Thursday, 21 April 2011

Review: Third Doctor Audiobook - Inferno

Todays review is brought to you by Chris Newman, who originally posted it on the forum 17/04/11. So without further ado, I shall hand you over to Chris....

I shall let the blurb on the back of the box speak to you in ways I could only ever dream of...

Inferno is the name of a top-secret drilling project to penetrate the Earth's crust and release a major new energy source. A crisis develops when a noxious green liquid leaks out as drilling progresses - the green poison has a grotesquely debilitating effect on human beings. As the Earth's plight worsens, the Doctor is trapped in a parallel world, unable to rescue the planet and its inhabitants from the destructive force of Inferno...Caroline John, who played Liz Shaw in the original "Doctor Who" TV serial, reads Terrance Dicks' complete and unabridged novelisation, first published by Target Books in 1984

Let us make no mistake here my friends, when you start with such a brilliant story, you are working from a very strong base and the novelisation delivers every thrill and twist of the TV series. The novel is a fairly accurate replication of the Don Houghton teleplay and Terrance Dicks is such an accomplished story-teller that he gets full value out of all of the delicate contrasts between our universe and that of the parallel one. Perhaps because he was script editor or maybe simply because he is a very good Doctor Who novelist, Dicks actually sets the scene for the drilling project rather better than is done in the TV show - we get some exposition about the intense government pressure which in turn helps explain the pressure on Sir Keith and Stahlmann. Where the novel does surprise is that Dicks goes beyond his usual utilitarian approach and seems to revel in the characterisations. One really gets the sense of the main protagonists and the dilemmas that this story produces for each of them. You have a definitive mad scientist, you have a grizzled Oil Rigger, you have an Ice-Maiden assistant. In both universes these characters remain relatively constant. It is the characters we are familiar with that Dicks has most fun twisting and changing. Whereas Liz Shaw's parallel 'comes good' at the end, the Brigade Leader remains resolutely cowardly right to the end. Dicks has the 'voice' of the Third Doctor almost pitch perfect and this resounds throughout this wonderful tale. As with every great Doctor Who story, the Doctor is the hero and he is the glue that holds this together, but it is a Doctor that is beautifully drawn and realised by Dicks.

The production is of the usual high standard with some very good supporting music and sound effects to underpin Carrie John's excellent narration. Sometimes I find John a little harsh but in this she is excellent and manages to drop in a hint of accent to give a wonderful flavour of each of the characters.

This is an ideal companion to those long commutes or nights where you can't get to sleep. It is a beautifully written, beautifully read novelisation of one of the finest Doctor Who stories of all time. I guarantee your world will be ever so slightly better if you buy this audiobook.

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