Review of Blake’s 7 The Early Years – Jenna: The Trial / The Dust Run (Vol. 1.5)

December 21, 2011
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Blake's 7 The Early Years - Jenna: The Trial / The Dust Run (Vol. 1.5)SFFaudio EssentialBlake’s 7 The Early Years – Jenna: The Trial / The Dust Run (Vol. 1.5)
By Simon Guerrier; Performed by a full cast
1 CD – Approx. 70 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: B7 Productions
Published: November 30, 2009
ISBN: 9781906577087
Themes: / Science Fiction / Galactic Empire / Dystopia /

The Dust Run – Jenna Stannis has grown up as a spacer, where the normal rules don’t apply. No school, no police, no public imperatives – that’s still all to come. But the situation on Earth is changing and the effects are slowly being felt throughout the Vega system. It’s going to mean trouble for a brash boy called Townsend – who Jenna doesn’t fancy at all. Soon Jenna and Townsend are competing in the Dust Run – racing shuttles through an asteroid field without using computers, making the complex calculations in their heads. It’s dangerous, fool-hardy and really good fun. But they’re playing for the highest of stakes…

The Trial – The election is going to change everything. A man called Roj Blake promises the voters new hope, an end to years of corruption. There are those who can’t let him be heard. But Jenna Stannis is determined to get his message out to the colonies. It’s been years since the Dust Run, and Jenna’s a changed woman. She’s left the Vega system far behind, using her exceptional piloting skills to carve out a life as a smuggler. Blake’s message could earn her a fortune – or cost her, her life.

This is the final two stories in the first Blake’s 7 The Early Years series. First up is The Dust Run. It starts with a framing story in which we see the cruelty of the Earth Federation up close. Under torture Jenna, a young woman, reveals everything about her truant past. Then, in the story proper, we meet her as a charming teen. She comes from an underemployed spacer family, has just a few friends but none of them are particularly trustworthy. For fun Jenna likes piloting shuttles at high speed through a region of space filled with a heavy concentration of particulates. It’s precisely her lightheartedness that sets Jenna up for a fall.

The Trial also uses the framing device but skips ahead in time to the events which lead to Jenna’s incarceration. The problem is that her interrogator also claims to be acting as her advocate! If Jenna is to have any chance of avoiding imprisonment on Cygnus Alpha she’ll have to shade the truth. This episode reminded me of the other great Orwellian episodes of serial SF (like Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Chain of Command” – in which Picard is tortured and Babylon 5‘s “Intersections In Real Time” – in which Sheridan is tortured). The darkness of Jenna Stannis’ Federation universe is equally Orwellian, but, as I’ve mentioned in other reviews of this series it has more than a touch of Brave New World in it too. This new Blake’s 7 series, like it’s TV predecessor, is an intelligent Science Fiction series that masquerades as consumable pop-culture “sci-fi”.

Carrie Dobro, who played a charismatic alien thief in the Babylon 5: A Call To Arms TV-movie and on the prematurely canceled Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade, stars as Jenna Stannis. Dobro has a star-level magnetism in both these productions. She’s sure of herself, a devious and clever power seeker, never fully in control, always seeking it, but at heart a sympathetic survivor. Simon Guerrier and Carrie Dobro have created a worthy back-story for Jenna Stannis. Highly recommended!

Posted by Jesse Willis

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