Vienna – series 1

Vienna-Series-One-cover-smallThis CD box (also available as a download) comprises three science fiction adventures that follow on from The Memory Box, featuring glamorous bounty hunter Vienna Salvatori, played by the equally glam Chase Masterson.

The following review is offered as part of the Tuesday’s Overlooked AV Media meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

1. Dead Drop by Mark Wright

Bounty hunter Vienna Salvatori’s latest assignment brings her aboard the starship Custodian – but completing her mission and earning some poldaks is the easy bit. When all hell breaks loose with the Chtzin and the Custodian is left crippled and plunging towards the sun, a simple assignment turns into a battle for survival for the galaxy’s deadliest assassin.

We launch in with a full-blown space opera as Vienna boards a ship using the memory box device from her previous adventure (I reviewed it here) to pretend to be the member of the crew of the Custodian, though her plan is actually to assassinate the mind controlling and utterly merciless commander Jamela K’Lynn, who can invade people’s heads and make them explode too. But who really hired her and who is ‘Crevo Finn’? While Vienna seemed a bit roguish with some fatal charm, here she is seemingly much more of an outright assassin, not necessarily the same as a bounty hunter – but is our info to be trusted?

2. Bad Faith by Nev Fountain

Vienna Salvatori has seen the light. Time was, if you lost everything, at least you still had your faith – but not any more. Faith stealing is the latest commodity to light up the criminal underworld – extract somebody’s faith and sell it to the highest bidder.

Nev Fountain writes some of the cleverest and smartest of audios for Big Finish and is also the author of the Mervyn Stone mystery novels as well as The Axeman Cometh, the audio adventure sequel that followed (for my frankly ecstatic review of that, click here). This story has plenty of amusing gags about organised religion and takes plenty of mirthful potshots at a certain SF religion that attracts many celebrities that you may have heard of in the last few decades … This episode revolves around memory and perception manipulation and while a variation on a plot the author tried out in one of his earliest plays for Big Finish (I shan’t say which), it is very finny and full of clever twists too. It also has a great performance from Frazer Hines as Bax Spendlove, the head of the ‘New Church of Wonderment’ cult who has rather  lot to hide. As well as a decent whodunit (we don’t trust Bax but there is much more going on that at first appears), this 60-minute audio offers plenty of clever feints and devices to keep you on your toes. Ingenious fun with just the right dash of satire.

Chase Masterson (Vienna Salvatori), Frazer Hines (Bax Spendlove) in VIENNA - Series 1

Chase Masterson (Vienna Salvatori), Frazer Hines (Bax Spendlove) in episode 2 of VIENNA – Series 1

3. Deathworld by Jonathan Morris

The planet Mercator. Twenty trained assassins enter a game arena, armed only with their wits to compete against each other in a harsh environment. Twenty killers go in. One comes out.

The trilogy of adventures comes to a smashing virtual reality finish with this story by Vienna’s creator, Jonathan Morris, no slouch when it comes to creating timey-whimey, flip-flopping SF narratives. Here we have a Hunger Games scenario in which Vienna has to do battle against other trained assassins, but things (of course) are not what they seem and people certainly are not who we think they are …

This series expands nicely on the initial installment, though it would be good to now see it move beyond those parameters and head out into more uncharted territory without the need to riff on memory wipes and implanted personalities. Vienna is a tough, sassy and appealing adventurer and I hope we get to hear a lot more from her in the future.

Writers: Mark Wright, Nev Fountain, Jonathan Morris
Director: Ken Bentley
Music: Howard Carter
Sound Design: Howard Carter
Running time: 65 minutes each
Main cast: Chase Masterson (Vienna Salvatori), Frazer Hines (Bax Spendlove), Alisdair Simpson (Admiral Salaron), Alison Thea-Skot (Lt Paley/Jamela K’Lynn), James Hayward (Ensign Roaig), Rachel Atkins (Kendra Spendlove), Mike Grady (Parsival/Kreyfin), Andrew Dickens (Malrick), Michael Chance (Shazarel), Mark Frost (Crevo Finn/Darvil)

Availability: This release is available on CD or as an MP3 download. For further details on this series, and how to purchase on CD or download, visit the Big Finish site at: www.bigfinish.com/ranges/v/vienna

***** (3 fedora tips out of 5)

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16 Responses to Vienna – series 1

  1. Sergio – I’ll admit this is a new character and series to me. Vienna does sound appealing though. I’m not usually a sci-fi person, but when it’s done well it can indeed be good. Thanks as always for sharing.

    • Thanks Margot – well, this is a new audio series and I know this won’t be to everyone’s liking but I think it’s great fun – if you like radio drama (as opposed to spoken books), this might be a good place to jump on to the good ship Big Finish :)

  2. On the Ipod but with so much from Big Finish to listen to – the usual, plus The Avengers and probably something else I’ve forgotten, I keep pushing this one back. I’ll try and make time for it, as it certainly sounds worth it. Thanks for the nudge

  3. Colin says:

    I remember you writing about the Vienna character before. I’m not, as you know, much into SF and so I’m only peripherally aware of this kind of stuff. Sounds fun though.

    On a slightly related SF note, I just started into Asimov’s The Caves of Steel, after you featured it a few weeks back.

  4. Patti Abbott says:

    New to me also. So hard to keep up anymore.

  5. Hi Sergio, this is as new to me as your review of “The Memory Box” last year and the audio links you provided in comments, a couple of which I sampled and liked. It was fascinating to read your reviews of these three sf adventures though I can’t think how they can be conveyed only through audio. SF conjures up more images than sounds, or both.

    • Audio can be a surprising medium as you can deceive the listener in ways you could never do on TV with things like disguises for instance (and is very good for commutes on your train :) ) – glad you enjoyed some of the samples.

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