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Doctor Who: The Silver Turk by Marc Platt

1/12/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: The Silver Turk in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Silver Turk in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: GBP14.99 (UK), Download: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-601-0). cast: Paul McGann, Julie Cox, Gareth Armstrong, Christian Brassington, David Schneider, Gwilym Lee, Claire Wyatt and Nicholas Briggs.

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Aside from the controversial new theme music, the Eighth Doctor now also has a new companion. This time it’s Mary Shelley taking a break from the lake at Geneva to travel with the Doctor. She joins him for a series of adventures as the Eighth returns to the monthly range of ‘Doctor Who’ audios from Big Finish.

The first of these is ‘The Silver Turk’ which sees the return of a one of the Doctor’s favourite adversaries. The tin man is back and this time it’s in Vienna.

Having promised Mary a trip to remember, she is disturbed to find the Doctor has accidentally taken them years into the future, albeit only up the road to Vienna. All her family would be dead as would she. Very sobering stuff.

It is the time of the Viennese Exposition and a new variety act is being shown off. It plays the piano and will challenge you to chess. But under the robes of the Silver Turk, there pumps the ghastly heart of a cyberman.

As the Doctor struggles to explain to the ‘owner’ of the Turk, Alfred Stahlbaum (Christian Brassington) just how dangerous his puppet is, he finds out there is something terrible going on in Vienna and it all seems to lead back to the Turk.

As the people around Stalbaum, his former lover the countess, Countess Mitzi Wittenmeier (Claire Wyatt), and her husband, Count Rolf Wittenmeier (Gwilym Lee), start to suffer the Doctor and Mary must try to solve the mystery before it’s too late.

This darkly gothic tale takes up the themes of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ as we explore the darkness of Vienna and the nature of life. The companions are pursued by empty coaches, mysterious skittering creatures and a man who is determined to use the Silver Turk himself Dr. Johan Drossel (Gareth Armstrong).

Luckily, they have the help of friendly local coachman, who fills them in on the recent goings on. If you want to know something always ask a coachman. Ernst Bratfisch, played by David Schneider, proves to be remarkably knowledgeable about everyone’s comings and goings. He’s also a bit of light relief in a dark tale.

Taking a small part of history, there really was a fake Turk who played the spinet and chess around the courts of Europe, writer Marc Platt has produced an eerie and interesting plot. It allows us to see how Mary Shelley will develop her writing and produce ‘Frankenstein’ and other novels. How could she not be inspired by near death experiences?

Again, this is one that bears repeating and has a depth of research which does not gaudily display itself but is intriguing enough to provoke further interest not only in the background but Mary Shelley herself.

Sue Davies

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This book has 22 votes in the sci-fi charts

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