For what I plan to be my last review for this blog, I thought it would make an interesting change of pace to review a book about audio. This is the first volume of a new guide by Richard Dinnick to the releases of Big Finish, the company that since 1999 has been making licensed Doctor Who audio plays featuring the characters from the show’s classic television years between 1963 and 1989 as well as Paul McGann’s sole stab at the role in 1996. But they have made much more besides …
The Plot: On nineteenth Century Earth artist Edvard Munch hears an infinite scream pass through nature. Centuries later his painting of that Scream hangs in a gallery on the barren dust world Duchamp 331. Why is there a colony of artists on a planet that is little more than a glorified garage? What is the event that the passengers of the huge, opulent pleasure cruiser ‘Gallery’ are hoping to see? And what is hidden in the crates that litter the cargo hold?
The Doctor’s diary indicates that the painting is about to be destroyed in ‘mysterious circumstances’, and when he and Ace arrive on Duchamp 331, those circumstances are well underway.
“It’s like Camden market gone mad!” – Ace
The Plot: Caught in the inevitable path of its own history, the TARDIS arrives on the planetoid Grace Alone, where the Doctor, Steven and Oliver expect to face their fate. What they don’t expect to find is a massacred crew – and a race of alien invaders known as the Vardans. When the Doctor is apparently killed, his companions attempt to survive against the odds. But those odds are narrowing. Their borrowed time has expired.
“The Doctor is gone – and we’re finished!”
The Plot: In the remnant of a shattered satellite, far above the ruined planet Earth, Steven Taylor and Oliver Harper are dying. As time runs out, they face their pasts … and a secret long kept is revealed. The borrowed time is elapsing, and they realize they are facing an enemy that cannot be defeated. The cold, hard facts of science.
“Perhaps you should tell me your secret now”
The Plot: A shrieking, killing nightmare erupts from an overgrown well, hidden in the grounds of an old house, Tranchard’s Folly – and Mary Shelley, the Doctor’s latest travelling companion, rescues teenage twins Finicia and Lucern from the clutches of the monster. But a TARDIS trip in search of the origin of the horror goes terribly wrong when the Doctor, Mary and their two new friends find themselves stuck in the middle of a seventeenth century witch scare.
While the Doctor investigates the strange lights at Vetter’s Tor, and the twins go in search of an artefact from the Hecatrix Dimension, Mary confronts the secrets of her past… and her future. The truth will out: Master Kincaid, the terrible Witch-Pricker himself, commands it!
“You’ll have to excuse Mary, she tends to side with the monster”
The Plot: When the TARDIS materializes in a familiar junkyard in the 1960s, the Doctor and Steven are soon embroiled in a mystery in the City of London. Who are the mysterious bowler-hatted businessmen with their deadly umbrellas? And what secret is young Oliver Harper desperately trying to conceal?
Contracts have been signed. A deal is in place. And the Doctor discovers that perhaps not even he can stop a terrible business…
“Fungibility … you know, I love that word.”
The Plot: Millions of years ago, the noble Ice Warriors fled to Deimos, moon of Mars, hoping to sit out the radioactive death throes of their home planet. When the TARDIS lands on Deimos, the Doctor discovers that the Warriors’ ancient catacombs are now a popular stop for space tourists. But the Martian dynasties are more than history, and the Warriors are far from extinct. It’s not for nothing that ‘Deimos’ is the ancient word for ‘dread’ …
“The Martian terraforming project was regrettably brought to a premature end due to the advent of the great recession”
The Plot: Roll up! Roll up! To the great Viennese Exposition, where showman Stahlbaum will show you his most wonderful creation, the Silver Turk – a mechanical marvel that will not only play for you the fortepiano, the spinet and the flute, it will play you at the gaming table too! But when the Doctor brings his new travelling companion Mary Shelley to nineteenth-century Vienna, he soon identifies the incredible Turk as one of his deadliest enemies – a part-machine Cyberman. And that’s not even the worst of the horrors at large in the city…
“Travel broadens the mind”
The Plot: As Christmas draws near, Quentin issues an arcane invitation into the unknown. Meanwhile, as children are reported missing across Collinsport, the festive season brings Collinwood new terrors, when a persuasive spirit seeks to divide and conquer.
“Why are you so evil?”
The Plot: There’s a house across the waters at Ely where an old woman tells a strange story. About a kind of night constable called Sara Kingdom. And her friends, the Doctor and Steven. About a journey they made to a young couple’s home, and the nightmarish things that were found there. About the follies of youth and selfishness. And the terrible things even the most well-meaning of us can inflict on each other.
Hear the old woman’s story. Then decide her fate.
“I don’t believe in ghost stories”
- aquaphobia n. An abnormal fear of water, or drowning.
- blattodephobia n. The morbid fear of cockroaches.
- catoptrophobia n. Fear of mirrors, or seeing one’s own reflection.
There’s a whole ABC of horrors at Bluefire House – as four young people, drawn together to this tumbledown hotel at the edge of nowhere, are about to discover. But whatever the ancient and foul thing that has emerged from the wilderness to drag them here, speaking of it will only strengthen it. The Doctor alone knows what lurks at the heart of Bluefire House. But the monster of his childhood dreams is coming. The Mi’en Kalarash is coming … Just this once, the Doctor’s afraid.
“Procedure is just another word for procrastination”
The Plot: “When the river is gone, ships shall sail in the sky, monsters bring fire from the heavens. All will fall into a grey and endless sea, and Doomsday has come.”
