Less concerned with who’s first up against the wall than with how to decorate it

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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. Adam Riggio
    November 7, 2012 @ 4:29 am

    I remember talking about it here when you first posted the provisional list of NAs you were going to cover, advocating for Sky Pirates!' inclusion. At the time, I thought of it as a road not taken for Doctor Who, because a Doctor who was so god-like in his secret powers would be so alienated from his companions that the personal relationships he develops from them (which have been such a great benefit to the new series) would be impossible.

    Yet you uncover that important element that makes the Doctor frightening in the new series: his complicity, at least by association, with horrifying events and actions. The idea in Sky Pirates! that was inherited by the new series wasn't the alienation of the Doctor from his friends by means of his nature, but the alienation of the Doctor from himself because of his past.

    A wonderful essay, as usual.


  2. Froborr
    November 7, 2012 @ 11:20 am

    Very interesting. I really need to read more New Adventures–I think Human Nature and Lungbarrow are the only ones I've read, unless I've forgotten one.

    "Not all of popular culture is worth a two-thousand word analytic essay."

    Bah and pish-tosh.

    "This extermination, it is made clear, is no mere genocide. The Time Lords wiped these species out from ever existing in the first place, removing them outright from the history of the universe."

    This sounds rather a bit like Asimov's Ends of Eternity. Or more accurately, like the weird allusions to it in the equally weird later Foundation books. If I don't have my dates completely screwed up, we're several years after Asimov's death, so direct influence is a possibility..?


  3. Daibhid C
    November 7, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    "Much as we might want a Terry Pratchett-style Doctor Who novel that's actually by Terry Pratchett, that's pretty much just wishing for a pony."

    In 1995, this was certainly the case. Now that we live in a world where there's a Doctor Who novel by Michael freaking Moorcock, anything's possible…

    "not only are they genre-standard worlds, but savvy people within the world recognizes and understands how their world works, though generally without relating it overtly to genre tropes"

    Well, in Discworld they often do, at least in the Witches subseries, where Granny Weatherwax can always sense when "a story" is happening, and doesn't hold with it at all.

    Talking of the Theory of Narrative Causality, the idea that the Doctor can identify what kind of story he's in, and adapt accordingly (technobabble explanation as to why he's in that kind of story aside) pretty much brings us back to the "refugee from the Land of Fiction" theory, doesn't it?

    If I was going to make a criticism of Sky Pirates!, beyond the ones you've made, it'd be that Stone overplays his hand in the final minutes. He's already managed to make the Doctor a disturbing, inhuman figure. He doesn't need to add that the Doctor's humanform body is but a shell, and his real form is something that gives mystical viewers into the fourth dimension the screaming heebie-jeebies. If anything, the literalisation of the Doctor's inhumanness cheapens it slightly.


  4. encyclops
    November 9, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    I'm so glad I read this essay — I almost didn't, because it's one of the many NAs I've never read and I didn't think it would gain me much to read about it. But this idea accounting for the Time Lords' dominance in and of the universe is absolutely fascinating. It would explain why they're so dead-set against interference and becoming involved; they've already made the universe into exactly what they want and need, and the last thing they want is for some renegade adventuring so-and-so to run around messing with their system preferences. And now I want to read this book.

    You are selling me more and more on this "master of the Land of Fiction" thing — not just making me believe it, but making me like it. Cheers!


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