Bernice Summerfield
Timeless Passages

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84435 190 9
ISBN-10: 1 84435 190 4
Available 18 September 2006

For years the great Labyrinth of Kerykeion has been home to one of the largest libraries of human incunabula in the galaxy. Here, otherwise lost volumes are all carefully preserved. From tomorrow, it's under new management. Benny is sent to acquire some of the rarest books for the Braxiatel Collection before the new corporate owners bulldoze their way in. She's hoping for a quiet time searching the archives. Some chance. Soon she's investigating a horrible murder. There's an insane killer cyborg on her heels. And then ancient subterranean powers begin to stir...

There's a neat double meaning to the title of this audio adventure. It refers both to the timeless passages of verse contained within the library and to the strange effects that the labyrinthine corridors have upon the books themselves, somehow protecting the pages from age and decay.

Daniel O'Mahony's story starts out in a straightforward manner, with the remarkable Labyrinth of Kerykeion threatened with closure and the awful possibility of many unique works being consigned to oblivion. The destruction of books is deplorable at any time (with its connotations of Nazi book burnings), but the idea of unique and irreplaceable works being destroyed is utterly unconscionable (connotations of the Taliban's desecration of ancient Buddhist statues putting the BBC's wiping of old Doctor Who episodes in the shade).

But this is Daniel O'Mahony that we're talking about, whose previous works have ranged from the merely rather strange (the Who novels Falls the Shadow and The Cabinet of Light and short story Nothing at the End of the Lane) to the downright incomprehensible (the Who short story The Parliament of Rats and the Bernice Summerfield short story Kill the Mouse!). About halfway through the narrative, things take a turn for the weird as an expletive-uttering killer cyborg knight and some walking statues with the heads of Egyptian gods enter the fray.

There's a decidedly Faction Paradox-ish flavour to such story elements, though I doubt that O'Mahony acquired this from contributing to the Faction Paradox guide The Book of the War. Rather, I dare say that Lawrence Miles selected him because of the suitability of his writing style.

The small cast clearly has fun with the script, with one of the male performers (probably Toby Longworth) doubling up as the delightfully deranged knight.

This CD will pass 70 minutes of your time very nicely indeed.

Richard McGinlay

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