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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.

53 Comments

  1. Pen Name Pending
    May 19, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

    I think something about your time zone is off, because it's still Sunday.

    Reply

  2. goatie
    May 19, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

    For a great example of superfluous merchandise, I point no further than my Sonic Screwdriver universal remote control.

    I do not own a television, and it doesn't work so well with the little boombox stereo I have in my bathroom. But I love the noises it makes.

    Reply

  3. Scott
    May 20, 2013 @ 1:10 am

    I was sorely tempted by that Winston Churchill figure, but in that particular case sanity prevailed.

    Given that I caved on Peri and Sil, and the Master and the Axon, and a frankly unseemly number of Doctors, Daleks and TARDISes, it didn't prevail that much. 🙂

    Reply

  4. Anton B
    May 20, 2013 @ 1:34 am

    Whenever I see the books or merchandise on a shelf in a bookshop or toy store I feel almost obliged to buy the hell out of that crap. After all I'm a Doctor Who fan, isn't that what I'm supposed to do? Sanity, as Scott says, prevails but then I feel a little guilty for not supporting the team. This is quickly replaced by smugness that I'm not one of those fans. I've bought the odd thing, each time with it's own justification. The Cyberman and Dalek voice changing helmets might come in handy as props for a performance piece (I teach drama). The sonic screwdriver and Chameleon Arch pocket watch look nice on my bookshelf. The Tardis moneybox is useful for saving loose change etc. I've resisted all the books (except The Whittaker Hartnell adaptation which is great and the recent Moorcock which isn't). The hardest thing is persuading friends and relations that no, I don't want anything Doctor Who related for my Xmas/birthday present. "But you love that show!" Yes I do…that's why I don't want an ironic Tom Baker mug.

    Reply

  5. BerserkRL
    May 20, 2013 @ 1:53 am

    After buying several whirring TARDIS cookie jars for other people, I finally bought one for myself.

    Reply

  6. Youth of Australia
    May 20, 2013 @ 2:04 am

    "We might, when some 2042 television producer finally caves to pressure to bring back the Slitheen for the Christmas special even though they only appeared in two stories nearly forty years ago, we might just get an off-handed reference to their sibling family the Blathereen."

    Given they appeared on screen in The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Gift, amongst several other Slitheen adventures, that's not too ridiculous…

    Reply

  7. Nick Smale
    May 20, 2013 @ 2:14 am

    The Monsters Inside is actually referenced in Boomtown, giving it a curiously “official” feel that feels ever so slightly cynical

    I saw it as cheeky rather than cynical: ex-New Adventures writer Davies providing book fans with the ammunition to deflate every "the books aren't canon" online debate forever more…

    Reply

  8. SpaceSquid
    May 20, 2013 @ 2:52 am

    The Pestacons was mistaken as an important story worth novelizing.

    Pescatons, surely? The Pestacons are, I presume, five slightly different species of cockroach that transform into villainous robots, and which combine to form That Thing Out Of Mimic.

    Reply

  9. Toby Brown
    May 20, 2013 @ 3:31 am

    I was born in the wilderness years and was introduced to Doctor Who when I was about 5 or 6. Consequently, I was considered too young for the Virgin books and the uncle who introduced me to Who thought that the eighth doctor adventures were rubbish, so that when the new series adventures came out I was excited that for the first time ever I'd be able to read the books. Even as a 12 year old I knew that they were absolutely rubbish and I felt almost betrayed, because they were so obviously just a way to get money out of fans with no real thought put into them.

    Reply

  10. Alex Antonijevic
    May 20, 2013 @ 3:41 am

    I borrowed a few of these books from my local library, ooh, such a long time ago. I read The Clockwise Man. It was okay, very bland and unremarkable, and as it turns out, quite forgettable. Some of them are so forgettable I'd only remember reading them if I looked up the list of titles and synopses to see if they jog my memory. The only one that really sticks in my memory is The Story of Martha, which seemed to do something a little different to the others, so I'm guessing you'll cover it when the time comes.

    Reply

  11. elvwood
    May 20, 2013 @ 4:07 am

    I buy Doctor Who stories. I don't care what form they take, but that's what I spend my money on; so I am not tempted by toys, towels, and what have you. Since I am sort-of in debt because of the number of Doctor Who stories I buy, thank Crunchie I do stop there!

    I agree that this trio of books were forgettable (The Clockwise Man probably least so); the next set was more variable, with one I particularly disliked (The Stealers of Dreams), one okay but not spectacular (The Deviant Strain – hm, Richards again), and one I think is great – and which I presume you'll be covering next week. I look forward to it.

    Oh, I do have an adipose stress toy. But that was a gift.

    Reply

  12. Arkadin
    May 20, 2013 @ 4:14 am

    Well there was at least one proper book that came out of it–The Eyeless, which I think was the best part of the "season of specials."

