Doctor Who
Dust Breeding

Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Big Finish Productions
ISBN 1 903654 33 5, BFPDWCD7T Available now

On 19th-century Earth, artist Edvard Munch hears an infinite scream passing through the universe. Centuries later, his painting of the Scream hangs in a gallery on the barren dust ball that is Duchamp 331. But what is a colony of artists doing on such an inhospitable world?...

And so writer Mike Tucker continues to develop what is now almost exclusively "his" era: that of the Seventh Doctor and Ace. Musician Russell Stone helps to evoke the tone of their TV tenure with some distinctly Mark Ayres-style signatures.

A number of other old favourites are back as well. These include the deadly Krill from Tucker's co-authored BBC novel, Storm Harvest (I'm not giving away any surprises here - there's one on the front cover). Bev Tarrant (Louise Faulkner) from the writer's previous audio drama The Genocide Machine also returns. Faulkner works very well as a kind of ready-made extra companion, allowing Tucker to split the action between various refuelling stations, the artist's colony and an approaching space cruiser.

Also among the guest cast is the unrecognisable voice of Caroline John (who played the TV companion Liz Shaw) as the heavily accented art dealer Madame Salvadori. She is exquisite as this domineering "luvvie" of the art establishment. Meanwhile, the actress's real-life husband Geoffrey Beevers plays the sinister masked man, Seta. His menacing tones are every bit as spine-chilling as they were in the role of Melkur/the Master in The Keeper of Traken. However, the explanation for Seta's current condition stretches credulity somewhat.

The gimmick of setting up a powerful menace, in this case the Krill, and then introducing an even deadlier threat has been done before in science fiction, especially in the various Star Trek series. However, once the dust has settled, this drama emerges as an effective variation on the classic "isolated base under siege" formula of Doctor Who. It boasts some corking cliffhangers, too.

Richard McGinlay