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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Pyralis Effect


Author: George Mann
Read by: Lalla Ward
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 427 6
Available 31 October 2009

Long ago, the planet Pavonis IV was saved from certain destruction by the Doctor. Now it is dead, laid waste by environmental catastrophe, but a few survivors and their precious race bank survive on the starship Myriad. Their mission: to scour the universe for the fabled dimensionally transcendental obelisk in which their saviour travels, and persuade him to save their world again. As the TARDIS arrives, by chance, on the Myriad, the Doctor and Romana are just in time to see the crew achieve their goal. Or so they think... Death stalks the corridors of the ship, the artificial intelligence CAIN has lost control, and a force is about to be unleashed that threatens the entire galaxy...

This is George Mann’s first audio script for Doctor Who, though he previously penned the short story “Methuselah” for the anthology Short Trips: Transmissions, and he and David J Howe sneakily included a time-travelling doctor in the final Time Hunter novella, Child of Time!

The Pyralis Effect is set between Seasons 17 and 18, the division between the ’70s and ’80s and between the eras of producers Graham Williams and John Nathan-Turner. It blends these very different styles well. The presence of a questing spaceship carrying the invaluable genetic bank of an almost dead race, which, long ago, had dealings with a Time Lord, invites comparison with Season 15’s Underworld - though this isn’t a retread of that story, it’s just the starting point for the narrative. Meanwhile, the fungal-brained artificial intelligence CAIN echoes the thought-provoking “hard sci-fi” feel of Season 18. The Doctor’s mood swings between Season 17 tomfoolery and Season 18 contemplation.

Lalla Ward gives her usual compelling performance, and she is ably supported by the versatile Jess Robinson, who provides the voices of not only the spaceship captain Suri but also the ethereal alien Pyralis and even the creepy masculine android CAIN.

The spooky atmosphere is augmented by the eerie music and sound design of Richard Fox and Lauren Yason.

The plot itself isn’t much to write to Pavonis IV about, but the contributions of Ward, Robinson, Fox and Yason combine to compelling effect.


Richard McGinlay

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