THE EVENTS OF THIS
STORY TAKE PLACE
BETWEEN THE NOVELS
"THE SCALES OF INJU-
STICE" AND "THE DEVIL
GOBLINS FROM NEPTUNE."
BIG FINISH 'COMPANION
CHRONICLES' CD 5.10
RELEASED IN MAY 2011.
Some time AFTER SHE’S
LEFT UNIT, Liz Shaw
calls the Doctor to
where scientists are
time dilation. THEY
ARE HURLED FORWARD
IN TIME TO 2014, and a
meeting with Richard
Beauregard, heir to
the FAMED Beauregard
But there’s something
rotten at the core of
this family… seeds of
a political movement
that believes in a new
Sentinels of the New
Dawn are stirring.
And their Influence
will be felt for
centuries to come…
of the New Dawn
The Sentinels of the New Dawn may be a more flamboyant title than Leviathan,
the Lost Story that begat it, but the Companion Chronicle that it identifies packs the same sort of punch. Paul Finch’s prequel may switch spacecraft for helicopters and a mechanical Pagan spirit for a more ornithological terror, but it’s every bit the visual feast that his father’s commended work was.
If anything, The Sentinels of the New Dawn is even more appealing than Leviathan. As a fan of the UNIT era, the prospect of the Doctor and Liz Shaw having a hand in the beginnings of Leviathan’s New Dawn villains was one that appealed to me straight away, and Finch really makes good on his premise’s promise by crafting a storyline that is thoroughly redolent, yet fresh and exciting too. His love for this era of the series is evident throughout: Sentinels is chock-full of 70s staples - deranged human villains, “high performance vehicle” chases - yet it deposits our TARDIS-less heroes in the unfamiliar stomping ground of our near future. Liz is arguing about atom-smashing and temporal mechanics with Cambridge post-graduates in one breath, but in the next she’s bamboozled by something as commonplace as a mobile telephone “that records moving pictures”. Even the Doctor is something of a fish out of water here, free of his temporal cage, if not his spatial one, and relishing every single second of it – a far cry from the grump of Old Soldiers, Shadow of the Past and The Blue Tooth.
The narrative itself is alluring
too. Some time after leaving
UNIT, Liz summons the Doctor
to Cambridge to procure his
help with one of a colleague’s
highly experimental time dilation
devices. Tampering at the other
end of the temporal wormhole
pulls them through to the year 2014, where they find themselves guests of Professor Richard Beauregard and his right-wing illuminati, the New Dawn, who are looking to use their newfound time travel abilities to impose their new world order on both humanity’s past and future. The tale encompasses everything from speeches at functions to monsters in churches and aerial dogfights, never giving the listener a moment’s reprieve.
The events are told by a much older Liz to a soldier who appears to be trying to fill in a blank spot in the UNIT records. This has two key advantages: first and foremost, it allows Finch to make his story a lovely coda to The Blue Tooth, which foreshadowed Liz’s leaving UNIT, as here she is reflecting on her reasons for leaving and even the merits of the choice. Secondly, it allows Finch to surreptitiously open the door to a third New Dawn audio. The production’s last minute twist may be predictable, particularly for a seasoned listener, but it’s pleasantly so. I relished that “I knew it…” moment, as I’m sure many others will.
Unlike Leviathan, which boasted a cast of characters so large that I just couldn’t keep up with it on audio, here Finch uses just a handful of memorable personalities to drive his plot forward, many of whom are voiced by the superlatively versatile Duncan Wisbey. Wisbey’s turns are littered between Caroline John’s steadfast narration, which veers from Dr Shaw’s typically aloof, academic reporting, to some really quite rousing moments of Liz rumination. Sentinels might even be John’s finest Companion Chronicle reading; its script is certainly the kindest to her, playing to both her and Liz’s strengths.
And so The Sentinels of the New Dawn continues what is becoming a long, unbroken line of inspiring Companion Chronicles. The last few releases have each devotedly reproduced an era of the television series, whilst at the same time offering listeners something innovative - a winning formula that I hope will continue long enough to get us the third New Dawn tale that Sentinels invites…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2011
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 story reportedly takes place “after Inferno” - but so do many other stories. Hundreds, in fact. We must therefore turn to the story itself for clues as to placement.
The author’s intention seems to have been to set this adventure during Season 8. Months appear to have passed for Liz since she left UNIT, and the Doctor now has a new assistant that he is “not enamoured with”, both of which suggest a placement between Jo Grant joining UNIT and her winning the Doctor over (which would seem to be during the events of Terror of the Autons – not all that plausible a placement).
Furthermore, as neither the Doctor nor Liz mention having worked together since her leaving UNIT at the end of The Scales of Injustice - and indeed their reactions to each another and the story’s cathartic themes both strongly suggest that they haven’t - it seems much more likely that these events occur between her leaving UNIT and her next helping the organisation out in The Devil Goblins from Neptune. The assistant whom the Doctor is “not enamoured with” here is probably not Jo Grant, but one of a parade of failed replacements who tried to fill Liz’s shoes between The Scales of Injustice and Terror of the Autons. For these reasons, we have dropped this story into the timeline between The Scales of Injustice and The Devil Goblins from Neptune.
When is now? Liz claims to be from “the early 1970s”, and describes 2014 as being “almost half a century” in her future. Both these statements are indicative of “revisionist” UNIT dating – i.e. that the UNIT adventures each took place on or around their transmission dates - being adopted by the author. Please see the UNIT Dating Dossier for further information.
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