Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
Fear of the Daleks

Author: Patrick Chapman
Read by: Wendy Padbury
Big Finish
RRP: 8.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 264 7
Available 19 February 2007

Why has Zoe Heriot been having nightmares about the Daleks? Who is the Doctor, a mysterious man from her past? Surely he left her behind when he and Jamie departed the Wheel space station - didn't he? The story Zoe tells to her counsellor would seem to suggest otherwise... When an evil scientist hijacks her mind to control a galaxy-conquering weapon, Zoe knows that she must stop him. But first, she, the Doctor and Jamie will face an enemy they had thought destroyed forever: the dreaded Daleks...

In common with Frostfire, this talking book involves a narrative framing device. Zoe's (Wendy Padbury) recollections of an adventure set shortly after The Wheel in Space are conveyed as though to a psychiatrist, whom she is visiting with a view to ridding herself of the mysterious and disturbing dreams she has been experiencing. This sort of device could become tedious if overused, but fortunately the other two CDs in this batch, The Blue Tooth and The Beautiful People, just get down to the business of telling their respective stories without such wrapping.

Also in common with Frostfire, this release ties in rather well with Big Finish's second Short Trips anthology, Companions. Both Frostfire and the short story "Apocrypha Bipedium" involve a post-Myth Makers Vicki. Similarly, both Fear of the Daleks and the short story "The Tip of the Mind" deal with a post-War Games Zoe Heriot (incorrectly spelt "Herriot" on the back of the CD), whose memories of her travels in the TARDIS are gradually resurfacing, despite the blocks the Time Lords imposed upon her mind. Her vivid recollections here could occur during her encounter with the Third Doctor in "The Tip of the Mind", while her cleansed mental state at the very end of this talking book could take place immediately afterwards.

Zoe never faced the Daleks in a television story, though she did observe the Doctor's memories of The Evil of the Daleks, in which the creatures were supposed to have met their "final end". (Hmmm... Evil of the Daleks, Fear of the Daleks - I wonder which other negative emotions writers could use for future Dalek stories. Terror of the Daleks? Hatred of the Daleks? Anger of the Daleks? Depression of the Daleks?) By that point in the show's history, Dalek creator Terry Nation was trying to secure a deal for the creatures to get their own series, so Doctor Who promoted the Cybermen to the post of primary recurring monster. Thus Fear of the Daleks fills an important gap in the tapestry of Who mythology.

Unfortunately, the creatures (guest voiced by Nicholas Briggs) otherwise seem like an unnecessary addition to Patrick Chapman's story. Like Day of the Daleks, Chapman's narrative is already a complex affair (involving Zoe remembering being an out-of-body avatar for the purposes of a villain's evil scheme) so the Daleks come across as slightly out of place and over-egg the pudding somewhat. I wonder if, as with Day of the Daleks, the creatures weren't even in the writer's original storyline.

I fear that Fear is the weakest of the four Companion Chronicles in this batch of releases - but it's still worth a spin.

Richard McGinlay

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