Space 1889
The Siege of Alclyon

Starring: Simon Williams, Ivor Danvers and Philip Madoc
Noise Monster Productions
RRP: 10.99
Available 15 June 2005

A dastardly attack on Great Britain's colony on Mars leads Captain St John Ffolkes on a dangerous trail to the besieged city of Alclyon. As British and German armies clash over the fate of the young Martian King Daryoon, Ffolkes finds even his steadfast belief in the Empire under assault...

This audio adventure brings the current Martian storyline of Space 1889 to a close. The next disc, The Lunar Inheritance, promises a change of scene with action taking place on Earth's moon.

The Siege of Alclyon features a very special guest star in the shape of Philip Madoc. Though his most major role to date has been that of the famous prime minister in The Life and Times of David Lloyd George, Madoc is probably best remembered for the baddies he has played over the years. His science-fiction roles as an unethical member of the scientific establishment in First Born, a futuristic Dr Mengele-like surgeon in Doctor Who: The Brain of Morbius and a war criminal in Doctor Who: The War Games, not to mention a U-boat captain in Dad's Army, all stand him in good stead for playing the scheming German General Hagen.

Fortunately, writer Marc Platt resists pandering to any obvious stereotypes or genre spoofing. At no point does Captain St John Ffolkes (Simon Williams) say to his sergeant (Toby Longworth): "Don't tell him, Carstairs!"

The flavour of Victorian adventure is deliberately tainted in this instalment by some rather topical issues concerning warfare and politics. The "liberating" British forces that attack the German-held city of Alclyon cause massive damage to buildings, including ancient cultural landmarks, as well as loss of life. The Martian population is therefore not entirely pleased with its "liberators", echoing the discontent that still exists in present-day Afghanistan and Iraq.

While not quite on a par with the two previous CDs in this series, The Siege of Alclyon is well worth liberating from your nearest stockist.

Richard McGinlay