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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Beautiful Chaos


Author: Gary Russell
Read by: Bernard Cribbins
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.77
ISBN: 978 1 4084 2652 4
Available 09 April 2009

Donna Noble is back home in London, catching up with her family and giving them (well, gramps anyway) all the gossip about her journeys. Her grandfather is especially overjoyed - he’s discovered a new star and had it named after him. He takes the Doctor, as his special guest, to the naming ceremony. But the Doctor is suspicious about some of the other changes he can see in the heavens. Particularly that bright star, right there. No, not that one, that one, there, on the left... The world’s population is slowly being converted to a new path, a new way of thinking. Something is coming to Earth, an ancient force from the Dark Times, something powerful, angry and all-consuming...

Perhaps in anticipation of its release as an abridged audio book, the print version of Gary Russell’s Beautiful Chaos contained numerous elements that were non-essential to the plot and could be jettisoned with the minimum of fuss. These include cutaways to victims of the alien force (more on that later) around the world, the back stories of a couple of villains, and a touching frame narrative featuring the Noble family post-Journey’s End.

Though we have lost that prologue and epilogue, there is still plenty of poignancy to Russell’s depiction of the Noble clan and a sense of foreboding regarding Donna’s ultimate fate. The new character of Netty, a friend of Donna’s grandfather Wilf who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, is just one example of the author’s foreshadowing of the companion’s tragic loss of memory. Wilfred himself and Donna’s mother Sylvia are also well drawn. We see two sides of Sylvia here - sympathetic and resentful - and we experience her daughter’s conflicting love and irritation in equal measure, as well as the whole family’s continuing grief over the loss of Donna’s father Geoff.

Adding to the emotional resonance of the tale is an exquisite reading by Bernard Cribbins, the actor who played Wilf during Series 4. A highly experienced narrator, Cribbins has no difficulty conveying the story to the listener - though the younger characters of Joe and Lukas Carnes do sound somewhat like Wombles!

Aiming to please fans of the old series as well as the new, Russell also throws in the return of the Mandragora Helix from the classic 1976 Tom Baker story The Masque of Mandragora.

All in all, there’s a definite beauty to Beautiful Chaos.


Richard McGinlay

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