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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.

17 Comments

  1. Adam Riggio
    March 1, 2013 @ 1:47 am

    Since we are skipping so many of the Eighth Doctor books from the last half of the range (will some of them make it to the McGann/Eccleston book?), I guess I should ask this question now, as it seems the only appropriate time.

    I remember (and these memories are vague, incidental, and a decade old) a fair portion of dislike for Anji's character on the internet. And it seems to me from my memories that a lot of that hatred was due to her origins as an investment banker. I had never read that many books from Anji's time in the EDAs, she struck me as basically a pretty good character. I don't have enough experience with her to compare her to Benny or the other Virgin line companions. But it still seems inappropriate to be hostile to her character because of her origins in the stock market.

    To people with better memories of this period: What was the motivation for the dislike of Anji Kapoor? And how much was the disliked anyway?

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  2. SK
    March 1, 2013 @ 2:42 am

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  3. Daibhid C
    March 1, 2013 @ 3:43 am

    My own recollection from RADW is that the basic motive for dislike of her was because her sceptical attitude to sci-fi tropes was, at least in some of the early books, portrayed as being aware of the genre but not liking it much. And the "deep fandom" fans are always going to be hypersensitive to a character who criticises the genre from the inside.

    So her lack of fondness for sf was combined with "worked as a banker" to produce a largely unjustified image of her as "soulless yuppie".

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    March 1, 2013 @ 5:17 am

    1. I've never been one to complain about something not looking "realistic" or "believable" due to its special effects, but I do think aesthetics can be important in some aspects of television and a case could be made practical effects are better artistically for some things then CGI. To take an example that's topical to me at least, the model Next GenerationEnterprise looks like a lived-in entity with weight and presence to me (though a lot of that is also due to Andy Probert's design) whereas the CGI one from Enterprise looks cold, clinical and artificial blown up to 1080p. It's not that one looks more fake than the other, it's that one simply doesn't look as nice or as fitting to my eyes. The fact CGI is significantly cheaper than using models, matte paintings and glitter is beside my point, but money always trumps aesthetics I suppose.

      2. I'm still not a big fan of big epic narrative arcs. I actually just recently pitched a fit on Twitter about how I increasingly feel like an old, uncool and willfully obtuse or contrarian person for preferring an older, more episodic model of television and I assure everyone that's not (intentionally) the case. It's not that I'm fundamentally opposed to arcs, but I think the focus on and obsession with them from both creators and audiences has been to the detriment of all the other things TV has the potential to be good at. I personally feel there can be some middle ground between negative continuity and overblown myth (or anti-myth as the case may be) arcs, but perhaps that's just me.

      3. I'm sort of disappointed this article wasn't about the Atari 2600 game (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swordquest)

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  5. Ununnilium
    March 1, 2013 @ 7:26 am

    …wait a minute, this is a cover that doesn't have a round thing on it!

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  6. Sean Daugherty
    March 1, 2013 @ 8:30 am

    The problem is, I'm not convinced that image was unjustified. In principle, yes, the character can work exactly as Phil has described. In practice, the number of authors who managed to pull off that characterization were vanishingly small (Lance Parkin, Lloyd Rose, and Kate Orman, basically).

    More often than not, she was a stereotype of a dismissive yuppie written by authors who were the sort of people being dismissed and who, in general, were not predisposed towards sympathy to young business professionals. There wasn't enough introspection or self-awareness there for the character to work, and she didn't. She's like Ian and Barbara as written by someone who irrationally hates teachers.

    I agree with Phil that Anji had promise, but disagree very strongly that it was ever fulfilled. Far from being the best new companion since Benny, she was one of the biggest missteps the line made, and arguably even worse than Sam (who was mostly just bland, as opposed to actively irritating). Like the amnesia "arc," it was an idea that simply was never going to work as conceived, given the realities of creating Doctor Who in the early 2000s.

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  7. Sean Daugherty
    March 1, 2013 @ 8:37 am

    I know, right? Pity it's so bland and unremarkable in every other way. Though I suppose that was necessary, coming right on the heels of Escape Velocity's "exploding paint factory" cover….

