Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Winged Wonders: Bernice Summerfield - The Skymines of Karthos Review

Season 2 of the Bernice Summerfield series ends the same way that it started with another story from writer David Bailey. Thankfully though, The Skymines of Karthos is an altogether more rousing affair than his earlier effort.

Much like The Stone's Lament before it, this story takes place between the two Benny novels The Infernal Nexus by Dave Stone and The Glass Prison by Jacqueline Rayner. This means that it is the only audio adventure to deal with Benny’s pregnancy (at least in that the baby starts to kick!)

The Skymines of Karthos begins with Benny receiving a message from an old friend named Caitlin Peters concerning evidence of a ruined civilisation on the mining colony of Karthos. By the time that she arrives on Karthos, Caitlin is missing and the colony is under attack from vicious creatures that came from nowhere. It is a mystery that Benny cannot resist, especially with her friend's life on the line. Bailey's script is fast paced, leaving little time for padding, and develops well by ensuring that the hints as to what is really happening on Karthos build up at just the right moments despite it being straightforward at times.

Lisa Bowerman's performance as Benny is again one of the highlights of the audio. This time around she gets to demonstrate a more conflicted approach to the part with her need to find Caitlin battling against the pressures her condition puts her in which is effectively well-handled. Jimmy Wilson's Michael Peters is believable in the portrayal of a troubled relationship with Rebecca Jackson's Caitlin, and the revelation as to why Caitlin went missing is poignantly played. Johnson Willis brings a touch of mystery to the cast with his aloof Doctor Konstantin, who just doesn't seem to care about Caitlin's disappearance.

David Darlington creates the post-production and music, and on both counts he succeeds in creating a rich accompaniment to the drama; a big improvement on his last effort. Even the sound design is praiseworthy as Karthos comes across as a very bleak, very alien world, and the atmosphere accentuates the qualities Bailey's that script was trying to show.

The Verdict? The Skymines Of Karthos is a significant improvement on Bailey's first Benny audio as the drama is played out more vividly and convincingly, although it is let down slightly by a hurried ending. Bring on Season 3!

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