SOLDIERS OF LOVE - 3 - Metamorphs

review by Judith.

On the first pass, I didn't like this CD as much as the previous two, but it's growing on me second time around. The fact that I heard it the first time under less than ideal listening conditions probably made a difference too. I'm sure I'll be listening to it a third time and possibly more. These CDs usually repay multiple listenings.

The title 'Metamorphs' makes good sense. Lots of the characters are changing and changing in different ways.

It struck me recently (well, actually the producer pointed it out to me) that many of the actors are quite deliberately cast against type. Thus Nicholas Courtney, who is best known as the militaristic Brigader, is here playing Turnidus - a pacifist. I really love his performace in the part. Turnidus has amazing knowledge of things like piloting spacecraft, but is essentially child-like: inquisitive and delighting in new things to play with.

Jan Chappell is playing a large, mean, take-no-nonsense alien with evil plans. She's good too. Her voice has a filter because she's a giant frog, but the menace comes over very nicely.

Gareth Thomas is once again the villanous editor, speading his evil schemes with glee. He does make such a delightful baddie - perfect for the style of the whole thing with bucket-loads of melodrama in his performance.

Michael Keating is perhaps the only one as we'd expect him to be. He has a commedy character. Mydas (Michael's character) is often funny simply by saying things things that are totally bizzare and out of context. His character is currently suffering the side-effects of having his mind removed...

The plot gets ever more complex, though a few loose ends are tied up in this episode. It ends, as one might epect, on a major cliff-hanger.

Cast changes/availability forced a few changes. Jackie Pearce was performing at the Edinburgh festival when this one was recorded, so Madame Deephole is largely off-stage. She will be back in a future episode though.

The character of Cilla, originally played by Norman Lovett (who was in my opinion the only badly cast character in the first episode) now has a new voice. This makes very good sense within the context of the story and the new actor sounds better. (I was quite impressed by Mark Thompson's impersonation of Norman's voice until the plot reached the point for the voice-swop.)

There are occasional advantages to audio. I can laugh at the description of a character dressed in yellow hot pants and a paisley polo-neck, but I'm not sure that I could survive actually seeing it...

I always have mixed feelings about the music in this series. Some of the songs are pretty poor, but again it seems to be very much a matter of taste (Kelvin played one of the earlier ones continually while he was revising). To my surprise, I rather liked the ones this time. More melody to them. Gareth gets to sing, although it's rather gruff as he's doing it in the Editor's voice.

Metamorphs is funny, but you *have* to have the right sense of humour. I noticed that my boys were laughing at some bits that I wasn't. They like lavatory jokes. On the other hand, I'm pretty certain my 12 year old didn't get all the more adult jokes. He loves the whole thing though. This always leaves me very uncertain as to whether to recommend it for children or not. It doesn't contain bad language per se, but if you're put off by jokes with pretty specific sexual innuendo (and I do *mean* pretty specific), then you might not want to let children near it. On the other hand, Kelvin and Henry have played all the CDs repeatedly and grabbed number 3 out of my hands as soon as it appeared in the post. I think Henry likes the fact that the characters keep insulting each other all the time.

This is cheap and cheerful comic-book SF. Machines can remove minds, transport people and space-ships over massive distances, put a man's mind in a drinks dispenser (I really like Yztabub the drinks dispenser), change a person's appearance or even gender.

Gender is pretty fluid in this series. There's Dr Proctor (no relation) a lesbian with eight tentacles (I think the voice is really too masculine - several of the parts are played by actors of the opposite gender and sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn't.), Teddy the effeminite dentist who has more fetishes than you can easily count, Cilla the transexual and the Editor who is rumoured to have peculiar habits with regard to frocks.

I would have said that the whole 'Soldiers of Love' series was really ideal listening for slash fans with a warped sense of humour, except that this wouldn't explain why my 17 year old (who has so far displayed zero interest in adult material of any kind - his only pin-up is of Susan Death) enjoys it so much.

In the end, all I can say is that most of the 'Soldiers of Love' CDs I sold at Eclecticon were sold by the simple expedient of letting people listen to it on my walkman.


PS. I could have sworn there was an extra bit of relish in the voice when the Editor summons his henchwoman Dr Proctor... (Mark swears to me that the character was named a long time ago, but I still find it amusing. I rather suspect Gareth did too.)

Cost to UK: 10 pounds, Europe 10.50 pounds. USA 11 pounds. (or $19 cash) Australia 11.25 pounds

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