Space 1889
The Lunar Inheritance

Starring: Neville Watchurst, Jack Galagher and Garrick Hagon
Noise Monster Productions
RRP: 10.99
Available 23 January 2006

The Moon: an airless body, devoid of life and therefore of no interest to the British Empire. However, appearances can be deceptive, as the crew of HMS
Indomitable discover when an alien weapon cripples their ship. They must undertake a perilous journey deep inside the satellite to rescue a man who holds the key to a millennia-old mystery...

The Lunar Inheritance marks a change of scene following the previous three Mars-based audio adventures in this series. This is a standalone episode, and I fancy it's also easier for newcomers to get into than the previous arc, since on this occasion there is no pre-existing British colonial presence or known civilisation on the celestial body in question. Everything that is discovered here by our heroes - Indomitable Captain Nathaniel Blake (Neville Watchurst) and lunar expert William Brooker (Jack Galagher) - is as new to them as it is to the listener.

These discoveries include insectoid life forms (voiced by Mr Dalek himself, Big Finish's Nicholas Briggs), which are clearly inspired by those in HG Wells' The First Men in the Moon. And that's not all: the Moon's secrets also tie in with the mysteries of the asteroid belt and the mythical planet Vulcan (no, not the one from Star Trek).

A more recent mythology that is also alluded to here is that of Indiana Jones, whose characteristics Blake and Brooker share. While Blake disguises himself in a stolen enemy uniform, a la Raiders of the Lost Ark (though in this instance the antagonists are Russians), Brooker gets the cold shoulder from his mentor's niece, Annabelle Somerset (Helen Goldwyn), for walking out on them and their research. Not surprisingly, William and Annabelle's relationship, which mirrors that of Indy and Marion in Raiders, thaws out in due course.

Despite the change of location and of characters, in all important respects it's business as usual in the world of Space 1889. With an intriguing and adventurous script by Richard Dinnick and Andy Frankham, and some appropriately "spacey" electronic flourishes from musician Simon Robinson, you'd be a loony to miss this.

Richard McGinlay