LISTENER

S. Morris

  • 156
  • reviews
  • 343
  • helpful votes
  • 156
  • ratings

The Perfect Companion To The Television Series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-04-20

This collection of ten Sarah Jane Adventures stories were originally available separately here on Audible and I had been tempted to try one out, but I stumbled upon the fact that all ten short stories were going to become available as a collection, so this is what I purchased. I came very late to the Sarah Jane Adventures, having first saw her adventures as the Doctors assistant in the 70's when Elisabeth Sladen partnered with the brilliant Tom Baker in what must be perhaps the most fondly remembered duo in the Doctor Who universe, well, it was, and still is, for me! At the time the Sarah Jane Adventures was contemporary (2006 - 2010) it wasn't even on my radar. I was in my forties by then and I can't even recall hearing of this show. Then, by accident somewhere around that time frame, I saw David Tenant in the episode School Reunion and there she was! My Sarah Jane! I was, like many, astonished how little she had aged! There she was, the Sarah Jane I had so fondly remembered. That same Sarah Jane I saw in her final moment as the Doctor's companion wearing that ever so famous Andy Pandy romper suit as was captured in that classic final freeze frame in her swan song episode, The Hand of Fear, way back in 1976. Anyway, seeing her in School Reunion was a real nostalgia twinge for me, but it seemed that her come back was a one off at the time. She disappeared off into the sunset with K-9, I thought never to be seen again. Little did I know at the time, my Sarah Jane would make a real come back in her own series, a series that was popular and well received by critics.

Fast forward to last year and I picked up Sladen's autobiography and found myself once more captured by the role of Sarah Jane in her new adventures. I immediately purchased the entire series on DVD, watched it and this led me on to this further set of stories in audio form.

First off, as you might tell, I am perhaps rather older than the target audience for these stories. Yes, the Sarah Jane Adventures was squarely aimed at a younger audience. However, the quality of the stories meant that they could be enjoyed by those of all ages. These episodes were produced during a time in the BBC where their politics didn't come into it and were just entertaining stories with an interesting cast of characters and best of all, Sarah Jane was at the centre of it all!

So, after my lengthy preamble, what did I think of this collection? In short, excellent! Each writer has managed to capture perfectly the feel of the television show. Each character has all the traits we came to know and love on screen and I felt as if all these audio stories would have made perfect television episodes, had the series not been cut tragically short by Sladen's death in 2011.

Best of all, SLaden herself narrates all but two of these stories. Having said that, the other two are ably and most welcomely narrated by her co stars, Daniel Anthony AKA Clyde and Anjli Mohindra AKA Rani.

For those who want more of Sarah Jane Smith and may not be aware, Big Finish Productions have a catalogue of her post Doctor and pre Sarah Jane adventures stories in the form of approximately one hour radio plays that follow her on her dangerous investigative reporter adventures, played by Lis herself. It's a shame Audible do not offer this catalogue in some cross licencing arrangement, but you can obtain them cheaply fromBig Finish as digital downloads.

So, if you enjoyed the Sarah Jane Adventures on television, you'll love this collection of entertaining and imaginative stories all perfectly in character with the show.

Could This Be Time To Call It Quits?

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-04-20

I've loved the epic Star Force series and now the Undying Mercenaries books from the prolific B.V Larson. Glass World, the thirteenth in the series, was a book I jumped at as soon as I was aware it had been released. Note to Audible: Please email members when a new book in a series they have in their libraries becomes available, rather than the haphazard group releases notifications that often do not include such new releases.

Anyway, I was looking forward to the light and straightforward fare, that is the Undying Mercenaries series of books and Glass World did not disappoint in that regard. All the standard elements were present, so it ticked the boxes on that front. However, I am beginning to wonder if this series is reaching a dead end and perhaps ought to be concluded. I don't say this lightly, being a long time fan of the entertaining, yet dark and oddly funny series of books, but I think Larson is running short on ideas and I feel it's now starting to show.

Now, one can always argue that any series of books will always have a general theme running through it, a set of familiar elements etc. However, I feel this standard series of building blocks has pretty much run its course here by the time we get to Glass World. Larson basically is repackaging and reusing standard plot points here and it just now feels more obvious to me.

I held out some hope of a change of direction that could bring new life to this saga toward the end of this story, when our hapless hero, James McGill, was offered a career option that might have mixed things up a bit. However, Larson didn't go down that route, which I think this series of stories badly needs now.