    Reply

  13. Matter-Eater Lad
    May 20, 2013 @ 4:25 am

    When I came out of my doctoral dissertation defense a few years ago, my wife was waiting with a fez and a sonic screwdriver. I still wear the fez at commencements…

    Reply

  14. mike fullerton
    May 20, 2013 @ 5:15 am

    Once they get David Tennant to read them, I am in. I can resist no further…

    Reply

  15. Spacewarp
    May 20, 2013 @ 5:16 am

    God I remember when the Target books first came out! For years I'd had the 3 Hartnell books in hardback, but suddenly there was a 4th Book, and it was the Auton Invasion that I remembered watching a few years before. And of course I had to rebuy "Zarbi", "Daleks" and "Crusade" in paperback too.

    Putting Target books on the shelves was the first iteration of what all Who fans now do with DVDs (and prior to that, VHS) – Putting them in order in a row and just sitting back and looking at the spines. And wasn't it annoying when the colour or logo wasn't quite right?

    It really is a the second Golden Age for Who merchandise (the first of course being the Dalekmania 60s). If I could send my 10 year old self a photograph of all my CO figures on the shelf (including 5 Flight Control TARDISes and Heaven knows how many Daleks) he'd chew his own arm off out of envy.

    Reply

  16. encyclops
    May 20, 2013 @ 5:17 am

    The only one of these I've read so far is I Am a Dalek and for what it was, I really enjoyed it. I think I just got lucky, though.

    Reply

  17. David Anderson
    May 20, 2013 @ 5:49 am

    I liked The Stealers of Dreams. Especially the Judge Dredd expy.
    WH

    Reply

  18. John Seavey
    May 20, 2013 @ 5:49 am

    Oh, unfair! If you'd chosen 'Only Human' instead, you'd be gushing about how bright the future of the book line was, and how they'd clearly chosen it as the "training ground" for clever authors who simply needed to show their chops to the new production team. 🙂

    Reply

  19. Andrew Batty
    May 20, 2013 @ 5:52 am

    The New Series Adventures are, from their very name, aimed at adult fans. Their pricing and format pushes in that direction as well – unlike the Eighth Doctor and Past Doctor Adventures they’re hardcovers running about twice the price. These are not books aimed at being picked up by kids with their pocket money.

    Great essay bit I don't think the section above is quite right. These novels were actually only £1 more than the EDAs (£6.99 as opposed to £5.99) and they could be picked up discounted in most bookshops/supermarkets making them very pocket money friendly.

    Around this time small, jacketless hardbacks books were very much in vogue among children's books(e.g. A Series of Unfortunate Events).

    Most importantly, they were shelved in the children's section of most bookshops, rather than the adult sci-fi section. All of which shows that (in terms of marketing at least), they were predominantly aimed at kids.

    Reply

  20. Froborr
    May 20, 2013 @ 6:14 am

    Damn, you beat me to it.

    Reply

  21. David Anderson
    May 20, 2013 @ 7:34 am

    From Phil's post: 'We'll deal with the sixth [book] in just over a week.'

    Reply

  22. AndyRobot800
    May 20, 2013 @ 7:43 am

    I listened to the audio book of "The Stone Rose" a while back, as well as… the space pirate one. Don't remember what that one was called. Really enjoyed them, but don't really remember a lot, apart from a scene where the Doctor has to fight in a gladiatorial arena, which was kind of fun. Oh, and one of the boy characters turned out to be a girl. Maybe.

    Yeah, didn't really stick in my mind as much as, say "The Left-Handed Hummingbird" or "Alien Bodies"….

    Reply

  23. storiteller
    May 20, 2013 @ 7:58 am

    I have to say, I haven't purchased much Doctor Who merchandise, but I do drool over it whenever they introduce new stuff on ThinkGeek. My husband and I have a sonic screwdriver, but I think that may be the only "official merchandise" we have. (I would have purchased the fleece blanket with Van Gogh's exploding TARDIS on it, but it was sold out before I had the chance.)

    What's particularly interesting from the merchandise point of view is how flexible BBC is to allowing non-official merchandise. Searching Etsy for "Doctor Who" will bring up hundreds, if not thousands of results, most of which are made by fans out of love for the series. Much of it is actually much better – either in terms of creativity or quality – than the official stuff. The Doctor Who t-shirts that both my husband and I have are completely unofficial and much more clever than the official ones. He has this one from the "Fighting Time Lords" (http://sharksplode.com/fighting-time-lords/), while I have one with the TARDIS in the Bayeux Tapestry (http://www.etsy.com/listing/82449930/tardis-bayeux-tapestry-doctor-who-t). I assume that unlike other organizations (George Lucas), BBC recognizes that the unofficial merch is important to the fanbase and builds its enthusiasm for the show, rather than taking away from official merchandise sales.

