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Bernice Summerfield

Big Finish Productions Pty Ltd have the licence from the BBC to create new Doctor Who audio drama. They proved they could do it by starting out making audio adaptations of the Bernice Summerfield novels, published by Virgin in the 1990s. These proved so popular they began to commission new stories for her.

Professor Bernice Summerfield was a character created by Paul Cornell as a companion for the Seventh Doctor during the reign of the popular ‘New Adventures’ novels (years when the series had no home on TV). She’s a plucky, witty, and deeply moral archaeologist who loves a good drink and is a great diarist. She is arguably one of the most popular non-televised Who companions. As such the initial experiment became a series, which has prospered with funny, dark, and intellectual stories. A series I was lucky enough to write for.

The Mirror Effect

The Mirror Effect

Do you believe in the mirror or do you believe in yourself?

Under the ice on a cold world lie the derelict remains of the lost Grid 4 Mining Station. Inside the station is a mirror, an ancient alien artefact, its existence known to few. Inside the mirror is one Professor Bernice Summerfield, and she can’t get out. Trapped and alone in a place she cannot trust, with her friends distorted and turned against her, she is haunted by fears and reflections.

And inside Bernice Summerfield is a little baby creature that wants her to be mother.

Review

“The Mirror Effect is a slice of dark, edgy psychological drama…[and] the best original Bernice Summerfield audio produced by Big Finish to date.”

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Released April 2003.The Mirror Effect ended Bernice Summerfield’s third season.

A Life Worth Living

My short story – Fragments – finished off this collection. Bernice finds fragments of a novel published in the far future, in the restricted reference section of the Braxiatel Collection, fragments that, though veiled in aliases, seem to concern her and her recent life choices. The fragments also begin to show her the possibility of a dark future.

A Life Worth Living Cover Art

The war is over. The Braxiatel Collection is back to normal. Better than that, people are all making more of an effort ­ to rebuild, to get on, to re-establish the Collection at the forefront of academic excellence. Benny and Jason are back together. Life is good.

It’s not going to last, is it?

Soon Benny is up to her eyeballs in strange deaths, sinister cults, peculiar love affairs and a Collection full of people who haven’t yet stopped fighting.

The Stories
Misplaced Spring – Paul Cornell
Welcome to the Machine – Sin Deniz
Final Draft – Cameron Mason
Against Gardens – Eddie Robson
A Summer Affair – Joseph Lidster
Denial – Ian Mond
Sex Secrets of the Robot Replicants – Philip Purser-Hallard
The Blame of the Nose – Ben Woodhams
Reparation – Gregg Smith
Nothing up my Sleeve – Richard Salter
Buried Alive – Kate Orman
There Never Need be Longing in your Eyes – Ian Farrington
Mentioning the War – Nick Walters
Fragments – Stewart Sheargold

Review

“[Fragments] successfully provides a window into Benny’s conflicting thoughts about her life…[It’s] majorly weird but imaginative and compelling.”

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Released July 2004.

Masquerade of Death

Masquerade of Death

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to another in our exciting series of adventures with the witty, irreverent and courageous heroine, Professor Bernice Summerfield. In tonight’s story our daring adventuress and her sidekick, Adrian, find themselves imprisoned in a crumbling palace in the Prison Season of Spring, replete with an imperious queen and prissy but rather sweet AI gaoler. How did they arrive? And why doesn’t anyone know who the famous Bernice Summerfield is?

Before too long there is murder – as there always is – and Benny is accused. Who might possibly be setting her up for a fall? Could it be The Player – a mysterious figure of rhyme and chaos? And why is everybody so obsessed with his plays?

Benny may find that her only way out of this prison is to play along with the fiction. But is there someone behind the scenes manipulating her strings? Could she end up a mere ‘costume’ in someone’s disturbing game of dress-ups?

After all her adventures, could this be the final episode?

Review

“Sheer brilliance from beginning to end…completely insane but practically perfect.”

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Released April 2005. Masquerade of Death ended Bernice Summerfield’s fifth season.

Parallel Lives

A collection of three novellas focusing on the kidnap and subsequent search for Bernice’s half-human half-Killoran son, Peter. My novella – Hiding Places – did not feature Bernice but Adrian Wall (Peter’s father) and thief cum art acquirer, Bev Tarrant. It was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s writings, particularly The Waves, and featured some of her motifs.

Adrian and Bev follow a lead to a strange hermetically sealed coastal town, where the hotel holds past secrets of violent events. While Adrian tracks a wolf on the dunes, Bev becomes involved with the introverted young boy Jacob, who seems to cast a strange power over the inhabitants of the hotel. But the past has even stronger power here, and both Adrian and Bev have to face their dark histories or be consumed by them.

Parallel Lives Cover Art

The Collection has lost one of its own. Someone who made a mistake once, and has never been forgiven for it. Someone whose hard work and need to make amends has been taken for granted. Someone who doesn’t fit in.

Clarissa Jones has been head of administration at the Braxiatel Collection for many years. Enough time to really know her way around the place – its security, its weaknesses, its secrets. Knowledge, in fact, of great value to any of the neighbouring powers.

So it’s bad news for everyone when she disappears.

The Collection has lost one of its own. Unless Clarissa has taken others with her.

The Novellas
The Serpent’s Tooth – Rebecca Levene
Hiding Places – Stewart Sheargold
Jason and the Pirates – Dave Stone

Linking Material – Simon Guerrier

Review

“Hiding Places is full of tension and character driven drama, Sheargold taking his time to slowly rack up the tension before rewarding the reader with an excellent, if violent, ending.”

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Released January 2006.

The Tartarus Gate

The Tartarus Gate

Benny is missing, having not returned from a dig. Kidnapped expertly. Removed from time and space completely. Jason, of course, uses every means at his disposal to find her. But resources are limited: the Braxiatel Collection has its own far more urgent problems.

Then he receives information on her possible whereabouts, from a benevolent religious order known as the CroSSScape.

Why is Benny on the planet Cerebus Iera, a planet on the cliff-edge of the universe? A planet that is known to be violent, dangerous, and uninhabitable. A planet rumoured to have links to the Tartarus Gate, the mythical gateway to hell.

Review

“The Tartarus Gate sees a dark but nonetheless amusing start to the season. Highly Recommended.”

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Released July 2006. The Tartarus Gate began Bernice Summerfield’s seventh season.