Prehistoric Week: Bernice Summerfield - THE ADOLESCENCE OF TIME Review

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It's a family affair for Andrew East.


The Adolescence of Time is by Lawrence Miles. I’ve met him. I’ve read his books. I’ve seen that blog he writes about the new series. I can’t make up my mind about him. On the one hand, he writes amazing stuff like Alien Bodies. On the other, he writes stuff which is difficult to get through; I struggled with Interference, Books One and Two. I don’t agree even slightly with the vitriolic writings on his blog and, in person, he is, shall we say, eccentric. I can’t quite decide where The Adolescence of Time fits in all that. In fact I hadn’t even realised he was the writer until it was mentioned in a brief interview with Lisa Bowerman at the end of the CD.

The Adolescence of Time is an unusual Bernice Summerfield adventure in that it hardly features Bernice Summerfield. Centre stage is given to her son, Peter, played admirably by Thomas Grant. I’m not sure how old he was when recording this audio, but he does a fine job of it. There are a few occasions where his performance is a little flat, but he convinces as the troubled half human/half Killoran son of an errant archaeologist. The rest of the small cast – all playing reptilian characters - are good and it features Lois Baxter of The Androids of Tara fame. Eddie Robson and Lisa Bowerman chat about the problems with voice treatment on alien characters in audio drama and I think they get the balance right in this story, meaning Baxter and the other two reptiles sound strange but not indecipherable!

The story sees Peter using a time ring to travel back in time to what the audio implies is sometime after the meteor/Adric-containing spaceship crashed into Earth. He meets a race of flying reptiles and, without using any copyright-infringing names, they are clearly supposed to be related to the Silurians and Sea Devils. I love this idea as it’s something I’m surprised hasn’t been touched on in Doctor Who already. The concept that, as with the dinosaurs, that the ‘Earth Reptiles’ would have three strains – land, sea and air – makes perfect sense. It’s an aspect of this ‘monster’ I’d love the series to return to.

Peter has been summoned back in time by mistake, by creatures wanting his mother. He sets about trying to ‘help’ the reptiles defeat what they call ‘a storm’ but what he realises is an army of mutated reptiles, controlled by ‘the worm’, a creature which is constantly ‘wanting’. Bernice, who has dug up the time ring and found a statue of Peter, 65 million years in the future, travels back in time to find him and explains that the reptiles don’t need his help as they are facing an extinction event which is part of recorded history and must happen.

This is an interesting story, and very unusual for the Bernice Summerfield range, but I don’t feel I ever quite got a handle on exactly what was happening, or rather why it was happening. I’m not sure I understood why the worm, or the worm-callers, had sent for ‘The Summerfield’. Now, it is entirely possible I missed that explanation. I listen to these audios at various times – walking to work, doing the washing up and, occasionally, putting my daughter to sleep. This latter activity does sometimes distract me from the intricacies of the storyline. The Adolescence of Time is a bit of a curio and I can’t decide if I like it or not. A re-listen sometime in the far, far, far distant future may help me decide on my opinion.

A primary school teacher and father of two, Andrew finds respite in the worlds of Doctor Who, Disney and general geekiness. Unhealthily obsessed with Lance Parkin’s A History, his Doctor Who viewing marathon is slowly following Earth history from the Dawn of Time to the End of the World. He would live in a Disney theme park if given half the chance.

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