Kaldor City: Occam's Razor
By Sarah McEvoy
In today's world of the blockbuster film, audio drama is often considered the poor relation. Yet for science fiction, which perhaps more than any other genre is crucially dependent on good special effects for its visual presentation, this underrated medium has massive advantages. It has all the power and immediacy of film, and yet it shares with the printed word the ability to draw its audience in more fully by engaging with the imagination in a way that the far more explicit medium of film cannot. A good piece of audio SF drama can capture and hold an audience in a way that would take a budget of millions to achieve using film. And this CD is a very, very good piece of audio drama.
The storyline is superbly written, well paced and gripping, with plenty of tension. It is enhanced at every turn by highly professional production and convincing sound effects, as well as two other things, which deserve to be mentioned separately, the music and the acting. Alistair Lock's music ranges from the adrenaline-boosting introduction to incredibly subtle background effects, all skilfully written to complement, never distract from, the ongoing dialogue. The acting too, is of the highest standard. Paul Darrow is in particularly fine form as the really scary Kaston Iago, and he clearly relishes his role, growling his way through the script with utter convincing aplomb; unlike Justina, I felt I definitely wouldn't let this man do a security check on my bedroom! However, all the characters are well cast, though possibly a special mention should got to Scott Fredericks for setting my teeth completely on edge as the spectacularly arrogant Carnell. I confess to having felt a certain Schadenfreude when Uvanov had him subjected to a strip-search
Alan Stevens has also done a number of audio tapes relating to Blake's 7, as detailed elsewhere on this site, the fans who have heard these tapes well all ready be well aware of the high standard of writing and production of which he is capable, and also his formidable talent for attracting equally gifted people to work with him. These fans will need no introduction to the CD except to say that it is typical of Alan's work, and if they have enjoyed the tapes they will certainly not be disappointed. However, if you are not a Blake's 7 fan or indeed a Doctor Who fan, don't let that put you off; although the story does draw on both series to some extent, it is nonetheless more than strong enough to stand alone without requiring knowledge of either.
So, buy one. Put it on the CD player. Sit back. Close your eyes. And let the journey of the imagination commence.
Sarah McEvoy is a science fiction writer who lives in Yorkshire with her musician husband.