Eruditorum Press

Incremental progress meets Zeno’s Paradox

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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.

25 Comments

  1. Janjy Giggins
    August 24, 2012 @ 2:35 am

    Was Time's Crucible adapted from a rejected TV script? There's a piece of artwork by Daryl Joyce illustrating it for the Sixth Doctor and Mel. I think the art itself is from a 2001 DWM, which I haven't read so I'm not exactly sure what the context is, but online Daryl Joyce refers to it depicting an 'early draft' of the story. Since no NA would be featuring that crew, I wonder if it was originally pitched towards the end of Colin Baker's tenure? That would explain its reliance on visuals and its failures to offer some of the more fleshed out characterisation etc. associated with novels. I'd assume all the early Gallifrey stuff was grafted on later.

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  2. Nick Smale
    August 24, 2012 @ 3:23 am

    I came to the New Adventures part-way through their publication, and read them backwards and forwards out-of-sequence from that point, so I didn't experience the disappointment with Time's Crucible that Phil describes; rather, I was excited by it as a fuller exploration of the ideas about Ancient Gallifrey I'd seen in later books.

    I'd dispute Phil's assertion that Virgin knew that the books weren't going to be 'canon'. I think the New Adventures writers really did believe themselves to be creating the legitimate continuation of the TV show. You have to remember that, in 1993, it seemed very, very likely that Doctor Who on TV was gone, over, gone, and never coming back. For a couple of years, until the TV movie appeared on the horizon, the New Adventures looked like the only continuation Doctor Who was ever going to get, and the writers took that responsibility seriously – you only have to compare the NAs' courage with the timidity of other TV tie-ins to see that something very different and unusual was going on.

    I love the "Platt plan", but I suspect it's founded, not in the need to tell new stories, but in a fannish desire to tie-up loose ends and inconsistencies in the series accounts of Gallifrey and the Doctor's origins. So… How can Tom Baker be both the 4th Doctor and (in Morbius) the twelfth? Platt's answer: those were the Other's faces. How come the Time Lords at the Doctor's trial didn't ask about Susan? Answer: she was the Other's grandaughter, taken from the ancient past. How could the Doctor (in The Chase) say he built the TARDIS? Answer: the Other built it. Etc.

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  3. jane
    August 24, 2012 @ 4:19 am

    I've tried to follow, really — read the whole Timewyrm series, was having a good bit of fun, and then I plowed into Crucible… and I'm sorry, but I couldn't finish it. It was about Chapter Six or Seven, at which point I just couldn't care anymore.

    Which is a shame, because I was enjoying the bits with the Doctor and Ace. It was the whole Gallifrey stuff that lost me. Sorry, I just don't care about Gallifrey, not a jot nor a whit, and this was exacerbated by whoever the main character was in that thread of the book, the space cadet (or whatever.) Nothing sympathetic about him, and not much terribly interesting, either, well, not for this grown adult; I suppose he might have been more compelling for a teenager.

    Reading the description above, I'm glad I put this down when I did, because I'm sure I'd be pulling my hair out and screaming in rage. I recall a 7th Doctor story from the BBC line of books where he loses his memory and doesn't he become Jack the Ripper or something? Yeah, didn't like that one either.

    I'm so, so grateful Davies wrote Gallifrey out of existence.

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  4. drfgsdgsdf
    August 24, 2012 @ 4:24 am

    Yes, that illustration was in an interview with Platt where he talked about it as a tv script "Cat's Cradle". The silver cat was supposed to represent the doctor's memories/essence because of the Sixth doctor's cat badge. Andrew Cartmel liked it a lot but felt they couldn't afford it and asked for other ideas resulting in Shrine, Lungbarrow, Ghost Light and ultimately Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible.

    It was originally just titled Cat's Cradle (which really works considering the structure and opening quote) but Darvill-Evans liked the title so much that he used it on all 3 novels as a marketing tactic (buy all 3 books-like Timewyrm) This was much to the bemusement of the 3 authors who struggled to find much in common between their (already plotted) books.

