The Goddess Quandary

Posted in Audio by - August 15, 2018
The Goddess Quandary

Released February 2006

Set concurrently to the narrative framing device of ‘Death and the Daleks’ but after the events of the forthcoming ‘The Crystal of Cantus,’ ‘The Goddess Quandary’ by Andy Russell sees Bernice tell a story wholly unrelated to her student Parasiel’s request to hear about what mysterious fate has befallen Braxiatel following the Collection’s occupation by the Fifth Axis. Thus unfolds the tale of the dangerous adventure that ensues following the monks of Etheria’s request for Bernice to verify their claim that they have discovered the final resting place of the almighty warlord Aldèbrath, prompting speculation that the legend of return could be true but also suggesting that a financial boon for the troubled group could be the motivation behind the claims.

There’s an incredible amount of backstory to ‘The Goddess Quandary,’ and Russell introduces all of it seamlessly and evocatively without any of it becoming too burdensome or overbearing. Following a harrowing war with the Festari, the Holy Order of Etheria was almost completely eradicated, Abbot Primus the only survivor and the one to whom God delivered the means of cloning to rebuild. Yet as Father Secundo looks to use the advent of modern technology along with the publicity of this claim to spread the word of God through the universe once again, the revelation that the Order is not quite the benign religious group it appears to be with its hidden agenda to dominate the beliefs of all free people and to cleanse the universe of those who do not convert is an engrossing one that Duncan Wisbey gives an incredible voice to in an ingenious means of amplifying the Order’s presence within the confines of such a small cast.

‘The Goddess Quandary’ also sees the reintroduction of Bernice’s Pakhar friend Keri, here voiced by Jane Goddard, and the dynamic that unfolds between the two as Keri tries to re-establish herself within the world of real journalism and stories is a fascinating one as the limits of friendship and putting oneself first come to the forefront in equal measure. Keri is a character who knows Bernice’s tendencies incredibly well, and her unique outlook is a most welcome one within the series as she continues to experience how tough and unfair the universe can be as she continues to look out for her own best interests first and foremost. Indeed, with Bernice revoking Keri’s right to call her a friend after the harrowing ordeal she caused through lies and deception, there is absolutely plenty more drama that could be in store for this duo, and it’s incredibly fitting that all Bernice can think of when death seems inevitable is Peter’s face and never seeing it again. Of course, this does draw into focus the fact that this is another story without the supporting cast who- aside from Jason- have been conspicuously absent from recent affairs, though the framing device for this story does suggest that something monumental is about to be revealed as this sixth series approaches its end.

Bernice is at her strongest and most determined here as she becomes fully entwined in the dangerous mystery at hand and eventually discovers the truth behind Aldèbrath who was part of the ultimate weapon to be used against the Festari. A woman placed into cryogenic storage some five centuries ago before the last battle with her mind placed in the onboard computer of the Fervent Hope battle ship, she is the very embodiment of an ideology and inspires those she comes in contact with to live peacefully, a far cry from the male warlord that history remembers. So while ‘The Goddess Quandary’ may not completely revolutionise along the way and does suffer from being a stated placeholder prior to some major narrative revelations in the finale, as an isolated story it proves remarkably adept at providing surprises and a tense and gripping atmosphere that never relents.

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