Review of Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume Two: 1: The Reign Of The Robots, 2: Operation Saturn, and 3: Prisoners Of Space

June 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Dan Dare Audio Adventures - Volume 2Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume 2, 1: The Reign Of The Robots, 2: Operation Saturn, and 3: Prisoners Of Space
Adapted from the Eagle comic strip; Performed by a full cast
3 Episodes – 3 hours, 9 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Big Finish
Published: April 2017

Dan Dare: Where Space and Opera Meet To Sing

Is there evil in the universe? Yes. Are there tyrants who take great pleasure in enslaving the human race simply to gratify their unquenchable ego? Yes. Is there any hope for this small blue planet where none but the barest few have any idea of the dastardly dangers all around? Absolutely!

All is right with the twenty first century because Dan Dare and his cohorts, Professor Peabody and Digby are out roaming our solar system, vigilantly keeping villainy and tyranny at bay.

Having defeated the evil Mekon at the end of Season One, Volume One, Dan Dare and his crew are finally able to return home after using the transporter to rid themselves of an alien Armageddon virus.

The first problem that besets them at the beginning of Volume Two is a small issue with the return trip through the transporter that lands them ten years into the future. The bigger problem is that Earth has been enslaved by an army of ruthless robots in, The Reign Of The Robots.

A rollicking space faring adventure of daring do and evil don’t sails on through Operation Saturn and Prisoners Of Space.

Dan Dare is an audio drama of old where the good guy is good through and through, and nasty bigheaded megalomaniacs are rotten to their evil cores. But wait, there’s a back-story running in the undercurrent. This world isn’t quite as black and white as it seems.

A beautiful mix of nostalgia with references to coal-fed engines, and forward-ho, with a ship that can whisk the crew off to Saturn in minutes flat, Dan Dare is perfectly situated in the now. And that now is a science fiction gem with classic lines like, “Resist and you will die” and the quintessential, “Take me to your leader.”

The cast is wonderful throughout and the whole thing is brought to life with a thoroughly engaging, immersive soundscape designed by Wilfredo Acosta.

I was not familiar with the Dan Dare comics before listening to the series, but when I heard, “Colonel Dan Dare! But you were dead!” Followed by, “Only delayed,” I learned everything I needed to know.

Strap on your jet pack if you have. Adventure awaits.

THE REIGN OF THE ROBOTS
Dan Dare and his crew finally return to Earth. Landing in central London, they find the city deserted – or that’s how it seems at first. But soon Dare faces an army of ruthless machines, robots who have conquered the planet and placed the surviving humans in slave camps. The robots are too powerful and too numerous to be resisted, and their invasion is complete. With limited resources, Dare, Digby and Peabody face their greatest challenge yet – to liberate planet Earth. But the task becomes more desperate than ever when Dan discovers the alien force behind the robot invasion…

OPERATION SATURN
As work begins to rebuild planet Earth after the devastation of the robot invasion, Dare and his friends in Space Fleet remain vigilant, certain that it is only a matter of time before the Mekon launches a fresh attack. When the wreck of the Nautilus – an experimental ship lost over a decade before – appears in orbit of the moon, Dare, Digby and Peabody are sent to investigate. They find the ship and its crew were destroyed by advanced alien weapons. All clues lead them to Saturn’s moons. With Earth still vulnerable our heroes must journey to an unknown world – to discover who sent the Nautilus back, not realising that for once the source of their latest conflict comes from a lot closer to home. Not all would-be conquerors of planet Earth are alien…

PRISONERS OF SPACE
After a sequence of near non-stop adventures Dare, Digby and Peabody find themselves in a strange limbo of paranoid calm. Whilst there’s been no sign of the Mekon anywhere in the solar system, Dare is certain Earth hasn’t seen the last of the evil alien. Mysterious spaceship disappearances near Venus, an Academy student accidentally launching a prototype new spacecraft, and a floating prison cell in space… reveal themselves as all part of the Mekon’s latest plan to defeat his archenemy Dan Dare once and for all. The first season of Dan Dare concludes with daring space action, fearless heroics and the revelation of devastating secrets concerning Space Fleet…