The other thing Larson might do, is to try expanding his protagonist alien species count and give us a new threat with an intricate society and spread across distant worlds. The Skay, for me, fell flat in this regard and ere a kind of Borg from Star Trek rip off to a certain extent. The last really interesting aliens were the squids with their Blood Worlder slave culture.

Other odd points that become more glaringly obvious as the successive books come out, is the complete lack of air support for the legionnaires. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a story about the infantry, the grunt on the ground, butt even infantry need a layered method of assault that invariably entails close air support assets. So much death and destruction to our heroes could have been avoided in this story, had the soldier been able to transport into the landing zone via rapid deploy drop ships, rather than walking into obvious ambush choke points and dealing with smart mines! Further, what happened to the legion's Dragons? That walking armoured infantry vehicle heavily featured in Tech World, I think it was.

Unless some radical changes are brought about, I hate to say that I am starting to think this series has dead ended.

Glass World is still a worthwhile read, but it does not offer anything new.

3 people found this helpful

More Style Than Substance, But Still A Classic

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-04-20

I am trying to collect as many Tom Baker/Jon Pertwee era Terrance Dicks written audio books, so as soon as I saw that the Image of The Fendahl was due to be released, I pre ordered it. As a welcome bonus, Louise Jameson AKA Leela, was the narrator. I had enjoyed both her telling of the classic Horror of Fang Rock and The Robots of Death, so looked forward to this.

I ought to qualify that last statement; The Image of The Fendahl is not one of my favourite Tom Baker era stories despite it having a certain style to it that should propel it to the upper reaches of the best story tree. However, despite the story trying hard to achieve, I found it a rather confusing one. I had hoped the book version might shed some extra light on the back story of the Fendahl and the fifth planet, as Dicks has sometimes done in other stories, where he will add elements not seen in the television version, but he sticks to the screen play rigidly here unfortunately. Shame, as the introductions of the Time Warrior and The Brain of Morbius are both excellently augmented. Further, as good as Dicks was, I feel that had Ian Marter converted Fendahl to the written word, he would've greatly improved and fleshed out the story more, as he did wonderfully with The Sontaran Experiment and The Ark In Space, which I highly recommend by the way.

I still enjoyed the presentation of this story, even if the story itself is somewhat lacking in substance in some regards. If you love the Tom Baker era, as I do, then The Image of The Fendahl has to be part of your collection. This story is somewhat more style than content and as menacing entities from the far and somewhat mystical past goes, pales compared to the far better and much more coherent Pyramids of Mars, which must stand as one of the best Baker era stories ever (the audio adaptation of this is a must have, by the way).

Louise Jameson does a capable job of narrating this classic adventure. However, she has to lose a star, I'm afraid, as she clearly renders both Germanic scientist characters in a French accent at times.

In summery, this is a decent enough story. It's not the best, but it certainly towers above the sort of contemporary Who being produced today.

A Masterpiece of Writing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-04-20

The Mirror and The Light is the long awaited final part in Hilary Mantel's epic trilogy covering the life of Thomas Cromwell. At times, I had wondered if Mantel would ever provide us with the conclusion to this trilogy, it had been so long. However, having read this massive work, I can appreciate that such a book is truly the work of a lifetime.

As with other long books, I found the best way to digest this, was to try long sessions of listening than dipping in and out as one can with much shorter stories. The Mirror and The Light is a truly epic work. Mantel's prose style is often akin to poetic narrative, sometimes abstract, but always trying to capture the essence, the very feeling of Cromwell's story. Most writers can paint a mental image of a scene, but Mantel's poetry woven into narrative prose places the listener into the very senses of Cromwell, the tiny nuances of how he perceives his world, the way his mind absorbs the world around him, the ineffable quality of his memories. It's not a style everyone will like as it will often prolong the progress of the base narrative, but adds an infusion of more than simple descriptive prose to the story that allows the listener to "feel" the moments of reflection inside Cromwell's mind. yes, on occasion, some of the poetic metaphors can wander off into rather odd and abstract places, but on the whole Mantel manages to really share Cromwell's experiences way beyond simply words on a page alone.

