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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. prandeamus
    January 25, 2020 @ 3:33 pm

    Chiches: Brainwashing, “working for a cause” and Communism cliches vs Fascism.

    Yes, a lot of the brainwashing stuff is standard scifi schlock. Brainwashing certainly intrudes into the show as part of the Master’s MO by 1971, and well into the Baker era at least as far as “Eldrad Must Live.”

    Are there not several fictional models at work across this period. (Needless to say, few bear any resemblance to real world hypnotism as we are in trope land throughout).

    1. Simple mind control. Do this plot-related thing. Obey. Do not question. Jo Grant takes takes the box the Doctor’s lab. Zombie faces may be involved. Robomen are at the extreme end of the spectrum.
    2. Induction into corporate conformity. Ben’s experience in the Macra Terror. He’s still Ben, personality intact, more or less. But he wants to conform, follow the colony rules. Maybe BOSS fits in here, but the Green Death’s plot meanders somewhat and I forget.

    3. Physical change to “become uzzz” a la Cybermen. You are one of us now, and the mental change is part of that.

    What I find interesting, is the idea that Marxist-cliche-flavoured mind control as outlined by El here, involved implanting a “cause” that rationalises the actions of the subject. I’m struggling to reach a point here, but I can’t easily remember this approach being taken elsewhere, except perhaps Sarah-Jayne’s new subconscious belief that the Doctor is a sorcerer in Mandragora. It does appear in GodEngine too, but hey, Craig Hinton.

    I’m struggling towards a point about Marxist-Trope-Brainwashing being about implanting a cause. If there’s a Fascist-Trope-Brainwashing it’s more reactionary – “I obey because I have always believed this”

    Feel free to shoot me down, I have a bunch of concepts in search of a coherent argument.


  2. Brian B.
    January 25, 2020 @ 5:02 pm

    This is my favorite of your Dalek Eruditorum entries to date. The one on “the Crusade” was unambiguously correct, but therefore depressing. This one’s complex and leaves the story intact to enjoy.

    I don’t know that it’s worth trying to speak up about differences between the Soviet Union’s ideology and that of the Nazis. As Jack himself has pointed out, the USSR was if anything ultra-capitalist, monopoly capitalist. What is the capitalist-employee experience, if not following unaccountable, often-irrational orders designed to constantly increase growth, hitting “targets” whose benefit is invisible to you? And knowing that complaining about it where anyone can hear you will only make your life worse? I think Nikita Khruschev, trying to undo Stalin’s evils, was a far better human being than anyone in Nazi leadership, but he left the basic system intact. One propagandist military dictatorship has far more in common with a worse propagandist military dictatorship than it does with anything Marx, who wanted the state to wither away, ever envisioned.

    Also, I still think it’s worth worrying about A.I.s deciding to attack when there isn’t, technically, a state of war. Just because the military is now, frequently, a bunch of private contractors, getting their tech from different private contractors, is no reason to feel that everything is now secure. Quite the opposite.


  3. Aylwin
    January 25, 2020 @ 10:31 pm

    On WOTAN’s name and Nazis, it may be significant that the form of the name used is neither the best known (Odin) nor the Englsh one (Woden), but the one which is not merely Germanic but specifically German, and which is familiar in the English-speaking world largely from Wagner.


  4. kevin merchant
    January 26, 2020 @ 12:57 pm

    It was strange how scared everyone was of computers in the 60’s considering how rubbish they were back then. I suppose it symbolized bureaucratic control.


    • Alan
      January 27, 2020 @ 3:49 am

      In the 1960’s, computers were a mystery to most people and therefore easy fodder for conspiracy theories and paranoia. The explosion of home computers in the 1980’s made them commonplace and therefore no longer a source of concern, not even about things that people should be greatly concerned about. People who would have been intensely paranoid about computers had they lived 50 years earlier don’t have the slightest concern about the fact that Facebook knows every aspect of their personal life.


    • prandeamus
      January 27, 2020 @ 10:39 am

      Predicting the future of computers has been notoriously difficult in the twentieth and twenty-first century. The paradox is that that pundits have simultaneously over-hyped some possible technologies while completely missing others. AI, image recognition, speech recognition and the like have proved to be several orders of magnitude harder than anyone expected. Hardware advances have made some progress possible in these areas but are only slightly more sophisticated than brute force. The internet, taken as a whole, progressed in ways rarely really foreseen. Of course, for any aspect of modern society you may find one or two people who explained the potential, but the vast majority of popular speculative fiction in the 60s saw computers are electronic brains with flashing lights and tape drives. It’s really hard to think ourselves back into that mindset.


  5. Przemek
    January 27, 2020 @ 11:23 am

    An excellent essay, as always. I’d like to add a small bit of trivia that I think the readers of this blog might find interesting.

    As you note, 1966 marks the death of Polish poet Jan Brzechwa. In Poland he is arguably best known for his children’s book “Akademia Pana Kleksa” (“Mr. Inkblot’s Academy”), featuring the titular Pan Kleks (Mr. Inkblot), who is a distinctly Doctor-ish figure. He’s a magical old man full of childlike wonder and curiosity, a compassionate healer with a strong moral sense, and also a scientist and an inventor. In later books he also travels extensively, having many adventures along the way. He can even be considered the master of the Land of Fiction – his magical academy has doors that can be used to enter the world of fairytales.

    There’s also an interesting bit of historical context. “Mr. Inkblot’s Academy” was written in the middle of World War Two and features an evil puppet pretending to be a real boy that eventually brings the titular school down with its poisonous hate and violence. The puppet was named Alojzy after Alois Hitler, the father of a certain historical figure. Oh, and the puppet was originally named Adolf.


    • prandeamus
      January 27, 2020 @ 11:31 am

      Interesting observation. I don’t speak a word of Polish, but I speak fluent Google, and found this.

      Presumably he looks like Jon Pertwee with a beard. 🙂


      • Przemek
        January 27, 2020 @ 11:41 am

        He kinda does! The book was filmed in the 80s and the movie managed to traumatized a good chunk of its young audience with a scene depicting a terrifying march of werewolves. Just like good DW should.


        • prandeamus
          January 27, 2020 @ 1:56 pm

          Digression: BBC children’s television imported quite a lot of (then) Eastern-bloc TV series during the 1970s. I suspect economics was the driving factor i.e. it was cheap filler, because they were typically narrated with the original language low in the mix as opposed to being re-dubbed. At this remove I can’t recall all the details, but the ones that stick in my head the most are “The White Horses” which was a German/Yugoslav co-production, and “The Singing Ringing Tree” whose visuals freaked out a generation well enough to be parodied on the Fast Show as “The Singing Ringing Binging Plinging Tinging Plinking Plonking Boinging Tree.”

          I do remember seeing one of these things about a man who invents a levitation machine. I wonder if that was any connection to Inkblot?


  6. Ms. Robot
    January 28, 2020 @ 3:12 pm

    The most frightening computer is the one between our ears. It creates a virtual reality that we mistake for existence, not realizing who the mistress is that makes the grass green. Not to say that the virtual reality isn’t real. It’s real because it’s experienced. But it doesn’t actually exist. It is a map to the territory, not the territory itself.

    This is the totalitarian computer running our lives. But salvation is at hand. Computers can be hacked.

    (We do not appreciate the Captcha.)


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