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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
Empathy Games


Author: Nigel Fairs
Read by: Louise Jameson
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 353 8
Available 30 October 2008

The present: Leela is doomed, trapped inside a prison cell of a dead race. The past: after a disaster aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor and Leela arrive at the capital city of Synchronis, a world renowned for peace and civility. But an attack by a vicious creature leaves the Doctor in a coma, and Leela is persuaded to fight in the forthcoming Empathy Games, where she discovers that nothing on this world is as it seems. Two eras. One life. Ultimately, Leela must stand and face her fears…

If you thought Leela was dead at the end of her previous Companion Chronicle, The Catalyst, well, so did Louise Jameson! However, though aged, imprisoned and on her death bed, the former warrior of the Sevateem is still clinging on to life as she remembers another adventure from her time with the Fourth Doctor. Like The Catalyst, Empathy Games is written, directed, scored and sound designed by Nigel Fairs, who reveals in his sleeve notes and in a discussion at the end of the CD that yet another Leela Chronicle is planned, with the aim of forming a trilogy.

As well as Jameson, with whom he evidently loves working, having done so in this series, The Tomorrow People and Sapphire & Steel, Fairs is also reunited with his Steel, alias David Warner, who lends his unmistakable vocal talents as the secondary voice, Co-ordinator Angell.

Along the way, in a gripping scene of devastation aboard the TARDIS, Fairs and his narrator suggest a reason why the Doctor stopped using the old wood-panelled control room.

However, once you get past the framing devices and surface trimmings, there isn’t much to Empathy Games that hasn’t been done before. The notion of a character getting roped into a deadly sport has been done dozens of times in Star Trek (for example, The Gamesters of Triskelion and Code of Honor) and a few times in Doctor Who too, including the Fourth Doctor / Leela novel Match of the Day. There are also elements of The Savages in Fairs’s depiction of an apparently supremely civilised society parasitically exploiting “lesser” beings.

Better luck with the end of the trilogy...


Richard McGinlay

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