I read through several reviews before writing my own and was rather surprised to see how many people disliked the narration, going so far as to say that it ruined their experience of this book. One reviewer stated that it was hard to tell one character from another. I have to firmly disagree. Of course, whether one likes or dislikes a narrator is, for the most part, a highly subjective thing. Some have said they did not like the common accent Cromwell was given. To that, I say that Thomas Cromwell came from common stock, he was "base born" and throughout his young life, his formative years, lacked the graces and airs of the gentry. I see no reason why Cromwell should speak like a born and bred noble man and why he should turn to it after his elevation. Plus, I feel that Cromwell is better delineated amongst the multitude of courtiers, which is a good thing.

Furthermore, Ben Miles is able to render various foreign accents convincingly well, very well, in fact. He is also able to recite lines in French, Italian and Latin with aplomb. If I were to come up with any critique of his narration, it would be that he seems to affect, either purposefully or not, a lip smack like a tut from time to time and across multiple characters. It's as if he's wetting his mouth or lips. Other than that very minor observation, I do not share the view that Miles is a bad narrator, not at all. The problem, I feel, is when books within a series are narrated by different people. This never works well, in my opinion and so I have to wonder had Ben Miles narrated all three, would there be such an uproar about him. Lack of consistency within a series depicting the same characters is jarring, not Miles's narration. I had no trouble at all discerning what characters were speaking. Cromwell, Norfolk, Gardener, Henry, Christoph, Anna of Cleaves etc etc. All were distinct and if one follows the narrative closely, as I hope anyone would if choosing to listen to such an epic work, then I believe there is no issue. Oh, one other minor thing I did notice, Miles's rendering of Kingston, keeper of the tower, then promoted to the council, was his accent became more refined once elevated, which I thought inconsistent.

Cromwell's downfall was shockingly quick. I hadn't quite expected this, but then again, I haven't studied his life in other non fictionalised accounts. Mantel skilfully writes the initial interrogations and one can immediately see how Tudor "justice" was no justice at all. When it became convenient to bend the truth to fit their aims, this is what happened and Mantell portrays this so well.

I would be very interested to see how the great Alison Weir would handle Cromwell's life. She has included him as a periphery character in several of her fictionalized 'Six Queens' series, all excellent, by the way.

To me, The Mirror and The Light is a worthy, if long awaited, conclusion to the Wolf Hall trilogy and I marvel at the immense amount of effort that has gone into this truly masterful piece of work. This has to stand as a masterpiece of character writing and historical narrative. Surely, this has to be the ultimate fictionalized work on Thomas Cromwell ever written. Not everyone will like it, you can't please all of the people all of the time, but it's an epic work regardless.

2 people found this helpful

Kicking The Rotten Kitty's

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-03-20

For the very first time in the entire Expeditionary Force series of books, the previous instalment, Armageddon, fell a little short in my opinion. Alanson relied too heavily on the jibing between Bishop and Skippy rather than on some solid plot. Don't get me wrong, Armageddon wasn't a 'bad' book at all and it did have a satisfactory second half, but it wasted much of the book on the aforementioned back and forth between Skippy and Bishop.

I am happy to say that book 9 in the series, Valkyrie, has mostly remedied that and has Alanson back on top form with a solid story. Alanson also leaves us on a hum dinger of a cliff hanger I was not prepared for or expecting, which follows the best practices of good writing, that being 'Always leave them wanting more'!

I'm generally not one to read other reviews for a book I've already read, but glancing over several of them, I noted how some people were upset about the ending. This baffles me as the classic cliffhanger is a bedrock of episodic story telling. Valkyrie's ending is a more intense cliffhanger than others in this series, but the others still end in such a way as to make the reader wonder what will happen next. It does appear that we live in an age now where some people want it all and must have it now otherwise they get"angry".

Valkyrie sees our merry band of pirates take a more proactive role rather than a reactive one, which is a welcome change of direction and in itself offers a different set of challenges.

In the best tradition of Alanson's Expeditionary Force series, the plot takes several turns, which once more have Bishop and company having to come up with brilliant problem solving solutions. I'm always impressed with the way Alanson is able to achieve this, coming up with innovative methods of dealing with obstacles. Alanson never makes it easy for himself either, which is the mark of a good author. He throws proverbial spanners into already impossible situations, keeping everything moving along at a nice clip in the process.

