Before I can properly review this book, I need to explain what The Dex Legacy is. Emily Inkpen is a UK sci-fi author who has written a trilogy of novels set in a brutal far-future dystopian alien world, featuring a trio of deadly genetically enhanced super soldiers – Varian, Isra and Ren. The first book, The Blood Road, is currently out on publisher submission and, as everyone knows, this is always a long process.
During this query period Chris Gregory, founder of The Alternative Stories and Fake Realities podcast, contacted Emily and enquired if she was interested in making a one-off audio-drama set in her world. The result was a short prequel episode released in 2020 called The Bomb, set 11 years before the events in the novels, voice-acted by a professional cast. Seeing the potential after working on that pilot episode, Chris suggested to Emily that they explored the idea further, resulting in more audio-drama scripts and eventually a complete prequel series – The Dex Legacy.
This book brings together all the scripts from that first season, allowing fans of the show to explore the story in a different way. However, what I personally found even more interesting was the extensive commentary from both Emily and Chris, which details their personal creative journeys during the writing and recording of the show.
A great deal of care and thought has gone into this series and it shows in the quality of each episode. The commentary tackles issues such as finding a diverse cast with the right mix of vocal talents, the role music plays in audio-drama, writing trauma and abuse in a credible and true way, and the approach taken to the sexuality of these characters. As a writer myself, I was particularly interested in how the collaboration between the actors, producer and writer built upon and widened the horizons of an already incredibly well-established and fleshed out fictional world.
When I was younger I grew up listening to plays and shows performed exclusively for the radio. That genre is still alive and well today and, in the digital age, now enjoys a much wider range of platforms able to reach its audience. Telling a compelling story without visual aids or reams of prose is a skilled art form in its own right, as demonstrated by the show. Consequently, I think this book is essentially one written for existing fans of The Dex Legacy – a companion piece rather than an entry point for the uninitiated. That’s not to say these scripts don’t sparkle, but for me part of the pleasure was remembering how they were performed originally. Reading them again, as voiced by their inimitable actors, was a big part of the pleasure for me as I went back to the start of it all and watched how the story began to unfold.
What followed on at the end of this book is just as interesting as the story found within the pages. Earlier this year Emily ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising enough funds to produce a second season. Production of Season Two completed in late 2023 and weekly episodes are currently being released. The show has higher production values, a larger cast and I think it’s really found its voice as the story continues and we spend more time with these fascinating characters. This is reflected in the statistics for the show, which at the time of writing now stand at 140,000 downloads, with four episodes still to release. This is an incredible performance for an independent production.
This book is an unusual one. Normally with book reviews, the book is the thing I’m reviewing but I’m finding that hard to do in isolation here, because this literary creation exists as part of a much wider interconnected web of short stories, ever-expanding audio-drama episodes and forthcoming novels. In my opinion, to fully appreciate Emily Inkpen’s book you really do need to experience the audio version of the show. The Dex Legacy has its own dedicated website (details below), where you can find out about all things Dex including links to various platforms where you can listen to the show. If you enjoy hard sci-fi, realistic characters, complex political machinations, explosive action sequences and a storyline exploring the darker side of humanity then this show is for you.
Despite encouraging you to go and venture into the world of audio, I will finish with my thoughts on the book, as this is supposed to be a book review. As I say above, it’s part of something much larger but I think there is an important message to be found in those pages, woven throughout the commentary and the wonderful creative dynamic that naturally emerged between Emily and Chris. This book is a testament to the power of following your dreams, saying yes to an opportunity and then executing the resulting plan to high standards. If Chris hadn’t sent that first message to Emily or she hadn’t responded positively, neither the show nor this book would even exist, nor would the cast have come together and added their own artistic contribution into the mix. In other words, the world would have been a much poorer place.
For good art to flourish and grow, it’s important to recognise the talent in others and then reach out and tell them, just as Chris did back in 2020. And if you go through life with that kind of positive attitude, The Dex Legacy proves that anything is possible.
The Dex Legacy website can be found here: