(ISBN 1-84435-427-6)





 Long ago, the planet

 Pavonis IV was saved

 from destruction by

 the Doctor. Now it is

 dead, but a NUMBER OF

 survivors and their

 precious race bank

 survive on BOARD the

 starship Myriad.


 Their mission: to

 scour the universe

 for the obelisk in

 which their saviour

 travels, and ASK HIM

 to save their world



 the TARDIS arrives

 on the Myriad just in

 time to see the crew

 achieve their goal.

 Or so they think…


 Death stalks the ship,

 the aI CAIN has lost

 control, and a force

 is about to be SET

 LOOSE that threatens

 the entire galaxy...



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The Pyralis Effect








The Pyralis Effect is steampunk novelist George Mann’s first endowment to the

auditory world of Doctor Who, and for an opening effort it certainly doesn’t pull any punches. A bold, sweeping affair that tells of ancient Time Lord wars, creatures of light, and temporal prisons, this production is nothing if not ambitious. It even sells itself as a sequel to a first Doctor adventure that we know nothing of, allowing Mann to gently critique the ramifications of the Doctor’s meddling as he drives his plot forward.


The story never gets above itself, however. Despite the Doctor’s pre-existing association with Pavonis IV and the Pyralis’ grandiose history with the Time Lords, Mann’s plot is tight and claustrophobic, laden with amorphous monsters and good old-fashioned scares. The first episode’s cliffhanger is particularly effective, as a Pyralis oozes underneath a door to trap Romana in a tiny room, threatening “We will illuminate you. We will illuminate you all…”


Billed as taking place between The Horns of Nimon and The Leisure Hive, this adventure is encased by the original Delia Derbyshire rendition of the series’ theme tune, but that is where its Season 17 sensibilities begin and end. Both as a story and as a production, The Pyralis Effect feels shiny and lush; not necessarily stylish (I don’t think that anybody would call The Leisure Hive or Meglos ‘stylish’), but its certainly glossy, reflecting the ambition of the writer’s storyline.


This sense is buoyed by Richard Fox and Lauren Yason’s extraordinary sound design. The Pyralis Effect doesn’t sound like any other Big Finish release that I could call to mind - its score is carried by a haunting soprano, reminiscent of The Space Pirates; and the sound effects themselves are stark and brutal, limited to the powerful hum of the starship Myriad’s engines and clanking of footfalls upon its metal floors.


Furthermore, Mann’s character-

isation of Lalla Ward’s Romana

and Tom Baker’s Doctor and is

right on the money. Though The

Pyralis Effect is most definitely

Romana’s tale, Mann captures

the deadly silliness of Baker’s

twilight performances wonderfully. Certain moments - for instance, when the Doctor cries out the word “fungal” before quickly covering his mouth to silence himself – took me right back to those Sunday morning UK Gold-fests that Mann so wistfully recalls in his author’s note. I find it quite heartening that I wasn’t the only teen in the 1990s to sit glued to a channel that caters for the middle-aged.


Nevertheless, whether she’s trying to imitate the sonorous tones of her erstwhile husband or sparring with fellow Big Finish stalwart Jess Robinson (Patient Zero), Ward is the real star

of this production, delivering Mann’s eloquent prose and beautifully grandiloquent dialogue with customary aplomb.


On the downside, Mann’s story does lack pace. On occasion I found my attention waning, though thankfully it was never for long as there was always a temporal void threatening to erupt, or a vaporous monstrosity waiting to take shape….


Overall then, The Pyralis Effect is a dauntless and dramatic opening effort. It’s not perfect by any means, but it really does stand out from the crowd.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.



This CD’s blurb places the story between the television serials Shada and The Leisure Hive. Within this gap, we have placed it between the earlier novels Festival of Death and The Well-Mannered War. Whilst The Well-Mannered War was released earlier, it was clearly intended to be the final Graham Williams’ era adventure, and has been placed accordingly.


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