I was looking back over my library to see that his previous book in the series, the aforementioned Armageddon, was only released sometime around October last year, so I was quite shocked at how rapidly Alanson is able to write these stories. I know he is now a full time writer, but it does seem rather fast to me. My hope is that he doesn't burn himself out. I'd much rather he slow down and come up with quality over quantity every time. Still, he is clearly a very talented writer, so perhaps this rapid work flow is his natural cadence and one that suits him.

The incomparable R.C. Bray narrates once more and having him do so is the icing on the cake. By now, no other narrator would do. There are other series' of books out there on Audible that use different narrators throughout, which really disrupts continuity in my view. Bray is superb, as ever, although I did note an inconsistency when he rendered the voice of the Maxolhx aliens. In a prior story, one where we first get dialogue from these aliens, Bray delivers it rolling each of the 'R' sounds in a clever way of differentiating these new alien voices at the time. Sadly, this unique speech attribute is missing from the Maxolhx dialogue now.

Still, this is a very minor observation on my part and not a criticism. As an extra treat, be sure to listen right to the end as there is a montage series of out-takes relating to Bray's narration. A nice humerus touch that I cannot recall ever hearing in an audio book before.

Valkyrie ticks pretty much all the boxes I have come to look for in an Expeditionary Force story. I think I'd like to see another Mavericks book next. Unlike some other readers, I can wait for the conclusion to the cliffhanger we were left with, that's kind of what gives them the power they have over the reader .... the waiting and therefore the hunger it generates to continue with the story.



3 people found this helpful

The Queen That Never Was

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-02-20

There are many books out there penned by accomplished historians that are well researched and written. however, when a historian as knowledgable and skilled as a writer as Alison Weir weaves the historical facts into a fictionalized narrative, we see and can appreciate much more about the people at the heart of the story. What Weir does here by blending solid historical fact with highly plausible fictional missing pieces is to go beyond the often detailed, but rather dry facts of history and adds flavour to them.

I have read many of Weir's thoroughly researched and comprehensive non fiction works, but I've found that it's her fictionalised treatments that really give the reader a fuller and broader understanding of the human elements to the historical accounts. I was unsure, at first, whether fictionalized incarnations of historical accounts would dilute and perhaps trivialize the essence of historical truths, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that these types of works only furthered my understanding and appreciation of those accounts.

With Alison Weir at the helm, you know that these interpretations of the missing elements that fill in the complex jigsaw of history, will be done superbly well and that all fictional elements are carefully thought out and consistent with the known facts.

So, with that long winded preamble, what did I think of this book? Well, initially I wasn't too enthralled as the story begins right at the time of the birth of Lady Jane herself, so I imagine there is a hefty amount of fictional gap filling going on. Not that this was an issue, rather I found the pace to be rather on the slower side and perhaps less interesting in regards the overall arc of her character. However, I do understand why Weir took this approach. As readers, she takes us on Jane's life journey to better allow us to get to know and understand her. I suppose the modern term might be 'World building'.

Of note was the fact that this book is written in the first person perspective with the narrative switching between characters as we listen to their thoughts and experiences through their eyes, almost in verbose diary like style at times.

There is a helpful author's note at the end of the book that gives us insights into what was fact and what had to be fiction due to lack of historical accounts. However, as someone very unfamiliar with the Lady Jane Grey story, I am left wondering, for example, just how cruel and manipulative her parents actually were. I can well believe how her parents were depicted here as cold and unloving, particularly her mother. Girls, and boys to a lesser degree, were seen as means to an end in the social climbing marriage market. Many children were used as pawns by their parents during this period in history, so I can well believe their behaviour towards their daughter.

I found it interesting to see how the character of what history became to refer to as "Bloody Mary" wasn't initially portrayed as the vengeful religious zealot intent of executing all those that didn't conform to the "true" religion. instead, Weir shows us that she was more merciful, at least at first, until her own uncertain power base and desire for her foreign prince led her down a more bloody path.

Narration was provided by Patience Tomlinson, who did a superb job. Her ability to seamlessly and instantly switch voices between characters - both male and female along with her ability to do a range of accents really impressed me. Furthermore, I noted how she was able to subtly alter Jane's voice from that of a small child and transition it as she aged was clever and skilful.

Weir's fictionalized treatments also run to the superb Six Queens series, which I urge those interested in this rich and tumultuous period of English history to read. At the time of writing, I am eagerly awaiting Catherine Howard's story.

