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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.

25 Comments

  1. Alphapenguin
    July 5, 2012 @ 2:03 am

    "But what is perhaps most striking about the book is the way in which it avoids the Scylla and Charibdis of this sort of cultural dialogue – the same imperialist/xenophobe dualism we've been discussing in terms of Doctor Who lately. The standard and blase liberal western response to Islamophobia – "they're just like us" – is as wrong-headed as the xenophobic "they're horrible others.""

    In my mind, that alone makes this book worth checking out. I can't tell you how much I hate running into that dualism in other books, especially speculative fiction. It's rather rare that someone can sail clear of those shoals, and such people deserve a read.

    Reply

  2. Matthew Blanchette
    July 5, 2012 @ 8:07 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  3. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 5, 2012 @ 8:09 am

    Why's that?

    Reply

  4. Matthew Blanchette
    July 5, 2012 @ 8:11 am

    Never mind. Should've thought things through before I posted. :-/

    Reply

  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 5, 2012 @ 8:14 am

    No, I mean, you're welcome to the viewpoint, I'm just curious what it is about the prospect of someone having converted religions that you object to. (If it's the tendency for American converts to be openly evangelical in many cases, for instance, I could reassure you that Wilson is quite the exception.)

    Reply

  6. Matthew Blanchette
    July 5, 2012 @ 9:06 am

    Ahhhhh… I suppose. The "submission" bit was rubbing me the wrong way, I'm afraid; I know that's what "Islam" actually means, but a wife submitting to her husband is an abysmally medieval viewpoint. :-S

    …for the record, though, I'm not against Eastern/Islamic lit, as a whole; I adore Salman Rushdie, for example. He's brilliant. 🙂

    I just feel that… a convert proclaiming he/she is a convert makes me sort of wary. Best to keep one's religion (or non-religion, if that's the case) private — mainly because crowing on about it might irk somebody else (and, personally, I truly try to avoid offense). :-/

    Reply

  7. Matthew Blanchette
    July 5, 2012 @ 9:08 am

    (Oh, almsot forgot; Omar Khayyam is one of the best and most insightful poets I've ever read. 🙂 )

    Reply

  8. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 5, 2012 @ 9:26 am

    The "submission to husband" aspect is completely not an issue here, for what it's worth. It's definitely a submission to the religion, not to the husband. I'll clarify that in the post in just a sec.

    As for the conversion issue, I can see your point in a general case. I think that, given the intense fucked-uppedness of American/Islamic relations this is something of a special case. Describing that transition sheds needed light on what the space between the two cultures is, and it's a light that I don't think there's anything quite equivalent to.

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  9. Tom Watts
    July 5, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    Who was it said that converts could be divided into two categories – the bitter and the smug? Whoever it was, he was talking about Catholics, but certainly a good portion of Western converts and all Western "reverts" are about as likeable as Scientologists. But on the other hand, one of the pioneer British converts was a pig farmer before he found Islam, and remains a pig farmer. He has a sense of proportion at any rate. But none of this is intended as a sneer at G Willow Wilson, who seems deeply spiritual and wonderfully intelligent and creative.

    incidentally, I don't believe it is accurate to translate "Islam" as submission. Oddly a lot of Islamic missionary literature seems studded with ugly and inappropriate words – revert, primordial, submit, as if it's actually courting the image of reverting to a Primord and submitting to the Master. Islam has the same root as Salam, Peace, and means more "acceptance". Ie: surrendering one's fate and responsibility for the world to God. Somewhere between "Let it be" and "Thy will be done". Certainly no S&M overtones in the Arabic.

    Reply

  10. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 5, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    Just because I'm doing a book on Wonder Woman doesn't mean I think all uses of the word "submission" have a pervy side. Wilson has used the word overtly in one of her graphic novels, and so I feel comfortable using it here, but I agree, the sense in which submission is relevant here is thoroughly un-S&M.

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  11. jane
    July 5, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

    Well off-topic, excepting that this bonus comment is about a non-Who novel, but I'd like to add Audrey Niffenegger's "The Time Traveler's Wife" to Phil's daunting list of reading material, perhaps sometime after he's kicked off the 8th Doctor stories? No, it's not as literary as Alif the Unseen (now on my own daunting list) but it sure seems like an influence on Moffat's work with timey-wimey relationships.

