Eruditorum Press

Gaze not into the abyss lest you accidentally write a book

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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.

67 Comments

  1. Aaron
    November 30, 2012 @ 4:55 am

    Good post, but you didn't say anything about how Orman's designed the entire place to be a commentary on Doctor Who fandom, or rec.art.drwho in particular. Are you going to explore this in a future Orman book?

    And no love for the Auton spatula??

    Reply

  2. Bob Dillon
    November 30, 2012 @ 5:07 am

    or the tea?

    Reply

  3. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 30, 2012 @ 5:09 am

    I thought about it, particularly as that makes the book something of a precursor to Love and Monsters. But that's also ultimately why I didn't – most of the general points I'll make again there. But this book comes off poorly in the comparison, because Davies was very much right to realize that if you're doing that story you need to make the POV character a fan instead of part of the TARDIS crew. So with more than enough to do in this entry, I decided to save that thread for later, so to speak.

    Reply

  4. Tommy
    November 30, 2012 @ 6:03 am

    "Paul Cornell, in the more recent Doctor Who Magazine piece, suggests that “she became the voice of the readers in a lot of these texts. That when something huge and science-fictional was going to happen to a bunch of people, she would come along rather like an Eric-Idle-in-Monty-Python figure, and just sort of point at it until it was ridiculous. I love the fact that she got to meet things like Nazis and Daleks, and point out how ridiculous such pomposity is when compared to the wonders of domesticity.”"

    Ah, I did wonder where the worst and most obnoxious tropes of the RTD era came from.

    Reply

  5. Ununnilium
    November 30, 2012 @ 8:07 am

    I'm sorry, you misspelled "best and most enjoyable".

    Okay, not really, but first, yeah, this sort of thing tends to be loads of fun for me, at least, and second, aren't the worst and most obnoxious tropes of the RTD era the melodramatic bits that overshoot their emotional goals?

    Reply

  6. Ununnilium
    November 30, 2012 @ 8:19 am

    Hm. Here I've got to ask a question that's been swirling around my head: how exactly do you define "domesticity"? Because, in my head, there is a lot of stuff that has to do with the activities of "normal" humans that isn't really domestic, and it includes a lot of what I define as best in life.

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  7. Josh Marsfelder
    November 30, 2012 @ 11:55 am

    Have to say I'm with Tommy here, although I'd substitute "worst and most obnoxious tropes of the Steven Moffat era" myself.

    "Mundane" and "Domestic" are not synonyms. Neither, for that matter, are "Domestic" and "Heteronormative".

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  8. Josh Marsfelder
    November 30, 2012 @ 11:56 am

    Can't speak for others, but my definition would be something akin to my reply to Tommy above.

    Reply

  9. Matthew Blanchette
    November 30, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

    …however, you neglect to mention that Davies's version of the story was quite terrible. Key point, that. 😛

    Reply

  10. Ununnilium
    November 30, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

    It's Marmite. That's not in and of itself a bad thing.

    Reply

  11. Adam Riggio
    November 30, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

    I must say, Tom, I can't wait for the RTD era proper to start on the Eruditorum, if only to anticipate all the mad conversations I'm sure we'll have once we start digging into it. I remember various comments over the last couple of years where you mentioned your distaste for Davies' style because of his philistinism. Frankly, I've never quite understood it (same for the accusation of Moffat's sexism, but we'll save that argument for that era).

    But I am interested to see the details of Phil's conception of domesticity. I think I see shadows and suggestions, thanks to his inclusion of Our Friends From the North as his example of the resurgence of BBC Drama in the mid-1990s. It isn't just because Chris Eccleston starred in it, but because of its political conclusions, as I mentioned in my comment to that post on Wednesday. If the best frame of reference for a "Tomorrow's too late" spirit of revolution to work is the context of personal transformations and lives, then the individual domestic level is the best way to affect political change. It's a similar insight to Gandhi's model of activism through conversational understanding of people different than you.

    The figure of Benny makes this strange because it combines her focus on everyday people with a kind of trope awareness that was developing in popular culture during this time, and has become thoroughly mainstream now. If I can make a point with reference to another cult show, by the end of the Moffat era, we may all become Abed Nadir.