It would be fair to say that I have learned and retained far more history through these fictionalized works than the often dry factual books, as well written and researched as those are. With Weir's massive historical knowledge, these fictionalized books will really give readers a much deeper understanding of the events depicted by really expanding upon the human elements in these accounts.

Innocent Traitor is a somewhat slow burner initially, but really rewards the reader by the end. Another truly masterful piece of writing by Alison Weir.

Almost Perfect

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-12-19

Some of the best and most enjoyable books I've listened to on Audible have been those I stumbled across. The Crash Dive series was one such instance of this. One of the emails from Audible featured this title and, as I'm a keen submarine buff, this series looked to fit the bill perfectly. I had never read anything by Craig DiLouie nor had I heard of him, but he is now a firm favourite after reading this superb collection of short stories.

The Crash Dive series takes place during the second World war and follows the career of one Charlie Harrison as he progresses up the ranks in the U.S navy submarine service. There have been many books and films depicting real and fictional stories of daring do in the second World war, but very few of them focus on the silent service''s contribution to the war effort. Most writers focus on land campaigns and so do does Hollywood. This is perhaps understandable, yet both the mortality rate and impact on the Pacific war the submarine service had were amongst the highest of any service, so it's surprising to me that there isn't much more fictional material out there dealing with this branch of the military.

Anyway, I will go into more detail later, but for those wanting the short version of this review; Crash Dive is a superb series. Craig DiLouie has penned a truly masterful depiction of the U.S Silent Service and life aboard a World war II submarine. DiLouie has to be one of the best character writers I've come across. Each of the characters in his stories are so well defined, credible and developed. You could really believe they are real people. Each one has their own unique traits, strengths and weaknesses - it really is like reading about very real people. To date, I've only come across such character writing from Stephen king.

To add to this writing strength, DiLouie is able to grip the reader with pulse quickening action. I recall how brilliantly he would suck me into his vivid prose during battle stations action scenes. I felt like I was there in the thick of it when targets were being tracked and approaches made. In addition, counter attacks by the enemy really came across as completely authentic, with the ability to get my adrenaline going! I've come across so little in this specific genre, it's a wonderful find for me to discover Craig DiLouie's work. To me, it's the American equivalent of the seminal 'Das Boot' and in it's own right worthy of a properly adapted movie or TV mini series, especially considering the material coming out of Hollywood these days.

I cannot stress enough just how well written these stories are. Everything about them is credible and characteristic of the Pacific campaign against the Japanese Empire. Craig DiLouie's Crash Dive series is a real oasis in a desert of submarine based fiction. The only other author I can recommend, albeit set in the modern era, is Michael Dimmer curio. Alas, when last I checked, Audible only had a single Dimmer curio title. I've read a Douglas Reeman book which was disappointing and despite Tom Clancy's reputation, apart from the Hunt For Red October, there really isn't anything submarine focused enough to get your teeth into.

One thing DiLouie has done that reflects his superb character writing abilities, is to provide us with a post script at the conclusion of the series, in which he details the remainder of the main characters lives. This is done so well, so believably and with the backdrop of six books behind it, that I found myself with a lump in my throat as I listened to the fates of the key players.

So, why only almost perfect?

For most listeners, the technical details are not that relevant, but to those like me who are submarine enthusiasts, the multitude of incorrect information grates just a little. Especially so as DiLouie has quite clearly worked hard to make these stories accurate from a technical standpoint. yet, he got the hard stuff right and some of the simple stuff wrong! In addition, inconsistencies or continuity errors were present too.

For example, Charlie suffers 3 broken ribs by the end of book 1. By the start of book 2, he is recovering from 2 broken ribs! His new submarine mentioned at the end of book 1 is stated as a Tambour class submarine, but then becomes a Gato class in book 2. The Sabre Tooth and Sand Tiger, both Gato class boats, were stated to have 4 screws - the Gato class has only 2 in fact. Strangely, DiLouie corrects this when stating much later in the series that the Sand Tiger has 2 propellers.

I puzzled over how a hard left rudder could result in a clockwise turn or why an officer would light a cigarette when oxygen is very low on the submerged submarine. Another thing DiLouie seems to think is that the flooding of torpedo tubes is accomplished by simply opening the outer doors to the tubes!

