Another Life was the first release in the BBC Torchwood Novels series.
Thick black clouds are blotting out the skies over Cardiff. As twenty-four inches of rain fall in twenty-four hours, the city centre's drainage system collapses. The capital's homeless are being murdered, their mutilated bodies left lying in the soaked streets around the Blaidd Dwrg nuclear facility.
Tracked down by Torchwood, the killer calmly drops eight storeys to his death. But the killings don't stop. Their investigations lead Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper and Toshiko Sato to a monster in a bathroom, a mystery at an army base and a hunt for stolen nuclear fuel rods. Meanwhile, Owen Harper goes missing from the Hub, when a game in Second Reality leads him to an old girlfriend...
Something is coming, forcing its way through the Rift, straight into Cardiff Bay.
In Splott, Jack and Gwen are investigating a body. Like other recent murders, the body has damage to the back of the head, so much that brains have leaked out. The weather is deteriorating, unlike what was forecast. Tosh says the killer appears to have gone to the city centre.
Jack and Gwen go to Casa Celi café to watch out for the suspect, a Guy Wildman. They notice a dishevelled man with a briefcase matching the photo Tosh had sent them and run after him. Wildman runs into a building site and regurgitates a mass at Jack, who steps on it. Gwen notices it has unfurled into a starfish-like creature before following. Jack chases Wildman to the eighth floor. He appears to have spinal fluid on his chin, and is calm. Wildman starts grinning, telling Jack he will see him again, before dropping backwards out of the building. Gwen finds Andy, who tells her that Wildman hit the top of a bus on the way down, slid down the front, and was run over. They put Wildman's body in the SUV and head back to the Hub as it starts to rain.
Back at the Hub, Tosh presents her analysis of the data to the rest of the team, which pinpoints Wildman as the definite killer. Owen announces that from the scans it seems Wildman has swallowed lots of bone. Jack says he believes there's another victim that has yet to be discovered, judging from the spinal fluid on Wildman's face. Tosh receives an alert that the police have found Wildman's car, so Jack and Gwen go to investigate. They find a dead woman inside, the back of her skull gnawed into. She turns out to be Wildman's secretary. Jack discovers a large hole in the leather sole of his shoe, like it had been digested, which Gwen realises was caused by the creature Jack stepped on earlier.
In the Hub, Tosh finds Owen playing the online game Second Reality. She says she has finished working on improvements to the game at Owen's request, but he can't connect it to the Internet, so he can only play single-player. Owen explores Second Reality but realises after repeatedly playing Russian roulette that everything seems predetermined - the game lacks real people's unpredictability. Later, Tosh explains she was able to project the game characters in 3D in the R&R area, and says they could use the projectors for training purposes. Owen suggests using the game for recruitment purposes too, which Tosh rejects. After she leaves for the night, Owen connects the game to the Internet. He buys an item that reveals a person’s real life (or “fleshspace”) name. He meets someone with an avatar named Egg Magnet and they talk. Something about Egg is familiar to Owen, and when he uses the item on him he realises that Egg is his ex-girlfriend Megan Tegg.
The next morning, Owen presents his findings from Wildman’s autopsy. He used a Bekaran deep-tissue scanner at first, before properly dissecting him. He found an alien device attached to Wildman’s spine, and spinal fluid and bones from multiple sources in his stomach. Tosh adds that fuel packs have gone missing from the place Wildman worked, the Blaidd Drwg nuclear plant. Ianto announces that the corpse was highly radioactive, and finds Owen to be irradiated and in need of decontaminating.
Jack and Gwen go to Wildman’s apartment to find the source of the radiation. The door to Wildman’s apartment is already open, and they find a woman inside, who says she is Betty Jenkins, his neighbour, and that she believes him to be in Egypt. They find no evidence of the fuel packs in the apartment, but in the bathroom Jack is attacked by a creature similar to the one before, but larger. Gwen manages to kill it. Tosh calls and tells them a similar device to the one found in Wildman was found in the corpse of a Sergeant Anthony Bee at Caregan Barracks, who was shot dead during an attempted robbery. Gwen decides to check up on Betty, but when she visits her apartment it turns out the woman they met was not who she claimed.
While decontaminating in the Hub, Owen tries to find Egg Magnet again. Tired of waiting, he misbehaves and ends up in the time out area as punishment. Coincidentally, Egg is there too. He tells Egg he knows he is Megan and they decide to meet up. Owen visits Megan at her house and tries to recruit her into Torchwood. She doesn’t believe him at first, so he shows her the Bekaran scanner to prove he is telling the truth.