Posted by Maissa Bessada

[Find out more about Dan Dare audio adventures, and see the rest of the terrific DAN DARE box-office-style posters, by Brian Williamson, over at the official site: DanDareAudio.com]

Dan Dare - The Audio Adventures - Reign Of The Robots

Review of Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume One: 1: Voyage To Venus, 2: The Red Moon Mystery, and 3: Marooned On Mercury

April 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Big Finish - Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume OneDan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume 1, 1: Voyage To Venus, 2: The Red Moon Mystery, and 3: Marooned On Mercury
Adapted from the Eagle comic strip; Performed by a full cast
3 Episodes – 3 hours, 9 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Big Finish
Published: January 2017

Three audio adventures based on the Eagle comic strip “Dan Dare” created by Rev. Marcus Morris, adapted and drawn by Frank Hampson.

Dan Dare - 1: Voyage To Venus

Brilliant test pilot, Dan Dare, is chosen to fly the Anastasia – a new experimental
spacecraft – on its maiden voyage to Venus. This isn’t exploration – it is to make first
contact with a mysterious civilisation that has sent technological secrets as a goodwill
gesture. However, what Dan, Digby and Professor Peabody find on Venus isn’t
goodwill, but a terrifyingly intelligent, cold-hearted ruler, the Mekon. A creature
destined to become Dan Dare’s nemesis – and Earth’s greatest threat…

Dan Dare - 2: The Red Moon Mystery

Unable to return to Earth, Dan Dare and the crew of the Anastasia head to the
desolate planet Mars, where Dan’s estranged Uncle Ivor is part of a research team
working on a top-secret archaeological dig; but when they find the base wrecked and
the scientists missing, Dare, Digby and Professor Peabody soon discover that the Red
Planet is not nearly as dead as everyone thought and that Ivor’s expedition has
woken an army of deadly insect-creatures that threaten to swarm and engulf the
Earth… Dare must stop the aliens, but can he really resort to genocide in order to
save the human race?

Dan Dare - 3: Marooned On Mercury

When a distress call summons the crew of the Anastasia to the burning wilderness of
Mercury, they are reunited with their old ally, Sondar. He tells them of the
beleaguered Mercurians who are held in thrall to a cruel new taskmaster – the
Mekon! The exiled Mekon is rallying his forces, plotting a desperate revenge against
his former homeworld of Venus and his hated enemy, Colonel Dan Dare!

It had been quite some time since I’d heard much about Dan Dare, at least twenty or more years until the classic comic character’s adventures were rebooted by ace author Garth Ennis in 2009 for Dynamite Comics. I was glad to hear that B7 Media, those folks responsible for the terrific Blake’s 7 adventures from a few years back have revived the man with the iconic name: Dan Dare.

Taking advantage of the audio drama format, these three new Big Finish Dan Dare adventures are truly terrific entertainment. They’re modern boy’s own-style space adventures, a kind of unapologetically forthright solar space opera, and starring no less a figure than Britain’s most iconic test pilot turned space adventurer, Dan Dare. For those unfamiliar, Dan Dare is one of those lapping-over delights from the end of the British Empire days, an ever just so slightly alien import – like the Rupert Bear books, or Captain Britain, or even Judge Dredd – and as delightful as a tin full of Turkish delight!

It is hard for me to review audio drama the same way I review audiobooks. I listen to audio drama at night with my eyes closed just as I’m drifting off into Dreamland. This means if I want to review them, I must re-listen to the shows over and over in order to get all my facts straight (that I love to is a side benefit). I need to know exactly what’s in the show itself, and what I only dreamed was in the show. And in my nightly re-listening for two weeks, I must say that all three episodes are really terrific – professional – solid work – as good as you would want them to be. Even with three different writing teams for three episodes and the fact that the three shows are mapped to three storylines from the very inception of Dan Dare, there’s very little for me to complain about. If you pushed me, really pushed me for some hard critiques of the shows as a whole I could come up with a few pitiful ones. I’d say, maybe, that the actors for Digby and Dan have voices just a bit too similar to each other, that maybe the personality of Professor Peabody – going from a hard-ass corporate profiteer to a stalwart champion of the undertrodden is a bit quick. But I really cannot complain. I got two wonderful weeks of nightly entertainment from these three episodes; each combining some of the very best elements of some of my favourite adventures into three all new shows. I’m telling you, if you like stories like The Empire Strikes Back, or Metropolis, or DOOM, or Aliens you’ll certainly love these new Dan Dare adventures.

