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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.

33 Comments

  1. drfgsdgsdf
    June 20, 2012 @ 3:27 am

    The thing was that Virgin had rejected any story centered around the Valeyard, specifically in their later guidelines. Some NA writers (Andy Lane) were quite cross about this, but it stayed

    IIRC Craig Hinton only got the Valeyard in there at all by being quite crafty and describing it in the synopsis only as the Doctor's darker side, hinting at things rather than being outright. But this does mean that there can be no complete solution.

    Glad you liked Hinton's work though. Wonderful very underrated Who author. Love him

    Reply

  2. Simon Cooper
    June 20, 2012 @ 4:11 am

    Craig wasn't just the master of the Fanwanky tale, he was also (as far as anyone can tell) the person who actually coined the term Fanwank in the first place.

    I got to know him very slightly and he was a great guy and is much missed.

    Reply

  3. Adam Riggio
    June 20, 2012 @ 5:03 am

    When I think about the Valeyard situation, it becomes rather ironic. I think the only thing that's ever really made sense of the Valeyard — or at least as much sense as can be made of him — is your series on Trial of a Time Lord. So it seems that in 2012, Doctor Who might finally have the conceptual tools to do something coherent with the Valeyard.

    Of course, Doctor Who as an institution has moved so far beyond those characters and scenarios in the past 24 years that no one would probably bother with it. But the general ideas can still work.

    Reply

  4. Stephen
    June 20, 2012 @ 6:52 am

    "IIRC Craig Hinton only got the Valeyard in there at all by being quite crafty and describing it in the synopsis only as the Doctor's darker side, hinting at things rather than being outright."

    In fact, he originally pitched the idea with a different Doctor (IIRC, the Second). He was asked to change which Doctor it featured, and got editor Rebecca Levene to agree to make it the Sixth before she realised that meant she'd been conned into making a Valeyard story.

    On another note, it's interesting that Phil left Lawrence Miles out of the list of fanwanky authors. Alien Bodies features almost as many continuity references as The Quantum Archangel. It's just that nobody seems to notice them. It makes me wonder about a theory I've had for a while – that non-fans generally don't notice continuity references. One day I'll actually do the experiment of lending The Quantum Archangel to a not-we and seeing if they notice that it's continuity-heavy.

    Finally, it's nice to have all my guesses at the sixth Doctor novels you'll cover confirmed (that hint can only possibly mean you're covering Time's Champion on Friday).

    Reply

  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2012 @ 7:03 am

    No guesses on my two 7th Doctor PDAs though? 🙂

    Reply

  6. Aaron
    June 20, 2012 @ 7:15 am

    I'm actually really curious what book is going to be covered on friday. If we're going chronologically, then there are only four choices: The Quantum Archangel, Instruments of Darkness, Spiral Scratch, and (if you count it) Time's Champion. Now, I haven't read any of these but Time's Champion, but my understanding is that everything you could say about Quantum Archangel was already said about this, and everything said about Gary Russell on monday probably covers Instruments of Darkness and Spiral Scratch. Plus, Phil seems to be hinting we're going to have another Valeyard themed book. Which hints at Time's Champion, but is Phil really going to deal with a (pretty poor) fanwank fanfiction piece? Or is there a fifth possibility out there?

    Reply

  7. Dougie
    June 20, 2012 @ 7:55 am

    No disrespect intended toward the late Craig Hinton but this book and Quantum Archangel owe a considerable debt to Chris Claremont's X-Men.

    Rites is very similar to the Romita Jr/ Hyborian Age two-parter (which began life as a Ms. Marvel plot)in issues 190-191.
    The Quantum Archangel is blatantly the Phoenix,confirmed by the appropriation of a line of dialogue from X-Men 101.

    The mutant talents in Instruments of Darkness by Gary Russell are fairly reminiscent of the X-men too.

    Reply

  8. Tommy
    June 20, 2012 @ 8:04 am

    I guess it's a bit late for He Jest At Scars to be in the cards. Not that it was particularly good, but it did seem like an example of taking the 'narrative collapse' of the Saward era to its logical conclusion (if by convoluted and completely illogical means).

    Well since the Sixth Doctor era is coming to an end, I must say its a shame we didn't cover the Sixth Doctor/Davros audios. In particular I think Curse of Davros is a great example of using the 'Doctor gone evil' angle of Mindwarp to its best.

    I also would have loved a coverage of Mission to Magnus. But I'm probably in a sad minority there

    Reply

  9. Stephen
    June 20, 2012 @ 8:09 am

    Craig also credited the X-Book crossover Inferno as an inspiration for Millennial Rites

    Reply

  10. Stephen
    June 20, 2012 @ 8:16 am

    There's not enough clues to narrow it down that much. You pretty much have to do a Perry/Tucker. And the most likely of those is either Illegal Alien or Loving the Alien.

