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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. Andrew Hickey
    December 4, 2012 @ 2:33 am

    You've not linked to the free streaming version of Scream Of The Shalka —

    You're covering This Town… but not The Book Of The War? Interesting choice.

    While Earthworld is currently out of print, it's being reissued — less than a week after your post will be up. It's preorderable at

    And I'd point out for those who are interested that the EDAs, unlike the New Adventures, are usually available dirt-cheap second hand. I've picked up several of those listed for literally pennies on Amazon, although Adventuress… tends to be costly.

    Interesting looking at that list to see how high-quality (with some exceptions) the generally-badly-regarded EDA series is if you cherry-pick the highlights, and how godawful the generally-well-regarded Big Finish Eighth Doctor stories are if you look mostly at the big story arc stories.


  2. Not That Matt Smith
    December 4, 2012 @ 6:07 am

    Massively excited about all this. The Big Finish stuff in particular. But man. Gotta just throw out there. "Zagreus" on April Fool's Day? That's bloody fantastic. For frakking real.


  3. elvwood
    December 4, 2012 @ 6:29 am

    You're covering War of the Daleks, Zagreus and Creed of the Kromon? Now, that's dedication!

    Oh, and a public safety announcement: under no circumstances listen to Scherzo while driving.


  4. Tommy
    December 4, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

    Damn, no Terror-Firma. I'd have thought that'd be one of the really important ones to cover, as well as being one of my favourites.


  5. Not That Matt Smith
    December 4, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

    Co-sign. Maybe in the McGann book? I vote it for the McGann book?


  6. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 4, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

    Maybe. More even than the McCoy book, I'm kind of spoiled for choice on what to add in the McGann/Eccleston book. The only one I'll commit to up-front on the book version of a section of the blog I've not written yet is that Seeing I will get an essay.

    /goes back to revising the Carnival of Monsters essay, speaking of books.


  7. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 4, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

    I'm not so much looking at the big arc stories as I am just taking a linear stretch of audios and going with them.

    As for Book of the War, I dunno. This Town Will Never Let Us Go seemed the more interesting book. I'm kind of intrigued by what Miles does when finally, properly freed from the need to be Doctor Who. Book of the War feels fanwanky, at least in description. Am I wrong?


  8. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 4, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

    Ha. Scherzo is actually the one Eighth Doctor Audio I have listened to. I listened to it on a huge drive from Florida up to North Carolina, and I was absolutely enthralled.


  9. Andrew Hickey
    December 4, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

    The Book Of The War is… I wouldn't call it not fanwanky, but at the same time, fanwank isn't a word I would ever think to use of it, and sort of misses the point. It's what happens if you take just the ideas Miles and his friends had, and build an entirely new universe around them. It has almost nothing to do with Doctor Who, while at the same time almost being a manifesto for what a series of books that happened to be influenced by David Whitaker, Robert Holmes and Christopher Bidmead should be like.

    This Town… on the other hand is utterly unconnected to Who, and is a dense, difficult, 'proper' novel. It uses some of the same storytelling techniques as Dead Romance, but where Dead Romance is Vonnegut-esque, This Town is closer to Pynchon. It's a postmodern magic realist book that if it hadn't been released as a spin-off of a spin-off of a TV series would have had a reasonable chance at major literary awards.

    Both books are among my very favourite novels by anyone, and I have no doubt you could write a fascinating essay on either. This Town… is the better book in pure literary terms, and probably the best book Miles has ever written, but I suspect The Book Of The War would be easier to fit into a narrative of "what Doctor Who was doing when it was off-air".


  10. Andrew Hickey
    December 4, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

    As for the Big Finishes… that's right, they are just a consecutive sequence, aren't they? What a terrible list. I remember there being some good ones among them, but the only ones listed that are anything like any good are the two Rob Shearman ones (though you might like Seasons Of Fear, being a bigger fan of Cornell than I am).


