‘Terror From The Stars’ (Book/Audio)

‘TERROR FROM THE STARS’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

An Alien Sphere and the Hood with the Thunderbirds, Lady Penelope and Parker

For the proper TV style intro of ‘Terror From The Stars’, check out this link to a Big Finish tweet! 😀

Back in 2015, I wrote to Big Finish, asking if they would do some ‘Thunderbirds’ audios someday. I had a reply from Nick Briggs in the May issue of ‘Vortex’ magazine, saying he would love to do this and he hoped one day it would happen. Six years later and we have ‘Terror From The Stars’ at last! 🙂

I’ve been a huge fan of ‘Thunderbirds’ ever since I was a kid in the 1990s. I used to love watch ‘Thunderbirds’ on TV and VHS and I loved playing with the ‘Thunderbirds’ toys. I still love watching ‘Thunderbirds’ on DVD, so when ‘Terror From The Stars’ became available from Big Finish, I was hooked! 😀

I’m happy my dream for Big Finish audios of ‘Thunderbirds’ came true. Well, sort of. You see, ‘Terror From The Stars’ is a collaboration between Anderson Entertainment and Big Finish. I purchased the download of the story from Big Finish, so it still counts that Big Finish is involved in this production. 🙂

This ‘Thunderbirds’ story is also an audio adaptation of a 1966 novel by John Theydon, originally called ‘Thunderbirds’. It was adapted into an audio production by producer Andrew Clements and re-titled ‘Terror From The Stars’. This story is also a hybrid of a full-cast drama and audio narration. 🙂

I found this fascinating to discover when I came across ‘Terror From The Stars’. I was aware of other spin-off media featuring ‘Thunderbirds’, but I never got around to checking out the books that were made in the 1960s. John Theydon wrote quite a number of ‘Thunderbirds’ novels back in them days.

As well as ‘Terror From The Stars’, John Theydon also wrote ‘Thunderbirds’ stories like ‘Calling Thunderbirds’, ‘Operation Asteroids’, ‘Lost World’, ‘Ring of Fire’ and the ‘Lady Penelope’ story ‘The Albanian Affair’. I hope Anderson Entertainment/Big Finish will be able to produce more audio adaptations of these stories.

I must admit, I was expecting original full-cast audio productions of ‘Thunderbirds’ stories rather than audio adaptations of original ‘Thunderbirds’ books produced in the 1960s, but I guess this is a starting point. Hopefully we’ll get new full-cast audio productions of ‘Thunderbirds’ stories in future.

It’s also intriguing that Anderson Entertainment/Big Finish went for a hybrid of full-cast audio and audio narration with ‘Terror From The Stars’. I would have expected them to go full-on full-cast audio drama as opposed to a mixture of full-cast and audio narration. ‘Doctor Who’ doesn’t do that.

I’m curious why not every ‘Doctor Who’ novel has been turned into an audiobook, whether it’d be full-cast drama or an audiobook reading. Maybe it’s down to rights issues, licensing agreements or budget concerns. Either way, it’s rare to come across a mixture of the two in a ‘Thunderbirds’ story.

It’s an interesting approach and I’m not against it, though a full-cast audio production would be preferable. I appreciate Anderson Entertainment/Big Finish wanting to provide listeners with a full-on experience of immersing into the story and how it would have been read by its original audience.

As well an audio download of the story released by Big Finish, ‘Terror From The Stars’ is also available as a 4-disc CD release and as a hardback book from the official Gerry Anderson store. I purchased the hardback book so I could read it whilst hearing the download on the Big Finish app. 🙂

I don’t know if I would do this for every ‘Thunderbirds’ audio production that comes from Anderson Entertainment/Big Finish based on a John Theydon book, but it’s nice to have done it for this particular story. It’s also very intriguing to find out what ‘Terror From The Stars’ is like in prose form.

