Most helpful positive review
"...a novel that embraces chivalry & honour and the passion for warfare & conflict..."
on 18 July 2013
If you are a relatively new fan of the series, perhaps only introduced to the adventures & perils of the errant Time Lord back in 2005, imagine that tingling sense of excitement in the milliseconds after the BBC Continuity man said, "Now, BBC One hurtles through spaces and time. Come with us for a trip of a lifetime. Aliens, you have been warned! Christopher Eccleston is the new DOCTOR WHO" and transfer that frisson of energy back in time to August 30 1980 to a moment in the series' history when it, not for the first time, re-invented itself.
With a new theme music, new opening title sequence and a new maturity, DOCTOR WHO was regenerated, and with DOCTOR WHO - THE LEISURE HIVE fans were treated to a new style of storytelling - darker, science-factual biased, and Agatha Christie inspired mystery & intrigue - that set the tone for that 18th Season (yes, back in the ol'days, fans and the BBC designated them as `seasons' as opposed to `series') in the same fashion that Russell T Davies' ROSE had achieved.
"Warfare came easy like breathing to the Argolin"
Released as an unabridged audiobook by AUDIOGO, David Fisher's TARGET publication once again entices the reader into the inescapable web of deceit and warmongering that the planet of Argolis (originally known as Xxbrmm) finds itself trapped within; deceit from both external sources aiming to sabotage its economic stability and remove its inhabitants, and from within to challenge the ruling elite's naivety and weakness. A novelisation that cleverly and, at times, wittily in a prose style that seems to be an appreciation of Douglas Adams (THE HITCHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY author and former DOCTOR WHO Writer/Scripted Editor) expands on his original teleplay. An indignant, `jobs worth' Deckchair seller and a compliant Candy Floss seller replaces the broadcast lingering, sweeping camera-pan across the stone-strewn Brighton beach, whilst he introduces android stewards aboard the Argolin Space Shuttle and details the centuries of conflict sought by the Argolin as they ravage and plunder like galactic Vikings and their eventual clash (in effect, a disastrous six-minute meeting to discuss a disputed barren asteroid) with the Foamasi race (an reptilian-like alien with the ability to compress themselves into skin-suit as a disguise to infiltrate and undermine).
"Casually, he rolled up the `Brock skin' like an old pair of Overalls. Romana touched the skin. It still felt warm and soft as it was made from incredibly fine suede".
Overall, a novel that embraces chivalry & honour and the passion for warfare & conflict, mirrors humanity's own chaotic and challenging history, which would both end and re-start with the birth of the new Argolin.
To be honest, it's one of my personal favourite novels and broadcast stories. One of a handful that I can never tire of revisiting, finding or highlighting something that I had not seen before.
Equally, there is something comforting, reassuring and assiduous in Lalla Ward's audiobook reading. Effortless, yes, that's the word; not forced, not trying to be clever or singularly ebullient.
With clarity and dramatic presence, Ward delivers an authoritarian yet time weary Fourth Doctor alongside a vivacious Romana whilst her scheming Argolin `youth', Pangol is suitably petulant and distrusting in contrast to the aging, placatory CEO of ALE (Argolin Leisure Enterprises), Morix. Never forcing to delivery characterisation, Ward, along with David Troughton and Geoffrey Beevers, is becoming one of the more accomplished AUDIOGO readers who clearly understand and appreciate the subtle and sensitive `art' of audiobook reading, pitching their creative enthusiasm at a level that does not patronise the loyal DOCTOR WHO fan who has delved deep - especially in these times of world financial austerity - into their TARDIS moneybox to purchase the CD or Download.
One criticism that I do have is the post-production; periodically, it's scant. In previous AUDIOGO releases, MEON PRODUCTIONS has lavished an aural suite of incidental music and, more importantly, situation-specific sound effects that had become as much a part of the storytelling as the reading itself. Never whimsical nor argumentative, Simon Power's contribution have frequently elevated (read: saved from mediocrity) a reader's struggle to engage the listener but here, for THE LEISURE HIVE, there is a brevity that is out of character and it's noticeable. However, the sound realisation of the scaled-skin Foamasi is a triumph, less synthetically comic-book and `radio telegraphic' than the televised version; lyrical yet tonally ambivalent delivering a true alien that would not be out of place in the NEW SERIES.
Overall, whilst I am dually disappointed that the author was not given an opportunity (granted by AUDIOGO) to tweak and add further to his original 1982 novel and that the post-recording treatment (including a less-than electronic-mechanical voice for seawater-drenched K9) is as stripped to the bare bones as a Foamasi criminal at the swishing claws of an FBI (Foamasi Bureau of Investigation) `under-skin' Agent, DOCTOR WHO AND THE LEISURE HIVE is a most agreeable addition to the CLASSIC SERIES audiobook library, and with SEASON 18 being so rich, diverse in its storytelling content it would be a regrettable for AUDIOGO not to bring its novelisations to a whole a new, sponge-like listening audience.
Perhaps, a special edition audiobook box-set release of THE E-SPACE TRILOGY read by Matthew Waterhouse, Tom Baker and Lalla Ward?
Oh, that would be a treat.