Now, twist my arm just a bit more and I’ll tell you a secret… oh yes, I loved the first and second episodes, but that third episode, with those wonderful sympathetic Mercurians… it is my favourite.

Some fun, fast facts comparing Dan Dare in 1950 and Dan Dare in 2017.
-In the original comic strip Digby was Dan’s batman (his gentleman’s gentleman), not so in 2017.
-In the 2017 audio drama, Dan Dare is a vlogger!
-In 2017, Dan Dare’s dad is in hospital, in what sounds like a coma, and he regularly visits him (as does Digby).
-Professor Peabody was a professor in 1950 and still is a professor in 2017.
-The 2017 Dan Dare is set in the 2040s, the 1950s Dan Dare was set in the 1990s.
-In the 1950 Dan Dare “Eagle” was the name of the magazine where Dan Dare appeared, in 2017 “Eagle” is the name of the corporation that built Dare’s spaceship.
-And, the 2017 Dan Dare uses the medium of audio drama (or radio drama) as part of the plot.

Here’s a video reviewing the history of Dan Dare:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Eagle V1 No1, April 14th, 1950

Commentary: SFSignal Mind Meld on favourite audiobooks (and audio drama) of all time

January 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

SFSignal.comJohn DeNardo, of the magnificent SFSignal blog, recently asked me to participate in another “Mind Meld.”

Here’s the topic:

“What are your favorite SF/F/H audiobooks and/or audio fiction stories of all time?”

Here’s what I wrote:

As one of the people behind SFFaudio, a website devoted to SFF in the audio format, this is about the hardest question you could possibly ask me. I can’t even begin to start ranking all the gloriously wonderful audio I’ve had the honor of listening to over the last 20 years (unless you count SFFaudio as exactly that). But, I can throw out some titles that are absolutely terrific!

Since I began listening in earnest (around 1991), and to make it manageable, I’ll limit myself to just one audiobook (or audio drama) per year (sorted by publication date). To make it even easier, I’ll list only commercial productions – we have plenty of love for podcasts and other amateur audio on SFFaudio.com. For starters check out our series called Five Free Favourites.

1991: The Best Fantasy Stories Of The Year 1989 (Dercum Audio – ISBN: 1556561431)
1992: The Wind From A Burning Woman by Greg Bear (Recorded Books) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1993: The Children Of Men by P.D. James (Recorded Books) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1994: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (Time Warner – ISBN: 9781570420528)
1995: Mind Slash Matter by Edward Wellen (Durkin Hayes) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1996: Friday by Robert A. Heinlein (Blackstone Audio – ISBN: 0786110546)
1997: Sci-Fi Private Eye ed. Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg (Dercum Audio) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1998: Martian Time Slip by Philip K. Dick (Blackstone Audio) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1999: Ringworld by Larry Niven |READ OUR REVIEW|
2000: The Reel Stuff edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg |READ OUR REVIEW|
2001: Minority Report And Other Stories by Philip K. Dick |READ OUR REVIEW|
2002: Two Plays For Voices by Neil Gaiman (Seeing Ear Theatre / Harper Audio) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2003: The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|
2004: Ender’s Game (25th Anniversary Edition) by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|
2005: The Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft Volume 1 by H.P. Lovecraft (Audio Realms) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2006: The Chief Designer by Andy Duncan (Infinivox) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2007: Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures (Trilogy Box Set) (B7 Media) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2008: The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman (Recorded Books) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2009: Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (Audible Frontiers/Brilliance Audio ) |SFFaudio Podcast #073|
2010: The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison |READ OUR REVIEW|

Posted by Jesse Willis

Blake’s 7 audio drama videos

January 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, News 

SFFaudio News

Here’s a Blake’s 7 video that I was surprised to learn I’d never previously posted!

