(ISBN 1-84435-321-7)





 The Doctor arrives on

 Tasak in search of

 refreshment, armed

 with nothing more

 than a kettle. But

 this is a time of crisis

 for a civilisation

 about to enter an

 industrial age. 
 Mindful that a

 devastating war is

 only recently over,

 the wise and revered

 Magus Riga will do

 almost anything to

 save his people from

 the follies of the

 past. But the road to

 hell is paved with

 good intentions. And

 the planet Tasak is

 host to ancient

 powers buried deep

 and long forgotten. 

 Can visitors from

 another world avert

 disaster or will

 their intervention

 drag this innocent

 world into the Orion



 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT

                                                         CONTEMPORANEOUS (CYBERMAN)


Kingdom of Silver








Kingdom of Silver is a story that I think will surprise a fair few people – it certainly did me. Although Alex Mallinson’s stunning cover illustration is dominated by the bold image of a Cyberman, James Swallow’s play is far from being your customary Cyberman techno-romp.


In fact, of all the Cybermen stories told to date, Kingdom of Silver has most in common with Marc Platt’s unrivalled origin story, Spare Parts, but even there the similarities are only superficial. Whereas the Mondasians were forced down a dark path because of what happened to their world, the people of Tasak start to walk the same dark path because of the mythology of their world – a mythology that was borne out of a race memory; constructed around blazing images of silver gods that graced the planet millennia before. One of this play’s greatest strengths is the uncomfortable sense of inescapability that hangs over everything.


“That’s the thing about technology; science; knowledge. It’s colourless.

It is the use you put it to that defines good or evil.”


And so rather than focus on the Cybermen directly, Kingdom of Silver focuses of the people of Tasak and their relationship with the Cybermen; the silver giants themselves don’t appear until the end of the second episode. Swallow spends a great deal of time inducting the listener into his meticulously crafted society, with its various cadres and political machinations and, of course, its sudden technological revolution - “the road to hell is paved with good inventions”, as the Doctor quips. Unfortunately though, this does mean that the first episode in particular lacks a lot of thrust. As magnificent as Swallow’s world building is, it is no substitute for pace.


However, when they do eventually arrive, the Cybermen are as imposing as ever and Swallow really makes their appearance count. Building upon the ‘virus’ idea first aired in Gary Russell’s Real Time, here the Cybermen use nanogenes as a means for conversion. Fair dues, it is a complete Borg rip-off, but I can think of worse baddies to plagiarise and, more importantly, it makes for one hell of an action-packed third episode.


Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the Cybermen’s appearance here though is that we learn Telos was not the only Tomb of the Cybermen. And if there were two, then how many more might there be? It certainly casts the Cybermen in an intriguing new light, and sets up Big Finish’s forthcoming Cyberman II series marvellously.


In the CD Extras, there’s a lot of talk about the Cybermen’s ever-changing voices and appearances – Nicholas Briggs even goes so far as to compare them to the Klingons in Star Trek, albeit indirectly, stating that he doesn’t think any Doctor Who writer should ever try to explain why the Cybermen always seem to look and sound different (like the Star Trek: Enterprise writers did in the charming episodes Affliction and Divergence). I don’t think anything needs explaining though – I’ve always found that the Cybermen’s continually changing appearance makes them more credible, if anything. After all, is every species supposed to look the same throughout eternity? Especially one that, by its very nature, is formed from whatever biological and technological raw materials just happen to be to hand? I agree with Briggs about the Cybermen’s voices too – with this play, he has really got it nailed. The Kingdom of Silver voice is even better than the one that he does for the television series - I love the floating Tenth Planet fused combined with the revived series’ high modulation. Together with some television-style heavy footfalls, it’s hairs on the back of the neck stuff. Superb sound design.


Now as I’ve already mentioned above, Kingdom of Silver spends a great deal of time introducing us to Tasak and its unique mythology, but thankfully this is not at the expense of character. In fact, Swallow does an incredible job of skilfully intertwining his characters and his world. Of course, Terry Molloy is the guest star that everyone will be talking about, and rightly so. In his first non-Davros Big Finish role, Molloy acquits himself commendably. Magus Riga is the opposite of Davros in almost every way – calm, measured, thoughtful, and, though a tad zealous in his methods (incarcerating Sara, for example), he’s a good man at heart. For me though, it’s the duo of Neil Roberts’ Temeter and Kate Terence’s Sara that still the show. The two Orion androids share a great dynamic with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor, so much so that come the end of the story I was hoping that they’d be off in the TARDIS with him – they’d certainly make great ‘Chris and Roz’-style companions for the aged seventh Doctor.

On a final note, I should say that I really enjoyed hearing from Swallow on the CD Extras. The Big Finish bonus material is so often dominated by interviews with guest actors who, with the greatest of respect, know little of the stories or the show, and so to hear from the person who actually crafted the story was absolutely delightful. I hope we get to hear more from the writers in the future.





Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008


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to be identified as the author of this work.



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