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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. David Bateman
    February 13, 2012 @ 2:07 am

    Good thoughts! Certainly, the Watcher looks like he stepped out of the 'Ashes to Ashes' video.


  2. Scott
    February 13, 2012 @ 2:56 am

    Just regarding the Fifth Doctor and BBC Books, it's been a while since I've read them but I seem to remember that Zeta Major by Simon Messignham and Deep Blue by Mark Morris were okay.

    Not exactly great, mind you; if memory serves in both cases, the former's a bit too hard sci-fi for both my tastes and for what I think Doctor Who can reasonably get away with if it starts trying hard sci-fi, and the latter kind of turns into a dead fish and peters out a bit towards the end (which, given the overall subject matter of the novel, is a pun definitely intended; I'll say no more) but both are fairly solid and far from being turkeys. Given that the Fifth Doctor doesn't in my memory seem to have been treated very well by BBC Books, those two in my memory are probably the stand-outs.

    Also, something with may interest you about both; they also involve a fair bit of back-and-forthing between the Fifth Doctor and other eras. Without giving too much away, the first is a direct sequel to "Planet of Evil", and the second has the Fifth Doctor meeting the Third Doctor-era UNIT team while the Third Doctor's away doing something else, so it seems to me that either of which might fit in well with both the overall theme of plundering the show's past that occurs throughout the Fifth Doctor era as a whole, and what I'm picking up regarding your own interests and approaches towards analysing the show as a whole. In any case, if you were looking for better quality books to do, my personal suggestions would be one of those two.

    (Although to be honest, if the book you're talking about is the one I think you're talking about, then I'm kind of hoping you'll do it anyway just so I can see your reaction to the trainwreck. :-))

    Hope this helps!


  3. elvwood
    February 13, 2012 @ 4:49 am

    I've not read any Fifth Doctor novels, but according to Gallifrey Base readers last year Fear of the Dark is your best bet, being the 13th best PDA. After that it's the two Scott suggested, Zeta Major at 26 and Deep Blue at 36.

    Interestingly, the three worst PDAs in those rankings are all for the Fifth Doctor!


  4. Andrew Hickey
    February 13, 2012 @ 4:54 am

    The argument doesn't really work for me at all – one could make exactly the same argument about the Beatles (Who starts just as the Beatles release With The Beatles, their first album as the biggest band in the world. Hartnell regenerates around the time the Beatles decide to 'regenerate' into Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The War Games, the end of Doctor Who as it had been known til then, happens just as they're splitting up. Logopolis is broadcast around the time of Lennon's death. The TV movie is made around the same time as Free As A Bird and Real Love. NuWho starts being recorded just as mixing starts on Love, the last 'new' Beatles album…), yet I don't think anyone thinks Doctor Ringo would have been a possibility (though frankly I'd love to see that).

    I think ultimately, this post just boils down to "vital art tends to reflect its times"…


  5. Stephen
    February 13, 2012 @ 7:08 am

    Sadly, all the good Davison books are MAs. Ones that have some level of quality are probably:
    Empire of Death, which attempts to address the Problem of Nyssa. It's not as good as some of the others I'll mention, but certainly one that it's worth you reading.
    Fear of the Dark – a Trevor Baxendale (hence a well-done example of "trad" stories), which is rather atmospheric
    Zeta Major – a sequel to Planet of Evil which addresses the consequences of a throwaway line, but whose main appeal is (IMO) nostalgia value.
    Deep Blue – a well-liked Davison story that takes place in the middle of the Pertwee era from the point of view of the UNIT characters.

    Personally, I also rather enjoyed Imperial Moon – where, basically, the Doctor invades a Jules Verne story. But there's probably less meat to get out of it than some of the others.

    Of course, you could just stick to whichever of Divided Loyalties and Warmonger you originally had planned. It might be more entertaining for us. At the very least said story needs to go into the book edition.


  6. tantalus1970
    February 13, 2012 @ 8:32 am

    I don't see Bowie putting up with the production schedule, frankly. I think he'd have walked after a couple of weeks!

    Old Who from about 1971 to the mid 80s was made to the same schedule as any other studio-bound BBC show, such as a sitcom, ie like televised theatre: location filming first, the best part of 2 weeks rehearsal in plain rooms, Friday morning and afternoon camera rehearsal on the set, and all the studio footage for 2 25-minute episodes would be filmed late Friday afternoon and evening until 10pm. They didn't get any extra time for things like studio-based special effects or guys in monster suits (or frequently retakes – see Graham Crowden's OTT death scene in Nimon, which he allegedly didn't know was the real take).


  7. Anton B
    February 13, 2012 @ 10:00 am

    What a lovely refreshing desert after the tasty blow-out that was the Logopolis post. And again pretty much mirroring my own thoughts. This is getting spooky. If there's a rival to Doctor Who for My Favourite Obsession (copyright – Richard O'Brien)it's David Bowie. I was a lookalike in the seventies, a dead ringer in fact, Bowie got me into performance as a profession, the Doctor was the role I'd have loved. I've often contemplated Bowie as the Doctor and noted the parallels in their respective trajectories. (The other role I'd have loved to see him play would have been Frank Cornelius, the evil brother to a Mick Jagger casting as Jerry Cornelius with Marrianne Faithful as Cathy in a, never made but I can dream, 1970's adaptation of Moorcock's 'English Assassin')

    By the way, continuing my 'Doctor Who as Edwardian stage magician' trope from my posting in the Logopolis replies. If you want to see a possible way Bowie would have played the Doctor check out his performance as Nikolai Tesla in Christopher Nolan's intriguing film 'The Prestige'. A kind of dark steampunk Cushing incarnation. I'd have loved to see that.


