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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Transit of Venus


Author: Jacqueline Rayner
Read by: William Russell
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 356 9
Available 15 January 2009

The year is 1770, and daring explorer Captain James Cook and his crew on the Endeavour are navigating the Pacific Ocean. Into their midst come strangers: the Doctor and Ian Chesterton, who are believed to have come from Venus. But the TARDIS is lost to them - along with both Susan and Barbara - and Ian makes an enemy of the ship’s chief scientist, Joseph Banks. Why is Banks acting so strangely? Could it be that the travellers are not the only visitors from the stars...?

Perhaps mindful of the pitfalls of having narrators reading dialogue spoken by characters of the opposite sex, author Jacqueline Rayner quickly gets rid of Barbara and Susan, placing the focus of the story squarely on Ian and the Doctor, especially Ian.

Concussed during a storm at sea, the schoolmaster babbles about Venus, which Susan has recently been speaking to him about, and so the crew of the Endeavour assume the travellers to be visitors from that planet. As you do. It’s a rather tenuous way to bring the planet into the story and into Ian’s babbling. It might have been preferable for Rayner to place this talking book straight after Paul Leonard’s Missing Adventures novel Venusian Lullaby - except that such a reference to an out-of-print book might have mystified numerous listeners. In the end it becomes clear that this tale, in which it seems that naturalist Joseph Banks must be an alien or else Ian is losing his mind, could only take place after The Sensorites.

William Russell gives a compelling reading, addressing the listener in the same genial manner as he had when speaking to the viewer in his linking scenes for the Crusade video release.

An exploration of a fascinating historical period, The Transit of Venus is also something more. Worth making the transition from the store to your media player.


Richard McGinlay

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