Epic, beautiful, brilliant – this is audio theater.
I listened to the twenty episodes – the original ten and the sequel series. The BBC of yesteryear can apparently do no wrong. The production was minimal, well acted, well written, nearly perfect sound design (uh, why no footsteps when people walk?), flawless pacing, huge scope of story yet personal and intimate. And the almost total lack of score keeps it from fitting too tightly into a specific genre or even production time period. This show did not feel dated to me at all, though it was produced in 1980-1982.
And this is a personal favorite space opera subgenre of mine… Long ago, a starship was launched from Earth far in our future to find other habitable planets. What remains on the ship as our story opens are merely four descendants of the massive crew of a ship some ten miles long who were raised by computers and androids and know only life on the ship and each other. Oh, yeah… Four humans and the two sentient computers that run many of the ship systems. What happened? Why only four people left? Will they ever find a planet? Maybe going back to Earth would be better? And the computers – Guardian Angel 1 and Guardian Angel 2 have answers to all those questions. Very frustrating answers. So, one man asks why any of them should listen to the Angels’ answers anymore.
And that’s just the first couple episodes.
This is that far-reaching, mind mangling (and more than a little pessimistic) British science fiction and I could hardly put it down. The development of the characters and story were perfect – we start with a situation, setting, and four people and watch the whole thing change and the characters with it. And the production is great BBC – not trying to be a movie with no visuals (uh, part three, made 25 years later tries that) but much more than an audio book with sound effects and actors – a perfect use of the medium.
I give this a solid A+ and am definitely keeping it and see myself listening to it again really soon and for years to come. When I hit episode 6, I stopped five minutes in and went back and started again from episode 1 because the nuance and pacing clearly deserved to be taken seriously.
I have no download link for this one, so, get in touch with me (see left sidebar) if you want it.