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Audio Review: Liberator Chronicles Volume 9

The Liberator Chronicles – Volume 9

9.1 Defector 
9.2 Planetfall 
9.3 Secrets

Written by Mark Wright and Cavan Scott
Sound Design by Martin Montague
Music by Jamie Robertson

Directed by Ken Bentley and Lisa Bowerman
Produced by Cavan Scott for Big Finish Productions

Review by Jackie Emery

Although Del Grant appeared in only one episode of the original series, the popularity of the character and the success of his return in Big Finish's The Armageddon Storm (not to mention campaigning by various fans!) prompted producer David Richardson to bring Grant on board the Liberator as a full time member of the crew. Set shortly after The Armageddon Storm, Liberator Chronicles Volume 9 is the prologue to a whole new all-cast series-within-Season C featuring Del Grant.

9.1 Defector
Performed by Steven Pacey and Tom Chadbon

Kicking off with a heartstopping pre-title sequence, this Tale of Two Dels takes place a couple of weeks after Grant has joined the crew. Sent by Avon to infiltrate a Federation conference and assassinate a former rebel turned defector, what could possibly go wrong for Grant and Tarrant...?

It's a tense, exciting story; fraught with danger and unexpected twists and revelations. It is also a good introduction to the new character dynamics on board the Liberator. Tarrant is a reluctant participant in this adventure, slightly resentful of how well Grant seems to be getting on with the other crew members. As this story is told from Tarrant's point of view, we gain an insight into his feelings about his fellow crew mates, as well as his attitude towards Grant.

The narration is carried chiefly by Steven Pacey, and his dialogue scenes with Tom Chadbon flow naturally; the two actors are great together. I tend to prefer a more even-handed division of the storytelling, but there are sound plot reasons as to why we get only Tarrant's view of events. Excellent use is also made of news broadcasters as additional narrators.

Although I enjoyed the story very much, I do have a couple of nitpicks. One is in terms of where the story fits within Season C continuity. Defector follows The Armageddon Storm, which takes place after Rumours of Death. However, when Grant and Tarrant come face to face with Servalan at the conference, Tarrant shrinks back into the crowd, worried that "she might recognise me from my files". However, at this point in the series, Servalan and Tarrant have already met more than once in person, and she would be very likely to recognise him from Kairos and the Presidential wine cellar. Another nitpick is that in this story Servalan is dressed 'in dazzling white', whereas from Rumours onwards she's only seen in black. But that's a lesser nitpick - perhaps she still wears white for special occasions.

I also had an issue with an alien from whom Grant and Tarrant hire a ship. Thran (pronounced inconsistently as Thran or Thrahn in different scenes) is a Chitinoid – an insectoid person with multiple forearms and antennae. However, the intelligent aliens in the B7 universe are generally humanoid, while the other creatures (Kairopan spider, Zil, Phibians etc) aren't the sort you would hire a ship from. The scene with the Chitinoid felt more like Star Wars than B7.

Nitpicks aside, this is a well performed and enjoyable story. It will be very interesting to see how the relationship between the two Dels further develops in the all cast series.

9.2 Planetfall
Performed by Paul Darrow, Jan Chappell and David Warner

Described by Cavan Scott as 'Avon and Cally's James Bond style adventure', this story has Avon and Cally posing as a rich businessman and his aide/mistress, as they wait to meet a contact on a luxurious Federation pleasure station. A former High Councillor has offered to provide them with a list of deep undercover rebel agents who are posing as Federation officers, but naturally he wants something from them in exchange...

Like all good James Bond adventures, this story is a satisfying mix of elegance and action, smooth dialogue and life-threatening situations. The narration is shared between Avon and Cally, as they have to cope separately with the increasing peril. Cally has to rescue herself and their contact, Solvin Tavac – brilliantly played by David Warner - while Avon narrates on behalf of himself and new character Kitrin as they try to find a way off the increasingly unstable space station. The dialogue is snappy, and it's nice to hear Cally getting a good fight scene!

It's a fun adventure, well played by all the cast. But it's the final line of the final scene that's the real corker; a revelation that leads into -

9.3 Secrets
Performed by Michael Keating, Tom Chadbon and David Warner

Following straight on from Planetfall, Secrets is the second of what is actually a two-part story. Tavac has come on board the Liberator, and the quest to acquire the list of undercover rebel agents leads him, Vila and Grant to an illegal arms bazaar and into danger. Actually, there is a great deal more than that to the story, but I do not want to reveal spoilers here!

Vila is the main narrator, but his dialogue scenes with the other two characters makes this feel like a fuller audio drama. Having heard Tarrant's view of Grant as a fellow crew member in Defector, we now get Vila's rather more favourable impressions. Again, it will be very interesting to hear how their relationship develops in the all cast series. But the real power in this story is in the scenes between Vila and Tavac. The script is fantastic and Michael Keating and David Warner give outstanding performances. Of the three stories in this collection, this is my absolute favourite as it combines not only good action adventure and character interaction, but also has a lasting emotional resonance.

Mention has to be made of the sound design and music on all three episodes. Martin Montague's soundscapes for crowded squares, elegant casinos, disintegrating space stations and arms bazaars bring each location to vivid life, while the smaller fx - footsteps, clothes rustling, drinks being poured etc provide extra detail and depth to every scene. The way the voices are treated means that the actors sound as if they are present in each location, whether indoors or outdoors or speaking over communicators, while tannoy announcements, mutoid and robots voices add to the overall effect. This is not just an 'enhanced audiobook', the sound is 3D and feels widescreen! Jamie Robertson's music works extremely well in each episode, underscoring the action and emotion without ever overpowering it.

Although these stories were written before Cavan Scott was asked to take over from David Richardson, this box set also marks his debut as producer. It's a terrific collection, and bodes well for things to come!


Liberator Chronicles Volume 9 is available from Big Finish on CD and digital download here: LC9
You can listen to a trailer here: LC9 Trailer
Full details of the current range of B7 audio dramas, audio books and original novels available from Big Finish can be found on their website here:  B7 from Big Finish

Box set cover artwork by Grant Kempster
Photo of David Warner, Michael Keating and Tom Chadbon courtesy of Big Finish


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