  11. drfgsdgsdf
    December 4, 2012 @ 11:42 pm

    It's 'just' a consecutive sequence of Big Finish audio
    but I'm really glad Phil is dealing with them in this way. For about a year they were a bigger talking point in fandom then any other Who book/audio series. Fans were genuniely curious as to where Charley's arc was going in a way that I hadn't seen on the boards that far

    Perhaps it was because so many of the book's surprises were announced so far in advance: everyone knew when Ace/Benny were leaving, everyone knew Roz would die, etc etc but if you look at the boards from the time you can see a real excitement and guesswork to what was coming that hadn't been seen for a while…Then came the one-two punch of Zagreus and the New Series. So that was that

    To quote someone one the boards 2 years ago "I remember before the mystery of Amy's Crack, there was the enigma Charley's Fissure"


  12. elvwood
    December 5, 2012 @ 1:25 am

    Don't get me wrong, I rate Scherzo highly (unlike the ones I noted in my previous paragraph); but the first time I heard it there was a moment that really made me jump, which wasn't good as I was driving in traffic at the time. I'm not convinced it was good for the speakers, either!

    Given that you liked Scherzo, and you're subjecting yourself to Creed of the Kromon, can I recommend that you also listen to Jim Mortimore's A Natural History of Fear, the one after that? Whether you do anything on it for the book or not, it's worth a listen just for fun.


  13. David Anderson
    December 5, 2012 @ 3:36 am

    If I wanted to listen to a selection of the Big Finish, which of the above would people recommend? (I have Chimes of Midnight.)


  14. Andrew Hickey
    December 5, 2012 @ 4:00 am

    I'd personally recommend:
    Storm Warning — because it's the first, and a relatively decent story.
    Invaders From Mars — funny, stands more or less alone, written by someone who's since worked on the TV, features the world's worst Orson Welles impression.
    Chimes Of Midnight — Shearman
    Scherzo — Shearman

    In general, though, the standard of the BF Eighth Doctor stories is much lower than that of their work with the other Doctors around that time, mostly because of the insistence on big, dull story arcs.


  15. Neo Tuxedo
    December 5, 2012 @ 4:41 am

    Judging by the relative chronology, Curse of Fatal Death would be appearing on either April 14 or 16, if you're covering it at all. (Which, y'know, Steven Moffat's first time writing DW for television, seems to demand coverage to me but there is only one captain of this subway and I'm not he.)


  16. Alex Wilcock
    December 5, 2012 @ 7:42 am

    I think it’s right that you do fewer Eighths than New Adventures, and there’s just so much of him out there that I’ll restrain my urge to suggest some of the more entertaining 8DAs or Big Finishes you’ve omitted. I will, however, back one of Andrew Hickey’s suggestions from elsewhere and make another of my own.

    The Book Of The War is utterly superb, for my money the best Doctor Who short story anthology of all (though technically containing neither Doctor Who nor short stories). If, as your comments suggest, you’ve read neither it nor This Town Will Never Let Us Go, I’m less keen on the latter than Andrew but think its tone of novel-as-essay will probably suit you, but The Book is simply outstanding and, though a collaboration, is one of the three books I’d choose as Lawrence’s finest work.

    I’d also strongly urge you to consider another book from the ‘minor’ lines. Though I find most of the Telos Novellas highly overrated in the claim that they were the ‘quality’ line, Jon Blum and Kate Orman’s Fallen Gods is far ahead of most of their output, and has so many allusions and intricacies that I think it would appeal to your style. Here’s my unusually spoiler-phobic but rave review of Fallen Gods, which without giving away the plot should give you an idea of just why it’s worth considering. Despite the earlier Who story it reimagines.


  17. encyclops
    December 5, 2012 @ 9:01 am

    People keep mentioning Zagreus and I'm thinking I should check it out. Is that a good idea if I've only heard one Eighth Doctor Big Finish (Blood of the Daleks, if you don't count Shada or about five excruciating minutes of World Wide Web)? If not, are there a few I could cherry-pick to get ready for it?


  18. encyclops
    December 5, 2012 @ 9:05 am

    The love for Book of the War is REALLY interesting. I own it but haven't yet gotten around to reading it cover to cover (I grabbed up a bunch of Lawrence Miles and am working my way through them — so far I've only read Alien Bodies, Interference, and This Town, all of which were worthwhile). The impression I got of it leafing through was one of a role-playing game sourcebook…not that I'm a stranger to reading those for pleasure. I'll have to move it up in my queue.

    I have Damaged Goods on order thanks to the last entry. Crossing my fingers it makes it; a previous attempt to get The Also People for a reasonable price failed.


