Reviewed By: NannaSally
Review Date: 12/9/16 7:52 am
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The Liberator crew are searching for a person – Mikalov - who has information they need to search for a Federation Super Computer. Orac has identified eight people by the same name, and they have now whittled that list down to one.
As the ship comes into teleport range of the appropriate planet, they are attacked by defence satellites. The planet is known as Battleground 9, where criminals, political prisoners and other unwanted people from the Federation are dumped to allow the troops to practice killing real people.
Avon and Blake meet up with one of the local groups struggling to survive this terrible world, who are led by a previous Planetary Governor, who has fallen afoul of the government by protesting how the locals were treated. They help the group avoid destruction, find their target and make it out safely.
In the meantime those left on the Liberator fight damage done by the satellites, trying to remain intact and available for the ground crew to get away when necessary.
The story is quite interesting – and horrifying. The nasty, smug Field Commander, the wary professional Battle Tracer – a kind of War Games Umpire – the desperate victims are well narrated and performed.
This story really relies on the sound effects – incoming missiles, explosions, fist fights and more. Lots of movement around the grass and bushes. Machinery and electronics. All very necessary and well included. So there is not as much narrative as in some releases, to its benefit. And sound effects do not lag at all – often needing little description which is may be a feature of a change in Sound Editor – and definitely a different style of writing.
The dialogue is interesting and informative. Much of the story is revealed by the conversations the characters have between each other, especially Avon, Blake and the protagonists they meet. This is even more realistic because the actors are so very good as usual. Some of the lines of dialogue are particularly good.
The Field Commander is a bit of a cliché – relying on his family background for promotion and protection and creepy when he is personally at risk, threatening the Battle Tracer with retribution against her family if she gives a low score, reluctance to take prisoners and general nastiness. He deteriorates into a caricature whiny coward at the end, begging for his life and so on.
The Battle Tracer is a particulary interesting character, being a professional recorder within the military but outside its Chain of Command. Her conflict between her duty and her gratitude to the Crew for some of their previous work is well identified in just a few sentences.
It really is a rather violent episode, more so than most of those I have listened to for this review. But it IS set in the midst of a battle, with rather unpleasant characters, so this is not surprising.
Each crew member is shown to have strengths and weaknesses which work well together – Vila’s experience as a Professional Thief is put to good use and more is made of his ability to work with electronics – a necessity for 'security' work. Jenna uses her experience as a Smuggler Pilot to avoid greater damage.
Bulding on previous cannon this episode highlights the impersonal nature of the Federation and their total ability to treat all their citizens as dispensable.
Worth listening to, and setting the listener up well for the next episode with a real cliffhanger.
Thanks again for reading
Nanna Sally Nelson, who is happy she does not live in such a society.