Review by Jacob Licklider
The Interludes range is the newest addition to Big Finish Productions’ Doctor Who output, released exclusively to the website with specific releases (currently the first yearly release of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctor Adventures), and seem to be yet another chance to bring in new talent by giving them a trial hour long audiobook featuring the Fifth, Sixth, or Seventh Doctor. The inaugural release was I, Kamelion allowing Dominic G. Martin a story, and the second released with The Sixth Doctor Adventures: Water Worlds from Adam Christopher, a New Zealand writer who has also written for the Star Wars expanded media. The Dream Nexus is very much a novella style audiobook set in between The Tides of the Moon and Maelstrom, which was honestly a surprise. The expectation wasn’t that it would be a continuation of the box set, but for The Dream Nexus it really works to continue what made Water Worlds work in exploring the team dynamic of this TARDIS team. Christopher’s story perhaps suffers most from being limited to a single hour as this is a story which almost needs the full novel length to really do anything conclusive with its plot as it feels as if things finish just as the story gets going.The Dream Nexus sees the Doctor, Mel, and Hebe land on a planet in humanity’s far future, at the point where humanity has its empire and with that empire comes an episode drawing on serials like Colony in Space, Frontier in Space, and Lucifer Rising. The planet of Zoda-Kappa has forests made of fungus and there is a human research base where it seems the planet is attacking as millions find themselves stuck in a dream world. The fungi may have something to do with it and adds an almost slimy quality to the way things are described. Using fungi in place of trees for a forest is an inherently odd image that gives the listener this tone of weirdness which suits a story about dreams and some of the environmental disasters on planets. There’s an added life to the planet because of this odd little world-building aspect added in to use more creativity. Christopher’s story also makes good use of the Mel/Hebe dynamic, with Hebe being able to fill a more scientific role while Mel fills a more active “doing” role tied to her generally optimistic character. It helps create the dynamic of a TARDIS team that can easily become entrenched in the listener’s mind with a strong piece of characterisation. It’s what makes more than two person TARDIS teams work.
Overall, The Dream Nexus continues the experimental nature of the Interludes, although this one furthers the set it was released with, giving a new writer a chance to thrive in a different format. The story does have a small issue of leaving the listener wanting more and feeling like a paired down full-length novel which leaves the story feeling almost empty with its ending. The characterization and worldbuilding are top notch. 8/10
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