The Cold Equations (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles) Audio CD – Audiobook, 30 Jun 2011
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Whilst this is in keeping with the era, The Cold Equations benefits from being written today as it factors in issues and areas that the programme was not able to challenge at the time. In many respects it is a better piece of writing/fiction/Doctor Who than the era it is from; a high accolade for one of the very best Companion Chronicles.
The Cold Equations follows on from the excellent The Perpetual Bond (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles) and I am sure the forthcoming The First Wave (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles) will be to a high standard too. Peter Purves is one of the finest narrators to participate in Doctor Who audios in general; naturally his Steven is good and perhaps even better than at the time, but he amply succeeds in the more difficult task of impersonating first Doctor William Hartnell. It may have been enough for Purves just to read the script as Steven Taylor, but he narrates the text with such enthusiasm (rarer than you might think) that the story's every detail is captivating, which allows the listener to build a better mental landscape of the story.
Peter Purves does a great job again as his character Steven, and as the First Doctor - he gets the querulous but caring tone just right for William Hartnell's characterisation. Oliver is a great companion, and I hope he is here for a few more stories yet before we catch up to the continuity of the classic series in The Massacre. While I admit to getting a bit lost in some of the explanations that Steven gives around the mathematics and laws of physics in this story, I think a second listen to the story will set that to rights; and my mathematic failings do not detract from either understanding the story, nor the full enjoyment of it.
Bring on more Steven and Oliver with the Doctor I say!
They do all the voices save one which is done by a guest actor.
The stories are complete in two parts on a single disc with episodes ranging from thirty to five minutes in length approx.
This one sees Peter Purves return again to the role of Steven Taylor, who he played alongside William Hartnell back in the 1960's. And it's the second in a trilogy of stories which sees the Doctor and Steven pick up another travelling companion. Oliver Harper. A city trader from early 1960's London who joined the TARDIS because the police were after him. Not that he told his new friends his secret.
All this was covered in The Perpetual Bond (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles), but there's enough exposition in this so that those who haven't heard that will be able to get into it easily.
The story sees the TARDIS arrive on a large satellite orbiting a planet somewhen far in Oliver's future. As the Doctor and friends investigate the place they get a few surprises and find some rather ruthless alien businessmen at work.
But the arrival of the TARDIS has placed everyone on the satellite in peril. For space travel is a tricky business. A little extra weight can spoil every calcuation of how much fuel and air you might need.
And when something else happens a desperate fight for survival ensues. Because there's one force in the universe that's even more powerful than the Daleks. Something else that absolutely cannot be reasoned with.
The laws of physics....
Peter Purves does an amazingly good impression of William Hartnell and it's always a pleasure to hear that. But there's a lot of other great stuff in this story as well. The sound design is incredibly good and really creates the feel of being in the various locations. Even more so when things start to go wrong.
The background music is subtle and really quite beautiful to listen to.
Plus Oliver really comes into his own as a character here. Coming from an age when people had read Dan Dare and HG Wells gives him a sense of wonder that is superbly portrayed. He also has some great scenes with Steven as the two get to know each other better. Plus his skills in negotiations are well used.
The nature of the threat makes for some incredibly tense scenes. Which also remember something that few others to write Steven ever did. That he's a space pilot. People like that need to be able to think in lots of different dimensions at the same time and be smart and cool and under pressure. All of which you finally get to see here.
There's lots of fascinating science, and a really emotionally powerful moment when Steven realises how the Doctor reacts to something that happens to him a lot.
Plus there's one huge surprise to come in regards to Oliver. You really won't expect it.
This is one of the best companion chronicles ever, and a superb and memorable listen.
The third part of the trilogy will be along soon. This story leaves one small loose end that leads right into it.
In the meantime, there's a trailer for the next in the range at the end of part two.
And a roughly thirteen minute long and very entertaining interview with cast and crew after that.
Not that it mentions it, but this has the same title as The Cold Equations and Other Stories a classic science fiction story on a rather similiar subject. Which is also worth a look.
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