Our Imposter Syndrome cancels out our Dunning-Kruger

Skip to content

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. Ben
    September 28, 2012 @ 12:44 am

    Australian reader here! I encountered Kate Orman at a Sydney Dr Who meeting in the mid '90s. As part of a speech, a (male) speaker said something about 'fanboys', and was met with a polite 'ahem!' from Orman. Without missing a beat, the speaker said 'sorry – fanpersons' and went on. Never met her again, but I was suitably impressed.


  2. Matthew Celestis
    September 28, 2012 @ 2:28 am

    I found Left-handed Humming Bird a bit heavy going. It lacks the sense of fun you get with a Paul Cornell novel.


  3. David Anderson
    September 28, 2012 @ 2:35 am

    For what it's worth I remember a passing reference in a mid-80s White Dwarf article on the Star Trek RPG to K/S fiction ('the queerest of subgenres').


  4. SpaceSquid
    September 28, 2012 @ 5:24 am

    It was via Kate Orman that a young SpaceSquid finally grasped the strength of the link between the fanbase and the franchise, when she had a letter printed in Doctor Who Magazine to promise us that she wouldn't be doing any of that naughtybad swearing that had wound everyone up so much to that point.


  5. BerserkRL
    September 28, 2012 @ 6:26 am

    Given Lindalee's enthusiastic reaction to the two Doctor/Rory kisses, I think we know what genre she'll be writing a few years from now. 🙂


  6. Ununnilium
    September 28, 2012 @ 7:00 am

    It's interesting that, at the time, gay male romance was considered a mostly female thing. Not at all inaccurately considered, mind you, but just the social pressures that made it so.


  7. peeeeeeet
    September 28, 2012 @ 7:21 am

    I think you're misremembering that a bit. It's sex, not swearing, that she assures us her book avoids (ISTR there was going to be a lot of swearing in it but the BBC decreed it be removed after the Transit / Iceberg fiasco). And that was a postscript, really; the bulk of the letter was a rebuttal to the criticism that "occultic nonsense" had no place in Doctor Who, a debate that seems terribly dated now that paganism is no longer so trendy!


  8. SpaceSquid
    September 28, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    I did wonder after I posted that if I'd gotten it the wrong way round. Appreciate the correction.


  9. Nick Smale
    September 29, 2012 @ 6:35 am

    Hummingbird's introduction of "timey-wimey" business into Doctor Who had a huge impact on me. By the early 90s temporal shenanigans were common in literary and media science fiction, but bizarrely Doctor Who, a show ostensibly about time travel, had hardly ever done this before. Post-Moffat it's maybe hard to understand, but it really felt like the series was finally fulfilling its sci-fi potential…


  10. Nick Smale
    September 29, 2012 @ 6:38 am

    There are some great, funny moments in the book, though: my favourite being the bit where Benny watches Star Trek: The Next Generation and thinks it's a documentary…


  11. Matthew Celestis
    September 29, 2012 @ 8:10 am

    But doesen't the introduction of all that'time-wimey' stuff not raise the problem of why time was previously so inflexible in the Doctor Who universe?

    After the Time Meddler, nobody could claim that you can never re-write history, but for the most part the classic series seems to assume that history largely stays the same.

    The 'time-wimey' elements feel like something uncomfortably bolted onto Doctor Who which does not really fit.


  12. Nick Smale
    September 29, 2012 @ 8:55 am

    I tend to see this more as a failure of imagination on the part of the writers of the classic series. Literary science fiction was probing the weirder implications of time travel as far back as Heinlein's "By His Bootstraps" in 1941; with that precedent, it's a bit odd that Doctor Who never explored the same territory.


  13. John Seavey
    September 29, 2012 @ 8:58 am

    It's not really one of the "fun" books. It takes place at the point where they're trying, consciously, to hyper-emphasize the way that the Doctor's actions have damaged his friends and allies, as part of a specific story-arc that ends with the Doctor confronting that aspect of his personality. This is an "always darkest before the dawn" point in that arc, not really the time for fun.

    Not that Kate ever gets "frothy", exactly, but 'Blue Box' and 'Year of Intelligent Tigers' (to name two examples) are lighter than this one.


  14. Matthew Celestis
    September 29, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    I think it depends whether one wants Doctor Who to be hard science fiction, or whether one feels more comfortable with it being something softer or even more fantastical.

    I prefer Doctor Who as a fairy tale, rather than hard sci-fi, though not in the Moffat Disneyfied sense.

    If one sees Doctor Who as fantasy, the TARDIS is something magical and not a machine for exploring the technicalities of time travel.


  15. Ununnilium
    September 29, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

    But in the same way, do we want Doctor Who to have to stick to how it's done it before, or do we want to explore new and weirder ways to tell a story?

    The reason that timey-wiminess got popular is that people realized it wasn't just a hard SF high concept; you could use it for all sorts of new and different methods of storytelling.


  16. BerserkRL
    September 29, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

    If one sees Doctor Who as fantasy, the TARDIS is something magical and not a machine for exploring the technicalities of time travel.

    But timey-wimeyness makes more sense as magic than as science anyway.


  17. Nick Smale
    September 29, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

    As we've seen on this blog, one of the things Doctor Who does is to take an established genre, drop the Doctor into it, and see what happens. So, given that "time travel story" is undoubtedly a major genre now (see everything from HG Wells to 'Looper', via 'The Terminator', 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure', 'Primer', 'Hot Tub Time Machine' and a thousand others) it doesn't seem unreasonable to want to know what happens when you drop the Doctor into that genre…


  18. Matthew Celestis
    September 29, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

    Not necessarily. One of the things about magic that you learn from fairy tales is that magic is bound by rules- Cinderella's magical gifts revert if she is not back by midnight and so forth.

    If time travel is magic, then it is bound by rules, which fits with the more inflexible view of time in the classic series.

    The 'timey-wimey' stuff where the writer can do anything he wants in order to resolve a plot is not really a right understanding of how magic works.


  19. Matthew Celestis
    September 29, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

    It seems to me that in both the Big Finish audios and in the new series, 'timey-wimey' has become the predominant paradigm of how Doctor Who is done.

    I'm all for exploring new ways of telling stories in Doctor Who, but 'timey-wimey' seems to have come to become the normal way to do Doctor Who, when this is actually a very revisionist approach to the mythos.

    'Timey-wimey' has become like bases-under-siege became in the Troughton era.


  20. Nick Smale
    September 29, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

    'timey-wimey' seems to have come to become the normal way to do Doctor Who,

    I'm not sure that's true. Look at the most recent (half) season, for instance – of the five stories, only one (The Angels Take Manhattan) had any reverse-causality or predestination shenanigans. "Timey-wimey" might be a new flavour in Doctor Who's mix, but it's far from being the dominant one.

    this is actually a very revisionist approach to the mythos

    No bad thing. I sincerely hope that Doctor Who will always enthusiastically embrace revisionist approaches to its mythos…


  21. Matthew Celestis
    September 30, 2012 @ 4:35 am

    Nothing wrong with revisionist approaches, but they are affected by taste.

    Personally I love the anti-hero Doctor of the Virgin New Adventures, but I appreciate that a lot of fans don't like that. Likewise, making the Doctor earthbound in Season 7 was an idea that proved limiting and failed to appeal to a lot of those who enjoyed the show.


  22. Wm Keith
    January 25, 2013 @ 2:00 am

    Just to mention, having belatedly started reading this book, how wonderfully alive Orman's writing is, in comparison particularly with the two M—s, who may have spectacular ideas but whose prose is decidedly uncompelling.


Leave a Reply to SpaceSquid Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.