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Torchwood The Official Magazine Yearbook by Titan Books (2008-09-23) Hardcover – 1757
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Included in the book are brief character biographies of each team member, a Season 2 episode guide, interviews with John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) and James Marsters (Captain John Hart), a set report from the filming of the episode "Something Borrowed", a tour of the Hub set, and five original short stories by Steven Savile, David Llewellyn, Andy Lane, Trevor Baxendale and Joseph Lidster. The short stories alone are worth the price of the book, but there are many other great features.
The yearbook is filled with full-color photos and behind-the-scenes information. If you've read the Torchwood Magazine, much of the content of the yearbook will be familiar to you. However, the magazine can be hard to track down in the United States. The yearbook is a great way to make the content of the (excellent) Torchwood Magazine more accessible to American fans, and it's truly a treat for any Torchwood fan.
The Yearbook consists of six reprinted articles and five new (very) short stories. Everything is centered around the season two incarnation of the team. The articles reprinted are: "Meet the Team", "Inside the Hub", "O Captain, My Captain" (interviews with Barrowman and Marsters), "Series Two Episode Guide", "Aging Agyeman" (aging make-up), and "Forever Hold Your Rhys" (behind the scenes at the big wedding episode). The episode guide is probably the best of the lot, as there's a lot of fun little trivia. The interview with James Marsters, about playing Captain John, is also interesting--I get the sense from it and others I've read with the actor that he's one of the few Buffy alums who isn't a fan of Joss Whedon like everyone else seems to be; that he feels Joss really watered down Spike and maybe that the director plays favorites with the cast.
As I said, the short stories are pretty short--five or six pages each.
"Black Water" by Steven Savile has an intriguing plot, as a mysterious ship covered in a strange black oil sails into Cardiff Bay. It ends much too quickly, however, though it does give Tosh a chance to shine.
David Llewellyn's "Mrs. Acres" works really well as an example of the sort of sadder, darker story that Torchwood is able to tell (the mood here is similar to the episode Adrift). There's no happy endings when Gwen goes to question old Mrs. Acres about missing animals.
"The Beauty of Our Weapons" by Andy Lane is another one I wish would have been longer--it has a set-up that could easily have driven one of the Torchwood novels. During an inventory of the Hub's archives, Ianto realizes that a piece is missing from storage--and has been for over fifty years. Although thought to be a piece of alien artwork, the massive translucent sphere has a much more malign purpose. Good stuff, and an interesting hint that there's an underground tunnel that runs from the Hub all the way to Glasgow and (presumably) Torchwood Two.
"Plant Life" by Trevor Baxendale is Ianto-focussed and pretty predictable. Note to self: do not adopt strange alien plants, as they could be hazardous to one's health.
Last up is Joseph Lidster's "Monster", set during the period when Owen was among the walking undead. The story is told from the point of view of a guy named Paul Talbot, who wakes up one day to realize he's pretty much craving human flesh--and the only person he has no interest in eating is Owen.
The whole package weighs in at just 94 pages, which is actually shorter than the 100-page issues that Torchwood Magazine sometimes comes out with. I love the art design, as each page has some cool backgrounds that fit with the subject matter in the text. On the whole, though, I'd say this was a nice addition to a collection but not really essential.