Cultural Marxism 7: Look to Windward

Banks published the Culture novels in essentially three chunks during which he’d write one every other year and between which he basically didn’t touch the setting. The first, consisting of everything through Use of Weapons, is dominated by already drafted material that Banks wrote prior to The Wasp Factory, and consists of Banks establishing the Culture in all its glories and problems. The second, beginning with Excession, but aesthetically encompassing The State of the Art, sees him testing the limits of the concept, pushing it to various breaking points to expose new faces of the idea. And it reaches its conclusion with Look to Windward. Whereas Excession and Inversions tested the limits of the format with massive high concept ideas like “what if the Culture met a vastly technologically superior civilization” or “what if you took the Culture out of a Cuture novel,” however, Look to Windward opts to break a far subtler rule: it’s a sequel to a previous book.

The clue’s in the title, which is a quote from T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”—”O you who turn the wheel and look to windward.” The next line? “Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you ...

It's a Game! They're Taking Me For a Ride! (Into the Dalek)


If you want any Eruditorum Press books that aren't Neoreaction a Basilisk, they'll be going off sale around 2:00 EST this afternoon. This means it's your last chance ever to buy Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons.

It’s August 30th, 2014. David Guetta and Sam Martin are at number one, with Taylor Swift, Magic, OneRepublic, Wankelmut, and Union J also charting. In the last week, Modern Family and Breaking Bad won at the Emmys, while Amazon purchased Twitc. Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling debated Scottish Independence, Douglas Carswell defected from the Tories to UKIP, and Kate Bush staged the first concert of her Before the Dawn series, marking her first live performance in thirty-five years.

On television, meanwhile, Peter Capaldi climbs around inside a Dalek. On one level, this is another example of playing Capaldi’s rollout inordinately safe, going from a conservative Robot-inspired debut immediately to a Dalek story. On another, however, there’s a compulsive strangeness to this Dalek story. It’s based on what is clearly a kind of batty idea. Fantastic Voyage with Daleks is several miles from the sanest Doctor Who pitch ever. This is ...

The Ron Paul Revolution (Part 2)

Like any emerging ideology, the alt-right didn’t just materialize out of nowhere. There were forerunners crying in the wilderness who were generally viewed as harmless kooks. “The paleo-libertarian seed that Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, and Lew Rockwell planted in the 1990s has come to bear some really ugly fruit in the last couple of years as elements of the alt-right have made appearances in various libertarian organizations and venues,” writes Steve Horwitz, an economist who writes at Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

The Ron Paul Revolution might not have amounted to much electorally, but it would be wrong to underestimate the impact he has had on libertarianism and the alt-right. “In a way, Ron Paul is the guy who lit the fuse,” Nick Gillespie says. “And he embodies some of those contradictions [between libertarianism and the alt-right].” Gillespie tells me that Richard Spencer came up to him at the Republican National Convention in 2016 and said that he was activated into politics because of Paul. Gillespie sees Paul’s legacy as very mixed, as someone who was “simultaneously… positing this very libertarian worldview, but then he’s also speaking to people’s fears and anxieties.” If one were looking for the ...

Neoreaction a Basilisk New Edition

After a rather frustrating day grappling with Amazon, we are pleased to properly announce the revised edition of Neoreaction a Basilisk is now available for sale. This link will go to the current paperback edition, but the Kindle edition is live as well. (Right now there are two Kindle editions, but they are in fact identical despite one still having the old cover. I'll get this tidied up soon.) Here's a UK link. And if you want it in epub, here it is on Smashwords. This new edition features a few minor revisions and corrections throughout along with an appendix containing "Guded by the Beauty of Their Weapons," a precursor essay to the ones in the book about the alt-right and science fiction.

Currently if you have any digital editions, they should be upgradeable for free. I can't 100% guarantee that will remain the case, so you may want to make the upgrade fast.

Thanks as always to James for the delightful cover update. (Future covers will not play with defacement like this, but it was obviously how to do this one.)

I'll be temporarily pulling all other Eruditorum Press books from sale on Monday. Guided by ...

Like Breath on a Mirror (Deep Breath)

Get it oooooon. Bang a gooooong. Get it on.

It’s August 23rd, 2014. Nico and Vinz are at number one with “Am I Wrong,”  with Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea, Cheryl Cole and Tinie Tempah, and Charli XCX and herself also charting. Ed Sheeran tops the album charts. In news, since Time of the Doctor took its bow there’s been an Ebola epidemic, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, there was a military coup in Thailand, and Michael Brown was murdered by police in Ferguson, Missouri, kicking off the Black Lives Matter movement. We’re also in the last month of the campaign for the Scottish independence referendum, which isn’t technically the sort of thing that goes in these sections since it’s just sort of an ongoing thing, but clearly I’m out of practice and anyway it’s kind of relevant. Oh, and a week before this airs some jackass makes a big blog post about how an indie game designer he used to be dating supposedly cheated on him, which really doesn’t seem like it should be the sort of thing that should make a news section but actually serves as a perfect summary for how the news is going ...

The Big Bang Commentary

"Pond.  Rory Pond."


Commentary time again.  Here's Elizabeth and myself watching and talking about (and talking around... and often failing to talk about) the Series 5 finale 'The Big Bang'.

Download here.


Also, we're re-upping the old commentaries at the Pex Lives Libsyn, as per requests.  One per month, starting this month with the commentary we recorded for the Hartnell classic two-parter 'The Rescue', which saw the introduction of Vicki.

Download Episode 1 here and Episode 2 here.


Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Lego Movie, It Follows

By rights, Moffat should have left. Sure, he’d done a season less than Davies, but it was clearly time. Each of his three seasons had been a step down from the one before, with Series Seven being an openly miserable experience. The Day of the Doctor and Matt Smith’s departure provided an occasion where he could leave on a high. His style had become exceedingly recognizable and recognized, which is the phase right before utter stagnation. It was time to go, and if he didn’t he risked—indeed, given the tenacity of his critics, essentially ensured—that there would be accusations that he stayed too long. But, of course, he didn’t. He retrenched, got a new star and executive producer, and went back to try again. This is the story of how that went, and of what may be Doctor Who’s most unexpected golden age.

But to understand that unexpectedness we must first understand the landscape that Doctor Who was returning into. Because the problem wasn’t just that Moffat’s tenure looked long in the tooth on its own merits. It was that outside Doctor Who’s window, the world was catching up. In one sense this was not a surprise. Doctor Who was ...

A Rather Large Announcement

We do psychochronography here, and so recognize that any significant piece of information has a vast root structure of paths leading up to it and an equally vast structure of implications and consequences, both of which exist in stubborn defiance of any attempt to simply present it. When this information doubles as an event such that the moment of its revelation splits time into discrete “before” and “after” periods, the complexity of these structures only becomes more important. Stripping all of this away to formulate an Announcement, then, is a desperately theatrical and artificial act.

Nevertheless, I’ll frame this simply in terms of site business: the content previously published under the name Philip Sandifer will, going forward, be published under the name Elizabeth Sandifer.

There. Now we exist in a world of implications, which open up and branch outwards instead of leading portentiously towards the singular. For the sake of clarity, first a restatement: I am a transgender woman using female (she/her) pronouns. Now for things that follow from this.

In terms of this site going forward, basically nothing will change. I’ll still be starting TARDIS Erudtorum on Monday, I’m still publishing Volume 7 this year, I’m still getting ...

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