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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.

13 Comments

  1. Stephen
    July 22, 2011 @ 8:59 am

    Couple of things. Firstly, fanwank – as coined by Craig Hinton, and used within Doctor Who fandom simply refers to gratuitous use of continuity, rather than to a retcon.

    Secondly, the continuity problem with Warriors of the Deep wasn't that it referred to The Sea Devils like it featured the Silurians. It was that it referred to both stories featuring the Earth Reptiles "offering the hand of friendship" to the humans. And it's nearly impossible to imagine how they could be reinterpreting the events of The Sea Devils in such a way.

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  2. zapruder313
    July 22, 2011 @ 10:36 am

    This idea of how to approach continuity in "missing adventures" raises an interesting dilemma: do you studiously avoid any references to things that "haven't happened yet" (e.g., no mention of Time Lords in stories set before "The War Games"), or do you pack in everything we know "up to now" and run the risk that something like the creation of Torchwood will render all your careful retcons outdated themselves?

    The former seems the only sensible way to "future-proof" the story: if it must be trapped in time from the moment it is published, then anchoring it as close as possible to the time when the adventure would theoretically have aired at least gives you some control over the process. Better for "The Scales of Injustice" to feel stranded in 1970, as was the intention, than in 1996, which surely wasn't.

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  3. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 22, 2011 @ 10:40 am

    Stephen – Ah. I haven't seen Warriors in an age, so that explains it. That said, I don't think there's such a thing as heavy use of continuity that isn't in some sense a retcon given that most of the continuity was never meant to be connected.

    Zapruder313 – Though that's an un-timeywimey answer. I see no problem with the book being stranded in 1996's 1970. I think Doctor Who would be poorer for losing the odd tangledness of reference like that, and look forward, in years to come, to having a blog post that's an unmistakably 2011 take on an unmistakably 1996 take in 1970. 🙂

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  4. Stephen
    July 22, 2011 @ 11:40 am

    Well, I guess that's a valid take on whether something's a retcon or not (though one that ceases to apply once you reach the JNT era or later). I'm not convinced that it's one that's very useful for analysis, though.

    Of course, some of the best examples of fanwank in Doctor Who are where the story builds something new out of the continuity references. My favourite examples being the novels Alien Bodies (which basically creates the EDA mythos) and – controversially – The Quantum Archangel (which takes everything plus the kitchen sink in the quest to build the most epic Doctor Who story ever and – as far as I'm concerned succeeds). Where it fails is where there's nothing new created (or where it's done in a mean-spirited way). Although sometimes a fanwank story can be fun without doing anything particularly new (see Craig Hinton's less ambitious Doctor Who novels).

    Also, bets are on for the other Pertwee novels/audios you'll cover. Rags and Verdigris seem pretty safe bets as deconstructions of the era, Last of the Gaderene is a possibility as the ultimate distillation of the UNIT formula, Face of the Enemy is an outside chance for what it does with the Master, and then there's The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space – showing Letts, Pertwee, and Sladen do a 1990s take on the 1970s.

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  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 22, 2011 @ 11:45 am

    I wasn't contemplating Rags that seriously, and if I recall it's set around where I'm watching now, so its ship has sailed for the blog, though I always need a few extras for the book.

    Past that, you've picked two of the three Pertwees I'll cover correctly. 🙂

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  6. Aaron
    July 22, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

    I'm still crossing my fingers that the last one is the Dust segments of Interference, though I'm pretty sure that's unlikely.

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  7. Matthew Celestis
    July 22, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

    You can't discuss this stuff without mentioning the almosdt universally loathed War of the Daleks.

    It's not the best book in the world; but I can't help admiring the bald-faced way in which he attempted to re-write Dalek continuity.

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  8. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 22, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

    Matthew – Indeed I can't, and I've never intended to. Even the most conservative lists of which Virgin and BBC books I handle when I get there have included War of the Daleks. 🙂

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  9. zapruder313
    July 22, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

    I see no problem with the book being stranded in 1996's 1970, either: it is rather a fun thing, and unavoidable, given that it can't really be set in 1970, no matter how hard the author tries: that boat has sailed. I was just wondering if Gary Russell, or whichever Missing Adventures author we pick, felt the same way?

