Unigol was based on an idea that I had kicking around for a while. It is based on a comic strip story from one of the magazines I used to read as a child – either Bunty Mandy, Judy, Jinty or one I have completely forgotten. Anyway, the story was about a teenage girl who had been raised from a baby by a computerised programme called M.U.M. as a scientific experiment. After being ‘rescued’ by social services she has a devil of a time becoming a ‘normal’ girl.
This story stuck at the back of my mind until I took a night school class in psychology as a way of getting deeper into some aspects of my history post-graduate work. The experiments by Harry Harlow with the baby rhesus monkeys was a case study, but the lesson actually did get halted while we all demanded to know what happened to the monkeys afterwards. Nobody was surprised to find that they suffered from inability to socialise with other monkeys in the zoo they were sent to.
Exactly what advantage such experiments have for humankind? The only good thing to come out of the Harlow project was a raised awareness of animal cruelty in the name of science. But what if, as in the comic strip story, somebody did the same sort of experiments with children? What if all Human contact was withdrawn from babies and all they knew of the world around them came from a computer? The result, surely, would be a child with as little understanding of Human relationships as the rhesus monkeys knew of monkey relationships.
And who other than Yvonne Hartman of Torchwood One would approve such a project? Her persona in the tv episode was bad enough, but anyone who read the online notes about her on the official Torchwood site before it became nothing more than an advert for the American version would have come across details of her project for using the minds of natural telepaths while their bodies waste away. Hiding a project like this in the remote valleys of Wales is right up her alley.
And it is perfectly in line with Martha’s compassionate nature that she would take over looking after the teenage Una.
One or two readers thought this story was a bit too sentimental towards the end. Well, maybe, but I think it was stark enough in the middle. Why not?