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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Prisoner’s Dilemma


Author: Simon Guerrier
Read by: Sophie Aldred
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 357 6
Available 30 January 2009

Two prisoners meet in a cell. Zara is searching for the segments of the Key to Time. She was only born yesterday, but already she’s killed hundreds of people. Ace is more ambitious: she was going to kill everyone on the planet. What have they got against the people of Erratoon? They go peaceably about their simple assignments, beneath their artificial sky. They share their meals and leisure time. They never ask questions. Are they even real? Ace and Zara will only survive if they can trust each other... or perhaps if they sell each other out... If not, their awful punishment is to become just like everyone else...

This is a rather unusual Companion Chronicle, in a number of ways.

Like the previous month’s The Darkening Eye, it features a Doctor other than the first four - in this case, the Seventh, during his New Adventures days. Bernice is referred to obliquely, but is elsewhere during this story.

Like The Darkening Eye, The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a prequel - in this case, to the current Key 2 Time mini-series. Though set before The Judgement of Isskar in terms of the quest for the Key, it was written (by the same author, Simon Guerrier) and recorded afterwards, almost as an afterthought, not that it shows in the narrative.

Unlike other Companion Chronicles, the “secondary” voice, in this case Laura Doddington as Zara, narrates as much of the story as the companion, Sophie Aldred’s Ace, does. The back stories of these two characters and how they came to be on Erratoon are revealed gradually, so the listener is kept guessing as to their true motivations - which is perfectly in keeping with the era of the sneaky Seventh Doctor.

Unlike other Companion Chronicles, this is almost as much of an audio drama as it is an audio book, as many of the scenes feature only the two prisoners, Ace and Zara.

You can listen to this CD without having heard any of the other Key 2 Time releases, though The Judgement of Isskar explains the origin of Zara and the nature of her creators more succinctly. I approached this release with some trepidation, not sure in which order I should listen to it, but you need have no such dilemma.


Richard McGinlay

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