    Clearly the point of these things on some level is a neatening, tidying impulse, where something the Fifth Doctor says needs to be somehow shoehorned into the continuity of a season of the show that began broadcasting when Peter Davison was nineteen! Knowing that all your squaring of the corners is doomed to be undone as the show progresses renders the whole thing oddly pointless, unless your aim is to create a time capsule of how mid-90s fans saw the 1970 series, which is a very odd thing to do.

    We can still enjoy it in that way, of course, and it is probably more enjoyable like that: we have the benefit of a double layer of nostalgia/interpretation: we can enjoy looking back simultaneously to 1970 and 1996.

    My suggestion of avoiding timey-wimeyness was more for the sake of the authors. If I ever sat down and did a Missing Adventure myself, it would include no continuity beyond that featured in the three Frederick Muller books from the 1960s, which would simplify matters considerably . . .

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  10. David
    July 24, 2011 @ 1:41 am

    I've just finished reading this book and I think the more pressing problems with it revolve around its lack of a story. A lot of characters seem to be running around and threatening each other but I'm not convinced anything was resolved or that anything really happened beyond Liz deciding to leave at the end.

    There's this place called the Glasshouse which is very murky. But then there's the dodgy side of C19 sodding about as well. All the villains escape – the pale young man, the Auton twins, Auggi the Silurian – whilst some get a big build up early on and then just disappear from the action entirely with a reference later on as to where they've gone – the assassin and the hound. The plot seems to involve the dodgy C19 agents trying to get their hand on a Silurian but not really going about it in a particularly competent way whilst their main agent finds people to threaten and to whom he can explain their modus operandi. Meanwhile there are some Silurians hanging about that sit around in a cave before an arbitrary attack on the beach. Then suddenly lots of people invade C19 HQ (or whatever is was) and, um, the baddies escape. And the Doctor spends the story doing nothing at all.

    Books that exist to pull together continuity but without giving a story in themselves I find to be very queer beasts. I've never read Who Killed Kennedy so I'm sure lots of references passed me by but this book is difficult to follow anyway without the feeling that all of the interesting stuff has been smuggled away to be fed into a sequel novel (Business Unusual, in a different range of books, presumably in part for a brand new readership). It's a love letter to season 7 in many ways but without a story or even a basic plot to hinge everything on.

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  11. David
    July 24, 2011 @ 1:47 am

    Oh, and the Doctor negotiates for peace with the Silurians, yes, but they don't "offer the hand of friendship" at all. It's briefly considered and then abandoned when they suddenly realise two people have wandered onto the island. In fact, it's more difficult to square this as being referred to in Warriors than it is imagine Icthar was talking about The Sea Devils (the author's original intention). In there the Chief Sea Devil actually agrees to peace with the Doctor before the base is actually attacked by depth charges, whereas in Scales they just consider it for a bit and then decide not to out of paranoia before any sort of attack has been made on them. I'm not really concerned by any of this, I just find it strange that Gary wanted to plug what he saw as a continuity blunder (which nobody else was ever worried about) and then makes a hash job of it.

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  12. mcbadger
    May 29, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

    The thing you find unobjectionable, oddly, is the one which broke my WSOD for this book. Russell's promotion of a Sergeant to a Captain suggests he does not understand the Army's structure of commissioned and non-commissioned officers; it is almost vanishingly rare for an NCO to receive a commission, and they'd probably become a lieutenant. The series got this right when Benton eventually became a Warrant Officer, though even that's a pretty big jump straight from Sergeant. This would have been better handled by inserting Yates as a captain and showing him earning Benton's trust, I think. UNIT's UK clearly isn't our UK, but it's meant to be similar in most ways not actually involving aliens, and this feels less like deliberately using a different structure than just not knowing what the structure is supposed to be.
    I'm not military, incidentally; the NCO/commissioned officer divide is not obscure knowledge.

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