I also noticed that units of measurement appear to be confused as 14.5 Knots was stated as being about 13 mph, when it's more like the other way around. On more than one occasion, DiLouie refers to a ship as being around 6 football fields long. This would be about right if a football field was 100 feet long and not 100 yards long! The Mark 14 torpedo did indeed leave a wake pointing the enemy to where the firing submarine was. However, submarine commanders would routinely turn hard off the track of the torpedo once launched to avoid this, but not done so in this series.

In September, 1944, another submarine, the USS harder, is featured with its relief crew. however, this boat was lost with all hands the month before in actual fact, something very easy to find out on Wikipedia.

OK, I could go on as there were other things, but anyone still reading this far will have got the point.

Despite all that, I very much enjoyd this series as it's otherwise so darn good! :) If you happen to be a sub buff, like me, don't let my picky observations put you off this excellent series.

Finally, to complete the quality of this series, the superb R.CBray narrates throughout. He really is one of the best narrators featured on Audible and must, by now, be very much in demand. Bray captures the changing voice of Charlie Harrison toward the end of the series where he is irrevocably changed by his experiences,so a really nice touch.

Crash Dive is an overall superb series and one I shall enjoy listening to again .... and again .... :)

3 people found this helpful

A Classic Adventure, Well Told

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-12-19

Earth Shock was my third foray into Doctor Who novelizations written by Ian Marter. Marter is an impressive writer, with a style of prose that reminds me of some of the classic great writers in how he is able to impart scenes so skilfully. If you listen to the sample of this book, you will understand what I mean. Of course, there are plenty of authors who could do as well in this respect, but I don't think many would be able to do it quite in as compact and efficient way. I've read many authors who can paint worlds and scenes for the reader, but take rather more words to accomplish it. Marter's style is perfect for these books as it's so articulate and yet direct and accessible without waffle or pretension.

It's difficult for me to comment on where Marter adds to the television story. I know he must do, as this is often the way with novelizations and can mark an authors talent in how they do it. It's been many years since I saw Earth Shock on TV, so my memory of it is very spotty and faint. By the Peter Davidson era of Doctor Who, I had lost much of my love for the series. For me, the character of the Doctor, in the forms of Pertwee and Baker, were the definitive ones. I understand, though, that this is highly subjective and there will be many out there, probably a little younger than me, who felt Davidson was "their" Doctor. Of the Doctors after Tom Baker, Davidson was my least disliked. However, Earth Shock is a good story with a rather clever take on the destruction of the dinosaurs and is interesting and entertaining.

I have to say that I preferred The Ark in Space and The Sontaran Experiment, as I find Doctor Who arch enemies like the Cybermen to be rather too silly. They are clearly an invention of a much simpler time in the early days of a much simpler Doctor Who and target audience sensibilities. To me, they are a clumsy contradiction given they are supposed to be logical robots, devoid of emotion and yet exhibit many emotional traits, such as anger, frustration, revenge and even a modicum of fear on rare occasions. Had they been partly organic and perhaps prone to the less rational attributes of such creatures, then the Cyberman would be more believable. I mean, they are able to comfortably survive in a vacuum and yet seem to breathe? At least the Daleks do have an organic component, so they can get away with more in my view. Still, even those are of their time and unconvincing as viable enemies.

However, I digress. Earth Shock is a classic and there isn't too much more I can say other than Peter Davidson acquits himself well as narrator and the audio production quality is excellent, with atmospheric effects throughout.

A nice adaptation, as ever, by Ian Marter.

I've Run Out of Superlatives

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-12-19

The Sontaran Experiment was my second novelization adapted by Ian Marter and what an adaptation it was! I was so impressed with Marter's treatment of The Ark In Space that I sought out other titles he has novelized and even purchased three extra credits to do it! My money was well spent as Ian Marter has delivered another fantastic reworking of this short Tom Baker era story.

As I recall, the original version of The Sontaran Experiment was a mere two part story. Usually, for classic Doctor Who, stories occupied four and even six episodes, so, how did Marter expand his version to over three hours? By doing what Ian Marter does so well and using his wonderful imagination and superb writing abilities to hugely expand this story into something much bigger, better and visceral then the original.

