Carmichael McCallum’s Temporal Tours is unashamedly a homage to John Wyndham’s short story Pawleys Peepholes, published in the collection called The Seeds of Time in 1956. In that story, a small town in contemporary England was disturbed by the appearance of ‘ghosts’ walking around pointing and laughing, sometimes riding on carriages, even appearing in the air, with ghostly legs dangling until it transpired that it was a tourist trade from the future. This story stands out from the others in the set because it is funny. Most of the others are scary and shocking horror tales with science fiction twists – a good read but not before bedtime.
I got into Wyndham when I was at school, where my teachers thought Doctor Who was not literary enough and in any case not suitable for a girl. Since I persisted in being interested in science fiction they put the ‘classics’ my way. I never could get into Azimov and the like, but Wyndham intrigued me. His best, by far, is The Chrysalids, which I have read and re-read many times. Seeds of Time wasn’t a favourite, but two or three of the stories stand out in my memory. This was one of them.
So, essentially, I’m giving the Wyndham story a Torchwood twist. No harm to that. After all, Combat was Fight Club with Weevils. The Doctor Who episode, Androids of Tara was The Prisoner of Zenda with robots. It’s all been done before.
Anyone familiar with Pawleys Peepholes, of course, would have guessed what was going on. For everyone else, I think there was a slight bit of mystery. But the appearance of odd ghosts all over Glasgow and Edinburgh wasn’t going to sustain a full length story, so I also dropped into the mix the love-hate romance of Darius and Shona. This was something I had in mind since I began the Torchwood Glasgow series and created the characters. The vampire and the prickly, independent, and frequently downright obnoxious Lieutenant were, of course, made for each other. But it’s going to take a little while for them to acknowledge it. Well, until Christmas, anyway.
Yes, apparently Oxytocin and Vasopressin are hormones produced during sex. Only an alien gadget is likely to be able to pick up traces of them that fast, though. There’s a bit of pseudo science going on there.
The route Shona takes on her morning run fixes the position of the Torchwood Glasgow Hub quite firmly. It is in Jamaica Street, which runs alongside the Central Railway Station, a magnificent building that I intend to find a way of including in a story sometime. The railway goes over the Clyde on the Second Caledonian Railway Bridge. The remains of the first are next to it. Next to that is the ‘Glasgow Bridge’ sometimes known as ‘Jamaica Street Bridge’ which is a wide road bridge that reminds me a lot of O’Connell Bridge in Dublin. The footbridge a little further along the riverbank is also, in fact, reminiscent of Dublin. The next bridge along from O’Connell Bridge is the Happenny Bridge, so called because there used to be a halfpenny toll to walk across it. I don’t know if there is any such tradition for the Portland Street footbridge, but it seemed like an excellent place for Shona to encounter another collection of ghosts.
Getting rid of the ghosts was always going to involve Ianto and the gear The Doctor left behind at Torchwood One in Doomsday. That was my connection to both Torchwood Cardiff and the origins of Torchwood on TV in this story. Collaborations with Cardiff really should be kept to a minimum, though. As Owen said, the Glasgow office isn’t the Torchwood B-Team.