    Reply

  24. Archeology of the Future
    May 20, 2013 @ 8:01 am

    I think Phil might be missing something about the childrens book market for many of us: books are something that others buy for you rather which you buy for yourself as a child.

    So the New Series Adventures are aimed at adult buyers, but not adult readers.

    Books were what I begged adults for as a kid.

    There is something parent-friendly about a hardback book (the book as hard-wearing investment) rather than as a paperback (disposable, cheap, not worth the money).

    Also a significant market was, if not now, public libraries and school libraries, where a bit of hardback hardwear is more attractive. I remember my local library as a kid having lots of Target novelisations in hardback, something I never remember seeing shops.

    Reply

  25. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 20, 2013 @ 8:07 am

    I could have sworn there was a sentence about this in there, but it seems I only danced around it – but yes, this is what I was referring to when I described them as "These are at best for kids starved for new Doctor Who. Obsessives who simply cannot wait for a new episode of Doctor Who. And, more to the point, who have adopted Doctor Who as the thing they’ll ask their parents for." – these are books for parents to buy their Doctor Who obsessed kids.

    That is different from the Target novelizations, which were, by all accounts, aimed for kids.

    As for hardbacks in the library, library bindings are not usually available for the general public, and at least some libraries rebind paperbacks as hardcovers themselves.

    Reply

  26. James V
    May 20, 2013 @ 8:33 am

    I'd kill for an ironic Tom Baker mug. The only merchandise I can ever seem to find consists primarily of boring, generic T Shirts with various things Matt Smith has said on them. I love Matt Smith, but the memorabilia invariably highlights the least interesting aspects of his Doctor.

    (If I wanted to get really cynical, I'm inclined to believe that the New Series habit of giving the Doctor a catchphrase is a primarily marketing-inspired decision)

    Reply

  27. Archeology of the Future
    May 20, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    A bit of google-fu reveals the history of the Doctor Who hardbacks:

    http://www.writescience.com/HBtest/WingateTOP1.html

    Reply

  28. elvwood
    May 20, 2013 @ 9:02 am

    Probably the most important thing to me when reading a book based on characters from a performed medium is that I can imagine the dialogue being said by the actors. Captain Jack's dialogue totally failed that test. It's not the author's fault since there was no chance to see John Barrowman's performance before writing, but it still wrecked it for me very early on. The same happened with Sick Building, a well-received book which I had trouble getting through because I couldn't picture David Tennant saying the Doctor's lines. I only managed to finish it once I imagined him as Peter Davison's Doctor instead!

    Reply

  29. Jack Graham
    May 20, 2013 @ 9:31 am

    The day I buy a Winston Churchill action figure is the day I slit my own throat.

    Reply

  30. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 20, 2013 @ 9:39 am

    Well I know what somebody's getting for Christmas.

    Reply

  31. Cleofis
    May 20, 2013 @ 9:53 am

    You could at least do something, shall we say, "creative" with it, no?

    Reply

  32. Cleofis
    May 20, 2013 @ 9:56 am

    Honestly, I just really wish they'd reprint at least some of the better BBC Eighth Doctor books (dunno what the legal situation with the New Adventures is), especially since they've been reprinting select books for the 50th anniversary. But they picked Earthworld of all things for McGann! EARTHWORLD! Not Alien Bodies? Or Interference? Or Vampire Science? Sheesh.

    Reply

  33. Daibhid C
    May 20, 2013 @ 10:10 am

    I very nearly spent about £15 on a sonic screwdriver that was actually a screwdriver. My sister had to ask me "How often do you use a screwdriver?"

    I did get a sonic screwdriver stylus for my Nintento DS, which thanks to the prongs on the Matt Smith model is probably the worst DS stylus ever.

    Reply

  34. Daibhid C
    May 20, 2013 @ 10:22 am

    Given that the Seventh Doctor choice was "Remembrance" – the only novelisation in the bunch – I suspect the legal situation with the NAs is "Aargh!"

    Reply

  35. David Anderson
    May 20, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    Things could be lots worse than Earthworld. Earthworld is fun. And Anji's emails are both hilarious and poignant.

    There are several Orman/Blum and all the Lance Parkin and Martin Day novels available on ereader. (And Keith Topping, though the reviews have not tempted me to read any of them.)

    Reply

  36. Anton B
    May 20, 2013 @ 11:21 am

    A good riposte to those 'everything is canon. We will MAKE John and Gillian fit series 6b continuity' fanboys is to say 'So is the Tom Baker mug canon?'

    Reply

  37. David Anderson
    May 20, 2013 @ 11:30 am

    It did seem to me that Magrs had somehow managed to write Tennant as early Matt Smith.
    I didn't have that problem with Stealers, but I may have a tin ear. Also, I only read it this year, and the book passes the 'can you imagine John Barrowman saying this dialogue' test better than any episode of Torchwood.

