When I heard that Michael Moorcock was writing a Doctor Who novel, I felt strangely compelled to write a pastiche of an overview. Which I will now foist upon anyone who stumbles across this blog, should that unlikely event (ahem) materialise…
Amoretti, or The Ruines of Time
Being a Scientific Romance of Doctors the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth by Michael Moorcock
Part One – The Wanderer of the Time Winds
The Doctor is disillusioned when he discovers that the events depicted in the TV Movie were carefully orchestrated by the Time Lords as part of their war with the Daleks, and that the Daleks only allowed him to return the Master’s ashes to Gallifrey as part of their retaliatory strategy. Tired of being a pawn in their schemes, he retires to Earth to live in a mildly homoerotic relationship with the character played by Hugh Lloyd in “Delta and the Bannermen”, to keep bees and write his memoires, disguised as works by H.G.Wells which he intends to publish in a parallel universe. But his sleep is troubled by dreams in which a voice calls him to go to Avalon and take his rightful place as Merlin; but when he is finally drawn into the past, he discovers that all is not as it seems, he has again been drawn into the Time War and this time he is forced to destroy the planet he loves and the Human Race, which he has grown fond of and even come to view as a rather large pet, in order to prevent a total Dalek victory.
Alone and even more embittered, he sets the TARDIS controls to take him to the end of time, trillions of years beyond the extinction of the last star. He at last finds peace in a universe in ruins, where not a single creature survives – except, as he eventually discovers, for the planet Gallifrey, saved from the ravages of Entropy behind its Transduction Barrier. He is startled, then disgusted to discover that the Time lords have lost all sense of morality: they have become decadent, engaging in sexual practices so bizarre they would make Captain Jack run away screaming. The only thing he approves of is that this society appears to have no leaders; it is devoted totally to the pursuit of aesthetic and carnal pleasure. One of its leading lights, who calls himself the Bishop of Marylebone, is a consumate artist who has devised the most ingenious amusements imaginable: he has, for example, recreated specimens of races that were once the Time Lords’ enemies, but now devoted to entertainment. Daleks and cybermen, Yetis and Slitheen parade around with strange sexual attachments in an endless orgy. His latest creation, however, is something more strange, and perhaps more sinister – part of the universe as it once was, including the planet Earth and a few other worlds, all cunningly arranged within a bubble of hyperspace to be almost indistinuishable from the real thing when viewed from the inside, in which the Time Lords can have specially arranged “adventures”. The Bishop is, however, a reclusive figure, disdaining to participate in the amusements he devises for the increasingly jaded appetites of the Time Lords. He is also the leader of a small but devoted religion known as the Brotherhood (though it includes members of any of the many sexes available).
Part Two – The Ennui Within
The Doctor hovers on the margins of this society like a pensive ghost, at once attracted and repelled. He is particularly attracted to the recreated Earth, and visits there, finding it is set to the time period of the early 21st century. He has a sexual encounter with the recreated Rose Tyler, and later with someone who appears to be his human mother (or is she, too, just a recreation?). He becomes a follower of the Bishop (or appears to, as he is the only person who is at all mysterious, and hence of interest, in order to find out more about him) and learns that he is, of course, really the Master. “Ah, Doctor, I have at last found a worthy society in which I actually feel at home – on in which I actually crave, and have found, social acceptance…” He tells the Doctor that he, too, should join in wholeheartedly – “Now that you have, so to speak, penetrated my inner circle, you should do so in earnest – we should consummate the sado-masochistic relationship that has always simmered beneath the surface of our rivalry, either using these bodies or in whatever form you would care to take. Oh come, come, Doctor, do you really think I couldn’t have killed you a dozen times during our previous encounters? But then, you see, I could never bring myself to kill my own son…”
But the Doctor realises that the Master has an even more sinister plan than just scoring an ultimate victory by corrupting the morals of his stiff-necked son (assuming he wpoke the truth, and wasn’t simply a fan of “Star Wars”) the Master is still his old self, his “Bishop” persona is merely a front for an almost unthinkable plan of his own, to return to the Dawn of Time, take the place of Davros and rewrite all of history as a victory for the Doctor’s ancient enemies the Daleks, who, as he says, “Have no sense of irony, no scruples, no idea of pity – they are perfect, like a crystal, and shall under my command bring perfect order to this meaningless, chaotic universe!”
But is this really the Master’s plan, or is it merely another, even more extravagant, entertainment he has devised to amuse the Doctor, who clearly still yearns for their old rivalry? The Doctor can’t be sure either way, but decides he has no choice but to as though it is the truth – and the Master, of course, as usual discovers that his “hidden agenda” has been discovered, captures the Doctor and places him in some bizarre leather and rubber restraints, crowing: “So, Doctor as a villain, I must stick to my script! I must first corrupt you, then ravish you, then destroy you! I have already done the first, you have disdained the second, so now I shall finish the job by taking away that which you prize the most – your ego! You will be reprogammed as my mindless slave! Farewell! Hahahahaha” He goes to use the Mind Probe on the Doctor, but (by a strange quirk of fate, almost as though it was intentional) the Doctor manages to escape – he is, however, affected, losing his memory of recent events, and being forced to regenerate.
He recovers consciousness in a new body, apparently on 21st century Earth. He has confused memories – there was a Time War, and he had to destroy Gallifrey – he is, ne believes, the last Time Lord. The story moves onwards kaleidoscopically, skimming over a series of adventures . . .
He doesn’t realise for several years that he is merely within the Master’s simulation. But gradually, flaws start to appear – the TARDIS will only visit a few planets, events resolve themselves for no obvious reason. people act out of character, he gains almost godlike powers he never had before – and he find that his character is being subtly subverted as a result, becoming more like an avenging angel than one who rights wrongs. Indeed, he wonders whether his whole ideas of “good” and “evil” were ever realistic, or merely sentimental. Eventually he begins to have strange dreams, and comes to suspect that his entire reality is merely a vast game in which the Master seeks to subtly corrupt him, as a prelude to the ultimate seduction . . . and what of his vague memories of the Master’s master-plan, and of another universe in which Daleks will cannot be easily defeated by Rose, Donna, or a vaccuum cleaner . . . ?
But the Master can’t resist joining in with the game, and eventually other Time Lords reappear, even though he saw them all destroyed. And things move to a new level as he tries to escape back to the real world, to – perhaps – save the real universe . . .