 4, Sarah, and Harry arrive in Sherwood Forest in the 1190s. There's Robin Hood and the Merrie Men (yep, spelled that way and always referred to in that way, as if Robin Hood and the Merrie Men were a 60s pop group). This is the same troop from the TV serial Robot of Sherwood. Thus, we have The Doctor facing people who have already met him in a later incarnation. Therefore, we know that Magrs will have to contrive some way to wipe The Doctor's memory (yet again - how many times can these novels and audio dramas contrive to work this?). Magrs has written this Robin and Co. like the characters from the 1930s Errol Flynn movie. He's unabashed about it, even mentioning the movie. So, we have Doctor Who mixed with the 20th-century idea of Robin Hood, legendary figure. But wait, there's more. Lurking in the forest is an evil witch who is contriving to do something - cause chaos just because, destroy the world, control the world, distort time? - I can't tell - all the ideas are floated, but none land). So, we have Doctor Who + Robin Hood + Hansel and Gretel, I guess. Magrs tries to get away with this chop suey plot by having characters sometimes act as if "real" and sometimes as if they know they are fictional creations. He even has The Doctor refer to himself as "Doctor Who." All this does, however, is make the mix more confusing. There is no clear idea of just what kind of story we are in or why anyone should care. Magrs also throws in a heap of fan-winks, referring to multiple TV episodes. The worst problem of this book, though, to me is the tone. Magrs seems to think that children are simple-minded. They need a plot that is basically good guys vs. bad guys, villains that are evil simply because they are, motivations that go no deeper than "I want to destroy" or "I want to help people," and ham-fisted writing pointing out the obvious in italics, just so the poor kids' little minds won't be stumped. Young Doctor Who fans deserve better than this.



All Wrong

What:Birthright (New Adventures novels)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 11 August 2023
Rating:   3

I am completely baffled by the generally positive reception given to Birthright. To me, this is a pretty awful novel on many levels, and the more I think about it, the worse it gets. The story is that The Doctor tricks Benny and Ace and strands each in different time zones without telling them that he is going to do this, why he is going to do this, or what they are supposed to do. Then, we get a Benny story set in London 1909 involving secret societies and mysterious insect invaders appearing out of nowhere and carving up women. Next, we get an Ace story of her in the far future placing herself as the leader of some humanoid "mammals" that are beset by some intelligent insects using the mammals for food. The insects are being helped by a mysterious know-it-all who is probably a far-future incarnation of The Doctor. He calls himself Muldwych. Then, the two halves collide together, two stranded TARDIS shells become one, sort of, there is battle, dead bodies all over the place, the TARDIS crew reunited, and the companions just accept what The Doctor has done to them.

So, here are the things that are so wrong about this book. First, the only idea Robinson seems to have for the character of The Doctor is "manipulative." He has no other meaningful characteristics. The only idea he has for Benny is "sarcastic." The only idea he has for Ace is "violent." Thus, none of the TARDIS trio is remotely likeable. The Doctor manipulates the whole thing from behind the scenes, appears at the last minute, and justifies nothing that he has done, absolutely nothing. He even turns his back on Benny when she tries to talk to him about it. What a jerk! Ace, early in the novel, watches The Doctor trick Benny and says nothing about it. Later in the novel, she herself tricks and lies to Benny for no good reason that I can fathom, by placing sedatives into a cup of tea. What a jerk! And who the hell carries around sedatives solely for the purpose of spiking cups of tea? Benny spends her time moaning about being manipulated and generally annoying on purpose nearly everyone she meets. What a jerk! With both of these characters, it is even worse. Ace shoots a bank guard and "hopes" that she set the gun on stun. And that is the last she thinks about it. She has no remorse or second thoughts about possibly killing a man who was only doing his job. Benny, late in the novel, is glad that some annoying guy she didn't like is among the many dead. That is right, she is happy that someone who is merely annoying is dead. Are these really our heroes? Even Turlough would not have sunk so low in morality.

