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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Guardian of the Solar System


Author: Simon Guerrier
Read by: Jean Marsh
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 483 2
Available 31 July 2010

Space Security Agent Sara Kingdom is dead, her ashes strewn on the planet Kembel - but, in an old house in Ely, Sara Kingdom lives on. Now joined in the house by her confidante Robert, Sara recalls her travels aboard the TARDIS with the Doctor and Steven - and a particular adventure in which the ship appears to land inside a giant clock, where old men are caught in its workings... Behind this nightmare is an old enemy, one who hasn’t met them yet: Mavic Chen, the Guardian of the Solar System. Then and now, Sara’s past is catching up with her. The cogs have come full circle...

Following on from Home Truths and The Drowned World, The Guardian of the Solar System completes a trilogy of Companion Chronicles featuring Jean Marsh as Sara Kingdom. The rest of the team from those previous productions are also present and correct, with Niall MacGregor returning as Robert, Lisa Bowerman directing Simon Guerrier’s script, and Richard Fox and Lauren Yason providing the music and sound design - including the enthralling sounds of the Great Clock.

The release of this audio book is fortuitously timed, following hot on the heels of BBC Audio’s talking book versions of John Peel’s Daleks’ Master Plan novelisations, Mission to the Unknown and The Mutation of Time, which are similarly co-narrated by Marsh. As its title suggests, The Guardian of the Solar System holds particular appeal for fans of The Daleks’ Master Plan, and requires some knowledge of that serial, as this story features the “return” of Mavic Chen. It takes place in the year 3999, several months before the Doctor, Steven and Sara had even met Chen. Sara’s brother Bret Vyon also appears.

Despite its setting and characters, The Guardian of the Solar System is very different from The Daleks’ Master Plan in terms of tone and subject matter. This is the most surreal Sara Kingdom adventure to date: the tale she recounts is even more metaphysical than the frame narrative. The mystical nature of the Great Clock is somewhat at odds with the hardware-driven world depicted in Master Plan, but it effectively encapsulates the writer’s theme of events coming full circle.

Guerrier drops in an intriguing reference to Mark Seven, the android anti-Dalek agent who featured in Terry Nation’s unmade television pilot The Destroyers, the 1966 Dalek Outer Space Book and the late ’70s Dalek annuals. This is probably a tie-in with Big Finish’s audio production of The Destroyers, featuring Marsh as Sara, which will finally see the light of day in The Lost Stories: The Second Doctor Box Set.

The writer gets one detail wrong when Sara refers to having witnessed a cricket match. This adventure is set between the episodes The Feast of Steven and Volcano, but the TARDIS’s landing at Lord’s took place in the latter episode.

In his sleeve notes, producer David Richardson refers to this release as “the end of the first Sara Kingdom trilogy”, confirming the implication of the story’s conclusion that more Sara chronicles are on their way. We haven’t heard the last of the Space Security Agent - and I, for one, am glad.


Richard McGinlay

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