To celebrate 20 years of Bernice Summerfield at Big Finish have produced a series of short stories for the character. The audiobook, Bernice Summerfield: In Time, is available now through the Big Finish website. A hardback book and eBook are also available to order.
Each of the brand-new stories in this collection focus on a different time in Bernice Summerfield‘s life. From her very beginnings through studying in the military academy, looking after the Braxiatel Collection, the world of Legion, into the Unbound universe, and beyond – into the far future.
Review by Rhonda Lancaster
Spending six hours listening to Lisa Bowerman read Benny stories is akin to having coffee with a friend who has been away on exciting adventures. Bernice Summerfield: In Time is not only an awesome showcase for her singular voice, but an awesome showcase for the character she inspired.
As part of the character’s 20 year anniversary, this collection provides snippets from each Benny era. There truly isn’t a connecting thread, but the listener can expect that something bad will happen and that Benny will heroically sort it out. More importantly, the collection allows the listener to see the evolution of the character from the awkward, authority defying teen of Spacefleet Academy in ‘The Bunny’s Curse’ by Doris V. Sutherland to the desired, authority defying woman at the Braxiatel Collection in ‘Benny and the Grieving Man‘ by Simon Guerrier, to a future self-possessed, authority defying elder stateswoman in ‘Old Ruins‘ by Peter Anghelides.
Happy Anniversary Anthology
Often in anthology collections at least one story doesn’t live up to the quality of the others, but In Time does not suffer this fate. These seven stories do Benny justice in equal measure. The opening story ‘Oh No, Not Again‘ by Dave Stone leaves the listener wanting more. Whilst we don’t get more of this tale, we are amply rewarded with the following stories. Editor Xanna Eve Chown has at her disposal writers who fully capture the spirit of Benny. Lisa Bowerman says in the interviews that this time around the writers were writing for the character, instead of her voice. This leads to stories that hit the emotional and practical beats fans expect. Exotic characters, perilous weather, moments of magical realism and boozy hangovers.
‘The Seventh Fanfic‘ by Mark Clapham provides Benny an electronic companion, both helpful and annoying. ‘Legacy Presence‘ by Victoria CW Simpson gives us a museum exhibit that may have possessed our heroine. ‘The Death of Hope‘ by James Goss asks Benny to investigate a planet that may be a god with a Mother Superior. ‘Old Ruins‘ pairs her with a curmudgeonly academic and a quest for an artifact. These stories feel new while offering familiar comforts. As part of the anniversary collection, the listener knows Benny will win through so the stakes are not as high as in an ongoing series, but people are hurt around her. Vicious plants are also a motif in two stories whilst ‘Worm Noir‘ by Antonio Rastelli offers the most tension as Braxiatel is put in peril.
Lisa Bowerman IS Bernice Summerfield
The true pleasure in listening to the reading of these stories is the vocal dexterity of Bowerman. She lightens her voice to play a teen Benny relegated to a mechanical fluffy bunny suit for training exercises. When creating the voices of her fellow academics at the Braxietel Collection or various archaeological conferences, she successfully provides a variety of pompous accents, sometimes soprano squeaks, sometimes deep and nasal. The writing is excellent throughout with visual descriptions that play like a movie, including the description of a character whose calloused hands indicate spending time walking on all fours or a creature with a thousand eyes or that fluffy bunny suit.
Bernice Summerfield: In Time is not a good introduction to the character for those uninitiated to the Benny-verse. There are mentions of the war and a husband and a son that are not given context here, but these don’t prevent enjoyment as the plot and characters are lively. For the dedicated fan, these stories extend the character in interesting ways. These eight stories are time well-spent with our old friend, Benny, through the only voice that is hers, Lisa Bowerman. Plus at £9.99 it’s a holiday steal!
Bernice Summerfield: In Time is a short-story collection edited by Xanna Eve Chown
From a rocky start at military academy to her sudden immersion in an alternative universe – via a variety of jobs and adventures on Dellah, at the Braxiatel Collection, and in the murky world of Legion – Bernice Summerfield is a woman who can be said to have lived more than one life. But one thing’s for certain: wherever she is, Benny can always be counted on to right wrongs, get the job done and, sometimes, even have a good time along the way!
To celebrate 20 years of Benny at Big Finish, each of the brand-new stories in this collection focuses on a different time in Benny’s life. There’s an adventure at St Oscar’s, a mystery at the White Rabbit, and even a surprising glimpse into the far future. Will Benny still be digging for artifacts at 80? You bet she will!
Oh No, Not Again by Dave Stone.
The Bunny’s Curse by Doris V Sutherland.
The Seventh Fanfic by Mark Clapham.
The Braxiatel Collection:
Benny and the Grieving Man by Simon Guerrier.
Wurm Noir by Antonio Rastelli.
Legacy Presence by Victoria CW Simpson.
The Death of Hope by James Goss.
Old Ruins by Peter Anghelides.