Storm Mine Review
by Shaun McIlvray
For me, the real pleasure of Kaldor City has always been the way that, every time I listen to a CD, or listen to the whole series over again, I always seem to notice something new about it. "Kaldor City: Storm Mine" is a CD which will have you noticing new things about the series, and will definitely require more than a single listen to even begin to comprehend what's going on-- but it's a CD that will have you wanting to listen to it again, and enjoying it more every time you do.
"Storm Mine" seems, at first, to be a return to the series' origins. Like "The Robots of Death", Daniel O'Mahony's story features a stranger (or possibly two strangers) turning up on a Storm Mine crewed by a Chief Mover (John Leeson) who is more than he seems, a Chief Fixer with a peculiar relationship with robots (Patricia Merrick), and a grim Celtic commander (Philip Madoc). However, in much the same way that Philip Madoc and John Leeson's voices are of roughly the same type as Russell Hunter and David Collings, bringing back memories of the Doctor Who serial, but different enough to give a sensation of unreality to the proceedings, so "Storm Mine"'s parallels with "The Robots of Death" only serve to heighten the surreality of the story. Gregory de Polnay, who played D84 in the original story, is also a welcome presence with his delightful intonations (seemingly unchanged in twenty-five years), but again, the character he plays turns out to be far less straightforward than he initially seems to be.
I can't really give a detailed plot summary without either spoiling things or putting too much of my own interpretation on the events, but it is safe to say that this story involves Blayes, last seen apparently being shot by Kaston Iago, turning up on a Storm Mine in the middle of the desert eighteen months after the events of "Checkmate." Kaldor City itself is under quarantine, and, as Blayes tries to figure out how she got there and what happened to the city, the listener begins to question the nature of the story: is Blayes dead? Is she brain damaged? Experiencing the onset of a new form of reality? O'Mahony's script plays with ideas about religion, madness and identity, with influences from sources as distinct as Joseph Conrad, Grant Morrison and geophysics.
Like the best of modern British TV writing, O'Mahony's script is not simple, nor inclined to give the listener everything on a plate. This is a story which makes the listener work, but in the end, it's well worth it.