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Nevermore by Alan Barnes
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(If you haven't listened to the previous New Eighth Doctor Adventure, Situation Vacant, there are heavy spoilers for that story in this review. Like, in the first sentence.)

The Doctor's tour of the TARDIS for new companion Tamsin Drew is interrupted by the appearance of large black cat-- a cat who sets the co-ordinates for Nevermore, a planet devastated first by biological attacks and then by a sterilization from the Time Lords. Now the planet has only one inhabitant: Morella Wendigo, the woman responsible for the crime.

Nevermore is a curious mixture of things: on one hand it's an Edgar Allan Poe pastiche (well, apparently; though I’ve read some of his poems, my greatest familiarity with his work comes from Ray Bradbury's own pastiche of him in The Martian Chronicles), on another hand it's a story about a great genocidal crime and the people who committed it, and on yet another hand, it's our first real story for Tamsin, since she spent all of Situation Vacant operating under an assumed name. The problem is that none of these concepts are executed wholly well, and they don’t really mesh either.

Situation Vacant ended with the revelation that it was not the Doctor who'd set up the Apprentice-style companion showdown, but a mysterious other time traveler. There are some more revelations about said unknown in Nevermore, and those were perhaps the most intriguing and interesting parts of the story. But too often in arc-based storytelling, the intrigue of the arc can outweigh the intrigue of an individual story, and though I largely enjoyed Nevermore, the fact that is various agendas never entirely came together means that it definitely happened here. And, more importantly, hopefully Tamsin Drew gets some solid focus soon enough.

You can read a longer version of this review at Unreality SF.
  Stevil2001 | Sep 2, 2010 |
The new series of Eighth Doctor plays from Big Finish began with Situation Vacant, where Joanna Kanska stole the show, guest starring as a hotel duty manager; this time Fenella Woolgar (who was Agatha Christie in The Unicorn and the Wasp) steals the show, guest starring as an interstellar war criminal incarcerated in a jail designed with an Edgar Allan Poe theme. Alan Barnes is one of the best Big Finish writers, but this isn't one of his best scripts, with a slightly daft premise and lots of references to Poe's work including giant robot ravens chanting 'Nevermore'. I haven't read much Poe (though I do know the late Zelazny story which riffs off many of his works) so some of this may have gone over my head. However it's probably fairly accessible to the non-Who fan who knows their Poe. (The new companion, I'm afraid, hasn't really settled in for me as yet.) ( )
  nwhyte | Aug 19, 2010 |
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