    Of the others, I could imagine you doing Relative Dimensions, Heritage, Bullet Time, or The Algebra of Ice. The first is an interesting story in its own right, but with very little continuity fetish. The second brings you back to talking about Mel. The third and fourth both serve as a Time can be Rewritten entries on the NA era.

    In short, I'm not confident enough to narrow it down to two.

    And what's with the site giving me identical CAPTCHAs for comments within a few minutes of each other?

    Reply

  11. David Anderson
    June 20, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    I once read (but cannot now source) that Holmes once said 'We only ever use original stories on Doctor Who, although they're not always original to us.'

    Reply

  12. BerserkRL
    June 20, 2012 @ 10:49 am

    But contrast with The Hobbit, which was always planned for

    Well, it was written first, if that's what you mean by "always planned for." (Unless you mean the movie.) But at the time Tolkien wrote it he wasn't yet thinking of his Silmarillion material, already in progress, as a prequel to it; he dropped in a reference to Gondolin, yes, but more as an injoke than as serious continuity. It wasn't until LOTR that he decided to merge those two very different works into backstory for the new one.

    Reply

  13. Matthew Blanchette
    June 20, 2012 @ 11:37 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  14. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 20, 2012 @ 11:43 am

    With respect, Matthew, I think that's rather out of line. For one, Aaron has the measure of that book fairly well, though I don't think Hinton is responsible for the bulk of its failings. For another, dying does not magically make one's books better. Time's Champion is what it is, and ever shall be.

    Reply

  15. Stephen
    June 20, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

    In the foreward to The Discontinuity Guide, Terrance Dicks quoted Malcolm Hulke as saying "All you need for television is an original idea – it doesn't necessarily have to be your original idea."

    And, of course, Ben Aaronovitch once commented that "I'd like to remind everyone that while talent borrows and genius steals, New Adventure writers get it off the back of a lorry, no questions asked."

    Reply

  16. Aaron
    June 20, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

    From what has been said about the book, it is clear that the book has very little to do with Craig Hinton. He apparently wrote most of the first chapter, but the rest of the book is entirely Chris McKeon, based off of some conversations with Hinton. As a result, I find it slightly disrespectful to Hinton that his name appears so prominently on the book, but that's neither here nor there.

    To be fair, I think it shows a lot of promise as a book of a first time author, but there are a lot of things in it that stick out as indulgent, such as Benton being in it for no good reason, everyone calling him Sergeant still because that's what they're used to, the Doctor's really creepy gallery of companions, and the Valeyard's pointless wardrobe scene that allows him to pick a Doctorly outfit. However, I do think there are good ideas and good starts in it, just, it reads as fanwanky fanfiction from a first time author.

    As for Hinton, I'm sure he was a lovely man, and the world is a less bright place without him. I found Millenial Rites enjoyable and Godengine okay but not great. As far as I can tell, he's the type of Who author that is not my cup of tea, but both books I read by him were fine if unexceptional.

    Reply

  17. Matthew Blanchette
    June 20, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

    Very well, Phil; I'll retract the comment.

    Aaron, now that you've explained a bit further, sorry about accusing you of any disrespect. 🙂

    Reply

  18. ferret
    June 20, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

    "Mission: Impractical" also features the Valeyard, under the alias of 'Zimmerman' – facing off the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher. I'm not sure I actually remember picking up that Zimmerman was supposed to be anyone special at the time, although it was a long time ago.

    Reply

  19. Matthew Blanchette
    June 20, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

    If nothing else, Colin Baker looks surprisingly good in the Valeyard collar… 😉

    Reply

  20. Aaron
    June 20, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    No problem, Matthew.

    Reply

  21. sleepyscholar
    June 20, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    I went to university with him, attending all the Doctor Who/Blake's 7 video evenings he ran while there (and thereby also getting to know Justin Richards slightly). He was indeed a great guy, full of life in the best sense of the word. Not really being a Doctor Who fan I lost touch with him after we graduated. I'm glad he got books published, even more so that they were good, and I was so sad to learn that he had died.

    And thank you, Phil, for this blog, as it has confirmed that I should hunt out his work, albeit too late for me to congratulate him in person, with maximum power.

    Tommy: as the copy editor of Mission to Magnus, I'm rather glad it won't be covered…

    Reply

  22. ferret
    June 20, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

    But what's the crazy zig-zags in Mel's hair? I don't remember any Bride Of Frankenstein plot elements!

    Reply

  23. David
    June 20, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

    Having finished reading Millenial Rites last night, Mel is described as having bizarro hair in the sword-and-sorcery world, and the Doctor specifically calls it "Bride of Frankenstein hair!"

