We’d do a “your mom” strapline, but honestly with Christine here it’s a bit weird

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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. Tom Marshall
    April 4, 2016 @ 9:16 am

    Lovely piece, and I can’t wait to read what Purser-Hallard has to say on this story.

    I’d like to briefly query the idea that “Moffat is low on influences”. I think it’s both true and false. Demonstrably, his major obsessions are Doctor Who, Sherlock and sitcoms… and, as you point out, he doesn’t ape other sci-fi works like 2000AD to quite the same degree as Davies (he plunders liberally from old sci-fi movies, like Alien, and is never averse to stealing a good visual, but he doesn’t tend to borrow “concepts” from novels so much.) You suggest that “The Time Traveller’s Wife” is the sci-fi novel that has probably had the most impact on him; I can’t really argue with that.

    But what I do think he has – and which, given your blog and take on Moffat, is unlikely to be a contrary position round these parts – is a gift for imagery which lends itself to a vast array of interpretations and discussion about where the influence has come from. I mean, just to give one example, take something like “Heaven Sent”… you can legitimately make the claim that he’s borrowing from Dante, Hamlet, Da Vinci, Escher, Dali, Gormenghast, The Holy Terror, Beckett, Kafka, Myst, Hieronymous Bosch, Bergman, Groundhog Day, and on and on and on. I don’t think anyone legitimately thinks he sat down and thought “which literature am I going to riff on in this episode” before he started writing, but the phrase “low on influences” slightly elides the enormous number of visual and thematic parallels one can find in there. Some of that may be down to Talalay, some of it won’t.

    I guess what we can perhaps refine it to is that he is relatively low on major science-fiction influences that he returns to again and again (except Time-Traveller’s Wife) even if the actual number of other pieces that end up with echoes in his writing is quite high.


  2. Max Curtis
    April 4, 2016 @ 11:04 am

    I’d agree that The Black Archive is clearly the next big shift in “aca-fandom” (a lovely term that reminds me way too much of Pitch Perfect). And book is my favorite of the four so far, especially the bits about transmission dates, and how he adds “soldier” to Jack’s list of sci-fi/horror creatures the Cybermen rip off. What I love is that each book can be for a different sort of audience. Arnold and Myles are clearly writing for the informed fan, whereas Purser-Hallard is more obviously in the “aca-fandom” mold.

    Still, I have a few concerns with the range. For one thing, it lacks the discussion you find in podcasts or comment sections like these — the old Eruditorum posts are great in book form, but half the fun is finding comments from people like Jane. Will James Cooray Smith’s book be seen as a starting point for discussing The Massacre, or as the definitive explanation of what the hell happens in it? At the moment, people are only sporadically unpacking these books on dedicated Gallifrey Base threads, which, well, yeah…

    Going forward, I’m worried most about whether it’ll be financially viable for the range to be a platform for new voices. Much as I’m excited for Lance Parkin’s take on a criminally underrated story, I love the fact that I suddenly know who Purser-Hallard is. Obviously it’ll never cohere around a general perspective the way Eruditorum Press has opened up “Doctor Who as Gothic Marxism”, but I’d be disappointed if the range didn’t end up empowering new voices in much the same way I now read Jack and listen to Kevin and James.


  3. Andrew Hickey
    April 4, 2016 @ 11:36 am

    Max, there have been open submissions for the series (and may still be), and I think I’m a relatively new voice, and Philip has been very good in his fiction editing for Obverse in finding new authors (my first professional fiction publication was in an anthology he edited, and a lot of other people can say the same). Obverse as a publisher are also very committed to new writers and to expanding the range of voices they publish.
    Assuming the line is successful, I suspect we’ll see a mix of people like Lance and totally new people.

    Incidentally, you say “I love the fact that I suddenly know who Purser-Hallard is” — I take it from that that you’ve not read his fiction? If so, I’d thoroughly recommend his stuff to any readers of this site — he writes the kind of SFF that deals with ideas in a playful but rigorous way. A lot of it’s been in Who spinoff ranges (Time Hunter, Faction Paradox, Bernice Summerfield), but he’s far, far above the usual average for those ranges, and one of my two or three favourite SFF writers working at the moment.


    • Max Curtis
      April 4, 2016 @ 12:53 pm

      Oh, I absolutely get what you’re saying. Obverse has been especially good at looking for new writers, both in this range and Faction Paradox. I didn’t mean to sound disdainful in any way, or else I wouldn’t be working on a submission myself! And there’s basically nothing I’d rather read right now than Lance Parkin on The Pirate Planet — closely followed up by your book, of course.

      If I sound critical, it’s only because of the massive potential The Black Archive has. Much as Phil brought new life to a certain sort of medium, I think this could open up a whole new way of academically engaging with Doctor Who (which, as someone who’s going into academia, is something I’m invested in).

      I haven’t yet read Philip’s fiction yet, but his appendix on The City of the Saved certainly piqued my interest. I’ll be sure to check him out.


      • Andrew Hickey
        April 4, 2016 @ 12:58 pm

        I didn’t read it as disdainful, don’t worry — just wanted to allay your concerns. I’ve been involved in this from quite an early stage, and I know how exciting a series it’s planned to be 🙂


    • Janine
      April 4, 2016 @ 5:14 pm

      Unfortunately there aren’t submissions open anymore. I think it was too popular. Max might be able to get in quick when they reopen in late 2017 if he wants to.


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