    Well, a girl can hope.

    Reply

  12. cubisia
    July 5, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

    Went out to buy this at lunch…and it doesn't seem to be out in Australia yet.

    You've really let me down, Sandifer. Really let me down.

    Reply

  13. jane
    July 5, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

    Oh, and The Flame Alphabet, by Ben Marcus. Completely bonkers weird. Could even make for an interesting episode of Who.

    Reply

  14. Adam Riggio
    July 5, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

    Phil, the amount of work that you can get done in a day amazes me. I'll put this book on my list.

    Looking forward to Dragonfire on another hot summer day tomorrow.

    Reply

  15. BerserkRL
    July 6, 2012 @ 12:31 am

    The standard and blase liberal western response to Islamophobia – "they're just like us" – is as wrong-headed as the xenophobic "they're horrible others."

    What about "they're horrible others, just like us"?

    Reply

  16. BerserkRL
    July 6, 2012 @ 12:33 am

    When I was in college there was a literary review whose posters, encouraging writers to submit stories to it, carried the tag line "Submission is ecstasy."

    Reply

  17. storiteller
    July 6, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

    I mentioned it on an earlier thread, but I'd also like to see him cover How to Stay Safe in a Science Fictional World, as it plays fast and loose with the concept of time travel as relating to storytelling, memory, and words. It's definitely influenced by Doctor Who, but in the "Mind Robber" way rather than any traditional fannish sense.

    Reply

  18. William Whyte
    July 6, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

    I was in Istanbul four years ago, and came away convinced that the most interesting country in the world at the moment is Turkey, and the most interesting city in the world is Istanbul, and anything that isn't about Turkey or Istanbul is a bit of a waste of time. And it's precisely because of this: The standard and blase liberal western response to Islamophobia – "they're just like us" – is as wrong-headed as the xenophobic "they're horrible others."". Turkey is trying to be modern without being fully Western, and it's fascinating.

    Reply

  19. Wm Keith
    July 6, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

    I don't think it's right to write off "submission" as an unidiomatic translation or as a mistranslation. It's certainly the translation of choice for Muslim writers, who will understand the concept of islam better than I do.

    The very name of the religion highlights how important, how infinitely comforting, the concept of submission actually is. You can't mention Islam without mentioning submission. And this is not something that we in the Christian or secular West really do comprehend. Hence the way we used to miss the point completely and call it Mohammedanism.

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  20. Tom Watts
    July 7, 2012 @ 1:42 am

    The concept of "submission" in English has implications of physical dominance and masochistic self negation. Muslims I have asked about this do not hear that in the Arabic. It's like the meaning of Salam. Not "peace" but "the state of being at peace", which is not necessarily the opposite of war. Buddhists understand this too. You can be perfectly at peace while you lop someone's head off. But it's perhaps more what Christians mean with "in his will is our peace", but not what JC meant when he said he came not to bring Peace but with a sword. A Muslim couldn't say that, because peace is not necessarily incompatible with the sword and the meanings of Salam and Islam itself are so deeply intertwined.

    Reply

  21. Tom Watts
    July 7, 2012 @ 2:09 am

    And Muslim writers in English sometimes seem deaf to the implications of the English words they use – this may be a consequence of believing that the Arabic is untranslatable anyway, or a way of demonstrating (perhaps subconsciously) their alienation from their mother tongue – if English is their MT.

    The above points btw are my regurgitations of a lecture I heard at uni from a distinguished professor of Arabic. That's not meant as an appeal to Authority, but just to say that I didn't come up with any of these insights myself, and don't have the learning to defend them or add to their arguments if they turn out to be baloney. Can't remember his name I'm afraid.

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  22. Wm Keith
    July 7, 2012 @ 10:30 am

    I'm not convinced that the kinkier meanings of "submission" either come to mind first (but I have spent more time in church than in bondage) or preclude the more traditional religious meaning, but be it unto me according to thy word.

    except in a Marxist sense

    Reply

  23. Shane Cubis
    October 27, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

    Aaaaaand I just bought and finished it over the weekend. Will definitely be passing my copy on to other readers!

    Reply

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