Big Finish recently announced plans to release, in February, an audio adventure featuring a character from The Shadow Heart; the impossibly glamorous intergalactic bounty hunter Vienna Salvatori, as portrayed by the equally glamorous Chase Masterson. The audio adventure is called ‘The Memory Box’, and I wrote it back in September, with the adventure being recorded shortly afterwards in October (this is much quicker than usual, and the kind of dicing-by-death-by-deadline that makes writing so thrilling).
The release is effectively a ‘pilot’ for a series; hopefully it should give some idea of the flavour, the tone and the format, as well as being a springboard for future adventures. I’ll talk about it in more detail at the time, but a few thoughts about the putative series. What I see it as is an opportunity to tell mind-bending science-fiction action-thrillers, playing with concepts of identity and the nature of reality very much in the vein of the work of Philip K Dick. Stories like Minority Report, Blade Runner, Total Recall and Paycheck, essentially, as well as Dick-influenced stuff like Source Code, Looper and Inception. High-concept stuff, futuristic, weird, but with humour. That’s where I see it going; those are the stories I’d love to write, and those are the stories I’d love to hear as a punter (I have no intention of writing the entire series myself, I’d want to get in all sorts of unexpected names).
And because the character of Vienna is an amoral and borderline psychopathic mercenary, that gives us an opportunity to tell stories that couldn’t be told as Doctor Who stories, or Bernice Summerfield stories, or Graceless stories or as part of any currently existing range. People are always suggesting that Big Finish should have its own original range of science-fiction stories; well, as far as I’m concerned, this could be that range. Yes, Vienna may have first appeared in a Doctor Who, but her stories will not be Doctor Who knock-offs, they will stand or fall on their own merits. That’s my vision for the range.
The first story, 'The Memory Box', can be pre-ordered here.
One final thought. I’m only a hired writer, I have no say in Big Finish’s commissioning processes and would be massively overstepping the mark if I were to speak on their behalf, but I can assure you that the Vienna series – if it happens, which would be glorious but which is by no means guaranteed – will not be instead of a Charlie Pollard series, or any other series for that matter. I’m not the person to ask about that stuff, though, I just do the typing.
Hmmm.... Maybe Charlie Pollard could turn up in the Vienna series, married to Thomas Brewster. I’m sure that would go down well.