This Doctor Who audio adventure from Big Finish features the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), accompanied by Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Mel (Bonnie Langford). In essence it’s an “alternative history” story, a genre that I am a bit of an addict for, my favourite being Pavane by Keith Roberts.
The story weaves together three threads whose connections only slowly became apparent: Phobos, a Communist spaceship on its way to Mars with a solo woman cosmonaut who proclaims “Good morning, brother Mars, we come in peace from all the people of Earth but then picks up a mysterious signal from the red planet : Ace’s adventures in East Berlin in November 1961 where she has been dropped off by the Doctor for a short break, but immediately gets caught up in a John le Carré-esque espionage plot when she rescues an agent Tom Elliot who has been wounded trying to cross the newly built Berlin Wall; and finally, the Doctor and Mel’s arrival in London in 2017 to investigate a time ripple.
But they land in a very different London, a London which is part of the People’s Republic of Mokoshia. And Mel is behaving very oddly, recalling events that never happened in our time line, the take-over of Western Europe by Communism in the mid 1960s. If nothing else, this story is worth listening to hear just to hear Mel sing a snatch of The Internationale.
Back in East Berlin, Ace finds that strange things are happening, streets are vanishing, the city is disappearing, and a deadly fog is killing people. In London the Doctor is trying to work out what has caused the change in history, “Nothing here is right,” but finds himself in the hands of people who seem to know a lot about him. And on Mars the expedition is heading for a rendezvous….with something impossible. Can the Doctor reverse history or will Mokoshia “unite the human race.”
This is a serious-minded story, which I enjoyed, driven by the idea that single events matter, that they can send history down a different route. It’s also surprisingly violent with a number of characters not making it to the finale.
By the way, if you like me, you are womdering where “Mokoshia” comes from, Comrade McCormack tells me that she got it Mokosh, a Slavic goddess of women’s work and destinies. Mother Russia, in fact.
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