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Illuminating Torchwood: Essays on Narrative, Character and Sexuality in the BBC Series

Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Book 21

Andrew Ireland

Created in 2006 as a spinoff of Doctor Who, the internationally popular BBC television series Torchwoodis a unique blend of science fiction and fantasy, with much more of an adult flavor than its progenitor. The series' "omnisexual" protagonist, maverick 51st-century time agent Captain Jack Harkness, leads a team of operatives from the present-day Torchwood Institute, a secret organization dedicated to battling supernatural and extraterrestrial criminals. With its archetypal characters, adult language, subversive humor and openly homosexual and bisexual storylines, Torchwood provides a wealth of material for scholarly analysis and debate.

Using Torchwood as its focal point, this timely collection of essays by a range of experts and enthusiasts provides an interpretive framework for understanding the continually developing forms and genres of contemporary television drama.

Another Life

Torchwood: Book 1

Peter Anghelides

A storm is brewing: the water levels of the Bristol Channel are inexplicably rising, and Cardiff Bay is under threat from the worst flooding in years. In the midst of the climate chaos, Torchwood is called to investigate a series of gruesome murders.

Border Princes

Torchwood: Book 2

Dan Abnett

Something is here that shouldn't be here. Something is watching. In Cardiff's secret heart, the members of the Torchwood team struggle to define and locate the intruder, and contain it before anyone gets hurt.

But this time, they are out of their depth.

Slow Decay

Torchwood: Book 3

Andy Lane

A friend of Gwen's has recently done an impressive bit of slimming, thanks to a new Cardiff weight-loss clinic with an incredibly simple system, and now Rhys wants to give it a try. Elsewhere in the city, an ordinary woman with superhuman strength and a extraordinary hunger is attacking people and eating her victims.

Something in the Water

Torchwood: Book 4

Trevor Baxendale

Dr Bob Strong's GP surgery has been treating a lot of coughs and colds recently, far more than is normal for the time of year. Bob thinks there's something up but he can't think what. He seems to have caught it himself, whatever it is - he's starting to cough badly and there are flecks of blood in his hanky.

Saskia Harden has been found on a number of occasions submerged in ponds or canals but alive and seemingly none the worse for wear. Saskia is not on any files, except in the medical records at Dr Strong's GP practice.

But Torchwood's priorities lie elsewhere: investigating ghostly apparitions in South Wales, they have found a dead body. It's old and in an advanced state of decay. And it is still able to talk.

And what it is saying is 'Water hag'...

Trace Memory

Torchwood: Book 5

David Llewellyn

Tiger Bay, Cardiff, 1953. A mysterious crate is brought into the docks on a Scandinavian cargo ship. Its destination: the Torchwood Institute. As the crate is offloaded by a group of local dockers, it explodes, killing all but one of them, a young Butetown lad called Michael Bellini.

Fifty-five years later, a radioactive source somewhere inside the Hub leads Torchwood to discover the same Michael Bellini, still young and dressed in his 1950s clothes, cowering in the vaults. They soon realise that each has encountered Michael before - as a child in Osaka, as a junior doctor, as a young police constable, as a new recruit to Torchwood One. But it's Jack who remembers him best of all.

Michael's involuntary time-travelling has something to do with a radiation-charged relic held inside the crate. And the Men in Bowler Hats are coming to get it back.

The Twilight Streets

Torchwood: Book 6

Gary Russell

There's a part of the city that no one much goes to, a collection of rundown old houses and gloomy streets. No one stays there long, and no one can explain why - something's not quite right there.

Now the Council is renovating the district, and a new company is overseeing the work. There will be street parties and events to show off the newly gentrified neighbourhood: clowns and face-painters for the kids, magicians for the adults - the street entertainers of Cardiff, out in force.

None of this is Torchwood's problem. Until Toshiko recognises the sponsor of the street parties: Bilis Manger.

Now there is something for Torchwood to investigate. But Captain Jack Harkness has never been able to get into the area; it makes him physically ill to go near it. Without Jack's help, Torchwood must face the darker side of urban Cardiff alone...

