Worlds Beyond

Posted in Audio by - March 08, 2024
Worlds Beyond

Released March 2024


In the second entry of Storm of the Sea Devils, ‘Worlds Beyond’ by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky takes the Doctor, Harry, and Naomi to a luxury resort that can custom tailor the perfect holiday for each individual visitor. This seeming utopia has a dangerous foundation, however, as the travelers soon discover.

Custom experiences through both travel itineraries and virtual reality are becoming increasingly commonplace, and this world that can utilize natural spores to react to individuals’ thoughts and desires to craft the absolutely perfect experience based even on subconscious thoughts is a tantalizing proposition that Naomi and Harry simply cannot resist. Whether due to trepidation about spores reading his brain or simply being unable to accept the idea of a relaxing holiday, the Doctor is more reticent and would just as soon leave the Cicerones behind, but the notion of relaxing games of chess while Harry explores a crumbling ruin and Naomi enjoys a day by the sea slowly wins him over.

As advertised, these experiences seem perfectly blissful and enjoyable for all three, and the Doctor is further drawn into the experience when the man he is playing against is revealed to be the famed Alan Turing. Though the Doctor knows that this Turing is not real, his knowledge and ability to comprehend the bold ideas the Doctor presents about virtual and alternative realities is impressive and certainly piques the Doctor’s interest, especially as Turing’s chess strategies and prowess seem to increase with each game. Behind the scenes, the Cicerones are boosting the power to Turing to untested levels despite certain fears of unknown consequences, and discussion about the Turing test become all the more prescient as an existential crisis emerges. With his experience thus shut down for repairs, the Doctor discovers the fate that befalls visitors to this world whose advertisemd enjoyment must eventually turn to suffering so as to produce the needed emotions to provide power to this civilization. It’s a variation of sorts on Monsters, Inc without a happy alternative emotion provided, but it spurs the Doctor into action to help save his friends while taking advantage of an offer that Time Lord knowledge and physiology allow only him to make to his captors.

Tom Baker is once again brilliant as the Doctor who so easily switches between light-hearted and deadly serious, and the innate curiosity he shows here is perfectly balanced with his dedication to eliminate suffering in any of its multitude of forms. Fittingly, however, the journeys of Harry and Naomi are anything but frivolous filler as Harry comes to reconnect with his medical background that the military has somewhat muted while Naomi learns much more about the confident and capable woman she can and will develop into in short order. Christopher Naylor and Elanor Crooks again stand out as their characters are allowed to develop both independently and together, and the promise that this trio has already shown should capably carry any number of future stories together. However, while the Cicerone story is a variation of one that has been done many times before that comes perilously close to suffering from the Doctor being more of a spectator as the Cicerones inadvertently bring about their own downfall, ‘Worlds Beyond’ offers one last and wholly satisfying twist by bringing forth a question about the true purpose of this world and what the Doctor himself truly experienced. The decision to leave the question open without an answer is a masterstroke that adds an element of uncertainty to the Doctor’s typically certain actions, and whether the decision to not look back has any bearing on future developments or not, it further elevates another strong and stylish outing for The Fourth Doctor Adventures.

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