Sunday, May 9, 2010

Consequences [Torchwood]

Consequences is the fifteenth and (for the foreseeable future) last book in the Torchwood novel line. It's very different than its predecessors because it's a collection of five short stories by different authors. A very loose thread ties a couple of the stories together.

The Baby Farmers by David Llewellyn is a really good story set in Victorian-era Torchwood, as Jack (a freelance operative at the time) and other members of the organization investigate a mysterious ship-turned-children's orphanage named HMS Hades. There's something akin to an origin story for the infamous Blowfish aliens here, and more development of the other Victorian-era characters. I'm a sucker for seeing Torchwood in this time period, and this is definitely a story worth reading.

Sarah Pinborough's Kaleidoscope takes place just after the end of Season One, when Jack has suddenly disappeared and the other members of Torchwood are left in the lurch. They begin arguing amongst themselves over who should be the new leader (Tosh, according to regulations) when (as often happens) sensors in the Hub pick up strange energy spikes in the Rift. Torchwood gets on the trail of a piece of alien technology that turns people into idealized versions of themselves. The investigation leads to a really rather sad story about an abused boy.

The Wrong Hands by Andrew Cartmel starts out with an interesting hook: the bodies of drug dealers are turning up in Cardiff, sliced neatly in two with cauterized wounds (like a lightsaber!). The bulk of this story (set after Tosh & Owen's deaths) takes place in and around the estates ("the projects" for American readers), and features an interesting and unique villain: a stranded alien baby with the power to control people's minds.

Virus by James Moran takes place just hours after The Wrong Hands, and involves the team being attacked by the alien baby's father, out for revenge. Xeno-Pappy injects Gwen and Jack with a paralytic virus--leaving Ianto to single-handedly save the day by dealing with (and going Rambo on) a group of black marketeers who hold the antidote. It's a nice gift to help assuage the legion of Ianto fans who are still mourning after Children of Earth.
Finally, we have Consequences by Joseph Lidster. In a nice piece of continuity, this story involves a mysterious book briefly seen in the first story in this collection. It also features a bittersweet arc for a supporting character named Nina Rogers, a young college student who has appeared in several previous Torchwood novels as the witness to some of the many strange things that always seem to happen in Cardiff.

Overall, this was a strong collection of stories, much better than the stuff that appears in Torchwood Magazine. I'd like to see more Torchwood books, especially if they are willing to be more flexible on the time period and geographical setting.

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