Pounded in the butt by dialectical materialism.

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. Alex Wilcock
    December 3, 2012 @ 3:03 am

    My old The Talons of Weng-Chiang gag:
    'Doctor Who in the inner city, with gangs, guns, stabbings, drugs and prostitution.' You can hear the sound of green pens scratching letters of horror at all those monstrous fears of Russell T Davies being confirmed! Funny how different people's views are if you tell them it's set a hundred years ago, isn’t it?

    And of course the two reactions I remember about this book at the time were exactly that sort of thing from people who thought any Doctor Who should be more exactly like Talons… And denial ranging from outraged to almost violent at the thought that Chris (who'd had more sex – with the opposite sex – than any other companion than Ace at the time) had had a blow job from a man. Which is ironic, as one of the few things that exasperated me about the NAs was making Ace entirely straight rather than the bi/lesbian subtexts on screen, yet have another companion secure enough in his sexuality as to be pulled ever so slightly in the other direction and people went bonkers.

    That's not the only reason I mentioned the sex (and isn't it weird that the numbers on Misfits last night didn't count blow-jobs? How heteronormative a superpower is that!). When you say "The other thing that really jumps out about Damaged Goods, however, is how utterly bleak the ending is"… This may sound strange, but I don't remember the bleakness. I remember the hope. It's not "utterly" bleak: I'd expected bleakness and death from the NAs by that point, of course, but like the ending of another of the best NAs, Lucifer Rising, this has a warming coda where the Doctor gives a tiny little nudge of hope in a terrible plague. Only this time it's not the Doctor's choice, just an accidental climax of one of his earlier actions, and it's much closer to home, with an obvious 'What would your wish-fulfilment be?' to a lot of people who you perhaps ill-advisedly call "active" ("member" just makes the innuendo more obvious) in the urban gay scene at the time. I admit that Damaged Goods was one of the NAs closest to my heart ever since first reading it in part because it was probably the one closest to my own experiences, putting people and places into Doctor Who that had never been there before, and though much more young and timid in the '90s urban gay scene, I wonder if that life experience as much as the NAs' bleakness being fitted as standard primed me to think 'Hope'.

    The shadow over Roz as she imagines old companions, though… That sent a shiver up my spine even then.


  2. Alex Wilcock
    December 3, 2012 @ 3:04 am

    One other tangential bit of life experience from the time: Peter Thurnham's case was slightly more complex. His joining the Lib Dems in October had a more marginal impact, as he'd actually left the Tories and was sitting as an Independent since that February, which was the damage he did to the Tories' majority (and it's angels on a pin whether he was 'Opposition' from then or not). As I remember NAs very strongly from by-elections in that Parliament, it happens that the only time I met him was minding him for the day at a by-election, where he struck me as a most unusual defector and less a convert than someone whose idea of public service was better served by joining a team than sitting on his own. I don't know if he found more of a conviction Liberalism in later years or was happy just going with the flow, but the impression I got was that he was just a nice old gent who wanted to serve in a small way, and while most defectors are rather self-important, switching for reasons of high principle or high dudgeon, it seemed to me he didn't really want to be noticed and had just got to the point where he couldn't stand the Tories any more. I spent a day with him just canvassing on the doorstep, and it was quite refreshing to have a 'big news defector' who just wanted to do the slog rather than be big news.


  3. Spacewarp
    December 3, 2012 @ 4:28 am

    I have never read any Doctor Who books other than early Target novelizations, but I might just make an exception for this one. You make it sound very interesting…


  4. Dr. Happypants
    December 3, 2012 @ 6:18 am

    "Upon release it was well-liked, but sandwiched in amongst the final year of New Adventures it was, if we’re being honest, forgettable."

    Not if you were queer, it wasn't.


  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 3, 2012 @ 6:20 am

    Not if you like good books it wasn't. But the evidence is fairly strong that, in the general case, it was.


  6. peeeeeeet
    December 3, 2012 @ 7:11 am

    I don't really feel that Dam' Good was overlooked before the new series was announced, and I don't think the number of voters to Shannon's list is good enough evidence, not least because several contemporaryish novels are in the same ballpark. It's one of the most reviewed NAs on DWRG, all of which come from before the new series began (though I suppose a couple might not have been written had the new series not been on the horizon). I think that a lot of NA fans had it in their best-of list, and that kept its profile as high as some of the more game-changing stories of the period.


  7. David Anderson
    December 3, 2012 @ 10:06 am

    The subtext around Ace is there once you know it's there, but it's still a bit sub. Of the four relationships with the most emotional payoff, two are with men, one is with a cheetah, and one is with Ace's grandmother (so any lesbian subtext would be ewww). Whereas with Gwendoline's betrayal the emotional payoff is more, 'will Ace realise in time?' than, 'how will Ace react'? And Shou Yuing is the most underused character in a story stuffed full of underused characters.


  8. Adam Riggio
    December 3, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

    It's the kind of thing that happens to a high-quality, ripping-good adventure story in a season where every other story is a major event arc. For all the quality of Damaged Goods, it was a story without major events in the middle of an arc that included, like you said, the brutal death of Liz Shaw, the book that killed Roz Forrester (which was also a clusterfuck of a publication), Benny jumping the McGann Doctor, the TV-movie, and a huge work of Gallifreyan mythos. It's easy to get lost in that shuffle.


  9. John Seavey
    December 5, 2012 @ 10:01 am

    My general memories of the time suggest that 'Damaged Goods' was very well-received and well-remembered, although admittedly the authors who were on RADW got more attention. 🙂

    I'm a bit sad you didn't comment on 'The Death of Art', as I really feel that the people who didn't like it felt that way because the novel made them feel stupid, and I wanted to hear the thoughts of someone who likes challenging literature taking it on.


Leave a 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.