The Master Rewatch – The Keeper of Traken

keeper1Written by: Johnny Byrne
Original airing: BBC One, 31 January – 21 February 1981
Rewatched: Horror Channel

Synopsis: the Doctor and Adric learn from the wizened Keeper of Traken that a great evil has come to his planet in the form of Melkur – a calcified statue. The Keeper is nearing the end of his reign and seeks the Doctor’s help in preventing the evil from taking control of the bioelectronic Source that is the keystone of the Traken Union’s civilisation.


I don’t remember watching The Keeper of Traken as a child, though I most probably did. It has a very different feel to most Doctor Who stories; with its slow-burn plot and intricate costumes, it has more in keeping with an historical play than a sci fi series. It’s extraordinarily lovely.

The Master only reappears towards the very end of the last part, with Anthony playing the very sweet Tremas for the majority of the story. I like Tremas. He’s a decent bloke and I always feel a slight pang at his death.

There’s some debate on the Master’s physiology in the Ainley years. Is he Traken, Time Lord or a blend of the two? It’s not a question answered directly by the show. What is known is that Tremas gets visibly younger on being taken over by the Master. The fact he continues to pursue a new set of regenerations would suggest his DNA is altered enough to allow for one.

But what is a Time Lord? As far as the Doctor goes, he has two hearts and a stolen Tardis. It’s never clear that he needs to have two hearts to regenerate (if we look at NuWho, the Doctor’s daughter Jenny has two and can resuscitate after death, whereas River can regenerate in full but I don’t recall her physiology mentioned.)

As far as the Master is concerned, I’m not sure it matters. Even with a new body – and the ability to recall some of Tremas’s memories – he’s still the same selfish, power-obsessed person he was beforehand. The only difference is his sudden affinity for black velvet and a sharp line in snark.

The Master Rewatch

Ahh, the Master. As noted here, I grew up with – pretty much literally – Anthony Ainley in the role and fell deeply in love. It’s a feeling which abides despite him being long gone, and which I’ve decided to celebrate for no reason other than I can by rewatching his Who episodes. For those with less-than-perfect recall of said episodes (which is probably everyone but me), they are as follows:

The Keeper of Traken
Logopolis
Castrovalva
Time-Flight
The King’s Demons
The Five Doctors
Planet of Fire
The Mark of the Rani
The Ultimate Foe
Survival

So join me, if you dare, on a voyage celebrating villainous shenanigans, ridiculously convoluted schemes and improbable escapes from certain death, with a new episode every Monday.

WriYe Blogging Circle | Characters

How do you come up with your characters? Do you pull from real life and people you know or someplace else? Do you have a hard time with characterisation or find it a breeze?

My original characters tend to be a patchwork made up from the characters I love the most in various fandoms. Or, occasionally, the actors who play them – Gabriel Kemp of Archangel was based directly on Cliff Simon’s NCIS Los Angeles guest spot, though the novella was very different in genre.

Characters come first most of the time and my plots are always character-driven, so characterisation is very important for me. Creating them is easy. Pulling them apart can be a little harder, but necessary to give the reader a satisfactory character arc.

How do you come up with names?

I steal them! Kemp was lifted from NCIS LA, Hoyt from DUST (both characters played by Cliff Simon.) I have a Phoebe which is close to Phryne and she is very much like Miss Fisher (if she hunted werewolves instead of solving murders.) Anthian is a nod to my long love of Doctor Who actor Anthony Ainley.

I try to name characters for their personality in the first place and the genre in the second. For instance, Ironhaven‘s Genevieve was named for film which featured racers having to find inventive methods to mend their rally car, and because it was a popular Victorian name (Ironhaven has a steampunk feel though it’s not strictly that genre.)

WriYe Blogging Circle | Publishing

Is publishing something you aim for? Why or why not?

When I was writing fan fiction, I “published” on fan-fic sites such as fanfiction.net and AO3, but oddly when I made the move to original fiction, publishing wasn’t something I considered for a few years. I knew I wasn’t writing well enough to publish at that point.

That changed after I realised that fiction is a two-part process – writing is the first part, having your stories read is the second.

Which route would you choose, self-publishing or traditional publishing?

Since my comfort zone was novella-length, I was somewhere between the two. Few traditional publishers will take a novella from an unknown author, so I looked at smaller independent ones. Ironhaven was published as an e-book through Decadent Publishing, while everything else found a home at Champagne Books.

WriYe Blogging Circle | Starting

Why did you start writing?

Though I’ve been a fan of sci fi shows since I was small, it’s rarely the main character(s) who piques my attention. I’m more drawn to side characters and, obviously if you look at my blog’s subtitle, the bad guys. However, since sci fi shows are all about the good guys, I was left wanting the bad guy’s stories.

So I started writing by telling those stories. It all comes from a burning need to find out what makes the bad boys tick.

How has your writing improved since you first started?

I’m much better at telling longer stories, and upping the tension. Basic writing skills have improved as well, and I’ve learnt to self-edit.

WriYe Blogging Circle | Genre

What does genre mean to you? Do you have a “home” genre? Or are you a genre hopper and are comfortable in just about any one?

Genre is, officially, the categorisation of books, but really it goes much deeper than that. Sure, having a book labelled as “romance” or “science fiction” means it goes on a certain shelf at Waterstones, but to the person picking that book up? Genre comes with rules. Break them and you’ll be sorry.

For instance, my “home” genre is romance. I tend to write in the sub-genre of sci fi romance, but it’s the romance rules that I follow. THE rule you have to stick to in romance is the Happy Ending. Without that, you’ve written a love story, which is fine, as long as it’s pitched as that. Pitch it as a romance and deny readers that feel good factor? Not a good idea.

I write romance because, despite a pretence at otherwise, I’m a die-hard romantic. There’s nothing better than writing characters who are polar-opposites and yet manage fall in love. Often with a lot of bickering along the way, but that’s even better!

Do you read the same genre you write? If yes, why? And if no, why not?

Hell yes! Romance is the best thing. It can be light and fluffy or dark and dramatic, but you’re guaranteed that everything works out in the end. I like that. It’s hopeful, and God knows we need hopeful right now.