Bernice Summerfield is back with more Big Finish adventures, a lot of them, and these ones are ‘True Stories’.
‘True Stories’ is a collection of short stories focusing on Bernice Summerfield. Released simultaneously are the book and the audio book, we are looking at the audio book. In case you haven’t read the old ‘Benny’ (as she’s often referred to) books, or heard any of the Big Finish audio’s don’t be alarmed. This set of stories does a great job of painting a picture of Benny without needing much reference. After all this is all set in the ‘Unbound’ Universe.
There’s no back story given for Bernice but, a bit like The Doctor, if you’re venturing this territory you likely already know enough to get you started. After all, this character has been around since 1992 and has a long history of her own. Thankfully, Big Finish always do a fine job of keeping in mind that every story may be someones first, or hundredth, and rarely require you to know more than necessary.
Who is involved?
The writers for this anthology of short stories are: Jon Blum & Rupert Booth, Xanna Eve Chown, Tim Gambrell, Matthew Griffiths, Kate Orman & Q, and Victoria CW Simpson. With the exception of Simpson each writer has previously contributed to Doctor Who or Bernice Summerfield in some form or another. For example, Q has written for The Faction Paradox while Kate Orman has written multiple Virgin New Adventures stories along with Eighth Doctor Adventures. Each writer knows what they’re doing and offers a variety of stories to keep us entertained and intrigued while remaining true to Bernice.
Lisa Bowerman has been playing Bernice Summerfield for long enough that she is Benny. Therefore it makes perfect sense to have the multi-talented Bowerman narrate these stories. This is not a Big Finish audio drama, this is an audio book. There is no music or sound effects or anything other than Lisa Bowerman narrating the words written on a page in her own wonderful voice. Thankfully she is a talented actress who can manipulate her vocal range with accents and voices and, perhaps most importantly, knows how to carry a story, or six.
The quality is in the delivery
These stories are solid, and they are expertly told. You get wrapped up in it and it’s not hard to imagine would these stories would be like with production behind them. It’s fun to go back to Bernice Summerfield’s roots in a purely literary way and to be able to continue to tell her stories in book format, even audio book.
As with any short story collection the stories vary in length. Some have a running time of an hour while others are in the 30 minute range. With 6 stories in total the running time is up there.
There’s not a dull story in the bunch. You have big epic’s like the two parter ‘Hue and Cry’ which feels like a novel and then you have smaller, lighter stories like ‘Fast Contact’ which is essentially conversations. The humour is very present throughout and be it the writing or Bowerman, being her ever charismatic and engaging self, these stories all feel exactly how you want and expect Bernice Summerfield to be.
It’s difficult to review a compilation like this concisely, and with a numbered score. The bottom line is that long time fans will not be disappointed and new fans are about to be hooked on what’s bound to be a new addiction. The writing is all very good and Lisa Bowerman is beyond incredible. She has great pace and creates tone and atmosphere with only her voice, and range of voices which is an impressive feat to make a series of short stories pop, each in their own way. You can’t go wrong for £9.99. Bowerman herself is worth the price of entry and Big Finish continue to put out work that is obviously loved and admired by their entire team and, of course, us fans.
This title was released in September 2017. It is exclusively available to buy from the BF website..
Bernice Summerfield: True Stories features six stories about everyone’s favourite archaeologist, with unusual digs, daring missions and more, all set in the Unbound Universe of the recent audios. The writers are Jon Blum & Rupert Booth, Xanna Eve Chown, Tim Gambrell, Matthew Griffiths, Kate Orman & Q, and Victoria Simpson.
Archaeologist, adventurer, mother, and occasional goddess, Professor Bernice Surprise Summerfield has seen and done more things in this universe than you can possibly imagine. But none of that matters right now. Because, Benny isn’t in this universe any more. Right now, she’s stuck in an alternate universe (through no fault of her own) and this universe has definitely seen better days. In fact, it’s rumoured to be dying. Luckily, the President of the Universe is an old friend, and he’s lent her a spaceship so she can carry on doing what she does best: righting wrongs, making mistakes, saving lives, drinking… These stories won’t tell you how – or if – she makes it home. But they will tell you about some of her adventures in this unbound universe. Some of them are even true…”
Hue and Cry by Kate Orman and Q
Never The Way by Jonathan Blum and Rupert Booth
Fast Contact by Matthew Griffiths
Futureproof by Victoria CW Simpson
Stockholm From Home by Tim Gambrell
Bliss by Xanna Eve Chown
Produced by David Richardson
Written By: Jon Blum & Rupert Booth, Xanna Eve Chown, Tim Gambrell, Matthew Griffiths, Kate Orman & Q, and Victoria Simpson
Read by Lisa Bowerman