A decent novelisation of an obscure pilot episode produced by the legendary Gerry Anderson.
The name Gerry Anderson usually conjures up images of marionation puppets along the line of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlett. Some science fiction fans past a certain age will also connect it to cult show Space:1999. It is in the latter that we find the basis for this audiobook presented as one of several Anderson/Big Finish collaborations being released in the coming months. Unusually for Big Finish, this is not a dramatisation but rather a straight forward audiobook reading of a novel.
Between the two seasons of Space:1999, Anderson and writer Johnny Byrne were commissioned to pen a 50-minute episode of an American show called Special Treat (an after-school series designed to entertain and educate children coming home from school). This brief was simple – get kids excited about Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Using many of the cast and guest cast who had appeared in the first season of Space: 1999, as well as many of the sets, this was filmed in approximately ten days and aired in the US. It was then subsequently aired in the UK as a stand-alone TV special. Anderson had hoped it would lead into a fully-fledged series but the powers-that-be were not interested. Instead a second season of Space: 1999 was commissioned.
In The Day After Tomorrow, the Earth has been plundered of its resources and new planets are being sought for the human race to continue. To that end, two families are placed aboard a newly commissioned ship, the light ship Altares. It is a special ship that has a light-speed drive to make the journey shorter. The crew is headed by pilot Harry Masters and his daughter Jane, along with Anna Bowen, her husband Tom and son David. They are headed to Alpha Centauri aware that this is a one-way trip. There are secrets among the crew that threaten the mission and an encounter with an unlikely enemy that threatens the whole mission before it barely starts…
This novelisation of that episode was written in 2017 by Gregory L Norris. He has fleshed out many of the characters’ back stories and presents the story in manageable chapters. The entire novel runs to a little over three hours and is narrated by Robbie Stevens. Stevens does an admirable job with his characterisations of the various crew members and his narration is not too quick or, indeed, too ponderous.
There is some music to signify the end of chapters but otherwise there is little else to separate it from the audiobooks produced by other studios. That is not to say this is not entertaining and will certainly pique the interest of fans of Gerry Anderson’s more obscure work.
Big Finish are releasing a number of Anderson-related audiobooks over the next couple of months and if this volume is anything to go by, they will be well worth the listen.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: June 2020
Approx RRP: $10 Digital Download