A BBC Radio adaptation of Michel Faber’s science-fiction masterpiece, starring Dougray Scott, Joe Armstrong and Hayley Atwell.
Peter is a devoted husband and man of faith who is called to the mission of a lifetime - one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Beatrice. Hired as a preacher by an enigmatic corporation called USIC, he must leave behind everything he loves to travel to the distant planet of Oasis, where the company has its base.
The native inhabitants - a gentle, peaceable community - welcome Peter to their settlement and are eager to hear the teachings of the Bible, which they call The Book of Strange New Things. As he becomes acquainted with his new flock, he tells them about where he has come from and shows them photos of life on Earth.
But in his absence, climate change has wreaked devastation on Peter’s home planet. Letters from his wife tell of food shortages, natural disasters and societal breakdown - and as survival on Earth becomes more and more difficult, the distance between Peter and Beatrice grows ever vaster. As their relationship is put under increasing strain, can they find a way to reconnect with each other?
Winner of the Saltire Book of the Year Award 2015, The Book of Strange New Things is an extraordinary, unforgettable tale of love, faith and what happens when both are tested to breaking point. This mesmerising dramatisation stars Dougray Scott as the Narrator, Joe Armstrong as Peter and Hayley Atwell as Beatrice.
Cast and credits
Narrator - Dougray Scott
Peter - Joe Armstrong
Beatrice - Hayley Atwell
Grainger - Kelly Burke
Oasan/Tuska - Mark Edel-Hunt
Jesus Lover Number One/Severin - Michael Bertenshaw
Jesus Lover Number Five/BG - Damian Lynch
Jesus Lover Number Four - David Acton
USIC Psychologist - Jane Slavin
USIC Doctor - Elaine Claxton
Other parts played by members of the company.
Written by Michael Faber
Adapted by Miranda Emmerson
Directed by Emma Harding
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 6-17 October 2014
What listeners say about The Book of Strange New Things
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- Spev Moon
I don't even know what this is...
I need to preface this by saying that Joe Armstrong and Hayley Atwell are my two favourite actors on the planet. Their performances as the enforced-separated couple, Peter and Bea, were absolutely phenomenal. Naturally, I was beyond excited to finally get to hear this story all the way through.
I don't *want* to say I wish I hadn't bothered.... but I'm not too sure what the story actually was meant to be. it seemed to be several strands of a story that never really weaved together properly. It had no real ending, it just sort of....stopped. Did Peter save Bea? What happened to the rest of the aliens? What ACTUALLY happened to either of Peter's predecessors? Was the story supposed to be a mystery? A thriller? A comment on the redundancy of religion? That humans shouldn't meddle in the affairs of alien life? That the world going to pot was Peter's specific punishment from God for going to another planet to teach the inhabitants about Jesus? Nothing is really explained, nothing is resolved. I'm really not sure whether or not I enjoyed it because I don't know what happened. I needed at least another five chapters to figure it out!!
I would also STRONGLY suggest there should have been a trigger warning for the animal abuse detailed in Chapter 9 - I had nightmares after listening to it.
I adored the performances by the entire cast, I really felt for all of the characters - I just don't feel as though any of my emotional investment paid off for any of them.
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