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: Blake’s 7, Sum, Greater Good

April 21, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases 

New Releases

The back-story of an artificial intelligence begins…

B7 PRODUCTIONS - Blake's 7: The Early Years: Zen: Escape VelocityBlake’s 7: The Early Years: Zen: Escape Velocity (Volume 2.1)
By James Swallow; Directed by Andrew Mark Sewell; Performed by a full cast
1 CD – Approx. 1 Hour [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: B7 Productions
Published: April 26, 2010
ISBN: 978190657709
Based on Terry Nation’s seminal 70s science fiction TV series, The Early Years is a prequel series of audio stories that explores the origins of key Blake’s 7 characters prior to them meeting rebel leader Roj Blake. This latest entry to the ever-expanding series takes a new twist, concentrating on a character that doesn’t breathe or have any parents, the synthetic intelligence known only as Zen. When Roj Blake first stepped on board the mysterious, derelict alien spaceship Liberator, his every movement was monitored by the ship’s controlling intelligence, Zen Luckily, Blake and his rebel crew managed to gain the ‘confidence’ of this creation from an alien world and so he was able to use the Liberator in their quest for justice against the Federation. But the origins of Zen have remained a mystery, until now. What terrible catastrophe left the Liberator drifting and shattered? What drove the ship’s intelligence to murder its original crew? What dark secrets lie at the heart of this alien machine? And are Blake and his crew really safe on board the Liberator? Featuring Zoë Tapper, Jason Merrells, Tracy-Ann Oberman and Alistair Lock as Zen.

An audiobook by a neuroscientist…

Canongate Books - Sum: Tales From The Afterlives by David EaglemanBRILLIANCE AUDIO - Sum: Tales From The Afterlives by David EaglemanSum: Forty Tales From The Afterlives
By David Eagleman; Read by Gillian Anderson, Emily Blunt, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Noel Fielding and Stephen Fry
Audible Download or CDs – Approx. 2 Hours 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Canongate Books / Brilliance Audio
Published: March 31, 2010 / June 2010
In this astounding book, David Eagleman entertains 40 fictional possibilities of life beyond death. With wit and humanity he asks the key questions about existence, hope, technology and love. These stories are full of big ideas and bold imagination.This audiobook assembles a stellar cast of readers who bring the scenarios of SUM brilliantly alive: Gillian Anderson, Emily Blunt, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Jack Davenport, Lisa Dwan, David Eagleman, Noel Fielding, Kerry Fox, Stephen Fry, Clarke Peters, Lemn Sissay and Harriet Walter.

After spotting a glowing review, I had to add this to the list…

PODIOBOOKS - Greater Good by Nathan P. ButlerGreater Good
By Nathan P. Butler; Read by Nathan P. Butler
34 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Podiobooks.com
Published: November 2009
In the world of tomorrow, the American Regime dominates our hemisphere, ruled by a new nobility: telepaths. While this powerful new minority rules over the normal human majority, society enjoys stability and security. However, with this new world comes new prejudices and oppression. Now, a powerful telepathic killer from the future has come to our present to eliminate this new world – a serial killer today, a genocide for tomorrow. It is up to a law enforcement officer from the future and an unwitting FBI agent to stop him before he can act in the name of the… Greater Good.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

January 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

As far as I’m concerned there were only two truly excellent things that came out of 1978:

1. Blondie’s Heart Of Glass
2. Terry Nation’s Blake’s 7

One of these is being re-made, improved upon, surpassing the original*, the other never can be nor could be, it was perfected in 1978.

Guess which is which.

I’ll give you a hint. This one is brand new and has just arrived at SFFaudio’s Canadian HQ:

Blake's 7 The Early Years - Jenna: The Trial / The Dust Run (Vol. 1.5)Blake’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
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.

Blake’s 7 (1978):

Blondie (1978):

[*with mucho props to the original show for being next to awesome]

Posted by Jesse Willis

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