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  5. BerserkRL
    August 24, 2012 @ 5:16 am

    Their uncomplicated nature was refreshing and often disarming

    Anyone who thinks children are uncomplicated has a short memory.

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  6. Ununnilium
    August 24, 2012 @ 7:09 am

    I just find it really interesting that the New Adventures did two named series in a row and then no more for the rest of the run. I'm wondering where the impetus came from.

    Ah, so this is where Looms and the Other originally come from. I just finished rereading Lungbarrow and I was wondering.

    "Meanwhile, since last we checked in, George Bush has vomited in the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister. Absolutely nobody has ever claimed that this was one of the causes for Japan’s apology to South Korea five days later for forcing women into sexual slavery during the Second World War." Nice segue!

    "Once we’ve seen Ace chased by her schoolyard tormenter through the Doctor’s mind it’s difficult to get that excited about her being chased by a giant worm through a city that is the TARDIS."

    That one I'll disagree on – seems like a solid concept.

    "Instead this is engaged in a sort of “what if” game – enacting a mad idea for the series that is interesting less for its clarifying effect on the past and more for its implications for the future."

    Yes! This is an excellent kind of fanwank, although it's one that you have to be careful with, lest you end up with cluttered, overcomplicated concepts in your backstory.

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  7. elvwood
    August 24, 2012 @ 7:09 am

    I'm not a fan of Gallifrey post-Deadly Assassin, either on TV or in the books (though to be honest Lungbarrow and The Ancestor Cell are the only two predominantly Galleyfried books I've read), so I don't miss it in the revived series. And yet for some reason I really enjoy Big Finish's spin-off Gallifrey series. Perhaps it's because this is a different beast, not trying to be Doctor Who but simply using the background. The setting is just as grey as it became, but Louise Jameson, Lalla Ward and John Leeson give the impression that they are having a lot of fun.

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  8. Ununnilium
    August 24, 2012 @ 7:12 am

    I think the "not canon" thing is less "what we're doing doesn't really count" and more "we're going to consciously not worry about reining ourselves in for the sake of long-term viability".

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  9. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 24, 2012 @ 7:33 am

    The problem is that one needs either no Gallifreys or a multitude of them. And the continuity-mongering parts of fandom will never stand for an inconsistent Gallifrey where it's a place of gothic horror one day and a gleaming technocracy the next, so we get none. I love the idea of Gallifrey, and I think there have been some fabulous stories to play with it, but it has to be dealt with in a way that preserves its ludicrously broad potential.

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  10. elvwood
    August 24, 2012 @ 7:38 am

    Just wondering, since the impact of this story seems to be damaged by coming after Paul Cornell's: is there anything in the Cat's Cradle trilogy that definitely has to come after the Timewyrm sequence? I haven't read any of the NAs, but if I ever do I wondered if it would work better swapping their order.

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  11. elvwood
    August 24, 2012 @ 7:49 am

    "The problem is that one needs either no Gallifreys or a multitude of them."

    That sounds like an advert for series 4 of Gallifrey (which I haven't got to yet – just finishing series 3). It features at least four parallel versions.

    Which wasn't what you meant, but it amused me nonetheless.

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  12. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 24, 2012 @ 8:24 am

    No, but it would be difficult for Timewyrm: Revelation to come after Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark. The end of Witch Mark has a plot point where the TARDIS and the Doctor become "infected" by a nebulously defined thingy-thing, which plays out with light references throughout the next five books before being resolved in Deceit. It's difficult to imagine that Revelation could have come in that sequence without dealing substantively with the Doctor's "infection."