  8. Zapruder 313
    February 13, 2012 @ 11:50 am

    Is this the right time to totally derail the thread by descending into ranting about how Nolan's film of The Prestige utterly missed the mark by stripping out the essential 1980s frame narrative from Priest's stunning novel?

    Aside from Bowie as Tesla, of course, which, as you point out, was an inspired piece of casting.


  9. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 13, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

    I did, actually, make an argument along the lines of the Beatles argument, going so far as to suggest that there's something of a passing of the torch from the Beatles to Bowie in terms of the musical act most in line with Doctor Who. Certainly I don't think it is true that you can do this with any piece of vital art – the Rolling Stones are surely vital art, but they don't parallel Doctor Who particularly well.

    But more broadly, this blog has always entertained, albeit at whimsical distance, the notion that there is at least some level of consciousness underlying Doctor Who and reaching deeper into British culture. I think there is a fair case to be made – and, indeed, that the erstwhile Mr. O'Leary has made it – that Bowie is, like Alan Moore, another derive through the same imaginary territory.


  10. Yonatan
    February 13, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

    I would check out Cold Fusion. It does also have the 7th Doctor in it, but it is probably the best MA. Plus the Goth Opera is also rather good.


  11. Scott
    February 13, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    Regarding Bowie, hasn't he sprinkled references to Who here and there in his career? I seem to remember reading something about a TARDIS reference on the back cover of the "Space Oddity" release, but since I'm not really that knowledgable about Bowie it's possible I've misheard/read something or been misinformed.

    If we're talking MAs, then "The Sands of Time" is also really good IMHO, in a timey-wimey ball sort of way. The Fifth Doctor was better served by Virgin than BBC Books overall, really.


  12. WGPJosh
    February 13, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

    I think Phil is already covering "Cold Fusion"-It's BBC Books stuff I think he's looking for, not Virgin.


  13. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 13, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

    Well, as always I decline to announce the Time Can Be Rewrittens beyond vague hints, so I can't confirm or deny the Cold Fusion entry. But I think I've settled on the set of books in general. Four total entries, order will be Virgin, Big Finish, Virgin, BBC.

    With the information that I did decide to go for a golden turkey for BBC, this is probably the easiest to guess set ever.


  14. Matthew Blanchette
    February 13, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  15. Matthew Blanchette
    February 13, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

    Think you all might like this; sorry about the quality, but it's the best I could whip up in so short a time:


  16. Aaron
    February 14, 2012 @ 9:37 am

    Cold Fusion, Spare Parts, Crystal Bucephalus, Warmonger is where I put my money. Although I'm not certain about Crystal Bucephalus.


  17. Stephen
    February 14, 2012 @ 10:22 am

    The third one is the only one that's in any doubt. I don't think we can completely rule out The Sands of Time, Goth Opera, or The Crystal Bucephalus. Though Goth Opera being the sequel to an NA makes it less likely – especially as Phil's doing Cold Fusion.

    Incidentally, my previous post lied – there is one Davison book that's good but not an MA, the Telos novella Blood and Hope, but I don't expect to see another Telos offering turn up hereabouts until Fallen Gods – and that's far from certain.


  18. Aaron
    February 14, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    What's special/worth talking about about Sand of Time? I don't know anything about the book, except it's an MA.


  19. Stephen
    February 14, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

    The Sands of Time is most notable for being one of the few Doctor Who stories in any medium to make effective use of time travel, and for being a sequel to Pyramids of Mars (and also, to a lesser extent, another story – but there be spoilers). It's definitely one of Justin Richard's best books, and he's done quite a few good ones.

    Of course, I expect that Phil would find something worth talking about in pretty much any of the full-length novels (even he might struggle to say much about the K9 Picture books, though).


  20. fig
    February 15, 2012 @ 7:37 am

    Weird. I read the Bowie blog avidly and check this one out every now and then … my worlds have collided. Nicely. It's a bit like when Malcom Mclaren did the theme for a Carry On film … only less upsetting!


  21. Mike
    June 7, 2013 @ 1:26 am

    "should Bowie ever return, to the stage or the studio, will it somehow trigger the collapse of New Who? It’s like an armistice in which one power has agreed to unilaterally disarm; if the treaty is broken, who knows what disasters may come. A new Bowie album could mean Russell Brand cast as the Twelfth Doctor."

    Reading this post now, it seems eerily prophetic (at least in the case of whether New Who will collapse.)


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    August 30, 2014 @ 1:38 am

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  23. Harlequin
    January 14, 2016 @ 4:50 am

    I have just returned to reading this post, for obvious reasons. having not commented when reading the Eruditorum on the previous site. The series did not, of course, collapse when Bowie released ‘The Next Day’ between the Doctor’s regeneration into his twelfth incarnation and his first adventure (despite a slight drop in ratings). What did happen seems far more interesting looking at what that Doctor’s persona evolved into: the ageing rock star who directly conjures aspects of his classic predecessors from the sixties, seventies and eighties.


  24. #davidjazay
    January 17, 2016 @ 11:12 pm

    While at film school (and we had Alan Rickman as a guest lecturer – so, last week felt quite harrowing), I entertained fantasies of one day directing a faithful adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath”, starring David Bowie as Randolph Carter.
    I still think he would have been a great Lovecraftian hero.


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