Review by Jacob Licklider
Over the past two years, Big Finish Productions have been rereleasing their out of print Bernice Summerfield books as audiobook readings for the low price of $10 a book with the first five full length novels already being released (interestingly they haven’t done any of the anthologies or novella collections yet). A surprise December 2020 announcement gave listeners the opportunity to add three new Benny books to their audiobook collections: The Big Hunt, The Tree of Life, and The Two Jasons, all set for release in 2021 and 2022. The Big Hunt by Lance Parkin leads these audiobooks, released this month and available for download right now. Now, it is important to note that this is not a new release, nothing has been changed from the text of the 2005 book release, just put into an audiobook reading with Benny herself, Lisa Bowerman. Perhaps listeners were spoiled by Terror of the Master in Masterful, but going from that right into The Big Hunt, the lack of music and sound effects in the audiobook may detract. Potential listeners shouldn’t go in expecting them in any way as this is a release. The Big Finish website shows this as being recorded completely remotely in November and December which is confirmed by the included Q&A. Bowerman, as always, is an excellent narrator using her impressive range to bring to life several characters, only one of which actually appeared previously (that being Benny).
Review by Jacob Licklider
Terror of the Master is a bonus audiobook included in the limited edition of Masterful written by Trevor Baxendale and narrated by Jon Culshaw. Unlike other releases from Big Finish Productions, this is not an audio drama, but an audiobook with the occasional sound effects and as such it can only rely on the actual prose of the storytelling and the narration. Culshaw is an excellent narrator, using his impressive vocal range and variety of impressions to bring to life the Jon Pertwee era. While Masterful was a celebration of the Master, the incarnation played by Roger Delgado was not included due to Delgado’s tragic passing in 1973, so for the limited edition only Trevor Baxendale was commissioned to write a three and a half hour story featuring the Third Doctor, UNIT, and the Master; set right after The Green Death. Like many of the Pertwee serials, ‘Terror of the Master’ has a political bent, once again tackling pollution and the increasing global temperatures with a kindly scientist promising to fix Earth’s problems with a revolutionary new process that only he can know the exact details of and behind him is the Master. The Master has plans to take over the world using an alien creature in a story that most closely resembles that of The Claws of Axos with Dr. Drake in place of Axos and the Axons, without the Tory MP. On that front Terror of the Master is a fairly standard affair from Baxendale, with a prose style (and runtime) that intentionally feels like that of a Target Novel of a standard serial that would have been released during that time period.
Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
I have a confession, don’t tell anyone… but I’ve never watched Blakes 7. I’ve watched the first episode and said, I must get back to this and then didn’t. So worse than not watching it, the episode I watched didn’t feature Paul Darrow, a real offence. I have been lucky enough to interview Paul at a con and found him to be a complete gentleman, charming and intriguing. So when I was sent his autobiography to review on audio book from Big Finish, I was definitely in.
Written by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
It’s one we never thought we’d see, which is what Big Finish does best. This gap that they are filling in from the Doctors past? The 6th Doctors last adventure.
It seems like a problem that even though Colin Baker did not come back for his regeneration due to a disagreement with the BBC, one was written into Sylvester McCoy’s first adventure (queue Sylve in a dodgy wig!) But a little thing like that doesn’t stop Big Finish… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In a very familiar format to the 6th Doctors last on-screen adventure in Trial of a Timelord this story is divided into 4 parts. 3 stories from the Doctors past leading to the one set in the ‘now’. Again like the ‘Trial’ story the Timelord’s are meddling whilst claiming not to be and the Valeyard is trying to kill the Doctor.