  19. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 5, 2012 @ 9:07 am

    By the point where I get to the Faction Paradox spin-off material, though, my interests are less in "what was Doctor Who doing when it was off the air" and more in tying off the Lawrence Miles thread of history. So his best book is in some ways more interesting to me than his most Doctor Whoish one, since I'm in many ways more interested in saying "and here's where Miles went." I figure that and a Time Can Be Rewritten on Book of the World coming after Unquiet Dead will serve as the most satisfying conclusion to the Lawrence Miles saga.


  20. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 5, 2012 @ 9:09 am

    You have the day right, but the month completely wrong.


  21. Andrew Hickey
    December 5, 2012 @ 9:09 am


    No no no no no no no no no no NO NO NO!

    People keep mentioning it because it's absolutely, appallingly terrible, firstly, but also because it's the culmination of a story arc that took up the whole ten previous Eighth Doctor BF stories. It is utterly incomprehensible without that context (and only arguably comprehensible even then).

    If you really want to listen to it (don't) and you don't want to listen to the whole story arc, go for Storm Warning (first story), Chimes Of Midnight (best single Eighth Doctor/Charley story and drops hints at the larger plot) and Neverland (absolutely necessary if you want to understand Zagreus at all).

    But I'm sure you can find better uses for three and a half hours of your life than listening to Zagreus. Like cutting your toenails, or sleeping, or twiddling your thumbs, or just saying over and over "at least I'm not listening to Zagreus" for three and a half hours.


  22. Andrew Hickey
    December 5, 2012 @ 9:13 am

    Fair enough. Like I say, I suspect you'd write an excellent essay about either.

    (You might want to read The Book Of The War for your own interest anyway, though — descriptions of it don't really do it justice, but probably the closest I've seen is when I recommended Richard Flowers read The Invisibles, and he said after reading the first couple of trades "It's like The Book Of The War, but with ITC/Avengers/Prisoner instead of BBC/Doctor Who".


  23. theonlyspiral
    December 5, 2012 @ 11:10 am

    Does that mean McGann and Eccleston are a combined volume? I know I'm being anal for a lurker on your blog, but I just want to make sure I read that correctly.


  24. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 5, 2012 @ 11:20 am

    Yes – McGann and Eccleston will be one volume, as will Davison and Colin Baker for a total of nine volumes.

    There are two reasons for this. The first is that the books, in addition to covering individual eras, are intended to each have their own little critical story arc, and I think the McGann/Eccleston combo makes more sense – I like ending the story of the failed attempt to bring the show back in 1996 with the successful one nine years later. That seems to me like a coherent story.

    The second is that the Eccleston material, like the Colin Baker material, will be too short to sustain its own book, so it has to go somewhere else. The options are in the Tennant book or the McGann book. To be perfectly honest, the McGann book isn't going to sell as well as the other eight on its own merits, whereas I expect the new series material to sell much stronger than the other stuff. So it's a way of boosting sales on what will otherwise be an underperforming volume while squeezing three books out of the New Series instead of two.

    I'd feel guilty, but Mad Norwegian are splitting About Time in the middle of the Tennant era, which is an even more ludicrous attempt to get an extra book out. πŸ™‚


  25. Ross
    December 5, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

    I didn't like Zagreus either, frankly, thought it was sort of a mess. But I dispute that you actually need to have listened to any of the previous stories other than Neverland.

    That said, I'm not sure if "There is no joy to be had in listening to this" is good enough reason to skip it; if the goal here is to build this psychochronography of the entirety of the Doctor Who experience, then it's hard to argue that a view of the 8th doctor's Big Finish era would benefit from omitting the story that kicks off the entire divergent universe arc.

    (Contrariwise, while 'The Natural History of Fear' is absolutely brilliant, I think it's easy to justify skipping it as, well, what are you going to say about it in terms of the rest of the series, other than "Sometimes this franchise can do something utterly gonzo" — and even there, there's examples that might make for a better essay)


  26. Andrew Hickey
    December 5, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

    I don't think the blog should skip it — it's absolutely, definitely, a hugely important story for the Big Finish Eighth Doctor, and skipping it would be like skipping The Eight Doctors or The Ancestor Cell or War Of The Daleks.

    But for anyone who isn't writing a blog charting a psychochronography of Doctor Who, well… even just among Big Finish stories there's a good couple of hundred that are better than it.


