Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Fundamentally, this is a story about language. The setup is a university where the ultimate lexicon is being assembled. To assist in this an incredibly advanced A.I. hologlyph called "Book" is used as a tool to collect all the known words of the English language. Meanwhile, the top researcher (an old friend of the Doctor's) is found dead - presumably murdered - in her locked office. And there's definitely something odd about Book.
For lovers of the English language, there is a lot to love here. Your vocabulary will be stretched to its absolute limits listening to this audio (more like ripped apart in my case). It was clearly written by a very clever man. And, the character of Book is quite creepy and the audio effect for his voice is terrific. There is some clever humor here too, and I am particularly amused during the parts where the titular suffix is temporarily censored.
But, ultimately for me, the central premise of the "Omniverbum" just doesn't resonate with me. Science Fiction, to me, is really just plausible sounding fantasy. And, this concept just doesn't ring true to me. I had trouble wrapping my head around it, and once I (thought) I did, I just thought it was silly. So while I was intrigued by "...ish" for its first half, the explanation just came off as nonsensical and (even worse) unbelievable to me. Author Phil Pascoe even admits the plot doesn't really make sense.
On my most recent listen I did enjoy this slightly more than way back in 2004, ten years ago. So, while this has been among my least favorite Big Finish stories for a decade, it did come off a little better than I had remembered it. I appreciate the cleverness of the dialog, which is loaded with all the color you could imagine being squeezed out of the English language. I also enjoy the change in attitude the Doctor shows in the American colloquialisms of English by the end of the story. Still, I can't muster up the same enthusiasm fans had for this story a decade ago. A well acted, and clever story, that I just fail to enjoy as much as I might wish to.