Doctor Who: The War Doctor Volume 01: Only the Monstrous
Written and Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Performed by a Full Cast:
John Hurt as The War Doctor; Jacqueline Pearce as Cardinal Ollistra; Lucy Briggs-Owen as The Nursemaid; Carolyn Seymour as The Slave; Beth Chalmers as Veklin; Alex Wyndham as Seratrix; Kieran Hodgson as Bennus; Barnaby Edwards as Arverton; Mark McDonnell as Traanus; John Banks as Garv and; Nicholas Briggs as The Daleks
Ⓟ 2015, Big Finish Productions
Each of the three episodes runs approximately 80 minutes
SFF | TIME TRAVEL | DOCTOR WHO | THE WAR DOCTOR | AUDIO DRAMA
The Doctor and the other Time Lords are waging a Time War with the Daleks. In this trilogy, The War Doctor has detonated a time disruptor; and in the fallout, has landed on the peaceful planet of Kesca. However, Cardinal Ollistra is the manipulative head of the Time Lords who will stop at nothing to reclaim The Doctor, while he would rather forget who he is and recover at the hands of a Kescan woman. There is quite a bit of intrigue, betrayal, and even sadness in the stories. Compared to The Tenth Doctor Adventures which were fun and a bit campy, The War Doctor series seem to be much different: The scripts are sober and a bit more sophisticated with dreams and flashbacks inserted; and The Doctor is much more cynical and unlikable. There are sound effects (natch) and original music (a ten-minute track at the end presents a musical suite in full.) John Hurt as The War Doctor is en pointe as the crusty and abrasive old man; and Jacqueline Pierce is equally amazing as Cardinal Ollistra, and sounds remarkably like Judi Dench! Interestingly, if you were to scroll through the credits of the Doctor Who TV episodes from The Ninth Doctor onwards, you see some names reappear on the audio drama cast rolls. For example, Nicholas Briggs, who was the voice of the Daleks in the TV series, is the writer/editor/director of the audio dramas; and he reprises his role as the voice of the Daleks in this trilogy. The consistent use of talent across mediums reinforces the argument that the audio dramas are cannon material.
OTHER: I listened to the three-CD set, Doctor Who: The War Doctor Volume 01: Only the Monstrous (Written and Directed by Nicholas Briggs; Performed by a Full Cast) which I purchased through Amazon.com. They are also available as CDs and as downloads directly from Big Finish. I receive no monies, goods, or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.
Doctor Who: The War Doctor Volume 01: Only the Monstrous (Written and Directed by Nicholas Briggs; Performed by a Full Cast) is a finalist in the 2017 APA Audie Awards in the Audio Drama category.
The Girl with All the Gifts
By M.R. Carey
Narrated by Finty Williams
Ⓟ 2014, Hachette
13 hrs and 04 mins
SFF / HORROR
You make think that you’ve exhausted the zombie genre; but The Girl with All the Gifts is something a bit different and even more compelling: This is the story of a little girl named Melanie, a.k.a Test Subject #1, who is incarcerated at a military base in the UK. The world-as-we-know-it has been transformed into a zombie-infested landscape, and Melanie may very well hold the key to future human survival. All the standard zombie stuff is there: humans vs zombies, military vs survivalists, an escape scramble…; but Mike Carey (also known for the comic book run, ‘The Unwritten’) has elevated the ordinary to something interesting by avoiding the common tropes. The ending isn’t what I wanted, expected, or maybe even liked; but it did make sense and is original.
The choice of narrator is surprising as well: Finty Williams is an older British woman who sounds like Judi Dench (which makes a sort of sense as she is Dame Dench’s daughter!) Since the book opens from Melanie’s POV, the casting may seem bewildering as the only character who comes remotely close to the narrator in sensibility is a scientist; but it doesn’t matter, because Finty Williams is amazing! She rolls the story out without getting in the way of the story itself, doesn’t draw attention to herself, and serves as the perfect conduit for the experience.
Fellside (by M.R. Carey; and narrated by Finty Williams) is available for pre-order on Audible (release date 4/16/2016.) This is not a sequel or companion piece; but a writing-narration duo that’s sure to be as well received as The Girl with All the Gifts.
OTHER: I listened to this audiobook on recommendation from @BethFishReads and you can read her review of The Girl with All the Gifts on her blog, BethFishReads.com.
I purchased The Girl with All the Gifts (by M.R. Carey; narrated by Finty Williams) from audible.com. I receive no monies, goods (beyond the audiobook) or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.
The Library at Mount Char
By Scott Hawkins
Narrated by Hillary Huber
Ⓟ 2015, HighBridge Audio, a Division of Recorded Books
16 hrs and 48 mins
SFF, DARK FANTASY
The Library at Mount Char is a dark fantasy novel about Carolyn, one of twelve children adopted by Father, and trained in one of twelve catalogues or disciplines of knowledge. And let’s just say, this girl is great on long-range planning; and that she has a truly ambitious agenda… The clues as to what exactly she’s scheming about, and what her ultimate goals are, are the metaphorical crack that keeps the listener hooked. The library itself is a vast repository of knowledge that exists on a separate plane of existence; and Mount Char, the home in suburban America where the children were raised, serves as the nexus or portal through which the library can be accessed. The world-building is truly original and fantastic; and the story has elements of psychopathy, darkness, explosions that glitter and fascinate the listener. But there are subplots and scenes that don’t seem to advance the plot; and seemingly arbitrary symbolism and details that litter the narrative as well. The pace seems slow and the tension awkward; and while many settings are vividly described, many of the children are not well defined or developed at all. The book ends, not quite with a cliff-hanger; but with a not-unreasonable expectation that there will be a sequel. It is something different, shiny, weird, and inviting in the fantasy genre which seems to have become increasingly “Tolkien-esque ” or “GRR-Martinish”
If Hillary Huber seems a just a shade too knowing for the role of Carolyn, she does an outstanding job of creating a diverse range of characters without dropping into absurd caricature or false ranges. She handles the material expertly, imbuing the scenes perfectly and appropriately with tension, wonder, exasperation, triumph, uncertainty… whatever the writing calls for. Hillary Huber’s performance is masterful. The only production issue to note is that are a lot of sibilances (where the “S”s spike) that can hurt ears and force a listener off of headsets
OTHER: I purchased The Library at Mount Char (by Scott Hawkins; narrated by Hillary Huber) from Downpour.com. I receive no monies, goods (beyond the audiobook) or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.