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Audio Review - Liberator Chronicles Volume 11

The Liberator Chronicles – Volume 11

Review by M1795537 OC Virn

11.1 Brother by Nigel Fairs
11.2 Poison by Iain McLaughlin
11.3 Return to Destiny by Andrew Smith

Sound Design by Martin Montague
Music by Jamie Robertson
Directed by Lisa Bowerman and Louise Jameson
Produced by David Richardson and Cavan Scott for Big Finish Productions


Big Finish's audio range not only gives writers an opportunity to develop characters that were under-used in the TV series, but to create new recurring characters. Here we see Vila as the hero not once, but twice. Cally, too makes a welcome return to a more daring role. There's also the chance to explore back stories, as in Brother, where we discover more about Avon's family in a tale featuring Gustav Nyrron, the Auron who made his first appearance in Liberator Chronicles Volume 1.

Dialogue isn't everything: there's a lot going on in the background, with sounds that set the scene, and in places move the plot forward without any verbal narrative. The sound quality, particularly the echoes, give the listener a sense of scale in the different settings and spaces. Fascinating, too, how the music creates or subtly changes the atmosphere of each scene. Between them, music and fx flesh out the stories. It takes skill to do this well, but it's what we've come to expect from Big Finish.

11.1 Brother by Nigel Fairs
Performed by Paul Darrow, Anthony Howell and Anthony Byrne

You'd probably benefit from hearing this more than once. There are interwoven stories, one from someone whose memories are confused in the first place, the other often in flashbacks. It all comes together in the end, as you probably anticipated. Unfortunately it isn't exactly a happy ending.

Themes include bigotry, ethnic cleansing, and the effects of parental nurturing, both positive and negative. Well, mostly negative, to be honest. There are a couple of jarring references in the story that made me wonder about the timescales involved, but I'm sure you can work it out.

Paul's acting lends veracity to the character of Avon and it would be hard to imagine anyone else having the same impact. We learn something of Avon's background, including his eponymous brother. There are a few nice Avonisms:

Gustav says, "I thought I was in love," to which Avon replies, "It happens to the best of us."
Avon later claims, "I'm never wrong... well, hardly ever."

You'll have fun fitting it all together. I think that's what the writer intended all along.

1.2 Poison by Iain McLaughlin
Performed by Michael Keating and Samantha Béart

All aboard for an adventure on a Federation freighter. For once, Vila takes the starring role, Blake having sent him undercover to find out what the Federation are up to. Vila explains that "some friends talked me into it", which tells you all you need to know about his motivation.

He meets Jance, whose father is one of many kidnapped civilians about to be enslaved on Tindus 3. In her bid to free him, she is posing as one of the ship's crew. Together, Jance and Vila discover the horror of what's in the freighter's other hold.

Tension builds nicely to a last-minute rescue, with Vila selflessly lending Jance his teleport bracelet. But how will our hero escape? Will he finally get his girl?

It's a treat to hear this expertly performed by Michael Keating in his Vila persona, ably supported by Samantha Beart as Jance. And perhaps because it features Vila, the tone in Poison is less aggressive and less explicit than some other Big Finish audios, despite the deaths of several hundred innocent victims. Collateral damage shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of a good story.


11.3 Return to Destiny by Andrew Smith
Performed by Jan Chappell, Michael Keating, Louise Jameson and John Leeson

Just when Blake and his friends think they can take a break, a distress call leads them into more trouble than they need. Avon wants to cut and run, while Blake feels duty-bound to warn and protect.

As a follow-up to the first series episode 'Mission to Destiny' this story continues what we suspected even then: that the Federation are somehow behind everything bad that happens. It's a neatly-written plot that brings back a couple of old friends as it moves the history of planet Destiny into a new phase. Beware the Feds bearing gifts, one might say.

We have accounts from both sides of the action, with stand-out parts for Cally, acted by the wonderful Jan Chappell, and playing Vila there's - who else could it be? - Michael Keating.

With the Federation's battle fleet closing in and an unsuspecting population about to be betrayed through personal grudges, power-grabbing and greed, it's time for some of the quieter members of Blake's Seven to step up.

Overall, these three tales give us the chance to understand a little more about people and places we recognise but didn't really know. In Avon's case, more understanding does not necessarily mean greater sympathy. With all three characters, we are left to wonder what might have been.

Liberator Chronicles Volume 11 is available from Big Finish on CD (while stocks last) and digital download.
Full details of their current range of B7 audio dramas, audio books and original novels can be found here: Big Finish B7 Hub

Cover artwork by Grant Kempster
Photographs of producer Cavan Scott with Samantha Béart and Michael Keating, and John Leeson & Louise Jameson, courtesy of Big Finish.


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