Pack Animals

Torchwood: Book 7

Peter Anghelides

Shopping for wedding gifts is enjoyable, unless like Gwen you witness a Weevil massacre in the shopping centre. A trip to the zoo is a great day out, until a date goes tragically wrong and Ianto is badly injured by stolen alien tech. And Halloween is a day of fun and frights, before unspeakable monsters invade the streets of Cardiff and it's no longer a trick or a treat for the terrified population.

Torchwood can control small groups of scavengers, but now someone has given large numbers of predators a season ticket to Earth. Jack's investigation is hampered when he finds he's being investigated himself. Owen is convinced that it's just one guy who's toying with them. But will Torchwood find out before it's too late that the game is horribly real, and the deck is stacked against them?

SkyPoint

Torchwood: Book 8

Phil Ford

'If you're going to be anyone in Cardiff, you're going to be at SkyPoint!'

SkyPoint is the latest high-rise addition to the ever-developing Cardiff skyline. It's the most high-tech, avant-garde apartment block in the city. And it's where Rhys Williams is hoping to find a new home for himself and Gwen. Gwen's more concerned by the money behind the tower block - Besnik Lucca, a name she knows from her days in uniform.

When Torchwood discover that residents have been going missing from the tower block, one of the team gets her dream assignment. Soon SkyPoint's latest newly married tenants are moving in. And Toshiko Sato finally gets to make a home with Owen Harper.

Then something comes out of the wall...

Almost Perfect

Torchwood: Book 9

James Goss

Emma is 30, single and frankly desperate. She woke up this morning with nothing to look forward to but another evening of unsuccessful speed-dating. But now she has a new weapon in her quest for Mr Right. And it's made her almost perfect.

Gwen Cooper woke up this morning expecting the unexpected. As usual. She went to work and found a skeleton at a table for two and a colleague in a surprisingly glamorous dress. Perfect.

Ianto Jones woke up this morning with no memory of last night. He went to work, where he caused amusement, suspicion and a little bit of jealousy. Because Ianto Jones woke up this morning in the body of a woman. And he's looking just about perfect.

And Jack Harkness has always had his doubts about Perfection.

Into the Silence

Torchwood: Book 10

Sarah Pinborough

The body in the church hall is very definitely dead. It has been sliced open with surgical precision, its organs exposed, and its vocal cords are gone. It is as if they were never there or they've been dissolved...

With the Welsh Amateur Operatic Contest getting under way, music is filling the churches and concert halls of Cardiff. The competition has attracted the finest Welsh talent to the city, but it has also drawn something else - there are stories of a metallic creature hiding in the shadows. Torchwood are on its tail, but it's moving too fast for them to track it down.

This new threat requires a new tactic - so Ianto Jones is joining a male voice choir...

Bay of the Dead

Torchwood: Book 11

Mark Morris

When the city sleeps, the dead start to walk...

Something has sealed off Cardiff, and living corpses are stalking the streets, leaving a trail of half-eaten bodies. Animals are butchered. A young couple in their car never reach their home. A stolen yacht is brought back to shore, carrying only human remains. And a couple of girls heading back from the pub watch the mysterious drivers of a big black SUV take over a crime scene.

Torchwood have to deal with the intangible barrier surrounding Cardiff, and some unidentified space debris that seems to be regenerating itself. Plus, of course, the all-night zombie horror show.

Not that they really believe in zombies.

The House That Jack Built

Torchwood: Book 12

Guy Adams

Jackson Leaves - an Edwardian house in Penylan.

Built 1906, semi-detached, three storeys, spacious, beautifully presented. Left in good condition to Rob and Julia by Rob's late aunt.

It's an ordinary sort of a house. Except for the way the rooms don't stay in the same places. And the strange man that turns up in the airing cupboard. And the apparitions. And the temporal surges that attract the attentions of Torchwood.

And the fact that the first owner of Jackson Leaves in 1906 was a Captain Jack Harkness...

Risk Assessment

Torchwood: Book 13

James Goss

'Are you trying to tell me, Captain Harkness, that the entire staff of Torchwood Cardiff now consists of yourself, a woman in trousers and a tea boy?'

Agnes Havisham is awake, and Jack is worried (and not a little afraid). The Torchwood Assessor is roused from her deep sleep in only the worst of times - it's happened just four times in the last 100 years. Can the situation really be so bad?

