The Voice of God

2007 BBC Radio thriller/sci-fi by Simon Bovey told in 5 half hour episodes. A couple of geologists, investigating mysterious earth tremors in the Australian Outback, stumble upon a secret military research base developing sonic weapons — whose side effects may have the potential for even greater catastrophes down the line.

Decently acted suspense-thriller, with a cast including Clare Corbett, Matthew Dyktynski, and with Geoffrey Beevers especially good. And it’s suitably pulpy at times (building to an almost James Bond-like climax) but does suffer from logic/plausibility problems (from this being a seeming British project in Australia, to even just what does the villain thinks he’s going to accomplish toward the end?) As well, for a five episode serial, it doesn’t really seem that complex or twisty (there’s a murder midway through — but there aren’t a lot of suspects) — seeming too much a cerebral procedural at times to quite score as a fun thriller, yet too much a pulpy thriller to quite score as an intellectual drama (despite a few conversations that are mainly ideological discussions).

And I’m reminded of another Bovey-written radio serial — Slipstream — which also left me ambivalent. Despite genuine attempts at character stuff (one of the geologists is half-Aboriginie) it never quite becomes a character drama where the characters are what’s holding your interest, and though it is, in a sense, supposed to be a liberal drama with an anti-military theme — in other ways Bovey seems a little ambivalent toward the fascist aspects (maybe because the civilian heroes seem a bit quick to unthinkingly throw in with the army types at the beginning). But, admittedly, some of that’s just me — I’m not necessarily keen on stories where characters find themselves in a military/fascist environment and, at least at first, don’t resist it.

The main flaws, as I say, are just that I didn’t really care much about the characters and, given it’s stretched over 5 episodes, the plot (more or less) goes where you expect it to. Coincidentally, Corbett starred in another BBC Radio sci-fi thriller, Scramble, which shared some conceptually similarities!

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