Soldiers of Love
Story Five - Planet of Death

Starring: Michael Keating, Gareth Thomas and Nicholas Courtney
RRP 9.99
Available now

Mrs Blubber spies on the suspicious new Editor of Stellar Network Radio. Meanwhile, on the hijacked space cruiser, Maureen completes her transformation... but into what? And on Xoolian Major, Mydas and Turnidus attempt to raise capital for the repair of their spaceship by competing in a race hosted by a giant chicken...

The mechanical foe that provided the thrilling climax to Story Four is quickly dispensed with at the beginning of Story Five, only to be replaced by another mechanical foe - android pall-bearers whose job it is to enforce the subjugation of the Xoolians by the despotic cockerel known as the Bantam Menace.

The previous instalment's lampooning of Star Wars - Episode One continues unabated with a racing event that is a far cry from George Lucas' version. Turnidus and Mydas have to compete mounted respectively on a pogo stick and a penny farthing!

A more incisive bit of sci-fi spoofing comes in the form of the meticulously unnatural descriptive dialogue spoken by the unfortunate Jake Avara (Peter Ager) as he is chloroformed into unconsciousness. Lines such as "Why are you beckoning me over?" mercilessly mock the less prestigious moments of audio drama storytelling by the likes of BBV and Big Finish.

This instalment also contains a fair few surprises for its listeners. For example, when Aaran (Gareth Thomas) throws off his latest disguise, he is probably not the character you were expecting him to be. Meanwhile, the new Editor, Helmut Snyder (Nick Kirby, sounding a lot like Hugh Laurie's German villain in Blackadder II) reveals to Mrs Blubber (Alison Taffs) a dark secret from Mydas Mydason's past.

At least one major character is killed during this episode - and there are plenty of potential fatalities to choose from, with various parties getting shot, buried or eaten alive. The CD isn't called Planet of Death for nothing! I imagine that the matter of which characters will survive and which will remain deceased will largely depend upon which actors have made themselves available to perform in future episodes.


Richard McGinlay