Afterlife by Matt Fitton reviewed

Afterlife cover (small)Afterlife by Matt Fitton is a direct follow-up to the events of Gods and Monsters. That story is part of a trilogy I reviewed under The Black and White trilogy and, indeed, Matt wrote the middle story Black and White.

I can’t find a way to review Afterlife without giving substantial spoilers for both the end of Gods and Monsters and for this story as well. Big Finish has already given the first of these on their summary (see below). As to the second, well if you haven’t heard Afterlife I would look away now.

The story

The Big Finish page gives away most of the set-up:

Hex is dead. And a distraught Ace holds the Doctor responsible.

She forces him to take a trip to 21st century Liverpool to break the news to Hex’s beloved nan and, to pay tribute to Thomas Hector Schofield, the pair seek out his family and friends to tell them of his adventures. They’re helped by Private Sally Morgan, who has her own peace to find.

The Doctor, Ace and Sally must each face the fallout of the loss of their friend – to commemorate him, remember him, and finally to move on. But can they do it together, or will their attempts drive them apart?

Everyone holds the Doctor responsible for Hex’s death. The first episode is all about Ace’s anger and is almost a separate piece from the three stories set in 21st century Liverpool.

The three-part Liverpool story gives us both Sally Morgan and the Seventh Doctor trying to make peace with Hex’s aunt Hilda who also blames the Doctor for living when Hex died. While in Liverpool Sally also gets involved in a plot concerning local gangland wars with the Finnegans fighting for clubland ownership with new kid on the block Hector Thomas. The listener is not surprised when Hector turns out to be a carbon copy of Hex (Thomas Hector Schofield).

We learn that things are not as they seem, that Hex has come back sans memory for one year and Ace is determined to find a way for him to live though this is achieved at a price. Meanwhile there are elementals at large playing with the locals as they while away a year waiting for Hector Thomas to die at the appointed moment. The story ends with a new companion and complications for Ace and the Doctor as they begin to travel with Hector!

The storytelling

The first part is very powerful and is overdue; I don’t understand all of the possible Ace / Seventh Doctor timelines from books and elsewhere but I do have  a sense that Ace leaves at least once due to her intense frustration with the Doctor.

Private Sally Morgan acts as a good counterpoint to both Ace and the Doctor being the only one who is constructively moving on with life. The Doctor is massively out of his depth until it comes time to fight the bad guys.

I have mixed views about the idea of Hex not being dead and coming back in some form. The companions aren’t the Doctor and with the exceptions of Peri and Captain Jack I am tempted to think dead should mean dead. Lucie Miller’s sacrifice is still emotional some years later and bringing here back might be popular but would it be appropriate?

I was surprised when Hex died and I do look forward to having more of Philip Olivier in the TARDIS – I just think that dead should really have meant dead.

Just my personal view but I’d be interested in the opinions of others.

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