Smithtown’s origins are patently obvious to anyone who really knows their science fiction. It is based on a 1992 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called The Inner Light. It is one of the very well known, iconic episodes of the series. In the story, Captain Picard is affected by a deep space probe and rendered unconscious. He dreams of living a different life, as part of a community on an apparently idyllic but dying planet. When he wakes up minutes have passed but he can remember a whole lifetime on the planet.

Well, isn’t that an absolutely brilliant idea? It just begs to be redone as a Doctor Who story. It took a while to think of a way to do it that wasn’t simply a rehash of the Star Trek story. But once I had an angle of a sort, I got on with it. It was the idea of the Artesian Aquifer that gave me a way into the plot. Mr John Smith, although he couldn’t remember who he was or where he was from, knew that water could be found below ground in aquifers and then discovered his own super power that allowed him to make the water come up to the surface. I needed a lot more to happen, of course. But the story hinges on the ‘discovery’ of the water. It is what allows the crash survivors to become citizens of the town that they build on the otherwise arid plain. Everything before then is leading up to it. Everything that happens afterwards is because they have water and can, therefore, survive. Even the bison that become the winter meat of the community are seen because the lake is there.

Interestingly, while I was halfway through writing this version of the story I actually had a very vivid dream which suggested another way of doing it, and wrote a New Lords of Time story featuring Davie Campbell in less than a day before going back to the Tenth Doctor version. Both stories have the Artesian Aquifer and the Archimedes Screw as central features. Both depict events over many years that take place in only a very short amount of real time, but they are different enough to hold the reader’s attention. The NLOT story, The Life and Love of Kit Nova isn’t scheduled for posting until July, 2010, but I expect it to be well received.;recap