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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.

22 Comments

  1. David Anderson
    November 5, 2012 @ 12:32 am

    One thing about Pratchett is that he's developed a lot as a writer. The Colour of Magic is not at all the same sort of book as Monstrous Regiment.
    The Colour of Magic isn't a single story at all. The Light Fantastic to Sourcery are Pratchett trying to integrate the comedy with plot with greater or lesser success. Wyrd Sister represents the point at which he gets this right. Somewhere after Moving Pictures he starts to explore the potential of the format for deliberately talking about religion, society, stories and the human condition – but at the time at which you're writing he hasn't got to Hogfather yet. I think there's a third major phase as well that includes Night Watch and Monstrous Regiment that I'm not sure how to characterise.

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  2. Anton B
    November 5, 2012 @ 1:46 am

    One of the irritating responses from the BBC when I and my co-writer were trying to pitch a serious SF series concept to them in the nineties was their apparent inability to contemplate an SF show that wasn't played for comedy while simultaneously dismissing our pitch because they 'already had Red Dwarf'.

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  3. Spacewarp
    November 5, 2012 @ 1:51 am

    The Discworld series developed very quickly from a well-observed fantasy parody into a self-contained universe telling it's own stories. This is particularly noticeable comparing The Colour of Magic to almost everything that comes after The Light Fantastic. I found "Colour" an incredibly refreshing read, taking in almost every fantasy genre I was familiar with – Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd & Grey Mouser, Moorcock's Black Sword, and of course Conan the Barbarian. I found the departure of later books from this parodic style less to my liking, (but that's just me) whereas seasoned Pratchett followers appear to rate the first books lower, for the opposite reason.

    Red Dwarf on the other hand can easily be summed up (at least for UK viewers) as "Men Behaving Badly In Space".

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  4. Dave Kielpinski
    November 5, 2012 @ 1:52 am

    As far as I can tell, Red Dwarf's first season is The Odd Couple in space.

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  5. Spacewarp
    November 5, 2012 @ 2:58 am

    It is, with the Cat as a relatively minor character playing more or less the part of…a cat.

    It isn't until Series III with the addition of Kryten, and a corresponding "opening up" of the Cat's character, that everyone begins to spar with Rimmer on an equal level, and the whole group dynamic turns into 4 lads.

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  6. Adam Riggio
    November 5, 2012 @ 3:32 am

    As much as I love Red Dwarf (and I do love it so), Phil's right in that it does feel more than a little laddish at times. But its truly great period — series 3-4 and bits of 5 — the inventive ideas and sharp wit makes it a genuinely great piece of comedy. It's a shame that the genuine addition of a women to the cast in the alternate-universe Kristine coincided with one half of the Grant Naylor production duo leaving the show. Doug Naylor on his own produced two series of people making wisecracks in space, and we never really explored the potential of some feminine energy poking holes in the laddishness of the cast. Worst of all, Kristine's addition was to replace the departing Rimmer, and without the anchor of Rimmerishness, the show was cast adrift like a broken down Starbug in a nebula.

    Though I haven't yet seen the two most recent series produced by DAVE TV, I was optimistic because Rob Grant was coming back to the team, but a little sad because Kristine would never get a chance to crackle with the same energy of the characters at the Grant Naylor apex.

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  7. Spacewarp
    November 5, 2012 @ 3:36 am

    @Adam

    Red Dwarf X (currently playing on DAVE and appearing on a Usenet newsgroup near you, lol) is superb. Red Dwarf back to it's roots (or at least the heydays of Series 3-5). One of the most remarkable aspects is that you genuinely forget very quickly how old the actors are. I would strongly recommend you watch it.

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  8. Froborr
    November 5, 2012 @ 5:39 am

    I'd say the third phase is Pratchett the moral philosopher–no longer simply lampooning the failings and foibles of modern Western humanity but suggesting ways in which we might do better. There are hints at least as early as Hogfather, but it's in full force by Night Watch.

