The Doctor, Zoe and Jamie are brought in to see the Master of the Land of Fiction. He has dossiers on them. He is, as Zoe says, very well organised.
“We have to be,” he says, “The running of this place requires enormous attention to detail. It’s a responsible position, but very rewarding”
A ‘responsible position’. So it’s a job.
“Responsible to who?” asks the Doctor.
Not to a person, says the Master, to “another power. Higher than you could begin to imagine.”
A system, an inhuman hegemon.
He congratulates them on the way they handled their tests. They have passed the job interview.
It transpires that the Master is a writer.
“Did you ever hear of the Adventures of Captain Jack Harkaway?” he asks.
“No, I can’t say that I… wait a minute, a serial in a boys’ magazine?”
“The Ensign! For twenty-five years, I delivered five thousand words every week!”
“Twenty-five years, five thousand words a week…” Zoe adds it up… “that’s well over half a million words!”
“That’s why I was selected to work here,” says the Master. He got headhunted.
He spent his life working to create copy for a publisher, who took his words and turned them into commodities. The commodities were copies of his own ideas, his own characters, taken from him and transformed. They piled up around him. They took on a life of their own, apart from him. Now he lives in a world of characters who were created by human labour, taken and turned into commodities. They too have lives of their own. In Marxism, this is called reification: the objectification of the social relations of production as things. And it’s also commodity fetishism: the treatment of commodities (in this case, fictions) as though they people… and the treatment of people as though they were commodities. One form of this is wage labour, and on that subject…
“And you’re the one that’s in charge of all of this?” asks Jamie.
The ‘Master’ hedges.
“Or is all this in charge of you?” asks the Doctor.
“My brain is the source of the creative power which keeps this operation going.”
So he doesn’t control it, but it won’t run without him, without his work. Just like the magazines wouldn’t get made without the intellectual, creative labour of people like him… just like the printing presses wouldn’t print them without the manual labour of printers… just like the printed magazines wouldn’t get sold if it weren’t for the manual labour of distributors…
He’s now in a world literally run by an alien power that robs minds, just as his mind was robbed to make magazines. And it wants to turn humanity into a string of sausages, all the same.
He denies that he’s a prisoner, but then the globe behind him glows and a siren sounds and the machinery demands his attention. Soon it speaks through him, its stentorian commands coming from his mouth. He tries to negotiate with it. He wants to finally retire… but first he must recruit his successor.
Back to work, Master. Back to work.