Click here to return to the main site.

Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Cold Equations


Author: Simon Guerrier
Read by: Peter Purves
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 510 5
Available 30 June 2011

In the remnant of a shattered satellite, orbiting far above a ruined planet, Steven Taylor and Oliver Harper are dying. As both their air and their time runs out, they face their pasts... and a secret long kept is revealed. The borrowed time is elapsing, and they realise they are facing an enemy that cannot be defeated: the hard facts of science, the cold equations...

In a sense, this, the middle part of Simon Guerrier’s Steven and Oliver Companion Chronicle trilogy is similar to the middle part of his earlier Sara Kingdom trilogy. Like The Drowned World before it, The Cold Equations traps the narrator in a confined space, pitted against a hostile environment, a seemingly certain death by asphyxiation only a matter of time away. In The Drowned World, it was a battle against a rising tide of water. Here, it is the merciless vacuum of space.

Whereas the writers on the television series tended to forget that Steven (Peter Purves) was supposed to be a trained astronaut, Guerrier makes good use of the pilot’s knowledge of orbital trajectories. The author also picks up on Steven’s regrets over recent deaths among the TARDIS crew, gives him something of a death wish, or at least an unwillingness to continue his current lifestyle, and explores his growing desire to make a difference and put right some of the many wrongs in the universe - thus setting things up for the companion’s eventual departure in The Savages).

Following a scene-setting opening half, the second episode plays out more like a two-handed drama than an audio book, featuring only the characters of the trapped Steven and Oliver (Tom Allen), plus the voice of the Doctor over an intercom, which comes courtesy of Purves’s William Hartnell impersonation. During this episode, we learn Oliver’s closely guarded secret, which proves to be surprisingly down to earth.

The CD concludes with 13 minutes of interviews with the cast, writer, and director Lisa Bowerman, who talk about the real science used in the play, and the social issues of Oliver’s era.

It’s not hard to work out that The Cold Equations is worth a listen.


Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£6.74 (
£7.99 (
£8.99 (
£7.19 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.