At Caregan Barracks the team talk with base commander Lieutenant-Colonel Yorke, who insists their help is not needed. Yorke tells them to talk to the Medical Officer Doctor De’Ath. The MO tells Gwen that Bee’s attempted robbery was completely out of character for him, and that before Bee was shot he said he would see them again soon. De’Ath confides that two other deaths had occurred at the base, both with wounds to the backs of their necks, with tooth marks matching Bee. In Bee’s room Jack and Tosh find diving equipment and photographs of fish and divers. There are photos of Bee, Wildman, and a woman Jack and Gwen recognise as the woman claiming to be Betty Jenkins. Their escort tells them that she is actually Sergeant Sandra Applegate.
Jack realises the thing in Wildman’s bathroom could have been guarding something. They find Applegate in Wildman's apartment again. She spits a starfish-like creature at Gwen and runs away, but Jack manages to shoot her through a window. In the bathroom they find a lead-lined box containing the missing fuel rods.
So much rain has fallen that the tourist information centre floor has flooded. Cardiff has had twenty-four inches of rain in as many hours.
The next day, having returned the fuel rods, Jack receives a call from Blaidd Drwg. They tell him that Wildman took six rods, and that Jack only gave them four. He calls the rest of the team back into work, though he can't reach Owen. Tosh shows them that the weather is getting worse, but is localised to Cardiff, restricted within an eight kilometre radius. The centre is underwater, out in the Bay. Jack sends Gwen and Tosh to find out what's at the centre while he returns to Wildman’s apartment to find the two missing fuel rods, but he does not find them. Tosh discovers Owen received a call from Megan before disappearing. Jack realises that Applegate was wounded and would go to hospital for treatment.
Owen goes with Megan to the hospital where she works for her shift. The hospital is full of people with injuries caused by the rain. He convinces Megan to use the Bekaran device on the patients. Owen spots Applegate at the hospital, and is told she threw herself in front of an ambulance, but also appears to have a gunshot wound. Owen examines her. The bullet worked its own way out of her, but her X-rays show there’s something in her spine. Owen realises it must be a device like the one he found in Wildman. Applegate wakes up and tells Owen she needs Torchwood’s help. She explains that she, Bee, and Wildman were out diving one day when they found a ship. They entered it and were captured by an alien. She remembers a pain in her back before they somehow managed to escape. Later, Wildman wanted to go back to the ship to cannibalise it for parts.
Applegate insists they return to the ship now to remove the device from her spine, and Owen agrees as he wants Megan to experience life with Torchwood. They drive to an escape pod in Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve which they use to travel to the ship. There, Owen sees the ship is forcing its way through the Rift. Applegate leads them to a control room where she tells them to enter the control frames. She tells Owen that she’ll see him soon before collapsing. Megan leaves her control frame and shows him a suspended alien she calls “the real her.” She reveals the device inserted into the spine is a control box and that she is the only surviving Bruydac Warrior of the crew. Using the Bruydac stealth technology she is able to possess people. However, this uses up their spinal fluid, hence the murders. She spits up a starfish creature onto Applegate’s body, then activates the machinery to insert a control box into Owen’s spine.
Jack goes to the hospital where Megan works but it is so busy no one is able to see him. He hears that a nurse has been murdered and quickly realises she was killed in the same way as the others. He finds out that Megan and Owen have left the hospital, and that Applegate was discharged. Seeing a man with a briefcase, he remembers that Wildman had a briefcase just before he died, which he must have left at the building site.
Gwen and Tosh reach the ship using the Torchwood submarine. They find Owen still trapped in the frame and Applegate dead on the floor with the creature digesting her face. They bring them back to the Hub. Scans show that Owen has a device in his spine matching the one in Applegate’s.
Jack drives to the building site. He sees someone leave a car and run into the building. Inside the car is a dead woman with the back of her neck ripped open. He makes his way up to the eighth floor and finds Megan with the briefcase. Like Wildman previously, she is calm even when backed up to the edge of the building. She begs Jack to be allowed to take the fuel rods and return to her home planet but Jack refuses and shoots her in the foot. She threatens to drop the fuel rods into the street and contaminate the area if Jack doesn’t cooperate. She says she still has options if she dies before Jack shoots her again.