I was actually quite shocked at the scenes where Marter depicts so vividly the horrors of Sarah Jane's mental torture. Marter really came up with truly disturbing and nightmarish trials for Sarah to endure, something that would have never made it to a screen version. I can't stress enough how incredible Marter's imagination is and how well he realizes this through his vivid and articulate prose style. His opening description of the Earth as it was in the far future, really sets the scene and it does so skilfully. As with the Ark In Space, Marter has a wonderful ability to really pull the reader into the worlds or scenes he is writing about.

As alluded to before, this novelized version is greatly expanded, but done in such a way as to remain true to the original. If the BBC had the budget and effects capabilities back then and were able to fully realize Martter's adaptation, then it would have been a truly epic story. His Sontaran is much bigger and physically nastier than that able to be depicted on television. Given the short story Marter had to work with, it's a real testament to this writers skill, imagination and love for the show that he was able to adapt this so brilliantly.

This really is Doctor Who at its best and a hugely entertaining and immersive experience. The sound effects only add to the superb writing and are never intrusive or out of place.

Yet again, Jon Culshaw delivers an utterly superb reading of this, using his amazing voice talents to perfectly reproduce the Sontarans voice as was heard on the television episode. Also, Culshaw's Tom Baker is incredible and adds the final polish and authenticity to this brilliantly written novelization.

I can't say much more, other than to wonder why you have not already downloaded this gem.

Wow!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-12-19

Well .... wow!

What a revelation! What a tour de Force the late Ian Marter was as a writer. Not only did he act and play the part of the fourth Doctor's male companion, Harry Sullivan, but after listening to his novelization of the classic Who story, The Ark In Space, it turns out he is a superb writer too.

The Ark In Space is an early Tom Baker era story and one I remember with fondness, so I immediately short listed this as my next purchase from Audible. After listening to the sample, my mind had been made up and I hit the purchase option right away.

There are many successful writers, some more than others, some more deserving of their success than others. Marter is one of those much lesser know, less appreciated writers. Someone who has a natural ability to put into words the story he has chosen to novelize. Marters style of writing is wonderfully straightforward, vivid and wonderfully immersive, placing the reader right there in the midst of the action. He is able to articulate through his superb and flowing prose style the most difficult scenes with fantastic detail and pace. I just wish my own ability to convey how impressed I was with his work could do it justice.

Marter also excels at adding further detail to the television version, which is done so well and so seamlessly that, for me, it's the definitive version. To be more precise, this audio version is. The production quality of this adaptation is excellent with very atmospheric sound effects that really do add greatly to the experience. In particular, the sounds of the horrific alien parasites, the Wirrn, are done superbly.

I so enjoyed the way Marter adapted this story. He, like Terrance Dicks, really captured the imagination of the reader with their wonderfully articulate style. I was amazed and repulsed at how well Marter was able to describe the horrifying metamorphosis of Noah, I think few other writers could have done as well.

If you talk writers and mention Douglas Adams, most people will have heard of him. Mention Ian Marter and you will likely draw a blank expression from most people. Ironically, in my humble opinion, Marter is a more talented writer than Adams. I was considering another Doctor Who novelization, The Pirate Planet by Douglas Adams, but after listening to the rather lack lustre sample, decided to skip it. I found Adams' style somewhat overly wordy and rather waffely.

It's a real shame Ian Marter died so young back in 1986, his talents as a writer could have reached greater heights - such a shame. I also like that Marter had the love for the show to do this. So many actors seem to shy away from the very thing that made them a house hold name and yet Marter embraced Doctor Who which shows in his superb treatment of this classic story. Marter shows a fantastic imagination when penning the additional elem,ents to this story not included in the television version. For example, he describes so vividly how Sarah felt during her trip via the transmat couch, something we are never privy to in the TV show.

Ian Marter has thoroughly impressed me and I am already seeking out other stories adapted by him. I just listened to the sample of Earth Shock and I was hooked! Now, that's good writing!!

To top off this excellent story, the amazing Jon Culshaw narrates and his Tom Baker impression is flawless. Had you not told me it was Culshaw, I would've sworn it was Baker himself. Culshaw's narration and Marter's writing is a perfect combination, it really is.

If you liked the TV version of Ark In Space, you'll absolutely love this version.

As I reflect on Who's best years and best people, I am saddened to ponder over the loss of so many greats: Elisabeth Sladen, Jon Pertwee, Barry letts, Terrance Dicks and Ian Marter amongst others. At least their wonderful legacy will live on.
!