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  9. Ununnilium
    November 5, 2012 @ 7:34 am

    Stopping by Red Dwarf for a moment: The thing is, basically, do "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" and episodes like them suffer for having more emphasis on the science fiction parts than on the comedy ones?

    (Also, Terry Pratchett is my idol for serious he's so great.)

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  10. Galadriel
    November 5, 2012 @ 7:37 am

    I love Terry Pratchett's sense of humor…it's just so…satirical but it's not in a way that makes you mad.

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  11. Daibhid C
    November 5, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    I'm not sure you can draw a hard-and-fast line; I mean, The Light Fantastic has its deconstructionist barbarian hero (a much more interesting one than the straightforward parody Hrun in the first book, IMO) and some obvious Lovecraftian elements, but I'm not sure I'd call it a parody as such, whereas Wyrd Sisters is quite definitely a parody of Macbeth and Hamlet. And I honestly don't know if I consider Equal Rites to be a parody of A Wizard of Earthsea, or a book that uses elements of Le Guin the way that the third-phase novel Night Watch uses elements of Les Miserables.

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  12. BerserkRL
    November 5, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    On how Star Wars actually opened the door to a good take on class but then failed to walk through it:
    http://c4ss.org/content/13828

    Reply

  13. BerserkRL
    November 5, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    Let me retry that link: http://c4ss.org/content/13828

    Reply

  14. Daibhid C
    November 5, 2012 @ 8:42 am

    Er … looking at my reply again, I should probably specify that this is more a response to Spacewarp's "parody/not parody" division than David's "integration of comedy with plot/exploring the human condition" one.

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  15. David Anderson
    November 5, 2012 @ 9:31 am

    I wouldn't say Pratchett is ever only lampooning the failings of modern Western humanity. Pratchett likes his characters, or at least all of his characters that aren't outright villains. He has a fairly decided set of positive values – cleverness, niceness, messiness, and respect for the people who are at the bottom of the heap.

    The reason I got into a description of Pratchett's career is that I think he's a clear example, outside Doctor Who, of someone exploring how a frock aesthetic can be simultaneously both funny and also serious with emotional weight.

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  16. jsd
    November 5, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    I second Spacewarp's recommendation of X. So far it's been great, very much like the old show. However, 'Back To Earth' was absolutely dire. Stay far far away.

    As far as I'm aware, however, Rob Grant was not involved in either. He gets "created by" co-credit but that's it.

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  17. Ununnilium
    November 5, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

    That's the thing about Pterry – he places enormous, enormous emphasis on character, for humor, for plot, and for theme. That's probably the most influential aspect on Doctor Who, really, although it hasn't gotten as far as he has – well, but neither have 99% of creators, so.

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  18. Tiffany Korta
    November 5, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    SF Debris did a good analysis of Red Dwarf season by season (or series if you will). Which pointed out something that both Red Dwarf and Discworld, unlike some really bad sitcoms and sci-fi, have in common. The fact that the characters change and evolve.

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  19. Spacewarp
    November 5, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

    That's a good read. Thank-you.

    Reply

  20. elvwood
    November 5, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

    This is a very topical post, particularly for me. (Though not just for me, with DWM having recently done an article on Red Dwarf X.) I haven't seen any of season 10 yet, because I am currently running through the series in order with my children. We've caught up with Dave now, so are halfway through season 6 – and it's reminded me just how much more I liked the first five seasons than those that came later, though there are still some delightful moments.

    I also regularly read Terry Pratchett books to them at night. Currently we're halfway through Reaper Man, recently mentioned in connection with Human Nature.

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  21. Spacewarp
    November 6, 2012 @ 5:50 am

    @elvwood. How old are your children? Not too young to be offended by the word bllcks I hope – Rimmer uses it in RD X. Time has moved on, and we live in a different, more sweary world.

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  22. elvwood
    November 6, 2012 @ 9:21 am

    Ah, no, that's fine. They are 10 and 12, and I gave up on worrying about swearing a couple of years ago anyway after they watched Billy Elliot. Actually, my wife swears a lot, and the rest of us have caught it off her a bit; so we're definitely part of that sweary world!

    Reply

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