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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. BerserkRL
    July 4, 2013 @ 12:19 am

    ‘It’s History that’s caused all the trouble in the past.

    Have you read Ken MacLeod's "Surface of Last Scattering"? It's a fantastic dramatisation of the critique of logocentrism, concerning a virus designed to destroy all the paper in the world to free us from the tyranny of original sources.


  2. Carey
    July 4, 2013 @ 1:05 am

    "But in a 1989 interview Morrison boasts of having “used cut-ups and non-sequiturs before I’d even read a Burroughs book,” specifically pointing to his “unreadable Gideon Stargrave” stories in Near Myths. This suggests that Burroughs provides a sort of deep-lying influence here, filtered through the new wave science fiction writers Morrison was more overtly following from."

    I'd also say that David Bowie, who admired Burroughs and also used his cut-up technique, was another strong influence here (as revealed by Bowie in the BBC "Cracked Actor" documentary from 1974, which I feel both Moore and a young Morrison couldn't have helped but watch).

    Another big influence on Morrison and Moore that should not be underestimated is the film maker Nic Roeg, most famously referenced by Moore in Ozymandias' multiple tv screens in Watchmen. He too used a cut-up technique, but in his case via editing.

    The cut-up sequence is itself surely an offshoot of Joyce, which, with his psycheography of Dublin can't help but be an influence on Moore and his obsession with Northampton, and to a lesser extent Morrison and his relationship with Glasgow.

    And I imagine you'll be getting to the writings of Robert Anton Wilson (didn't he create the term "fiction suit?") and the profound influence of Bryan Talbot's Luther Arkwright (which in turn was, as admitted by its author, inspired by Roeg, Wilson and Moorcock's work). Which leads us back to the start.

    Fascinating series so far. For myself, both authors have affected me one way or another: I grew up along side Moore's work, having started reading him unknowingly via "The Stars My Degradation" in my older brother's Sounds music paper, and following him from Doctor Who Weekly to 2000ad to Warrior to DC Comics. I doubt I would have continued reading comics beyond early adolescence if not for Alan Moore. Morrison, meanwhile, is someone I know of tangentially owing to my friendship with one of his ex-girlfriends (who in my opinion was the basis for the female protagonist in "Kill Your Boyfriend).

    I used to prefer Moore's writing to Morrison's, but as I've got older, I find myself enjoying Morrison's more (I originally typed that as Moore, which was a nice Freudian slip– oddly enough, I also typed Jung instead of young earlier!).


  3. David Anderson
    July 4, 2013 @ 1:20 am

    Point of correction: as well as his sf/fantasy work, Moorcock has written a quartet of literary historical fiction.
    The other obvious influence on Elric is Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword. (I believe Moorcock's credited that.) Law vs Chaos I think comes out of Three Hearts and Three Lions. Anderson of course sides firmly with Law, while Moorcock is ambivalent.

    What Moorcock does to sword and sorcery, not only in Elric but also in Hawkmoon and Corum, is introduce left-wing anarchism and also fin de siecle decadence. Sword and Sorcery looks as if it oughtn't to fit with decadence, but I think you can trace them both back to Edgar Allan Poe. The Elric stories are more decadent; the Corum sequence is more obviously anarchist. The Corum series end up with what I think is the first total deconstruction of the sword and sorcery hero: you can see its influence on Alan Moore's proposal to DC for a Twilight of the Superheroes and especially on Russell Davies' Second Coming.


  4. Spacewarp
    July 4, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    I'd never heard of Gaiman's "One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock". I've just located it and read it. OMG it's me.


  5. Anton B
    July 4, 2013 @ 4:37 am

    Also just discovered that Gaiman piece through this blog. Thanks Phil. It's an evocative read and has made me realise (doh!) just what a debt the character Morpheus owes to Elric. I'm going to try and not comment more about 'The Last War in Albion' itself until I've read it in its entirety; its 'to be continued' nature presents the trap (I've already fallen into)of not knowing what will or won't be covered. Can I just say though that I feel the most successful expression of Morrison's Moorcock inspiration remains his work on DCs '52' and 'Final Crisis' where he takes the Multiverse and mashes it up with DC comics' own parallel Earths. Moore, on the other hand, while he has gestured toward Elric, Cornelius and multiple Earths in his work (particularly LOEG and Tom Strong) has not, to my knowledge, utilised Moorcock's concepts directly.


  6. IG
    July 4, 2013 @ 5:05 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  7. IG
    July 4, 2013 @ 5:08 am

    Spacewarp – I had a similar feeling when I first read it 🙂


  8. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 4, 2013 @ 6:33 am

    The trouble is, I'm intending to us that "to be continued" structure indefinitely. The chunk of entries I've written ends on a "to be continued." So I hope you'll keep commenting, and that guessing where I'm going next will become a sort of parlor game for the commenters.


