Welcome to 1987, welcome to London, welcome to the investment opportunity of a lifetime. Welcome to our new partners – the Daleks! It’s the 1980s in all its glory with the champagne-guzzling super-rich in The City deciding what’s best for everyone, including the striking workers of Bradford. The Seventh Doctor and Mel arrive and quickly realise all is not as it should be, thanks to the rise of the Zenos Corporation, led by Alek Zenos (Angus Wright). Welcome to We Are the Daleks, an entertaining yet thought-provoking story by Jonathan Morris.
If the title wasn’t giveaway enough, the Daleks soon make their presence felt, but gone are the days of extermination and rule through fear. Why bother when you can use the power of the free market to get what you want and allow humanity to place itself in servitude without raising an eye-stalk? Mel draws on her computer programming skills to go undercover in the Zenos Corporation and we notice also that more and more people are spending their time playing the game Warfleet. Just where do the advanced consoles come from? Mel soon finds out.
Not only is this story set in the 1980s but it has the feel of a story that could have been written then. The political parodies are all too familiar and if painted with heavy strokes, this is no more than certain stories of the time are guilty of (I’m looking at you, Happiness Patrol). There is a lot more to this than political point-scoring as the nature of people and the length to which people will sink are explored. In Doctor Who, the Daleks are often compared to Nazis; in this story, Jonathan Morris has us look closer to home. Underneath the action, inevitable betrayals and touches of humour there are one or two moments when the listener might wonder how far-fetched the ideas presented actually are.
As ever the cast are all strong (Mary Conlon’s Celia Dunsthorpe is chilling in her portrayal of a woman only too happy to deal with any alien power) and the direction keeps the action flowing. The story has one or two more predictable moments, including the resonance with Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (curiously Card is noted for his strong political views – is there another layer at work here?), but this is by the by.
All ends well, we learn some new things about the Daleks, and a new trilogy is underway.
With the 201st release in the main range, Big Finish has provided a great point for new fans to try the main range, unburdened by years of interlinked releases. A triumph!
WE ARE THE DALEKS (DOCTOR WHO) / AUTHOR: JONATHAN MORRIS / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / STARRING: SYLVESTER MCCOY, BONNIE LANGFORD, KIRSTY BESTERMAN, ANGUS WRIGHT, MARY CONLON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW