Sunday, 8 July 2012

Doctor Who - Lurkers At Sunlight’s Edge (Audiobook Review)

Lurker’s at Sunlight’s Edge has an odd feel to it. It’s one of those few bits of media which you know was a massive missed opportunity but at the same time you can’t help but like parts of it.
Set after the last story, The Angel of Scutari, and lacking any mention of that tale besides a white TARDIS; the heroes arrive in Alaska. Having spotted an oddity in his historical records, the Doctor has chosen to visit an island in 1934 which has seemingly appeared out of nowhere and begins to encounter strange goings on. An alien fortress sits at its centre with an expedition determined to break within, ignoring the horrifying fates of those before them or what they might unleash upon the world. Dragging the Doctor with them, it quickly becomes clear all is not what it seems to be, and everything is linking back to one science fiction author: C.P. Doveday.
So yes, what we have here is effectively Doctor Who at the Mountains of Madness with even a stand-in for Lovecraft playing a central role. Unfortunately however, the audiobook moves away from that setting in favour of something very different; more concerned with a “what if” idea behind Doveday. While the plot itself is intelligent and has a few interesting concepts, it can throw a listeners through a loop if they were expecting a more traditional Lovecraftian tale. This isn’t helped by the fact that the author Mary Ross seems to have decided to juggle between this and his own self-aware plot surrounding Doveday and a more traditional Lovecraftian tale.
This unfortunately results in not enough focus being placed upon the latter and we only see brief glimpses of the audiobook’s most interesting aspects. There’s just not enough noted about the alien environments and get very little in the way of details about the aliens themselves besides the fact they’re horrific. The lack of description just makes them feel underwhelming and the cast’s bad American accents come off as being more disturbing by far than the barely appearing alien threat. Another problem stemming from it juggling between the two plots is that it has frequent pacing issues. The beginning seems to move forwards at a breakneck speed so that everything for the Lovecraftian tale can be set up and sorted out, but . While this evens out in the later episodes as the two plots move closer together, it can be hard to tolerate and look passed along with the other issues.
The Doveday plot is stronger by far for a number of reasons, the first being that is allows for some more character growth for Ace than is usually given. Her interactions with Doveday comes across as being far more tender than you would expect for a character best known for using explosives and beating daleks to death with baseball bats. Doveday himself, has a great deal of focus placed upon him and this thankfully pays off. In spite of his accent, he is also set up as a good tragic figure due to his nature and his breakdowns are far more chilling than any of the battles in the alien fortress. As for the Doctor, true to his seventh incarnation you get the feeling he knows a lot more than he’s letting on. There’s a good balance between humour and seriousness in his role which helps to keep his character interesting even when he’s pushed into the background.
Really, the idea was mishandled more than anything else. There is obvious potential behind the plot and some gems of quality found in this but the script definitely needed a few revisions. There’s definitely far worse to be found other Doctor Who audiobooks but this one really doesn’t do enough to stand out and doesn’t focus enough upon its biggest selling point. This one is worth taking a look if you’re interested in Doctor Who tales with alien incidents in the past, but don’t expect too much of it beyond good performances.
And some bad accents. Did I mention the accents?
Doctor Who and all related characters and media are owned by the British Broadcasting Corporation and are produced by Big Finish.

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