    I surprised myself by enjoying this book. As lovely a guy as Craig Hinton was (and I chatted to him quite a few times), I've never been overly keen on his books, perhaps because a number of them are very sciency and have a lot of technobabble which just goes over my head. Millenial Rites has some very nice characters and there are enough twists to make it a good page turner.

    But I've never understood why the Valeyard is meant to be the apex of all the Doctor's evil. We're told that he is by the Master in Trial, but going on evidence all the Valeyard does is sit in a courtroom and jibe the Doctor a bit, and then run around the Matrix unleashing silly traps or dressing up as an office clerk. And, in any case, why does the Doctor think that meeting Mel will put him onto the line that leads to the Valeyard?

    In fact, one question that I wonder if Phil can answer – why does the sixth Doctor think the Valeyard is his problem at all? Why doesn't he go "Mmm, well, that's the twelfth Doctor's issue, not mine," and saunter off to continue without worry?

    Reply

  24. Stephen
    June 21, 2012 @ 6:14 am

    "And, in any case, why does the Doctor think that meeting Mel will put him onto the line that leads to the Valeyard?"

    Because he thinks that Terror of the Vervoids happens in the timeline that leads to the Valeyard. Meeting Mel is obviously part of that timeline. So if he somehow avoids it, then he'll presumably be on a different timeline to the one the Valeyard comes from.

    Reply

  25. Adam Riggio
    June 21, 2012 @ 6:35 am

    "The Valeyard is meant to be the apex of all the Doctor's evil" because he's the Doctor transformed from a mercurial anarchist to a creature devoted to law. The 'Doctor of Laws,' if you will. Of course, this was incredibly unclear from what was transmitted in the Trial, and only became explicit thanks to Phil's entries on it this month. So if the transmitted Trial and the books and audios that dealt with it are confused, it's for good reason, because they came out in June 2012 when someone finally managed to make some sense out of all this.

    Reply

  26. Adam Riggio
    June 21, 2012 @ 6:36 am

    Whoops: That should be "before June 2012."

    Reply

  27. Flynn
    June 21, 2012 @ 9:38 am

    Commenting on the point about prequels, I think an exception to the rule would be the Ender's Shadow series, which work incredibly well as prequels to the original Ender series (and to my knowledge, weren't at all planned from the start).

    Reply

  28. BerserkRL
    June 22, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    The Magician's Nephew is pretty good too.

    Reply

  29. BerserkRL
    June 23, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

    As is Young Indiana Jones.

    Reply

  30. BerserkRL
    June 23, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

    Sometimes my avatar shows up, sometimes not. I'm mysterious like that.

    Reply

  31. Froborr
    October 4, 2012 @ 10:37 am

    Here's a few prequels that were not planned at the time of writing whatever they're a prequel to, but nonetheless quite good:

    Film:
    The Muppet Movie
    Rise of the Planet of the Apes (the most recent one)

    Books:
    When the Tripods Came (going on memory from when I was 12, I could be very wrong about this being good)

    Video Games:
    Every Legend of Zelda game after The Adventure of Link (except the Philips CD-i games, which were… not good)

    Comics:
    Order of the Stick #0: On the Origin of PCs
    Order of the Stick #-1: Start of Darkness
    All-Star Superman

    Reply

  32. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 4, 2012 @ 10:53 am

    I disagree with a couple of these – not on quality so much as on the basis of whether they're prequels. All-Star Superman, for instance, is fantastic, but isn't so much a prequel as a parallel telling. The Zelda games, likewise… I have trouble taking the official Zelda timeline seriously. I find the games are much more satisfying if I treat them like I do the relationship between All-Star Superman and the mainline Superman comics, whereby they're different versions of essentially the same story. I'll accept the necessity of treating some of them as direct sequels/prequels to one another: Wind Waker obviously has to come after some other Zelda game. But I find the modern chronology where the Zelda universe is anchored by Ocarina of Time dreadful.

    The Muppet Movie, on the other hand, is indeed absolutely brilliant and a prequel. Though even there I find myself thinking about whether or not a variety show is a meaningful thing to have a prequel to.

    I've not seen/read the others.

    Reply

  33. Froborr
    October 5, 2012 @ 10:37 am

    Hmm. Even rejecting the possibility of a timeline for the Zelda series as a whole (which is a more valid reading than the nonsensical official timeline, I'll grant you), I can't read Skyward Sword as anything other than a prequel to Ocarina of Time, so I'd at least put forward that as an example.

    Also I was thinking of All-Star Superman not in terms of Superman as a whole, but specifically as a prequel to DC One Million. Not sure if that's what you're referring to as a parallel telling, since I can definitely see that argument, but the next sentence implies you regard the parallel as being Superman as a whole.

    Reply

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