    Also, I kind of hope that at some point, there'll be a Pop Between Realities on Inspector Spacetime. At least by the time the Moffat book hits the market.

    Reply

  12. Adam Riggio
    November 30, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    Initially, I was one of the folks who hated Love and Monsters. And I had a variety of good reasons for my hatred. It was a screed against fan culture, the villain was cartoonish and ridiculous, the denouement was corny, and the episode's protagonist was a twit. Even in my most negative perspective on the story, however, I did respect is for providing Jackie Tyler her best moment on the series.

    Yet as the years went by, I've radically re-evaluated my conception of that story. I don't think it's RTD's best script, though I never thought it was his worst. But now I think I understand what he was trying to do in terms of expressing his philosophy of life as it was understood in the context of Doctor Who. He wanted to express how people could come to define their lives in terms of this figure/character, and the pleasures and dangers of giving one's life that kind of focus.

    Reply

  13. jane
    December 1, 2012 @ 4:53 am

    "If I can make a point with reference to another cult show, by the end of the Moffat era, we may all become Abed Nadir."

    I definitely need more coffee. First time I read this I thought you said "Abu Nazir," suggesting a completely different kind of revolution.

    Reply

  14. encyclops
    December 1, 2012 @ 9:00 am

    The first time I watched Love & Monsters, I had mixed feelings about it, and the second time, I adored it. I think I saw a lot more affection for fan culture than dislike of it on the second time through. I'd agree that Jackie's possibly the best part of it, but that leaves a lot of room for the rest to be brilliant. Looking forward to more discussion when it comes up!

    Reply

  15. encyclops
    December 1, 2012 @ 9:06 am

    Dr. Sandifer, I love your observation here about the Seventh being the most likely Doctor to volunteer in a hospice. Even though I'm not his biggest fan, I'd agree, and contemplating this makes me feel a little more warmly about him and about the prospect of meeting Sylvester McCoy in February. Oddly, the only other Doctor I can imagine taking a break to do something like that is the Ninth. He'd sweep angrily, like a man doing penance, and be deadly serious about how everyone else should take time to do the same.

    Actually, it's this same angle on the Seventh Doctor that makes me think that he's the wrong one for Human Nature in the same way that the Tenth is. I don't think the Seventh Doctor seems as alien as he's made out to, and as the most professorial of all the Doctors (there's a reason Ace calls him that, isn't there?), it's not a stretch at all to see him as a teacher. Imagine the Second Doctor in that same role!

    Reply

  16. jane
    December 1, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    Count me in among those who've come to adore Love and Monsters. And I can see how it's a divisive episode — be it the odd chronology, the unreliable and somewhat unlikeable narrator, the off-putting Absorbaloff, and of course that joke — but honestly, I never saw it as a put-down of fan culture. I always thought it was sweet, in its own way.

    Having seen it a half-dozen or more times, including a couple close readings, I now think it's wonderful and incisive, with all kinds of wonderful layers to it, and emotionally poignant, too; it's amazing what a change in perspective can do for the enjoyment of an episode of television.

    Reply

  17. peeeeeeet
    December 1, 2012 @ 9:45 am

    I can imagine all the Doctors in Human Nature, including The Doctor Donna! It's a lot of fun. I'd love to see a Matt Smith version, though Moffat would never have the stones.

    Reply

  18. neroden@gmail
    December 14, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

    FWIW, where Love & Monsters is told from a fan's perspective, Return of the Living Dad's take is told from a writer's perspective, if you will. A perspective on fans of someone who now has fans of her own. It discusses some issues of what you owe your fans. The Doctor of course believes he owes them nothing, but Benny disagrees… anyway, it's also doing something a bit different as it catalogues different types of fans, in a relatively loving way…

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  19. neroden@gmail
    December 14, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

    Also, this is another in the long sequence of "cleaning up what the Doctor leaves behind" stories, a theme which reasserts itself in Aliens of London, School Reunion, etc., but which was barely present before this. The theme starts in Head Games, I think. This is the most fun of the bunch though; they tend to be rather dark, but Kate manages to make it funny.

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