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Audio Book Review


Blake's 7
The Way Back


Author: Trevor Hoyle
Read by: Gareth Thomas
BBC Audio
RRP: £15.65
ISBN: 978 1 40840 987 9
Available 09 April 2009

Roj Blake believes himself to be an alpha grade worker, one among the millions who live beneath Earth's Domed cities. Ruled over by the Federation, Earth's population is kept subservient due to the suppressants which lace their water. Blake’s world alters the day he accepts an invitation to go outside the dome, hoping to learn some news of his family who are off planet. But what he finds is a group of political dissidents who seem to know him. A fateful meeting with the group’s leader opens Blake’s eyes to reality, a reality where he is in fact one of the leaders who had been captured and had his memories altered, before Blake can find out more the Federation attack the group, killing everyone except Blake...

Blake’s 7: The Way Back is an audio adaptation of Trevor Hoyle’s novelisation of the popular seventies science fiction show. It is unlikely that there are many who either do not have fond memories of the original show, or at the very least are aware of it.

This BBC audio book, presented over three discs, covers the first two stories in the show The Way Back and Space Fall. The first half details Blake’s re-arrest on charges of child molestation, conviction, and subsequent exile to a penal planet, however with his memories restored Blake incites a revolt on the ship, the London, transporting him, with the help of Avon, Jenna, Vila and Gan. The revolt fails at the same time as the ship detects an alien space craft. When attempts by the London crew to board the craft end in death the captain bargains with Blake - in return for their freedom the prisoners must access the ship for salvage. Blake, Avon and Jenna gain not only access to the ship but also control. Now they have a powerful ship at their command, a ship they rename the Liberator.

There have been many science fiction show made in the UK and arguably only Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 have achieved a longevity denied to many of the others. Blake’s 7 was very different. On one level it could be seen as a reworking of the Robin Hood story with Blake cast as Robin and his companions as the merry men.

To understand why Blake’s 7 was different you have to look behind the overall story. Blake may have had the moral outlook of a Robin Hood, but that could not be said of his crew. Although a lot of Blake’s companions were male, there was little that was merry about them. Vila Restal is a cowardly thief, Jenna Stannis is a space pilot who had been convicted for smuggling, Olag Gan is a convicted murderer, whose rages are only contained by a limiting chip in his brain and Kerr Avon is a charismatic, narcissistic and wholly self serving computer expert, convicted of theft.

The book is narrated by Gareth Thomas, a well respected and twice nominated BAFTA actor, who played the part of Blake in the original series. His soft resonant Welsh voice is perfect for drawing pictures in your mind and I found myself listening to the whole three hours without a break. Given that this is an audio book of the novelisation, it’s worth purchasing as the book and this CD is able to add nuance and background that is often overlooked when watching the television show.

Overall this is a very nice adaptation well read by Gareth Thomas.


Charles Packer

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