Author has written 8 stories for Tomorrow People.
I had very vague memories of The Tomorrow People from it's original broadcast, but really caught up with it on video as a teenager. I loved the concepts and ideas underpinning the show, I thought the premise was brilliant. But as a teenager in the late 1980s, to me the Enid Blyton style characterizations in the show already felt dated. "There is a way, but it might kill Stephen!" TIM had intoned in an early episode, and Stephen had replied; "Oh do get on with it." Sorry, but in my world any real person would have answered with words to the effect of; "Okay, back off, let's think about this. I don't want to die just yet", except perhaps less politely. I was also frustrated that the show started with the TP having already established the range and extent of their powers, TIM already constructed, they'd already made contact with other worlds, they understood the prime barrier, they'd worked out that drugs and stimulants weren't good for them, and they had a good handle on their mission to take over the world and guide it to a better future. To me, right there, the production team had wasted a whole bunch of incredible potential stories in their rush to get straight into a formulaic series. At the age of fourteen, armed with my first word processor, I vowed I would fill in the gaps in the story that they hadn't seemed interested in. Only as any teenager would, I would do it my way, skewed towards portraying teenage life as then I saw it around me. I very much did not wanted to write a late 1960s period drama, and I found the characters of Kenny and Carol too limiting for what I was trying to do, so from the beginning this had to be an alternate universe TP story, populated with with completely new characters, at least to start with. The old characters do turn up eventually, if I ever get around to writing that much.
Note that I make no concession to a family audience. As an adult I don't entirely approve any more of the attitudes and opinions I had when I started writing this, or the language I used to express them. But if I change those words, they become the words of an adult, and not those of a precocious teenager any more. You can blame the fourteen year old brat I used to be for that.
The stories presented here take place in the following order:
00. Murmurs Of Yesterday
This is a prequel, and bridges the 90s version to my stuff.
01. The Morning After
What I wanted to achieve with this first story, well, in no particular order:
Breaking out is meant to push the body to the limits of phyiscal and mental endurance according to the show, indeed on several occasions it is indicated that characters could die breaking out. But then the actual suffering portrayed never lived up to the hyperbole. I wanted to show the experience of breaking out to be as serious as the dialog in the show alluded to.
Powers were never entirely consistent in the show. One TP (Tricia Conway) was shown to have some mind reading ability before she breaks out, and certainly the telepathic abilities of the TP are portrayed as being present to a degree before they break out. Accepting that to a degree the TP can read minds I wanted to present a framework for why on the whole they choose not to use this power.
TP don't use drugs and can't kill, so the show tells us. "Can't" implies they have no choice, the prime barrier. This is mentioned in the OS, but never explored, it is explored in the NS, but only very superficially. I wanted to explore it by pushing the characters beyond where any normal sap would cross the line, and show that they still couldn't. "Don't" implies they could but choose not to, so I wanted to present a reason why they might make that choice. Of course that necessitates them starting out 'out of character' in this respect, but don't worry, they get there in the end.
Finally the premise of the show kind of messes up evolutionary theory, what they present doesn't really work. I didn't want to fundamentally change the premise of the show, I was determined to be faithful to that, the alternative was to 'clarify' evolutionary theory to fit with the show. I introduced the concept, the hypothesis, that the understood mechanisms of evolution have themselves evolved. Fundamentally the story is about the evolution of the Tomorrow People, and the culmination of the narrative is a metaphor for the speciation point. If that makes parts of the story sound like an evolutionary biology lecture... that's because it is.
02. Dangerous Thoughts
Telepathy and mind reading are generally presented in a very superficial way by the show, most often as nothing more than as a means to an end. Me, I wanted to tackle head on what it means to be telepathic. If you stop to think about it, the ethical challenges and consequences of those abilities are actually pretty complex, and the privacy issues are non-trivial as well. But then, as we are constantly being reassured, if you aren't guilty then you have nothing to hide...
04. Auto De Fé
The politics of the world have changed a lot since the days of the OS, and I was curious to explore where Masters would fit in to a modern political landscape. I wondered if it was possible that with the nature of the threats the world faces having changed, Masters might just half convince the TP that he's one of the good guys this time. This is the first of four stories that develop that idea.
05 Here Be Dragons
An attempt to blend the style and characters from the 1970s into a more modern story, hopefully without compromising the sensibilities of those characters.
06. Going Nowhere
Short story, not much plot, lots of angst, as the title implies. This was written as a Christmas story, but intentionally an uncompromisingly dark and brooding Christmas story that raises questions, but offers little in the way of answers.
07. Actions Of Last Resort
Written somewhat with a nod to the style adopted by the NS stories. Picks up on Masters ongoing plans, and questions how far any of us will go when it comes to the boundaries of the means that justify our ends.
09. You Can Leave At Any Time
Largely about Colonel Masters again, but not featuring him. Explores the thin line between interrogation techniques and brainwashing. But I didn't want to portray Masters doing the brainwashing... that would have been too obvious.
10. A Year Without A Smile
In a style that echoes the Audio Adventures. Picks up some themes from 'The Morning After' about the way society treats kids today more as just being a problem than as what they really are; society tomorrow.
11. The Judas Project
Winding up the Masters story arc, and bringing together a bunch of ideas that all these stories have been weaving together; about trust. responsibility, and ultimately the process of growing up itself.