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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. Eric Gimlin
    March 21, 2012 @ 12:45 am

    Sorry to derail the discussion right at the start, but a Time Can Be Rewritten post seems slightly better than a regular entry to ask this: any suggestions where somebody who has read exactly one Doctor Who novel in the past might start so they're at least somewhat ready when you finally get past Survival? I obviously can't track down everything before then, but I would like to get at least some books read. I've ordered a few of the earliest NA books you had on your tentative list, chosen largely based on which were available cheaply. I figure I can figure out the holes from online summaries, at least in the early stages. (I have the impression that isn't the case for the later EDAs, though.) I didn't want to wait until you discuss the list during the McCoy era, since that wouldn't give me much time to start reading.

    Thanks in advance for the help, and thanks in general for this blog. I hope you take the fact it had me interested in tracking down some of the books so I can better follow it as a complement. I'm just sorry I didn't find you until recently, so I missed the kickstarter. I did grab the book, and look forward to the rest as they show up.


  2. Alex Wilcock
    March 21, 2012 @ 1:16 am

    Now Goth Opera’s twice as old as the ‘gap’ it was supposed to fit into (but didn’t, if you look at Mawdryn’s early scenes) was then, it’s fascinating to read your putting it into context. And overall you’re spot-on, but there are two more things that strike me, one from the time and one in retrospect – doing the same thing to Goth Opera that that does to the era.

    First, at the time it seemed a terrific book, but even then Peter Darvill-Evans’ Preface was hilarious – almost explicitly saying ‘Don’t panic! Don’t panic! These books are tame and safe, like Uncle Terrance used to make!’ Despite Who never having been like that (except, of course, with Arc of Infinity). Then it goes straight into other Doctors and era-hopping, even more than the early New Adventures though with more confidence. The other thing that was jarring, though in a different way, was that as well as being deliberately pushed into the past of Who, it was very nearly contemporary for readers – but then bizarrely set a year before publication. Doctor Who had often done world-changing events the day after tomorrow, but somehow the day before yesterday seemed much more difficult to swallow. I wonder if it was held back?

    Since, of course, the very soap opera elements you praise have been rewritten to make it faintly absurd; in 1994, the Doctor and Tegan’s horrified trying not to confront their fears about what Nyssa was becoming were tense and moving character moments. But now that it retrospectively comes after both Zeta Major and The Sands of Time, they just look very dim: Tegan should be rolling her eyes and hissing, “Oh, Doc, Nyssa’s not becoming a monster again, is she?”


  3. JJ Gauthier
    March 21, 2012 @ 2:48 am

    Regarding the Marc Platt/Jeremy Bentham submission –

    Platt had been submitting unsolicited scripts as early as the mid-70s, starting with "Fires of the Starmind", where a sentient star invades Gallifrey. Robert Holmes didn't find it to be dramatic or exciting enough as it was, but still thought it was impressive, and asked Platt to continue submitting scripts.

    His submission co-written with Bentham was called "Warmongers", and involved the Sontarans and the Rutans fighting each other during the Blitz.

    Source:, part of Shannon Sullivan's wonderful "A Brief History of Time (Travel)" site, an awesome resource on behind-the-scenes of Doctor Who.


  4. SK
    March 21, 2012 @ 3:08 am

    Cornell has a habit of setting things 'the day before yesterday', though. For instance, the 'contemporary' bits of Something More and British Summertime are both set about a year before the book's publication.

    I once heard him asked about this, and he said it was deliberate: he didn't like making predictions that could quickly be proved wrong (and if you think about it, 'a year before publication' is pretty much when the book will be being worked on and so the last chance to make sure it matches reality).

    He actually said that it was a habit that had just spared him embarrassment, as British Summertime, published 2002 but set early 2001 or so, features a spy who is depressed that he has had nothing to do since the end of the Cold War, and that his seems a dead-end profession. Of course such a sentiment would be impossible to credit had the book been set in 2002 and so the book would seem hopelessly out-of-date and naive by the time it was published, but by setting it precisely when the character, as well as the writer, had no idea what was coming, it instead (he hoped) captured a particular moment in time.

    Of course, Goth Opera was ten years before I heard him talk about this, so maybe he wasn't thinking in those terms in 1993; but on the other hand, maybe he was.


  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    March 21, 2012 @ 6:46 am

    I'd say to start with the first two Cornell books – Timewyrm: Revelation and Love and War. Those probably give the best primer on the Virgin line's distinctive feel.


  6. Alan
    March 21, 2012 @ 9:59 am

    I've never read this book (or really any DW paperback fiction), but I'm curious: What is the relationship between the Doctor and Nyssa like? As I've stated recently, my impression of Nyssa in "Arc of Infinity" and "Snakedance" is that she's seemed very exasperated by the Fifth Doctor's foibles, especially since Adric's death. Does any of that barely restrained snappishness show up in "Goth Opera"?


  7. inkdestroyedmybrush
    March 21, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    One of the problems with the Missing Adventures is the problem of them expanding the pallette of what that era's Doctor Who could do. I alternately wished that they could do "better" versions of Doctor Who than i found on TV, and then found it jarring when Nyssa or Tegan was more well rounded and fleshed out as characters on paper than on the screen. Odd, that. No wonder us Who fans as such a pain in the ass. When we're finally given what we're asking for, we don't like it because its not "trad".

    now that we're breaking down the elements of JNT's Davison era, its so clear why we all felt so teased by the series: the pieces were there, but used so poorly, sometimes so against reason, that it was almost maddening to watch. There could have been a nyssa story arc in true soap sense, but, no, there never was. And even Turlough's arc would disappear and reappear through out the stories; saward was never able to consistantly move his story forward, just a little each week. Aarrggg.


  8. 5tephe
    March 21, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

    Thanks for asking this, Eric. I'm in the same boat. Phil, is it possible to have a conversation running somewhere about this kind of thing, as I reckon that in the "inter-era" section of the blog there will be a lot of people in need of a catch-up, or first exposure.

    C-ing the W-verse and the like are of course available for televised episodes, but it's going to be harder with the books.

    (In fact, is there any possibility of a "affiliate link" style arrangement that you could look into? Might be a little bonus to your blog's income.)


  9. Eric Gimlin
    March 21, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

    Thank you, Phil. Revelation was one of the handful I had already ordered, and I found a copy of Love and War for around $11 after shipping today. Revelation was the only one I spent over $3 before shipping on before this. Others may vary, but when I see one copy of something at $12 and the next copy is double that and moving up fast from there I figure it won't hurt to grab it. Your recommendation makes me very glad I did!


  10. David Anderson
    March 22, 2012 @ 12:58 am

    What line of argument would you have used if the connecting chapter had been by Dick? (And what does this say about the intentional fallacy/death of the author?)

    As one of those ambivalent about Davies' writing, I think Cornell's Eccleston-Tennant scripts do much the same as you describe here: they actually achieve the aesthetic goals that Davies was trying for and not getting quite right.


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