Deathtraps is the second CD in the Soldiers of Love series and I feel it is slightly weaker than the first one. This is almost entirely due to one of the subplots being poor. The rest I found as enjoyable as the first one.
Gareth Thomas has taken over the role of the villanious editor. I often wondered what Gareth would be like playing a megalomaniac with delusiions of grandeur - now I know. Way over the top and obviously relishing every moment. His opening speech is a delight, with a concluding sentence that had all of us laughing.
I particularly enjoyed his scenes with Gulgolin, a fussy alien official.
Jackie Pearce plays Madame Deephole, the owner of a brothel. Those who have seen Jackie's sense of humour at conventions will have no difficulty imagining her playing the double entendres which fill a good portion of her dialogue (I kept being reminded of a 'Carry On' movie. It really is that kind of smutty humour.) I'm pretty certain she'll be back for the next CD - the part came over very well and I'd be very surprised indeed if she wasn't enjoying it. She plays the part with a slight European accent and sounds very good.
I didn't feel Michael Keating was quite so well served this time around. His character, Mydas, has had his mind emptied by the villain and hence he goes around babbling nonsense - though some of it is fairly amusing nonsense. There's a long flashback scene to when he first met his wife - notable chiefly for the number of smutty jokes that can be managed about playing a 'cello (more than you think).
The lowest point is the scenes set on the spacecraft carrying Maureen Mydason (Mydas's wife). Although I actually liked Maureen's performance better than last time (she's played by Alison Taffs), the rest of the characters on the trip left me stone cold and the space dentist was dreadful. The jokes managed to cross the line between smutty and funny to smutty and boring. When you get to the dentist's song, just skip to the next track.
Michael gets to sing a song later on and that is much better. Nothing brilliant, but not too dire either.
This whole space dentist scene is even more annoying as it seems irrelevent to the main story. Most of the other scenes are adding something to the overall plot and it's obvious that there's a lot to discover about what the Editor's overall plans are. I enjoyed the areas where the plot was developing, where we find out more about the Space Patrol and who wanted Cindy out of her job.
This series will not appeal to those looking for meaningful satire or a probing analysis of a probable future. It bears the kind of relationship to serious SF that 'Carry on up the Khyber' does to the history of the British in India.
If you enjoyed the first CD, then you'll probably enjoy this one. If you're thinking of getting it for Gareth, Jackie and Michael's performances (not forgetting Nicholas Courtney as King Turnildus) then I think it's worth is as long as you don't mind smutty jokes. The element that appeals to me is what I only describe as the 'comic book' style - the characters cheerfully make long monologues to the listener and most characters are played larger than life. I think it is that larger than life element that I enjoy, when aliens treat the contents of their wardrobe more seriously than their foreign policy and weapons have effects that fit the needs of the plot rather than worrying about petty things like realism.
I love genuine hard SF, but Soldiers of Love is something that I enjoy on a different level.
PS. Last, but not least, don't buy this CD on its own. The plot will make no sense at all if you have not heard the first one.
Judith's rule states that "If I like it, I'll sell it." I now have copies for sale at 10 pounds including UK postage.
Cost to Europe 10.50 pounds. USA 11 pounds. (or $19 cash) Australia 11.25 pounds
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