Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Goddess Quandary

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99
ISBN 1 84435 127 0
Available 23 May 2006

Legend has it that the mighty warlord Aldébrath will return to defeat the enemies of Imogenella. When the monks of Etheria stumble across what they claim is Aldébrath's final resting place, it looks like the legend might come true. If nothing else, the monks could make some cash from tourism - perhaps even enough to repair the monastery roof. All they need is a certain professor of archaeology to verify their claim...

It's been more than eight months since the last Bernice Summerfield audio adventure, The Lost Museum, even though we are supposedly still in the sixth season of the Professor's adventures. However, Big Finish's publishing programme appears to be back on track now, with the final two titles of Season 6 and the whole of Season 7 scheduled for release on a monthly basis.

The main part of this story takes place immediately prior to the anthology book Parallel Lives. It is placed in context by a framing narrative, set after The Lost Museum, in which Bernice (Lisa Bowerman) describes the events to the inquisitive student Parasiel (Paul Bryant). The full significance of these interview scenes remains unclear at the end of the tale, so it is likely that it will be developed further in the next one, The Crystal of Cantus.

Following recent appearances by Eternals, Galyari, giant robots, Grel and Monoids, The Goddess Quandary marks the return of a friendlier kind of Doctor Who creature, when Benny is reunited with her old chum Keri (now played by Jane Goddard). Keri is a Pakhar, a hamster-like sentient species that originally appeared in director/producer Gary Russell's Doctor Who: The New Adventures novel Legacy.

This tale also touches upon the Goddess that Bernice so frequently calls upon, exploring her nature and how she came to dominate peoples' beliefs. The moral of the story also revolves around individuals attempting to restore flagging careers - and theologies - via exploitative television shows.

Secundo, one of the monks that are attempting to restore their belief system to its former glory, is played by Duncan Wisbey, who sounds remarkably like Ellis Pike, alias Godfather Morlock in BBV's Faction Paradox series. Magic Bullet Productions, which now releases Faction Paradox audio adventures of its own, might care to take note should they ever need to recast the character of Morlock.

However, I urge you not to read the cast list on the CD sleeve until you have listened to this entertaining escapade in its entirety, otherwise it might spoil several of writer Andy Russell's surprises.

Richard McGinlay

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