For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This new torchwood book centres around that fact. In that it considers the consequences ot the teams actions, and the fallout from all of their missions.
Unlike other torchwood books, this is a collection of stories rather than a novel. it runs for 255 pages and contains five stories plus brief acknwoledgments and notes on the writers. There's a fair amount of adult content so it's not really suitable for young readers.
The stories run from roughly 40 to 60 pages each.
story one, the baby farmers, involves the original torchwood cardiff team, briefly glimpsed in the second year of the show. Alice Guppy, Emily Holroyd, and Charles Gaskell. Plus their freelance operative Jack Harkness. a tale of torchwood investigating a ship being used for a school and the horrors they discover onboard, it's nothing out of the ordinary plot wise, but there's a superbly realised victorian setting, and what we saw of this team on tv made me eager to see more stories featuring them, so this is a welcome and entertaining read.
story two, Kaleidoscope, is set in between the first snd second seasons of the show, as the team try to adjust whilst jack is absent. They get involved in a typical case of something alien thats come through the rift falling into human hands. In this case a boy with an abusive father. And the device he finds has several suprises. Both a decent look at how the team tried to adjust to the absence of their leader and how it affected each of them, and a very well written tale of ordinary life for the boy in question, this is pretty memorable stuff and the end will live with you for a while.
Story three, the wrong hands, is set in between the second and third series of the show and features another case of alien technology getting into the wrong hands, as a gang hassling a new mother and her baby get more than they bargained for. This is a bit more conventional than the other stories but it has it's moments, not least the true nature of the threat which you really won't see coming.
story four, virus, follows on from the above and sees the team face the consequences of how they resolved things in the wrong hands. it leaves gwen and jack in danger, and ianto has to save the day himself. how far will he go? a great showcase for the character. also look out for an appearance from a character seen just once in the tv show.
story five, consequences, plays a lot of clever tricks with the narrative as it's presented as a manuscript written by a lady detailing her encounters with the torchwood team. but she forgets things. what? and why? one you have to work at to begin with, but stick with it because the nature of the threat here is a very original and rather scary idea. and the team have an interesting solution to it. This one contains a fair bit of continuity to the tv show and other torchwood novels, but you don't have to be familiar with all of them to get into it.
All in all a nice idea that comes off very well and a really good read. And the final story ties into an earlier one in a very clever way. you'll see what I mean....
on 5 June 2010
This book made a refreshing change from the usual style of Torchwood books. Rather than one story, this contains five loosely connected short-stories, ranging from early 20th century Torchwood hunting baby snatchers to post-series two Torchwood battling drug-dealers, and the strange case of Nina Rogers.
Each of the stories is the perfect length - taking me around 20 minutes to read, just right for my daily commute. The spread through time is good too, as it means each tale can focus on different characters and the reader does not bore. The subtle way in which the stories are tied together is pleasing, and as you realise reading through, elements of these have been seeded in the earlier Torchwood novels.
The second story had a disappointing ending. I was hoping when I read it that that meant it was leaving issues to be resolved later on, but it didn't, rather just serving to tie into the next story. The structure of the fifth story was also a little strange, but once the end was reached it mostly made sense. One of the problems with the short format is that there is not much space for explanation. The origins of certain elements are not gone into in much depth, which does leave the reader wondering in places.
Overall though a pleasant change. It does seem as if this might be the last Torchwood novel, at least until series four (if it ever emerges), and it's a good way to round off the set on a high.
Five interlinked Torchwood stories on the theme of consequences of actions, my favourite Torchwood book / play to date
In the first book: 'The Baby Farm' we are in Victorian England. A desperate mother is driven to give up her baby to the deliciously spooky Ms Blight and one of Torchwood's founding memebers: Emily Holyroyd places a mysterious book in Cardiff University Library. The Torchwood team follow the fate of the babies to a Ragged School. These were real historical institutions set up by philanthrophists to give boys training in skills such as shoe making, ironwork and tailoring and offer them a real chance of escaping the poverty they are born into. But in this case something Rift borne is involved and those taking the babies have to pay a terrible price for exploiting an alien species.
In 'Kaleidoscope' we have moved forward to the time when Jack had disappeared leaving Gwen, Toshiko, Ianto and Owen rudderless. Danny is a young boy terrorised by his physically abusive father. When a piece of alien technology comes into his hands he looks through it at his father believing it to be an ordinary kaleidoscope, but this is a Rehabilitator. They were used in prisons and when the viewed was seen through it they became the ideal according the person doing the viewing. Danny's father becomes loving, gentle and a real father. But the Rehabiliator is very addictive, and when Gwen removes it from Danny she causes terrible damage which Jack would have foreseen.
Jack is back in 'The Wrong Hands' and Torchwood's attention is drawn to the strange deaths of a number of drug dealers, one cut in half by a weapon that is clearly not terrestrial. On a sink estate in Cardiff an alien child has taken over control of a young impoverished girl to take care of him. As the alien child tries to take over Gwen Ianto and Jack struggle to get her back, and the local supermarket is destroyed in a ball of fire as the child's surrogate mother fights back.
James Moran's 'Virus' takes up the story, as the child's remaining parent fights their way through the Rift to find their child and mate dead. They blame Torchwood and inject Gwen and Jack with a virus that leaves them in a catatonic state of living death, the worst possible fate for an immortal. It is up to the remaining member of Torchwood, Ianto, to rescue them, drawing on the depth of his love for Jack to become the least likely action hero.
The final book 'Consequences' brings the story arc full circle. It is narrated by Nina, an ordinary hard drinking student who is losing chunks of her memory but seems to be driven to follow a handsome man dressed like a World War 2 soldier. The Torchwood team are drawn back to Cardiff University Library to solve this last finely written story.
A wonderful set of stories that include both great science fiction storytelling writing but also great heart and a real sense of the difficult dilemmas the dwindling Torchwood team face.