In the book, the story is divided into 12 chapters. Each of the chapters are very easy to read and I found them compelling whilst listening to the audio download of the story. Although some of the pieces of exposition get omitted or changed around whilst listening to the story’s audio download. 😐

In the audiobook, there is a foreword provided by David Graham which is read by Jon Culshaw. This is more suited to the audiobook as it’s not in the hardback book. Essentially, it’s David Graham giving a tribute to ‘Thunderbirds’ and how he wishes the new cast and crew well in this audio production. 🙂

Sadly, David Graham didn’t come back to voice any of the ‘Thunderbirds’ characters in the audio production of ‘Terror From The Stars’ as I believe he’s retired from acting, which is a shame. Though many of the original ‘Thunderbirds’ voice cast have passed away at the time of the audio production.

It’s a shame that actors like Shane Rimmer, Sylvia Anderson and Ray Barrett have passed away. Matt Zimmerman is still alive at this point, though I believe he’s retired from acting too. But it’s intriguing how new actors come in to voice the characters for this audio production, which we’ll get to in a bit.

The story of ‘Terror From The Stars’ essentially starts with Scott and Alan in Thunderbird 3 on their way to Thunderbird 5 to relieve John from his tour of space duty. But they discover that Thunderbird 5 has been attacked by an unknown enemy with uncanny powers. Things become more mysterious.

An unidentified object is soon tracked landing in the Gobi desert. When a call for help is made, Scott Tracy in Thunderbird 1 races to the scene, unaware of the danger he’s about to get himself involved in. He soon becomes possessed by a malevolent intelligence wanting to take control of the world. 😮

Jeff Tracy and everyone else on Tracy Island become concerned by Scott’s unusual behaviour when he ends up going from the Gobi desert to London. Lady Penelope and Parker are called in to help to find out what’s happened to Scott. More trouble ensues once the evil Hood becomes involved here.

Jon Culshaw in ‘Terror From The Stars’

Let’s talk about the voice cast in this ‘Thunderbirds’ story. Jon Culshaw voices Jeff Tracy and Parker in this adventure. I was pleased to find Jon Culshaw doing voices for this ‘Thunderbirds’ story. I’ve heard him do quite a number of ‘Doctor Who’ roles over the years in audio dramas and audiobooks.

He’s recognisable for doing the voices of the Third and Fourth Doctors in certain productions. I’ve also met him in real life at ‘The Capitol II’ convention. I like how he’s done the voices of Jeff and Parker, matching to the tones of how Peter Dyneley and David Graham voiced them in the TV series.

I will say the voice cast of ‘Terror From The Stars’ is decent. Whilst some of them don’t match to how I would recognise certain characters’ voices in ‘Thunderbirds’ from the TV series, at least they try to get the tones of those characters from doing research, according to behind-the-scenes interviews. 🙂

Justin T. Lee voices Scott Tracy, John Tracy, the Hood and Kyrano in this adventure. Justin T. Lee has been involved with ‘Thunderbirds’ before since he worked on the three anniversary ‘Thunderbirds’ episodes for 2015. I enjoyed the voice he did for Scott Tracy, sounding like how Shane Rimmer did it.

He’s also very good voicing the Hood. I had no idea it was him voicing the Hood by the time it came to the end credits. 😀 The voice he does for Kyrano is also very good, matching to David Graham. His voice for John Tracy is slightly dodgy in my opinion, but I think it’s decent and matches Ray Barrett. 🙂

Something to mention, even John Tracy gets sidelined in a ‘Thunderbirds’ adventure whether it’d be in book or audio. I know Gerry Anderson didn’t like the character when he was in the TV series, but I’m hoping future audio productions of ‘Thunderbirds’ won’t have John Tracy sidelined every time. 😐

This ‘Thunderbirds’ story also happens to be another occasion where the ‘Thunderbirds’ team get closer to knowing who the Hood is as their villain. References are made to previous encounters with the Hood like ‘Trapped In The Sky’, ‘Desperate Intruder’ and ‘Martian Invasion’ which is so intriguing.

It’s interesting the Hood seems to know a lot about Jeff Tracy and his family, maybe from his contacts with Kyrano on Tracy Island. It’s sort-of echoed in the 2004 ‘Thunderbirds’ film as you think about it. It’s also intriguing the Hood learns Lady Penelope is an International Rescue agent in this. 😐

Joe Jameson voices Alan Tracy and Gordon Tracy in the adventure. Joe Jameson has done quite a number of Big Finish audio productions of ‘Doctor Who’ over the years including ‘The Devil’s Armada’, ‘Fallen Angels’, ‘Recorded Time and Other Stories’, ‘Precious Annihilation’ and many more.

The voices Joe Jameson provides for Alan and Gordon aren’t that great. They don’t match to how Matt Zimmerman and David Graham did them. Alan sounds older and Gordon sounds younger than they usually do in the TV series, but they’re decent stabs and I could at least visualise them for a bit.

Wayne Forester voices Virgil Tracy and Brains in this adventure and is also the narrator of this story. Like Joe Jameson, Wayne Forester has done a number of Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ over the years, including ‘The Waters of Amsterdam’, ‘The Peterloo Massacre’, ‘The Behemoth’ and more. 😀

I like the voice Wayne does for Brains, matching to how David Graham voiced him in the TV series. His voice for Virgil isn’t that great, but then again it can be hard to tell what Virgil is meant to sound like on audio when he was voiced by David Holliday in Season 1 and Jeremy Wilkin in Season 2 on TV.

Maybe it’s a cross between the two when Wayne Forrester voices Virgil. Sometimes it’s also a challenge to distinguish the American voice Wayne does for Virgil compared to his normal voice for narration. Wayne is really good as the story’s narrator; getting things across clearly in the exposition.

Genevieve Gaunt is the voice of Lady Penelope and Grandma Tracy in this adventure. I enjoyed Genevieve’s voice for Lady Penelope in this adventure, matching to the styles and tones of Sylvia Anderson’s voice for Lady Penelope in the TV series. It was easy to visualise her as Lady Penelope. 😀

Her voice for Grandma in one of the story’s scenes is good too. Beforehand, Genevieve worked for Big Finish before in ‘Doctor Who’ productions like ‘The Helliax Rift’. She’s also been in Anderson Entertainment’s ‘First Action Bureau’ series with Sacha Dhawan, Paterson Joseph and Nicola Walker.

Anna Leong Brophy is the voice of Tin-Tin and the alien Sphere in this adventure. She was previously in the ‘Doctor Who’ audio called ‘The Psychic Circus’ with Sylvester McCoy. I enjoyed her voice for Tin-Tin in the adventure and how she provided a very unique take to make Tin-Tin’s voice distinctive.

This is in contrast to how Christine Finn voiced her by making her more Malaysian sounding than she actually was in the TV series. Anna Leong Brophy also makes sure that Tin-Tin doesn’t sound too divorced from her TV counterpart when voicing her on audio. I believed it was Tin-Tin in the audio. 🙂

The voice Anna does for the alien Sphere was interesting. I’m not sure if the voice was meant to be male in the original book but it’s intriguing how the Sphere sounds female in the audio. It’s also intriguing that Scott is the only one who could hear the Sphere’s inside his head as it controlled him.

The story’s climax was rather rushed in my humble opinion. I would have liked the story to carry on when Scott and Gordon were in Thunderbird 4 trying to stop the Hood using the sphere at a reservoir in London. It felt like Chapter 12 was the start of a very exciting climax that ended abruptly.

I will say this, I’m glad all the Thunderbird vehicles were used in this ‘Thunderbirds’ story as opposed to just Thunderbirds 1 and 2 appearing in most of the ‘Thunderbirds’ stories on TV. And it’s great to have most of the ‘Thunderbirds’ characters in this, including Lady Penelope, Parker and the Hood. 😀

I’m pleased the original ‘Thunderbirds’ theme music by Barry Gray was included in the story’s opening, like it would be used in a ‘Thunderbirds’ TV episode. I would have liked it though if the theme music was used at the end of the story, like the closing credits of a ‘Thunderbirds’ TV episode.

I also felt disappointed the theme music wasn’t used much for the launch sequences of the Thunderbirds vehicles in the story. I know the launch sequences slowed things down in the episodes, but as a kid, I got excited to see the Thunderbirds being launched with the music in the background.

