After the disappointments of both Revenge of the Swarm and Mask of Tragedy it’s time to turn my attention to Matt Fitton’s Signs and Wonders. Matt set the ball rolling by resurrecting Hex / Hector in Afterlife – what has he lined up in this return to Liverpool? Warning – spoilers!
Starting with the product page tells us the following:
The end of the world is nigh. That’s what everybody is seeing in their nightmares. That’s why they are congregating in Liverpool for the party to end all parties, hosted by Rufus Stone, a celebrity turned doomsday prophet. He claims he’s the only one who can save them when the day of judgement comes. Because he’s on the side of the angels.
The Doctor, Ace and Hector arrive to find the city in the grip of apocalypse fever. There are lights in the sky, earthquakes and power cuts. The Doctor is determined to investigate, while Ace is more concerned about finding a way of restoring Hector’s lost memories.
Meanwhile, in the river Mersey, hideous, slug-like creatures are stirring…
The story starts with a mix of Liverpool scenes: Rufus Stone is ramping up the energy of the crowds; Sally Morgan is leaving and Hector is being dropped off in his desire to leave the TARDIS. There is, of course, much more going on as a range of other characters beings to appear from off-stage and the various pieces of the plot begin to come together.
Rufus Stone is declaring the end of days. Everyone has had visions of what seems to be their own deaths – Sally, for example, sees herself in a hospital room with intense pains from what seems to be a stomach wound. As Rufus takes control of a city increasing beset by biblical omens we learn that Revd Janet Green has been following Rufus around the North West, though any insight she may have gained is of no benefit when she confronts him.
Ace is still fixated on trying to restore the memories of Hex to Hector. As she wanders the city encounters Sally Morgan and the two women explore the apocalyptic setting sometimes aided by the military in their aircraft carrier for hire under the command of Captain Gormley.
[pullquote]it is not clear who will survive[/pullquote]
The story moves forward and we discover that a lot more is happening than just an everyday alien invasion. Deep secrets from ancient history. In the end several people will make sacrifices and it is not clear who will survive, nor how the Doctor will resolve the situation and dispose of the many threats to humanity.
I’ve avoided the major spoilers but let’s just say the ending is hinted at here and there though I didn’t by any means spot everything. The story does close the loop on the Afterlife and Matt deserves a lot of praise for the way he brings things to a conclusions.
After the performances of Revenge of the Swarm everyone is in top form here. Ace, Hector, Sally and the Doctor all work extremely as does every single other part. There are great dynamics in relationships – Ace v Sally, Ace v Hector, the Doctor v Hector… There is also plenty of imagination, deep themes from the TV series and enough Liverpool setting to convince the listener that not only is the Mersey just down the road but also the end time is upon us.
In days to come, this will be lauded as a classic.
That’s my view – what do you think?
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