Audiobook Review: HG Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come, by Big Finish

A modern-day diplomat is taken through history in the hope of helping him make crucial decisions that will correct mistakes in an earlier intervention.

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Big Finish have continued their dramatisations of the novels of HG Wells with one lesser known work and one of his more popular novels.

The Shape of Things to Come was Wells’ prophetic 1933 novel that foretold the coming storm of World War 2 and asked questions about the validity of a worldwide government and the abolition of religion.

Wells’ novel was told through a series of dreams of diplomat Dr Phillip Raven. Writer Guy Adams has gone a different path. In this case, Raven is a modern-day diplomat taken through history by Jane, a character not in the original novel. She has skipped through several timelines in order to find Raven and help him make crucial decisions that will correct mistakes in an earlier intervention (which led to World War 2 in the first place).

In the two main roles, Sam Troughton (as Dr Raven) and Nicola Walker (Jane) are outstanding. Troughton conveys many emotions from disbelief through anger to the realisation that his world is not perfect and that maybe he can do something about it. Walker is an excellent foil for Troughton, guiding his character through the various scenes that he observes, helping him make sense of everything and, hopefully, to a realisation of what must be done.

The supporting cast adds excellent weight to this snappy production which asks a lot of questions to its listeners, as much as Wells’ original story did to its readers. Director Lisa Bowerman keeps the pace of the play from ever dragging. She understands the medium well and makes sure the listener’s attention never wavers. The soundscape and music from Iain Meadows and Howard Carter respectively are excellent and help the production’s values enormously.

This is well worth the listen if you are a fan of dystopian fiction (and, indeed, of Wells’ work). The script has been adapted with much love and care by all concerned.

Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Twitter: @wagnerfan74

Rating out of 10:  7

The Shape of Things to Come was released in May 2017 by Big Finish Productions and is available either as a digital download or as a physical CD.

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