Faith Stealer is the 61st entry in Big Finish’s monthly range of Doctor Who audios, released back in September 2004. It was written by Graham Duff, and began a new run of stories featuring the Eighth Doctor (played by Paul McGann) along with Charley and C’rizz, continuing to make their way through the mysterious multi-zoned world in the “Divergent Universe.”
In their ongoing quest to find the missing TARDIS (something that has been going on since they got to the Divergent Universe at the end of Zagreus), the Doctor Charley and C’rizz have now found themselves in the Multihaven–a vast municipality devoted to religious study and practice. Dozens of different official religious groups all live together with a measure of peace and harmony–occasionally members of different groups convert one another but it all seems to come out in the wash. That is, until the 23rd Church of the Lucidity begins to show signs of grander designs…
Satire is the name of the game in a story like Faith Stealer–with a story all about religion in a secular Doctor Who setting, how could it be anything but? A lot of the material presented is of the absurdist-comical bent: one religion worships accidents (specifically the “Great Lord Whoops the Great Neglecter”) while another deifies a material called Kabari which is never strictly described, but can apparently be eaten, worn, used as wallpaper, or used in any other of a 100 different ways. The Doctor, when pressed, must invent his own religion: the Tourists, who begin each day with a ritual cup of tea. the inhabitants of the Multihaven take all this in their stride. Of course, there is a plot in the midst of all of this silliness, and a more sinister side to things in the form of the rapturous brainwashing that comes going too deep with the Church of the Lucidity.
A bit more honest faith would not come amiss in stories like this, but still it is a fun and well-crafted adventure. The regular cast of Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas are all fine, and C’rizz feels like he has more of a purpose for being around than he did previously. The trauma he experienced back in his debut tale, The Creed of the Kromon, is continuing to have an impact, which makes sense. Hopefully, both this character point, and the whole plot of missing the TARDIS (you briefly think they’ve found it here, but that just turns out to just be an illusion created by one of the religions), will actually add up to something solid in the long run. So far, the whole Divergent Universe thing just feels like an excuse for a collection of disconnected quirky tales–some have been better than others–but I’m trusting that in the end it will feel like it was going somewhere specific all along. I