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Audio Book Review


The Sarah Jane Adventures
Children of Steel


Author: Martin Day
Read by: Daniel Anthony
RRP: £6.10
ISBN: 978 1 4084 6995 8
Available 10 November 2011

Sarah Jane is thrilled when she successfully bids for a Victorian brass head in an antiques auction. On taking the metal model home, Mr Smith informs her that it contains a research probe from the future. Sarah Jane speculates that the probe was used as the “brain” that powered the “Difference Golem”, a mechanical servant built by eccentric inventor Sir Joseph Montague. She, Clyde, Rani and Sky travel to Holcote House, the former residence of Sir Joseph, in search of the robot’s body. But they are soon to discover that meddling with artificial intelligence can have dangerous consequences...

With the sad demise of Elisabeth Sladen, The Sarah Jane Adventures are at an end - on television at least. However, the adventures continue on audio, with a couple of exclusive talking books from AudioGO. Sladen was the reader of eight previous releases, but this time the narration duties must inevitably pass to others. Daniel Anthony (alias Clyde Langer) and Anjli Mohindra (Rani Chandra) have stepped up to the plate, with Anthony reading this tale and Mohindra tackling Judgement Day. The inlays of both CDs include a dedication to Sladen, illustrated, appropriately enough, with a photograph from the same shoot as the original LP sleeve to the very first commercially released Sarah Jane audio adventure, Doctor Who and the Pescatons.

Anthony adopts a variety of voices, though he doesn’t sound much like his female co-stars. His most distinctive voices - apart from Clyde’s, obviously - are those of the upper-class Oliver Guide and the robot Adam, whose tones are treated electronically. Unlike previous releases, these CDs are not narrated in the first person.

The robot depicted on the cover invites comparisons to the Metalkind from the serial Sky, though Adam’s Victorian construction brings a very different steampunk vibe to Martin Day’s story. When the possibility of the robot’s brain being sentient is raised (Sarah Jane suggests destroying it, to prevent potentially dangerous technology from falling into the wrong hands, but Rani argues against it), the show’s recurring artificial intelligences, Mr Smith and K-9, are mentioned. Curiously, though, Sarah makes no reference to Robot K1 from the Doctor Who serial Robot, despite a number of plot similarities. You’d think that adventure would spring to mind! Rani takes on aspects of Sarah Jane’s role in Robot, befriending and attempting to defend the mechanical man.

Despite its over-familiar plot, Children of Steel is an enjoyable offspring from the television series. Let’s have some more.


Richard McGinlay

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