The Doctor must join forces with the Master to foil an invasion of Earth...

By Alastair Reynolds


THE Master. Described by many as the Doctor’s Moriarty, a renegade Time Lord with a megalomaniacal streak and a predetermination towards evil.

His eventual capture and imprisonment at the end of The Daemons brought to a conclusion a reign of Machiavellian plotting which saw the Earth threatened with invasion on numerous occasions.

As UNIT’s highest-profile prisoner, you would expect him to be kept under close scrutiny at all times, but he has in fact been coerced into assisting with a new submarine communication system, a job he has turned to his own advantage by transmitting a signal for help through time.

Unfortunately the force he contacts could not only cost him his own life, but that of every man, woman and child on the planet.

The vicious, parasitic Sild were locked away from the rest of the universe for untold millennia, trapped on a ruined world at the end of time. But now thanks to the Master they are free, and scheming to conquer the past and rewrite history by controlling every life form on the planet.

A series of unexplained time warps begin to appear over Earth’s oceans, where they destroy oil rigs and shipping, but when the Brigadier and UNIT investigate, they begin to experience selective amnesia relating to the Master.

This, of course, makes protecting their prisoner from the subsequent Sild invasion even more difficult, and forcing the Doctor into a reluctant alliance with his old enemy...

At the heart of this book is the rivalry between the two Time Lords, which veers between love and loathing, and how the Doctor can never bring himself to purposefully cause the death of his adversary. Delgado’s incarnation of the Master was that of a charming but deadly gentleman who would let you finish a cup of tea before callously murdering you, and it is that interpretation which Reynolds captures perfectly

He also brings alive the adventurous nature of the Third Doctor era without veering into pastiche, and then shifts it up a gear to take advantage of the lack of budgetary restraints, almost producing a movie-style version of the typical UNIT tale.

Perhaps surprisingly given his background and the book’s prologue, this is far from the hard SF story you might expect, and Reynolds makes an effort to balance the fantastical with the mundane throughout.

It’s fitting, in the 50th anniversary year, that we have a celebration of one of the most iconic periods in Doctor Who’s history, and it is thanks to the author’s ear for dialogue and his descriptive prose that you can almost imagine this story unfolding on Saturday afternoon in the early-seventies.

The audio release uses the vocal talents of Geoffrey Beevers, who played a later incarnation of the Master, and he performs the job with aplomb, especially in portraying the Doctor’s antithesis. Highly recommended.

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