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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Destiny of the Doctor


Author: James Swallow
Performed by: Sophie Aldred
Publisher: AudioGO / Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.20, US $16.95

ISBN: 978 1 4713 1173 4
Release Date: 04 July 2013

In the far future, the inhabitants of Tarsus Six face a desperate struggle to evacuate their world before their sun, Tarsus Ultra, collapses into a cataclysmic spatial anomaly. When the Doctor navigates the TARDIS to a space station orbiting Tarsus Six, Ace assumes that he intends offer their assistance. However, it soon becomes clear that the Doctor has an agenda of his own. With the time machine immobilised, Ace realises that their own lives are as much in danger as those of the fleeing inhabitants. The race is on to escape the destruction of Tarsus Six and the devastating shockwave that will follow, reaching out and destroying everything in its wake...

During Doctor Who’s 25th and 26th seasons, around which time this adventure is set, Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor became a dark and enigmatic character, frequently seen to be playing a mysterious long game. Indeed, what he is searching for in Shockwave bears some comparison to his missions in Remembrance of the Daleks and Silver Nemesis. As in several television serials, the Seventh Doctor gains the trust of strangers via powers of persuasive argument, force of will, a little foreknowledge and perhaps a bit of hypnotism (Ace isn’t sure which). This Doctor doesn’t need psychic paper.

However, in this tale he becomes embroiled in an even longer game, one that is being played by his own future self. As regular listeners to the Destiny of the Doctor saga will know, this is a recurring motif – the message from the Eleventh Doctor might be the last thing that Ace was expecting, but it probably won’t be the last thing the audience was expecting! Whether by accident or design, this adventure also develops a theme that was touched upon in the previous release, Trouble in Paradise: the question of whether or not to save particular individuals, depending on how it might affect history.

Sophie Aldred succeeds in recapturing Ace’s youthful tones, and somehow manages to sound even younger as the cultist NineJay, though the Scottish burr she adopts when voicing the Doctor’s lines is a little over-done.

This is Ace from before Hex joined the Big Finish audio dramas, and before Ace became battle-hardened in the New Adventures novels. Author James Swallow could have gone for a later Ace, or even Bernice Summerfield or some other companion from spin-off media, but he chooses to stick to the Seventh Doctor’s television era for reasons of accessibility.

Daniel Brett’s music also conjures up the period by being as intrusive as the compositions of the late Eighties tended to be!

Shockwave is a single, long episode on one disc, not divided into two like Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles, to which the format of this mini-series is otherwise very similar. However, you can distinctly hear the potential cliffhanger at the halfway point in the narrative – it’s easy to imagine the closing theme crashing in at the end of Track Seven.

Swallow’s story is a little on the basic side, especially when one considers that he is writing about an era that gave us the likes of the convoluted Curse of Fenric and Ghost Light. Some of his later plot and character revelations are somewhat predictable, even tacky, though the opening packs a punch. On the whole, Shockwave is easy to swallow, despite the lack of shocks.


Richard McGinlay

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