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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Memory Cheats


Author: Simon Guerrier
Read by: Wendy Padbury
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 582 2
Available 30 September 2011

Zoe Heriot remembers everything. But she remembers nothing. A genius with the gift of instant recall, Zoe’s mind has been purged by the Time Lords of all her memories of travelling with the Doctor and Jamie aboard the TARDIS. Years later she is in deep trouble - being prosecuted by the mysterious Company, which has evidence that she has travelled in Space and Time. Except Zoe knows they’re wrong... aren’t they? If that’s the case, then why is there proof that Zoe was in Uzbekistan in 1919? Can the memory cheat...?


The frame narrative of this story follows on from last year’s Echoes of Grey, with another Company interrogator, Jen (played by Wendy Padbury’s daughter, Charlie Hayes), trying to winkle secrets from Zoe’s amnesiac brain by forcing her to recount another adventure with the Second Doctor and Jamie. This one is set in Earth’s past, which is unusual for a Zoe adventure.

Like John Dorney’s Echoes of Grey, the climax of Simon Guerrier’s script turns what we had previously heard on its head - though Guerrier’s twist isn’t quite as subtle as Dorney’s. Dorney achieved his dénouement without any of the disappointment that usually accompanies revelations of the “so, it was all a dream” or “so, it was all a lie” variety, but for a few minutes The Memory Cheats did leave me feeling, well, cheated. What made a splendid reversal at the end of The Usual Suspects is less welcome in a Doctor Who narrative, because I like all of the Doctor’s adventures to be “true”.

However, there’s a further twist as it appears that Zoe may have been subconsciously recalling real events after all, despite her best efforts to mislead Jen. In the end, you can accept as much or as little of the story as you wish to, especially in the case of scenes that are merely described by Zoe, without any dialogue from or impersonations of the Doctor or Jamie. Was there ever really an alien, or was it just a large man (as described in Lansing’s letters)? Personally, I think it was an alien. Did it keep the children? For me, that was a lie by Zoe intended to help bring down the Elite programme that stole her own childhood. I like to think that the children were released.

The plan is that Dorney will round off the trilogy next year, which is good news. I only hope that my memory can hold on to the story so far for that long!


Richard McGinlay

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