  27. Dr. Happypants
    December 5, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

    I'd say The Book of the War comes across as an introductory sourcebook for the best tabletop RPG never made. It's like a love note to Robert Holmes, Christopher H. Bidmead, Andrew Cartmel, and more of my favourites.


  28. theonlyspiral
    December 6, 2012 @ 9:47 am

    I understand you need to eat and as someone else who spent a long time in school I understand that kind of pressure.

    On the other hand as someone who would shamelessly name McGann as their Doctor, I can't say I'm not a little disappointed.


  29. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 6, 2012 @ 9:59 am

    I've enjoyed the McGann stuff I've listened to. And despite my oft-criticized joke in the Hartnell volume about how most people who cite McGann as their favorite Doctor are doing so just to be contrarian, I have no doubt that he has his passionate fans.

    I just suspect there are more Rose Tyler fans. πŸ™‚

    I mean, it's not diminishing the McGann material at all. The book will be majority McGann, and I'm spending four months on him, which is longer than anyone other than Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy have gotten. It's got nothing to do with how much attention I want to pay to his Doctor.

    Think of it as my way of getting new series fans to pay more attention to your favorite Doctor. πŸ™‚


  30. theonlyspiral
    December 6, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

    I don't really have a problem with it. Any academic criticism of Doctor Who (much less of my Doctor!) is welcome. There are lots of reviews of Doctor Who and lots of personal explorations, but yours is consistently of high quality. The Doctor (all of him) couldn't be in better hands.

    As embarrassing as this is to admit, when I got the print version of the Hartnell book I kind of fanboyed out and read it over a weekend. When I got to the joke I actually stopped reading and had a mini-existential crisis and had to examine if my entire frame of reference for Doctor who was based on being contrarian to fandom in general. After sitting there thinking for about 2 hours I determined that as I wasn't aware of Doctor Who before the movie (as a ten year old Canadian with a 102 degree fever) that it was probably a joke and I was overthinking things.

    I really do appreciate that you're taking the time to go over my Doctor, as lots of people seem very dismissive of him. Strangely, he seems to be quite popular here in Canada as opposed to elsewhere.


  31. Matthew Blanchette
    December 7, 2012 @ 9:10 am

    …possibly because his sole televised adventure was filmed in Canada. πŸ˜‰


  32. Jesse
    December 7, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

    The only Big Finish Eighth Doctor play I've heard is part two of Human Resources, because I happened to catch a BBC stream in progress. It's hard to properly judge something that you came in midway through, but I thought it was pretty good. Would any of the hardcore fans out there like to tell me how they think it rates in comparison to the other plays?

    The only other Big Finish play I've heard was Deadline, from the Unbound series. I assume Unbound is going to get at least one entry on the blog — but if you do individual plays, as opposed to one essay for the whole line, I hope this one gets a nod.


  33. Andrew Hickey
    December 8, 2012 @ 5:43 am

    Human Resources is a roughly-average story for the Eighth Doctor/Lucie Miller stories, which have a fairly consistent quality level of "enjoyable, but not life-changingly good or anything". The Eighth Doctor/Charley stories (which is what will be covered on the blog) are on the whole inferior to the ones with Lucie in, because they're more ambitious — aiming for something better and missing.

    Deadline is by far the best of the Unbound line, but I suspect that if it were to have been covered, it would have been with the Hartnells. Shame, because there's a lot to say about that one.


  34. Matter-Eater Lad
    December 8, 2012 @ 6:27 am

    Longtime reader, first time commenter: Any chance there's a legal version of Dying Days and Lungbarrow in EPUB format somewhere on the web?


  35. Andrew Hickey
    December 8, 2012 @ 6:50 am

    Not a legal version, no. The only legal versions of any NAs (other than Dead Romance) that have been made available in any format since they went out of print are the versions that were on the BBC website. The same goes for all but a handful of the EDAs as well.

    My advice if you want an epub is to either grab the HTML versions on the BBC site and convert them using Calibre, or just torrent an illegal version. I can't see the writers actually minding, given that they won't make any money off them in any case.


  36. encyclops
    December 11, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

    I hate that I have to remember to come back and check for replies — I forgot to see if anyone answered my question. THANK you Andrew and Ross: you've saved me time, money, and agony. πŸ™‚

    "Chimes of Midnight" sounds like a winner. I really wasn't into Paul McGann's voice acting at first, but I'm warming to it, and want to hear more of him.


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