Benny is missing - kidnapped expertly, removed from time
and space completely. Jason, of course, uses every means at
his disposal to find her, but resources are limited at the
Braxiatel Collection, which has its own urgent problems. Then
he receives information on her possible whereabouts, from
a benevolent religious order known as the CroSSScape. Why
is Benny on Cerebus Iera, a planet on the cliff-edge of the
universe, a planet that is known to be violent, dangerous
and uninhabitable, a planet rumoured to have links to the
Tartarus Gate, the mythical gateway to Hell...?
listening to this audio drama, the opening story of Bernice's
seventh (and re-branded) season of adventures, I couldn't
help noticing that the silky tones of Neville Watchurst, as
the collective voice of the CroSSScape, sound not unlike those
of Gabriel Woolf, who played Sutekh in Doctor Who's
of Mars and the voice of the Beast in The
Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. Now, on a
planet at the edge of the known universe, the CroSSScape are
attempting to open a gateway into Hell - which, the Tenth
Doctor tells us in Army
of Ghosts, is another name for the void between
universes. Could there be a connection, I thought, with the
recent series of Doctor Who?
told myself to get a grip. This must simply be a coincidence.
Stewart Sheargold must have written The Tartarus Gate
long before The Impossible Planet and Army of Ghosts
aired, and he almost certainly didn't have access to the BBC's
scripts. Besides, hellish dimensions and edges of universes
are common enough themes in science fiction and fantasy. Then
our heroes discover a black hole in an impossible location.
Now that's a spooky coincidence!
is a sometimes confusing narrative, full of insubstantial
and semi-substantial beings, with equally uncertain motives.
However, its focus on Jason (Stephen Fewell) rather than Benny
(Lisa Bowerman) makes a refreshing change.
And if you thought that the plot arc surrounding Braxiatel's
manipulation of Jason's memories had been resolved in The
Crystal of Cantus, think again. It sounds as
if this storyline has quite some way to go yet. Maybe it will
even tie in with the events of the final instalment of Big
leaves things wide open.