The next bad thing about the book is the clunky writing. There is line after line of telling rather than showing. Villains rant and rave in their heads: All power will be mine! and similar ridiculous things. The story works along the plot by convenience model: something shows up or happens because it needs to. Many elements simply appear and then are discarded. This is especially true of characters. They appear, do useful things, and then when no longer needed they vanish. Robinson spends quite a bit of ink trying to get the reader interested in Popov and Charlie and many others. What happens to them after the main plot is over? We don't know and Robinson doesn't seem to care.

And then there is the huge amount of fan-candy thrown in, the many, many needless references to characters and stories from the Doctor Who TV show in a plot that would get along without any of them.

So, it should be pretty clear that I do not like this book.



First Novel Jitters

What:Shadowmind (New Adventures novels)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 26 July 2023
Rating:   4

Christopher Bulis had been primarily an illustrator before he tried writing a novel. Shadowmind is his first novel, and it displays many novice novelist errors. Bulis would go on to write much better Doctor Who novels. His "thing" was to set Doctor Who into various science fiction sub-genres. For his first novel, the sub-genre was military science fiction of the David Drake, Jerry Pournelle, and Robert Heinlein variety. Therefore, this novel feels strangely out of place in the Doctor Who universe. It is as if Bulis desperately wanted to get the Doctor to wear military gear, and has contrived the whole novel to reach that end. The story is rather thin. Doctor 7, Benny, and Ace travel to planet Tairngire to give Ace a birthday gift. She has a good time for a day or so, then spots someone in need. This someone turns out to be a duplicate of an actual person, operated by a furry critter. Before they know it, our heroes are now the center of some kind of conspiracy of duplicates. The Doctor easily worms his way into the Tairngire government to help them battle the duplicates, or the critters that run the duplicates, and then we are off into space war. The duplicates steal the TARDIS, so that provides the motivation for our heroes to join the space war. Bulis makes many rookie errors. He introduces characters, gets the reader to like them, then once their function is over, kills them off in ways that do not really add to the story. He introduces too many characters early in the novel, doing things that identify their characteristics, but otherwise do not contribute to the plot. The motivations for getting The Doctor and crew involved are thin and selfish, which he tries to elide. The stakes of the plot just are not strong enough. Try as he might to stay within the bounds of physical laws, his space battles are still conceived more like air battles, based on "maneuverability." And there is too much "gosh, wow" over military hardware for my taste. One good aspect of this novel is that Bulis avoids cramming his novel with winks and nods to Doctor Who fans. There are very few references to other Doctor Who stories. Fans of military sf might like Shadowmind, but it really did not work for me.



A Magnificent Beginning

What:Geronimo! (The Doctor Chronicles audios)
By:Jay Hunter, Burlington, Canada
Date:Monday 24 July 2023
Rating:   10

I'd like to begin by complimenting the voice work of Jacob Dudman and Safiyya Ingar; Jacob brings such fantastic work to the Eleventh Doctor, simultaneously embodying Matt Smith's performance with his own spin on the role! And my stars, the biggest of compliments to long-time Doctor Who fan Safiyya Ingar for her incredible performance as the fantastic Valarie Lockwood. Through listening to this as well as the second box set Valarie has quickly become my favourite companion in all Doctor Who media, she's fiery, kind, funny, sarcastic, and sassy (Like mixing Amy, Donna and a little bit of Bill), and an all-around amazing addition that keeps the Doctor on his toes.

The stories written by Alfie Shaw, Georgia Cook, and Rochana Patel are fantastic and wonderfully written. Each one brings something new and exciting for Valarie and the Doctor to challenge and its finale is a big favourite of mine (Such a cool concept!). I'd recommend this story to anyone; whether a long-time Big Finish listener or someone looking to get into the extended Doctor Who universe (Audio edition). This boxset truly feels like it belongs up there with the show and its titles.



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