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  8. Sean Daugherty
    March 1, 2013 @ 8:53 am

    In an earlier discussion, I mentioned that this was the last EDA I regularly read on its original publication, and how odd that was, in hindsight, since I really liked this book. I couldn't answer that at the time, but I think Phil nails it here: as much as I liked EarthWorld, it really indicated that there wasn't much left to expect from the EDAs in terms of arc-based storytelling. And while I love good standalone stories (like this one), the track record of the novels was mixed in that regard. The story arcs, if nothing else, kept my interest up while waiting for the next really good novel. Without them, I lost interest, and only popped in now and then when a familiar author showed up (Parkin, Orman, Miles), or when a book was getting uncommon praise (The City of the Dead).

    Well, there was also my intense dislike of Ms. Anji Kapoor, but I talked about that elsewhere and won't repeat myself here.

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  9. Adam Riggio
    March 1, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    Few people can put it much better than Lance Parkin. Thanks, SK.

    It strikes me, given Parkin's insights, that the McGann/Eccleston book could really do with some more detailed analysis of Anji, particularly the way many of the regular EDA writers handled her, contrasting with how Russell T Davies handled and dealt with his own companions and supporting characters, particularly Jackie, Mickey, and Donna.

    Fitz (especially post-Ancestor Cell Fitz) and Trix were decidedly inhabitants of sci-fi worlds, which to many of the EDA writers were normal people. Because Anji was a more typical office worker and practically-minded, she stood out in the sci-fi environment. For the world of Doctor Who, she was abnormal. Now, given how Doctor Who actually works, this should have been a serious asset for her character, because the show works best when it takes images and characters that are otherwise normal and throws them into the strangeness of a series of weird sci-fi worlds to see what happens.

    But in that discussion SK linked, Parkin describes the general culture of most EDA writers as completely missing that point: presuming that Doctor Who was about the smooth functioning of a sci-fi world. I guess you could call it a Larry Niven kind of thinking where all the created elements were supposed to be consistent with each other and the world they existed in. Anji's distorting that world was seen as a negative, when it was actually distortion and inconsistency that makes Doctor Who work best.

    This feeds perfectly into Phil's idea that the most visible parts of Doctor Who as an ongoing creative institution were on a trajectory of disaster, even as events were leading into an unbelievably successful revival. As far as the most visible parts of the edifice called Doctor Who at the time were concerned, it was a community of self-absorbed anoraks who, with their tendencies for consistency, coherence, and disdain for the ordinary, fundamentally misunderstood what made Doctor Who function best.

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  10. Ben
    March 2, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

    Beyond that, and it’s frankly shocking that we’re in 2013 without this happening on television, she’s the first companion of Indian or Pakistani descent (the writers get a bit confused here and there), which is more than a bit unfortunate given their size as a British demographic.

    There's Rita in "The God Complex" – one of my favorite DW stories – but the Doctor was foolish enough to put a jinx on her.

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  11. Matthew Blanchette
    March 2, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. Stephen Jeffers
    March 3, 2013 @ 3:47 am

    Most of the writers portrayed Anji as quite a 'sour' character. She always seemed to be nagging the Doctor and Fitz, or being more interested in getting home than being in adventures in fucking outer space.

    It's absolutely no coincidence whatsoever that when Parkin, Orman, Rose, Mags Halliday and Mark Clapham write her, she's having fun and so she's great.

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  13. Matthew Blanchette
    March 3, 2013 @ 8:07 am

    I would've LOVED to see her as a companion. What a near-miss.

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  14. Scott
    March 3, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

    I'm not really familiar with Anji but from what I'm hearing, it sounds almost like they tried the same sort of thing they tried with Tegan concerning the whole 'reluctant traveller' thing, which some of the similar consequence (i.e. people seem to think she's a bit whiny and naggy and, like Stephen suggests, obsessed with getting home to a relatively mundane job rather than appreciating the fact that she's having adventures in time and space). Would that seem about right?

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  15. neroden@gmail
    December 14, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

    "As far as the most visible parts of the edifice called Doctor Who at the time were concerned, it was a community of self-absorbed anoraks who, with their tendencies for consistency, coherence, and disdain for the ordinary, fundamentally misunderstood what made Doctor Who function best."
    This feeds into my belief that Rip Tide was important within fandom, as the direct rejection of a lot of that.

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  16. neroden@gmail
    December 14, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

    Also still arguing against overuse of arcs here. Ah well.

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  17. Katherine Sas
    July 28, 2014 @ 6:18 am

    She was fabulous – would have loved more of her.

    Reply

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