  9. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 4, 2013 @ 6:34 am

    And Carey wins the "guess what gets brought up in the next entry" game.

    Well, with one of his two big guesses. The other will get covered eventually. I'm hardly going to blow through all my history in the intro, after all. 🙂


  10. Theonlyspiral
    July 4, 2013 @ 6:38 am

    It was the first Gaiman story I read. At Age 13. While my life was being furnished by early Moorcock. At the time, I could not understand why it made me uncomfortable. It was eerie the way it seemed to describe my existence. Lacking the narrative understanding and self knowledge needed to analyze it, I grew to dislike it intensely. Now of course I look at the story quite fondly. At the time I was kind of frustrated that it was in my anthology of Elric anthology that I had to save up for over a month of working at my Grandfathers every weekend.

    I hope that when I give it to my children they will experience the same dissonance. Growing up is more interesting when your understanding of your place is in question.


  11. Anton B
    July 4, 2013 @ 8:11 am

    Okay then, gauntlet thrown and accepted. I'm guessing you may touch on Phil Hine's Chaos Magic books and sigil working in general, take a detour into the Illuminatus trilogy and look at Nicholas Roeg and Donald Camell's film work particularly 'Performance', 'Don't Look Now' 'Insignificance' and 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' which are particularly Moorcockian in their use of fragmented and multiple time frames. I hope you can track down the 1971 movie of 'The Final Programme' to watch as well. It's interesting to view Jon Finch's portrayal of Cornelius as a way the Pertwee era Doctor might have been played. On a similar note I'm more and more seeing Matt Smith as a perfect casting for Jherek Carnelian in the unlikely event anyone decides to do an adaptation of 'Dancers at the End of Time'. Can't you just see him and Jenna Coleman playing the scene you quote? –
    “… Mrs. Underwood grabbed Jherek by the sleeve and drew him inside the first building. In the darkness something snorted and stamped. ‘It’s a horse!” said Jherek. ‘They always delight me and I have seen so many now.’”


  12. Daibhid C
    July 4, 2013 @ 9:14 am

    Do you mean the Colonel Pyat quartet? Because from what I recall, they struck me as a form of historic fantasy without overtly fantastic elements, if that makes any sense. I'm pretty sure they're part of the Multiverse, in any event.


  13. BerserkRL
    July 4, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

    Anderson of course sides firmly with Law, while Moorcock is ambivalent.

    In the high-fantasy works like Elric and Corum, it's usually chaos that is the (more) bad guy; in the more contemporary works like Blood it's usually law that's (more) the bad guy.

    I'm pretty sure they're part of the Multiverse, in any event.

    The Colonel Pyat books and the Cornelius books share some characters in common (including Jerry's mom, and Colonel Pyat himself).

    There's also The Brothel in Rosenstrasse, which is likewise "historic fantasy without overtly fantastic elements" but also systematically parallels the fantasy City in the Autumn Stars.


  14. BerserkRL
    July 4, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

    Hmm, that's interesting. I accidentally submitted the last comment after entering only the text captcha, not the number captcha as well — but it accepted it anyway!


  15. BerserkRL
    July 4, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

    I'm more and more seeing Matt Smith as a perfect casting for Jherek Carnelian

    Oh my god. Yes.


  16. Spacewarp
    July 4, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

    "Dempster Dingbunger is my name, Sputwang is my nation, The depths of space gob in my face… The stars my degradation!"

    Didn't that strip also give us Axel Pressbutton?

    Ah…Sounds, a much-lamented loss to the music press.


  17. Spacewarp
    July 4, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

    In fact, my God, they're all here:


  18. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 4, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

    I know. It's going to make life so much easier when I get there. Though I have to figure out what came first, Roscoe Moscow or Maxwell the Magic Cat. Which shouldn't actually be hard, I just need to actually look it up.


  19. Jesse
    July 4, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

    Am I the only regular here who has read way more Burroughs than Moorcock? A Cure for Cancer was the first experimental novel I ever read, way back in the sixth grade, so I suppose Moorcock did set me on the path; but Burroughs' books (and his recordings) had much more of an impact on me.


  20. BerserkRL
    July 4, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

    Hmm, I might have read more Edgar Rice Burroughs than Moorcock — it'd be a close call though.


  21. Daru
    February 13, 2015 @ 5:50 am

    Aaah! Gutted that I did not get around to reading this blog live when it came out, as key works here are being covered that heavily inspired me when I was a teen (and they still do). I'll catch up anyways and look forwards to where it goes in the future.


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