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  13. drfgsdgsdf
    August 24, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    I have to confess the first time I read it, I began to skip the old Gallifrey chapters, and as a result enjoyed the book a great deal. You only need to read the first and last one to appreciate the brilliant Cat's Cradle structure of the book. The ideas in this sections are fascinating and, as Philip points out, at this time a whole new take on Gallifrey must have been even bolder than it seems now (rather than the same old Deadly Assassin stuff). Maybe it's the lack of relatable characters, maybe it's just too strange

    Two underrated things about Cat's Cradle, for me, are
    -The 1990s Ealing sequence, particulary the Doctor's interest in baked Alaska and as the world slows down, Ace glimpses her mother in the crowd. A rare case of me wishing the writer wouldn't start the adventure just yet…

    -The relationship between Ace and Shonnzi. As has been pointed out, the other Chronaunts aren't as well written (compared to the strong ideas) but I found this friendship quite touching.

    Stay by Shakespears Sister will now always be part of my soundtrack for this book

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  14. Aaron
    August 24, 2012 @ 11:09 am

    Except the "infection" was a retcon in Deceit. The other books didn't know it was going to be followed up on. I'm almost positive Cornell had no idea about it in Love and War, and Deceit uses the end of Love and War as part of it's retcon.

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  15. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 24, 2012 @ 11:28 am

    There's a moment in the epilogue of Love and War where the Doctor suggests that his plan was in part based on "my strange biology at the moment" that is typically read to be a reference to the infection.

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  16. Aaron
    August 24, 2012 @ 11:35 am

    If that's the case, I stand corrected.

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  17. BerserkRL
    August 24, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

    And the continuity-mongering parts of fandom will never stand for an inconsistent Gallifrey where it's a place of gothic horror one day and a gleaming technocracy the next

    Well, it's much larger than Earth and millions of years older, so there's plenty of time and space for gothic-horror eras and gleaming-technocracy eras. Indeed, you've got gothic-horror eras and gleaming-technocracy eras just in London.

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  18. BerserkRL
    August 24, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

    "my strange biology at the moment"

    I wish McGann had said that in the 1996 movie.

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  19. Ununnilium
    August 24, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

    I think fandom can deal perfectly well with a purposefully inconsistent Gallifrey; it just has to be explicitly inconsistent – consistently so, if you will.

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  20. elvwood
    August 25, 2012 @ 12:55 am

    "We demand rigidly-defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"

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  21. jane
    August 25, 2012 @ 6:23 am

    Silence must fall when the question is asked.

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  22. BerserkRL
    August 25, 2012 @ 8:06 am

    "Doctor Who?" "42."

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  23. Seeing_I
    August 27, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

    Love that "The End of Time" included what I can only take to be a Pythia soothsayer in the Gallifrey scenes!

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  24. jesusandrew
    August 27, 2012 @ 11:33 pm

    Ranked 50th of 61? Wow that's harsh.

    Although I didn't have the opportunity to read the New Adventures until a year or so after they were over, when I did I read them in intended publishing order and didn't find "Time's Crucible" to be at all a letdown after "Revelation" – both of them would probably make it into my personal New Adventures top 10.

    "Time's Crucible" is probably a more ambitious work than Platt was able to carry off, but what he did achieve was of sufficiently high quality that this doesn't really bother me – I'd much rather read an ambitious work (by a talented writer) which doesn't fully succeed than some of the more inspirationless (if competently done) works that the line also delivered.

    (It's probably worth inserting a note that this does not apply to "The Pit", an ambitious novel by a less talented writer. I wanted to enjoy it, but sadly the H.G.Wells-in-Timelash-level-failure in portraying William Blake was representative of the rest of the book.)

    Although I can understand why it didn't work for some people, I found it gripping and fascinating on an initial read without any problems following what was going on. Subsequent rereads have exposed more of the inner workings but haven't lessened its appeal.

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  25. drfgsdgsdf
    August 30, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

    I thought that too
    And wasn't Time's Crucible the first Who story to posit that Tardises were designed to be piloted by 6 people?

    An idea later used in Journey's End

    (I've answered this so late no-one will notice, but it's the princple that matters)

    Reply

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