    Reply

  38. David Anderson
    May 20, 2013 @ 11:36 am

    I suspect that the reasons for choosing Remembrance included that it's a decent dalek story, and that Aaronovitch has gone on to write not-Doctor Who stuff that people can buy in non-specialist bookshops.

    Reply

  39. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 20, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    And Remembrance is a lot closer to the NAs than it is to a Terrance Dicks novelization. I'm reasonably likely to cover the novelization in the McCoy book – I would have in the blog, but Remembrance was already so long.

    It and Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks are the only two novelizations I feel like I was wrong to skip. Guess that's another essay for the Hartnell book. Bugger.

    Reply

  40. matt bracher
    May 20, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

    Once you start down the road of COLLECTING, it's hard to stop. It seems almost like a duty. I bought the New Adventures long past the time I stopped enjoying them — maybe they'd get better? — and now wish that I'd gone only a few more and read Lungbarrow. Or, in the Missing Adventures, Cold Fusion.

    Giving up was hard. And it doesn't help for the next time that I have those two regrets for not sticking it out.

    For years I had a Star Wars comic collection that almost rivaled Rich Handley's. I had every novel with three exceptions. And again, one day I stopped, looked, and realized that it had been some time since they'd given me a sense of delight. And so they left.

    I hope to grow more discerning. We'll see.

    Reply

  41. Bennett
    May 20, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

    I don't know….just seeing the words "Winston Churchill action figure" together make me happy for some reason. Maybe I should hunt this down.

    ….nah. On second thoughts, I'm content with my Charles Dickens trading card (Yes, Doctor Who did spawn such a thing. Man, I love this show).

    Reply

  42. ferret
    May 20, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

    It's interesting – well, vaguely interesting – that they didn't try to make the action figure look more like Winston Churchill rather than the actor that played him.

    Reply

  43. SK
    May 20, 2013 @ 11:58 pm

    Legal situation with the New Adventures is fairly simple, I believe: copyright has reverted to the authors, so all the BBC would have to do to reprint is sign a contract with a given author. Certainly there was no problem when The Dying Days, Lungbarrow and Human Nature were made available on the BBC website.

    I suspect the choice for the reprints was more to do with the fact that all the best New Adventures were heavily tied in with the developing story, and make a lot less sense out of context: Human Nature, for example, pays off a lot of stuff that's been building with Benny, and The Also People would require explanations about Roz, Chris and Kadiatu of all people…

    One of the nice things about the New Adventures, at the time, was the sense of a continuing story rather than just individual books, but it does rather make it hard to just pull one out of the middle.

    Reply

  44. Seeing_I
    May 21, 2013 @ 4:41 am

    It's funny, I despised "Victory of the Daleks" in nearly every way…and yet I still coveteth a khaki green Dalek with a tea tray. It's just adorably ridiculous, and one of the few things in that script that works. I just wish i didn't have to pay through the nose & get stuck with a dodgy Churchill.

    Reply

  45. Theonlyspiral
    May 21, 2013 @ 7:10 am

    I use that screwdriver quite a bit actually. I just wish it had a few more heads…

    Reply

  46. Theonlyspiral
    May 21, 2013 @ 7:12 am

    I've given that set as a gift…four times I think. There is just something about a Dalek and Churchill that is lovely.

    Reply

  47. ferret
    May 21, 2013 @ 7:50 am

    This is wonderfully badly done: "Tea Time Of The Daleks" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJDHfksDgHE

    Reply

  48. Theonlyspiral
    May 21, 2013 @ 7:59 am

    I'm not going to lie: as more stuff creeps into the Hartnell volume, I am getting more and more excited for it rather than Tom Baker. But that could be the fact that I can't stand Baker, and absolutely adore Hartnell.

    Reply

  49. Ross
    May 21, 2013 @ 8:55 am

    Oh look! It has three settings!

    Reply

  50. Froborr
    May 21, 2013 @ 10:36 am

    Oddly, even though I am the one who introduced her to the show, my ex-fiancee/roommate is the one who actually owns Doctor Who merchandise: a sonic screwdriver (non-lighting/noisemaking, basically just molded plastic), a plush talking Dalek (it's bright red and says "Exterminate!" or "You would make a good Dalek!" when you squeeze it), and a framed reproduction of Van Gogh's TARDIS Exploding.

    Reply

  51. Froborr
    May 21, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    Well, unless you count TARDIS Eruditorum e-books as Doctor Who merchandise…

    Reply

  52. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 21, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    I prefer to think of sonic screwdrivers and Daleks as me merchandise.

    Reply

  53. jane
    May 21, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    Well, they're "you" merchandise as well as "Who" merchandise. Both, after all, answer The Question.

    Reply

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