There are times when some of Barry Gray’s music cues from the TV series get used in the incidental music by Joe Kraemer, but they didn’t come regularly when hearing the download. I know new music has to be provided, but it’d be nice if more recognisable ‘Thunderbirds’ music was included. 😦

At the end of ‘Terror From The Stars’, both on CD and on download, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including director Samuel Clemens, executive producers Jamie Anderson and Nicholas Briggs, producer Andrew Clements, Jon Culshaw, Justin T. Lee, Joe Jameson, Wayne Forester, Genevieve Gaunt, Anna Leong Brophy, etc.

‘Terror From The Stars’ has been a good ‘Thunderbirds’ book/audio adaptation to check out from Anderson Entertainment/Big Finish. I know I’ve raised issues about some of the voice work and the music in this hybrid production of full-cast audio and audio narration, but this has been worthwhile.

I was immersed in every chapter featured in this story both in book and on audio. It does feel like a proper ‘Thunderbirds’ story, as it should be considering it was adapted from John Theydon’s original 1966 book. I look forward to more ‘Thunderbirds’ audios from Anderson Entertainment/Big Finish. 🙂

Hopefully as time goes on, the upcoming audio productions of ‘Thunderbirds’ from Anderson Entertainment/Big Finish will grow on me. I look forward to when ‘Calling Thunderbirds’, ‘Operation Asteroids’, ‘Lost World’, ‘Ring of Fire’ and the ‘Lady Penelope’ story ‘The Albaian Affair’ will be adapted into audio. 😀

I also hope more original ‘Thunderbird’ audio productions by Anderson Entertainment/Big Finish will be made and that they won’t simply be based on books that were made in the 1960s. I also hope to enjoy more of the new ‘Thunderbirds’ cast as they seem to provide decent voices for the characters.

Incidentally, there aren’t any pictures featured in the ‘Terror From The Stars’ hardbook book. I wonder if there were any pictures in the original ‘Thunderbirds’ 1996 book by John Theydon.

Wolfie: “Well, it’s funny you should mention that, Tim!”

Oh hey, Wolfie! What’s up?

Wolfie:Oh, I was reading and I thought I’d drop by and demystify. True to the era, there are a series of Target-styled illustrations from the original 1996 paperback novella. One of which I’ve got presentable for you here!

Huh! That’s interesting! I’m surprised that wasn’t included in the 2021 hardback book I’ve got.

Wolfie:Me too. I suspect it might have something to do with copyright on the image(s). They might not have been able to track down the illustrator, Peter Archer, or his estate to request a reissue. He did the interior and cover. Here’s what the back of the 1966 novella looks like!

Wow! That looks rather pretty that. Thanks for sharing those pics with me, Wolfie.

Wolfie:No problem! Glad you like them! There are no words I dread more than ‘Out of print’. Except, maybe ‘Ready, aim, fire.’

Oh, indeed. Well, see you at the next ‘Thunderbirds’ audio adaptation.

Wolfie:Definitely excited for that. Publication-wise, it’s Lady Penelope and Parker on an Aztec treasure hunt, from memory. Let’s hope they get to do the full set. I’d love to see ‘Operation Asteroids’ at one stage. A space hijack of a Thunderbird, butter lamps in Tibet, snarling proto-cyborgs… It’s something of a favourite. Ah, well, who knows? Maybe it’ll be next?

Could be! Or it could be ‘Calling Thunderbirds’ next! Who knows? See you around, Wolfie!

Wolfie:Ta-ta for now, Tim!

‘Terror From The Stars’ rating – 8/10


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2 thoughts on “‘Terror From The Stars’ (Book/Audio)

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Yeah I heard something about that a while ago. I’m saddened this seems to be the case, though I think an audio adaptation of the ‘Doctor Who’ book ‘Goth Opera’ would be amazing! I’d just love to hear Sarah Sutton play Nyssa in that story if it was turned into an audio drama.

      Thanks Zack.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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