The Coalition of Chaos

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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. 7a1abfde-af0e-11e0-b72c-000bcdcb5194
    August 5, 2011 @ 10:16 am

    "Because science is not just an empirical process as theorized by Karl Popper or someone. It's also a social phenomenon."

    Didn't Popper have a fair bit to say about science as a social phenomenon?


  2. 7a1abfde-af0e-11e0-b72c-000bcdcb5194
    August 5, 2011 @ 10:33 am

    Re von Däniken: the idea that the development of human civilisation had been shaped by superhuman beings was in itself nothing new; theosophists and other new-thought types had been exploring that idea since the 19th century. Where von Däniken seems to break new ground is in identifying these superhuman beings as alien astronauts rather than spiritual/magical beings. But I wonder whether writers like Lovecraft played any role in easing that transition — since in their stories the superhuman forces behind various ancient ruins on our planet were identified in terms that alternated between the magical and the science-fictional.


  3. 7a1abfde-af0e-11e0-b72c-000bcdcb5194
    August 5, 2011 @ 10:52 am

    Along with Lovecraft I should mention, as novelistic anticipators of von Däniken, Garrett Serviss's 1898 Edison's Conquest of Mars (where Martians turn out be behind the construction of the Pyramids of Giza) and Conan Doyle's 1929 The Maracot Deep (where a demonic being turns out to be behind Atlantean science).


  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 5, 2011 @ 10:55 am

    Absolutely, though the Lovecraftian stuff seems silly to bring up in the Pertwee era when Lovecraft-flavored von Danikenism becomes the default mode for the story next producer. 🙂

    But yes, von Daniken is not doing anything particularly new in terms of "the alien." What's new is in combining science fiction imagery, i.e. the space alien, with the existing fantasy/occult tradition.


  5. Jesse
    August 5, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

    I spotted Von Daniken's most recent book in the store the other day. It has the perfect title.


  6. Adeodatus
    August 6, 2011 @ 10:39 am

    From this point on, whenever the Doctor has to face an ancient god-like being who's actually an alien, and has lain dormant for thousands of years, are the writers borrowing from Von Daniken, or from Quatermass and the Pit? And how would we tell the difference?


  7. Seeing_I
    August 31, 2011 @ 6:11 am

    "There has always been, in British culture, the possibility of this odd fusion of the wizard and the scientist."

    See also Willy Wonka, another madman with a box. ("Charlie & the Chocolate Factory" was published in 1964).


  8. Alphapenguin
    June 29, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

    "The first great occultist in England was John Dee, spymaster, occultist, and mathematician for Queen Elizabeth. Dee invented the idea of the British empire, was a major mathematician of his era, and, oh yeah by the way, regularly spoke with Enochian Angels by scrying through crystal balls at his magical table and engaging in complex numerologically-derived rituals with his assistant Edward Kelly."

    I can't really argue with the historical authenticity of that, but something about the idea that the British Empire was possibly magically inspired doesn't sit well with me.


  9. Froborr
    September 26, 2012 @ 10:53 am

    Reading through these entries from the beginning after being introduced to the blog at a Doctor Who panel last weekend at Intervention. I am absolutely loving every word of this blog, although I have not seen more than a few minutes of any story discussed up to this point and therefore have no idea whether I agree. I may get more chatty when I get to Baker, and will almost definitely get more chatty when we get to MY Doctor, McCoy. 😉

    I'm glad somebody else brought up Lovecraft, because AFAIK (and I may very well be very mistaken) his "Dreams in the Witch-House" is the first instance of a story explicitly claiming that ancient (by Lovecraft's adorable New World standards of "ancient," anyway) witchcraft is advanced science taught to the ancients by alien beings, blending as it does classic elements of gothic horror with cutting-edge (for the time of writing) concepts out of Einstein.


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