Florence, the sixteenth century. No one thought to pay much attention to the prophecies of the so-called seer Michel de Nostradame, otherwise known as Nostradamus. Until the canals of Venice dried. Until the soothsayer’s sayings started coming true … Because Master Nostradamus is right, in all respects. The end of the world is nigh. The ships are coming. The monsters are coming. The fire is coming. There’s only one thing he didn’t see coming, in fact: the sudden apparition of a certain strange Doctor, in his even stranger TARDIS. Today, the Earth dies screaming. And all the Doctor can do is watch.
“If the world really is ending it would be a pity to miss it by being trampled to death.”
Where did the time go? It seems amazing, even impossible, to contemplate but even excluding the Companion Chronicles, the four series of Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller adventures, the Dalek Empire and Gallifrey spin-offs, this is the 150th monthly release from Big Finish as part of their Doctor Who main range. It comprises four short half hour stories starring the team of Colin Baker (The Doctor) and Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown). As is almost inescapably the nature of these things, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, especially as this is a showcase for some new writing talent.
The Plot: Welcome aboard the space vessel Vancouver. Its mission: to guard a vast shipment of grain from Earth to the planet Safenesthome. Its Captain is called Ace. She seems a little unsure of herself. In fact, some might almost think she was new to the job…
Its medical officer is called simply ‘The Doctor’, and he’s perhaps not all he seems either. When mysterious ships target the Vancouver, Ace and the Doctor are pushed to the limit. Meanwhile, there’s something nasty in the grain containers. And it’s not very happy…
“This is not gonna work!”
The Plot: The TARDIS has landed on Platform Five, a floating city in the sky of the planet Jobis, and for a time the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki get the chance to enjoy this idyllic place. And then the Rocket Men arrive, led by the sadistic Ashman. When the only other option to certain death is suicide, Ian Chesterton takes the gamble of his life…
“When do you know?”
“Does that make sense to you or am I just quoting Shakespeare to a bunch of baboons?”
The plot: When Litefoot’s home is invaded by giant metal spheres, it seems that the end of the world is nigh. The enemy has revealed itself, the end game is afoot – can two Henry Gordon Jagos save the day?
The Plot: Nothing has ever been officially confirmed, but there is a rumour that on a Sandminer, bound for Kaldor City, the robots somehow turned homicidal and nearly wiped out the entire crew. Can that really be true?
The robot transport ship Lorelei has a cargo of over 157,000 robots on board, all deactivated. So even if there were any truth in the rumour of that massacre, there’d still be no danger. Surely, there wouldn’t … But then, the Doctor witnesses a murder.
“We’re not blinking detectives darling, let’s leave that to the professionals!”
Synopsis: A research student goes to his tutor in despair, his whole world on the verge of collapse. His project is evolving badly. Should he have tried a more intelligent design? Is it too late for his tutor to save him. Meanwhile they await the results of the competition for the most prestigious science prize of all time …
“It’s not the end of the world … well, I suppose, literally, it is.”
The Plot: 1983: as the country goes to the polls, two ‘Urban Explorers’, together with a freelance journalist, break into the long-defunct Cadogan Tunnels, once a secret wartime facility… and later, so rumour has it, the site of an experimental laboratory with a nasty sideline in vivisection. What they find, in its twisting underground corridors, is something the most cynical conspiracy theorist could never have imagined: a highly evolved society of questing, intelligent creatures, living right under humanity’s nose for decades. But there’s no way out of the tunnels – as the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough are about to discover when the TARDIS brings them, too, into the complex. It’s a rat trap – and they’ve all been caught!
“Something tells me he’s not talking about Elvis.” – Tegan
“It would be pleasant if time wasn’t always of the essence.”
The plot: The New Regency Theatre is haunted and Jago, Litefoot and Leela witness the spirit of someone in a silver wheelchair floating over the stalls. This is the story of Alice – a young woman who had ‘Swan Lake’ so cruelly taken from her …
Juicy Jagoisms: “This is why female emancipation is such a bad idea.”
“Old ladies need much armour”
The plot: Strange things are happening in the Naismith household. Eleanor Naismith has vanished, and her daughter Clara is found in odd circumstances… What is the link to Eleanor’s book, ‘The Man At The End of the Garden’?
Juicy Jagoisms: “Oh lummy, that sounds a tad terminal …”
The Plot: Margrave University in 2001, and Raine Creevy is enjoying her first trip into the future. For the Doctor, there are mysteries to solve: what are the alien creatures imprisoned in the science labs? And what are the true motives of the student Scobie and his followers? With enemies on all sides, the Doctor teams up with his old friend Brigadier Bambera and the forces of UNIT in a battle for the future of the whole world.
“Blown up anything big lately?”
Synopsis: In 1949, John George Haigh, the infamous ‘Vampire killer’, was hanged for the murder of at least six people. Join him in the hangman’s cell as he tells you his story and invites you to relive the seduction, murder and disposal of three of his victims …
“What would a murderer be doing in Crawley of all places?”
The Plot: The TARDIS travellers take a break on the beach world of Vektris. Hot sun, cold drinks and all the time in the worlds. What could possibly go wrong? A kidnapping, a spaceship heist and a desperate chase to a distant galaxy later, Turlough finds himself in a strange winter palace… along with a face from his past. The Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa, meanwhile, fight to escape its frozen catacombs, guarded over by a vast and deadly alien Morass. But what connects Turlough to the ancient treasure hidden somewhere in the palace? And how far will he go to acquire it?
“Don’t just talk about it, do it!”