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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Pirate Loop


Author: Simon Guerrier
Read by: Freema Agyeman
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.99 (CD), £6.60 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 4084 0044 9 (CD), 978 1 4084 9910 8 (download)
Available 10 July 2008

The Doctor’s been everywhere and everywhen, and seems to know everything. But ask him what happened to the Starship Brilliant and he hasn’t the first idea. Did it fall into a sun or a black hole? Was it shot down in the first moments of the galactic war? And what’s this about a secret experimental drive? As Martha is so keen to find out, the Doctor lands the TARDIS on the Brilliant, a few days before it vanishes, so they can see for themselves... Soon the Doctor learns the awful truth, and Martha learns to be careful what you wish for. She certainly wasn’t hoping for mayhem, death and badger-faced space pirates...

The presence of a spaceship that resembles an old-fashioned sea vessel is reminiscent of the recent Christmas special Voyage of the Damned (and Enlightenment before that), but this is a very different tale.

Owing to a rather bizarre temporal discontinuity, the Doctor and Martha end up separated in time. The separation isn’t as great as those in Mawdryn Undead, Fear Itself or The Girl Who Never Was, involving hours rather than years, but it nevertheless makes for intriguing listening - though potentially confusing at first, as it’s harder to skip back through previous tracks than it is to flick back through the pages of a book to double-check that you heard/read that correctly. For example, when I read the print version of this book, I initially thought that the travellers had been split into alternate timelines. It’s best not to think about the time break too much, but just go with the flow, a process that is made easier by this lively abridged reading.

What is it with this series and adversaries based on cute wildlife? Following the porcupine-like Quevvils in Winner Takes All and the otters of Wetworld, here we have pirate badgers! They talk and act like children much of the time (as is brilliantly conveyed by reader Freema Agyeman), but receive something of an education from Martha and an endearing alien passenger called Mrs Wingsworth (imagine, if you can, a fusion of Iris Wildthyme and Alpha Centauri). The morals of the story, or two of them at least, are that you will get on much better in life if you say “please” and that surely it’s preferable to have a party than to kill people.

In abridging the story, Steve Tribe drops Guerrier’s opening sequence set in Milky-Pink City, details about the badgers’ genetically engineered origins, and most of the author’s little references to other stories.

The Pirate Loop remains a frivolous tale (the temporal discontinuity resembles cold scrambled egg, the canapés never run out, I lost count of the number of times Agyeman has to repeat the phrase “cheese and pineapple stick(s)” and character names include Georgina Wet-Eleven), but it is an enjoyable one. Worth buying or (if you’re one of our younger readers, at whom this audio book is aimed) badgering your parents to buy it for you!


Richard McGinlay

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