Someone, somewhere, is fighting a war, and they're losing badly. The coffins of the dead are coming through the Rift. With thousands of alien bodies floating in the Bristol Channel, it's down to Torchwood to round them all up before a lethal plague breaks out.

And now they'll have to do it by the book. The 1901 edition.

The Undertaker's Gift

Torchwood: Book 14

Trevor Baxendale

The Hokrala Corp lawyers are back. They're suing planet Earth for mishandling the twenty-first century, and they won't tolerate any efforts to repel them. An assassin has been sent to remove Captain Jack Harkness.

It's been a busy week in Cardiff. The Hub's latest guest is a translucent, amber jelly carrying a lethal electrical charge. Record numbers of aliens have been coming through the Rift, and Torchwood could do without any more problems.

But there are reports of an extraordinary funeral cortege in the night-time city, with mysterious pallbearers guarding a rotting cadaver that simply doesn't want to be buried.

Torchwood should be ready for anything - but with Jack the target of an invisible killer, Gwen trapped in a forgotten crypt and Ianto Jones falling desperately ill, could a world of suffering be the Undertaker's gift to planet Earth?

Consequences

Torchwood: Book 15

Sarah Pinborough
Andrew Cartmel
David Llewellyn
James Moran
Joseph Lidster

Saving the planet, watching over the Rift, preparing the human race for the twenty-first century... Torchwood has been keeping Cardiff safe since the late 1800s. Small teams of heroes, working 24/7, encountering and containing the alien, the bizarre and the inexplicable.

But Torchwood do not always see the effects of their actions. What links the Rules and Regulations for replacing a Torchwood leader to the destruction of a supermarket? How does a witness to an alien's reprisals against Torchwood become caught up in a night of terror in a university library? And why should Gwen and Ianto's actions at a local publisher's affect Torchwood more than a century earlier?

For Torchwood, the past will always catch up with them. And sometimes the future will catch up with the past...

First Born

Torchwood: Book 16

James Goss

Gwen and Rhys are on the run. Rhys was hoping this meant a windswept cottage on a cliff top, but he's had to settle for a miserable caravan in the isolated village of Rawbone. With the locals taking an unhealthy interest in their daughter, Gwen and Rhys start to realise that something is very wrong.

As they uncover the village's terrible past, Gwen discovers that Torchwood will never leave her behind, and now she and Rhys stand alone in defence of the Earth. And the children of Rawbone can only bring her closer to the secret forces that want her out of the way.

Long Time Dead

Torchwood: Book 17

Sarah Pinborough

Cardiff Bay. The government has ordered the excavation of the wreckage of a secret underground base. DCI Tom Cutler is watching from a distance, fascinated by the process. There are people in his dreams. People he feels he should know.

The disbanded Torchwood Institute spent a century accumulating non-terrestrial artefacts and catching aliens. Who knows what - or who - might still be intact down there. But by the time they find the first body, Suzie Costello is long gone.

The Men Who Sold The World

Torchwood: Book 18

Guy Adams

When Oscar Lupe appears 20,000 feet up in the air, his body is frozen solid and free-falling to earth. It shatters on impact. Soon after, a CIA Special Activities Division squad goes rogue with a cargo marked 'Torchwood' that they've been escorting from somewhere called Cardiff.

The Agency puts Rex Matheson on the case. As the strange deaths pile up, Rex realises there must be experimental tech out there, but someone is obstructing him at every turn. Rex is the CIA's golden boy - but has he met his match in the evasive Mr Wynter...?

Exodus Code

Torchwood: Book 19

John Barrowman
Carole E. Barrowman

It starts with a series of unexplained events. Earth tremors across the globe. Women being driven insane by their scrambled senses. Governments and scientists are bewildered and silent. The world needs Torchwood, but there's not much of Torchwood left.

Captain Jack Harkness has tracked the problem to its source: a village in Peru, where he's uncovered evidence of alien involvement. In Cardiff, Gwen Cooper has discovered something alien and somehow connected to Jack. If the world is to be restored, she has to warn him – but she's quickly becoming a victim of the madness, too...