Posted 21st of December 2007

Kaldor City: Occam's Razor

Cover of the first CD.

A review by Kathryn Andersen

The first thing you need to know is that this reviewer is biased. If there was any point in this CD where my interest might possibly have flagged, I only needed wait until Carnell (played by Scott Fredricks, the original Carnell) or Kaston Iago (Paul Darrow) came on-stage (on-microphone?) and I would be mesmerized. As a Blake's 7 fan and an Avon fan, it was just so nice to imagine that Kaston Iago was a post-'Blake' Avon, with a voice as rough as his rough edges. Little hints in conversation do raise this possibility without naming any actual names (apart from the name "The Federation").

But I actually do think this radio play (what does one call a radio play that was never broadcast on radio?) is good even apart from my biases. The day I got the CD, I only intended to have a quick listen before I went to bed, but an hour later I was still listening, it was just that absorbing and fast-paced.

This story is what you might call a spin-off of a spin-off. The original basis for this was the classic Doctor Who episode, "The Robots of Death"; then Chris Boucher wrote his DW novel "Corpse Marker", which transplanted the psychostrategist Carnell into this universe, and ended with Uvanov as First-Master Chairholder Uvanov, leader of the Board of the Company. And that is the situation where this story starts. However, I don't think its actually necesary to have read the precursors to this series in order to understand what's going on here.

In tone, this is more like a Doctor Who story than a Blake's 7 story, which is not surprising, considering its origins. Events seem rather bizzare, with corpses turning up in all sorts of ways -- and thus very violent, but since there are no visuals, that didn't bother me. There's dry wit and black humour in a very British way, from the way in which a squad gets wiped out, to the glee from some of the guards when they get the opportunity to use real guns instead of stun-guns in a raid. Lots of callousness from all the characters, really.

The main characters are interesting. Chairholder Uvanov is so completely selfish and self-absorbed that he doesn't notice things going on under his nose unless they involve him. In that, he seems the epitome of everyone in power in Kaldor City, really. Kaston Iago is as cynical and amoral as one could expect; he'll do what he's paid for, and tell the truth while shading it into lies if it suits him.

The plot... well, I shouldn't say much about the plot for fear of spoilers. All I can say is that I was surprised in the end, and I like surprises. But in another way, all that this story was, was setup for what might follow...

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