In the medical area, Owen wakes up. He attacks Gwen, who was sitting by him. Ianto hears the noise and gets Owen off her, but he escapes. The Bruydac Warrior retains the memories of the people it possesses, and knows Tosh will use Owen’s phone to track him. He leaves his phone in the cells and releases a Weevil. Jack gets back to the Hub and takes Gwen to the ship while Tosh and Ianto track down Owen. In the cells, Tosh and Ianto come upon the Weevil but Ianto quickly disables her with a device from Torchwood One.
Jack puts the ship into reverse gear. He opens the cage with the Bruydac Warrior’s body and harpoons it, despite Gwen’s protests. Jack tells Gwen his plan. He has her fasten him in one of the frames and puncture a device into his spine.
Meanwhile, Tosh is using her computers to search for Owen’s life signs. Owen appears with a surgical instrument and attacks her. The instrument passes through Tosh’s head and Ianto is able to sedate him. Owen realises Tosh projected an avatar of herself from Second Reality as bait. Before he passes out he tells them he has another life back at the ship, and that he’ll see them again soon.
Jack wakes up. As soon as he does Gwen lets water into the ship. Jack keeps asking her to let him out of the frame but she ignores him and puts her mask on. Gwen watches as water rises above Jack’s face and he is unable to hold his breath for any longer. After ten minutes, she is certain Jack is dead. She drags Jack back to the Hub and eventually he comes back to life. As he recovers he explains to the team what happened.
Later, the team is back at Casa Celi café to hunt for a Weevil. Owen expresses he feels he has failed some sort of test, but Jack reassures him he isn’t judging him for Megan. They spot the Weevil, and Owen is the first after it.
- Captain Jack Harkness
- Gwen Cooper
- Toshiko Sato
- Owen Harper
- Ianto Jones
- PC Jimmy Mitchell
- Rico Celi
- Guy Wildman
- Jennifer Fallon
- Dr Megan Tegg
- Betty Jenkins
- Sergeant Anthony Bee
- Lt-Colonel Daniel Yorke
- Major Robert De'Ath
- Private Ross Foxton
- Private Sujit Kandahal
- Sergeant Sandra Applegate
- Private John-Paul Wisniewski
- Dr Amit Majunath
- Roberta Nottingham
- Jonathan Meadows
Second Reality characters
- Glendower Broadsword
- Egg Magnet
- Penny Pasteur
- Walter Pendulum
- Cap'n Ian Sharkchum
- Harley Hydrurga
- Brenda Simone
- Brad Kominsky
- Jack mentions UNIT.
- Jack asks Tosh to do a search on "UK hospital examinations or autopsies containing info about binary vascular system".
- A radiation sponge can absorb six types of radiation.
- Torchwood traps a radiance sprite.
- Guy Wildman has an Amyris elemifera plant.
- The virtual world has an avatar called Andy Murray.
- "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol plays in the virtual world.
- Sandy says Guy is in Dahab.
- Owen mentions Gene Pitney.
- Owen gets the nickname Harry Ramsden.
- Jack mentions Joseph Grantham.
- Levall-Mellon was a construction company.
- Rhys Williams owns Matrix Reloaded.
- Mermaid Quay is in Cardiff.
- Gwen used to work with Morrison.
- Penarth Road is in Cardiff.
- Owen Harper owns a Porsche Boxster.
- L85 IW was a type of SA80 rifle.
- This is the first Torchwood novel.
- The book's title is also a play on the name Second Life.
- This book is also available as an ebook from the Amazon Kindle store.
- The audiobook abridgment of this book omits the entire Second Life subplot, making Owen's sudden decision to visit Megan Tegg and recruit her extremely bewildering.
- The online community Owen joins, Second Reality, is based upon the real-life online world, Second Life and features many similarities to the real-world version, including a "time out" area for misbehaving avatars similar in nature to Second Life's infamous "Cornfield" region, and the common practice of individuals choosing avatars of the opposite sex.
- At this point, Gwen is the only current team member who is aware that Jack cannot die. (TV: Everything Changes)
- The Blaidd Drwg nuclear facility is seen. (TV: Boom Town)
- Gwen has been trained by Jack to use firearms. (TV: Ghost Machine)
- Ianto is being duplicitous about his business in basement of the Hub. (TV: Cyberwoman)
- The story was released as an audiobook on 3x CD read by John Barrowman.
- The audiobook is also available as a download from the AudioGo website.
- Official Another Life page at Penguin Books
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Another Life at The Whoniverse