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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.


  1. Przemek
    July 18, 2017 @ 9:51 am

    Interesting take on Looper. Yeah, the movie feels disjointed – an impression I still remember after five years – and I think you nailed the reasons why. Aside from everything else, time travel and creepy kids with psychic powers don’t really have that much in common, metaphor-wise. Confronting one’s past/future and the seemingly infinite potential of a child. These sets of ideas don’t necessarily clash, but they also don’t go together particularly well.

    Also, does time travel always have to be a metaphor for something else? I understand that stories focusing on the rules of time travel itself are by definition rather disconnected from human reality, but they can be used as a plot device to tell other stories. Just like space travel often is.


    • Aylwin
      July 18, 2017 @ 11:09 am

      I think it probably hangs on a distinction between “time-travel stories” and “stories with time-travel in”. The latter would be stories which (as in a large proportion of Doctor Who, especially pre-Moffat) merely use time-travel as a “magic door”, for purposes such as framing stories about imagined futures, or fantasising about having adventures in some past era. In that context there’s no need for it to serve as a metaphor. In stories that are actually about time-travel, that are interested in exploring how it might work, it arguably needs to have some metaphorical resonance so as to become more than just a portentously insubstantial investigation of the logical ramifications of something non-existent.

      Though I’m not sure it’s entirely true actual “time-travel stories” can only say something of wider significance through metaphor. They can perhaps carry a message by more literal means, about the nature of time and the unfolding of events, much like stories involving supernatural notions of prophecy and fate. For an awful lot of people, those things are not imaginary entities created for storytelling purposes, but concrete realities of the world we live in, which I think undercuts any argument that they can feature in stories only as metaphors. Yet time-travel, for all that it’s generally agreed not to be real, can serve very similar narrative purposes in a “scientific” frame.

      The Terminator seems the obvious example here (and of course it has, probably not coincidentally, a quasi-religious messianic prophecy scenario at its heart). It’s a story about time-travel rather than just one with time-travel in it, and its use of time-travel conveys a message of wider applicability through its closed-circle resolution, but I’d say that’s not a metaphorical message but a literal one, an assertion of a deterministic, fatalistic reality. On the level of that particular message, it uses time-travel as an illustrative device of a sort that does not amount to being a symbolic stand-in for something else.

      Not certain about all that though, and it probably ultimately comes down to a matter of semantics about the meaning of the word “metaphor”.


    • CJM
      July 18, 2017 @ 12:21 pm

      I’m much fonder of LOOPER than everyone else here. Can I ask how what it’s doing isn’t narrative substitution: Where the disturbed child scenes comment on how events effect the future are far bigger than the entirely singular nature of time-travel? Where the film focuses on love, pleasure and hedonism as much as anything else? Where “and the path was a circle” combines the two narratives satisfyingly together thematically?

      In short, LOOPER felt a lot more like a story of two stories, that aren’t from the same world (or stories), but who will interact together to force the circle of violence and abuse.

      And I think nothing sums that up better than “The potential of a child” and “Confronting what you did with your life, and what you will” as the two strands. Those ideas connect profoundly


      • Przemek
        July 18, 2017 @ 12:51 pm

        One distinction, though: for those ideas to connect you need a “time can be rewritten” type of time travel (which Looper has, of course). If you try to connect them in a Terminator-like closed time loop story you run into a problem with destiny. The potential of a child is an empty concept when time travel reveals exactly who this child will grow up to be, with no variations possible.


  2. Jesse
    July 18, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

    I saw Looper for the first time a few days ago. I got tired about midway through it, hit pause, and came back to finish it the next day. And as it happens, I hit pause right before it changed from Time Travel Movie to Psychic Kid Movie. When I turned it on again, I felt like I was watching a new film.

    All of which is to say: Yeah, you’re right.


  3. Roderick T. Long
    July 18, 2017 @ 4:18 pm

    Off-topic, but a heads-up: the new trailer for the Marston / Wonder Women movie is up:


  4. Doctor Memory
    July 18, 2017 @ 5:18 pm

    “…a primer on the rise…”

    I See What You Did There.

    (Have you covered Primer here or elsewhere?)


  5. Calgary business cards
    April 9, 2019 @ 6:35 am

    Thanks for sharing such a helpful article and it is very impressive.


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