Master Pieces: Misadventures in Space and Time Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Master Pieces: Misadventures in Space and Time Review

Matthew Kresal reviews the recent charity release, Master Pieces.

The story goes that, as planning for the 1971 season of Doctor Who was underway, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks realized that the Doctor needed a Moriarity to his Sherlock Holmes. So, between them, they created a rival Time Lord named the Master. First played on-screen by Roger Delgado, the character has had a long life with different incarnations across different media. Paying homage to the Master in and their many incarnations is Master Pieces, a for charity anthology edited by Paul Driscoll and benefiting the British based The Stroke Association.

Being done unofficially and outside BBC purview, Driscoll and his writers take advantage of their free reign. Across 300 odd pages and 21 stories, you'll find the width and breadth of the Doctor's archnemesis. There are TV incarnations from Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley, John Simm to Michelle Gomez's Missy, and even appearances from Eric Roberts, and Derek Jacobi's War Master. There are incarnations from spin-off media, Unbound tales, and even a couple of new Masters. Whoever your favorite Master might be, they've very likely got a story in here.

And what stories the 19 writers involved tell. Some works fill in gaps in the continuity, "what happened after" stories such as Mike Morgan's Everything He Ever Wanted and Mark McManus' The Greater of Two Evils, the latter filling in what happened to the Master and the Rani after the events of Mark of the Rani. Tim Gambrell's Plaything offers up a fun tale for the Eric Roberts Master post-1996 TV Movie, offering new life for this underrated incarnation. Daniel Tessier's story The Devil You Know presents a sequel to a classic TV story featuring the Master, wrong-footing the reader brilliantly. There's a pair of fun Missy stories from Kara Dennison and Nathan Mullins, exploring what she got up to when the Twelfth Doctor wasn't around (with Mullins' The Diamond of the Gods being a particular favorite of mine from this volume). Even the rare misfiring story (such as Chris McKeon's confusing and continuity laced Bandages) has items of interest all their own. It's a stout collection, running the gambit between lighthearted fun to decidedly chilling. Not to mention everything in-between.

Reading it, Master Pieces is a labor of love for all involved, something very much made clear from the stories contained within. The attention brought to each incarnation, be they pre-existing or brand new, is apparent no matter the author, from the descriptions of Delgado and Roberts to Missy as a demented Mary Poppins. The pair of stories from editor Driscoll likewise reveals his attention to detail as both overseer and author, with the tale that closes out the volume, in particular highlighting the fact.

As much as the term "fan fiction" is used as a slur upon writers of all kinds, something like Master Pieces demonstrates how unfair that can be. With 21 stories by 19 authors, it's a celebration of what makes one of Doctor Who's most enduring creations so, and just what is going on inside their head. It's a collection that can proudly sit alongside past volumes of Doctor Who short fiction, official and unofficial, especially in support of such a worthy cause.

If you're a fan of the Master or good Who-inspired prose, you could do a lot worse than spend a little on Amazon in the US or UK and give this a buy.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places. 

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