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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. FrF
    December 8, 2020 @ 10:38 am

    “Frederick Pohl’s observation that good science fiction should not only predict the car but the traffic jam” –> current dystopian SF: no cars, only traffic jams

    Sorry to be flippant. On a general note, I always joke that when I see the words “post-apokalyptic fiction” (as a subset of dystopian SF), my aesthetic flight instinct kicks in and I run in the other direction.


  2. Scurra
    December 8, 2020 @ 12:11 pm

    The only marginal upside I have been able to see (writing from the other side of the Atlantic in a country that is in the middle of its own version of self-immolation) is that forty years of this have hollowed the Republican party out so much that there aren’t even any semi-competent folk left. We looked at the W administration and wondered in awe at how they could be so terrifyingly bad (in every sense); we looked at the Trump administration and merely wondered how they could walk and chew gum at the same time.

    Of course, one might argue that this is the key requirement for fascism to really take hold at all – because fascism can only ever be attractive to idiots brought up by idiots since it is clearly utterly unstable. It’s just that for the period when it is in the ascendency, it is destructive and horrible for everyone.


    • Doctor Memory
      December 9, 2020 @ 10:35 pm

      One of the things I’ve found myself constantly reminding people about for the last four years:

      Mussolini was an idiot. If you read Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” one of the constant themes is that the German high command considered Il Duce to be a bumbling simpleton.

      It didn’t matter. Italy bought the whole ticket and took the whole ride.


  3. CJM123
    December 8, 2020 @ 3:50 pm

    I agree with the grand point of this essay, and really enjoyed reading it.

    However, I don’t quite understand how Star Trek is a society “post-scarcity capitalist imperialism”? It always seemed like socialism done so lightly and unclearly viewers don’t notice it instead of being a capitalist society. I’ve never seen this argument before and feel a bit confused by it.

    Thanks for the essay though El!


  4. D.N.
    December 9, 2020 @ 11:22 am

    “Let’s start with The West Wing, which has aged more strangely than any other critically acclaimed TV show I can think of.”

    Rewatching “The X-Files” these days is a sobering experience. The most laudable aspect of the show’s legacy is surely “The Scully Effect” – a generation of young women who were inspired to pursue careers in STEM fields – but goddamn, is Mulder and by extension the show’s narrative raison d’être problematic. I watch “The X-Files” now and when Mulder invokes conspiracy theories involving a shadow government controlling everything, cover-ups, insidious inoculation programmes on an unsuspecting populac, and all manner of wild theories that are almost always proven to be correct over Scully’s rational scepticism…all I can think of is how the show’s edgy, paranoid cool has metastasised into the disproportionately influential right-wing socio-cultural paradigm. These days “The X-Files” seems to have more kinship with InfoWars, Alex Jones, anti-vaxxers, Deep State theorists, Trumpists, and hell, the entire Republican Party.

    Basically, I used to think Mulder was cool, now I think he’s a dick.


    • (Not That) Jack
      December 12, 2020 @ 11:09 pm

      When the show came back and had Mulder sympathizing with the in-universe equivalent of Alex Jones, I realized the same thing that you did: Mulder is precisely the sort of man who would be telling us Hillary Clinton ran a child trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor and that the Deep State was out to get Trump. Massively made me re-evaluate that show in hindsight.


      • D.N.
        December 13, 2020 @ 9:15 am

        Yeah, I remember thinking it wasn’t necessarily surprising for the revived X-Files to have an Alex Jones analog, inasmuch as the show had to acknowledge the changed media landscape, but to depict Mulder as sympathising with him threw into sharp focus what a problematic character Mulder is – and I wonder if that was the intent of Chris Carter et al.

        (I dug the goofy monster-of-the-week episodes of the X-Files revival but the “mythology” stuff was even dodgier now than it was 20-plus years ago.)

        Mulder kinda reminds me of Oliver Stone, another edgy conspiracy theorist who seemed cool in the 1990s but these days is an embarrassing loon.


        • (Not That) Jack
          December 15, 2020 @ 12:45 am

          The thing we all forgot back then: the government that Mulder railed against was Bill Clinton’s.

          Suddenly things start making sense when you think about that.


  5. Eve
    December 9, 2020 @ 11:11 pm

    “Bad Faith” is an understatement. The last fourteen years have revealed to me a level of malice in American Conservative politicians that I did not know was possible.


    • (Not That) Jack
      December 12, 2020 @ 11:19 pm

      Conservatives have been that way for a very long time. The principle problem the Republicans had with Trump in 2016 was that he was saying the nasty things they did in private, and when they figured out he could get away with it, the sky was the limit. Nixon bought into actively running on racist hatred to peel the South away from the Democrats. Reagan was a colossal racist who made using racist dogwhistles into an art form. Jesse Helms basically spent the latter half of his career running against African-American candidates by saying “don’t vote for that black man.”

      I watch clowns like Joe Scarborough and Michael Steele act like the Republican Party just suddenly turned into what they are today and want to slap them. They were racist monsters when you signed up, and you knew it. Waiting for both of them to have another epiphany and resume being openly, proudly Republican again now that Biden won.


      • Austin George Loomis
        December 14, 2020 @ 9:34 pm

        I watch clowns like Joe Scarborough and Michael Steele act like the Republican Party just suddenly turned into what they are today and want to slap them.

        You are driftglass and I claim my five pounds.


        • (Not That) Jack
          December 15, 2020 @ 12:46 am

          If you’re saying that’s my site…ah, no, it isn’t.


  6. Michael McCormick
    December 9, 2020 @ 11:40 pm

    The aforementioned Sanders is the same one who loves the West Wing and calls it reflective of actual American politics, no?


  7. Eve
    December 9, 2020 @ 11:42 pm

    Also, I recall reading a synopsis of a movie from the early 1990s where the big deal was that the president had a financial conflict of interest he had concealed, and that was supposed to turn the mechanisms of government against him. And I thought “pfft, yeah right, get out of here, Trump blows that whole story out of the water.”

    I also recall that Ronald Reagan got away with worse in the 1980s by pretending he was an old forgetful geezer, and plenty of people bought it.

    More to the point, every American president lies. It’s a basic feature of using the military for foreign policy. So I have to wonder where the hell Aaron Sorkin was paying attention to, that he thought being caught in a lie would do anything to an administration.


    • CJM123
      December 10, 2020 @ 3:51 pm

      Probably a mixture of not paying attention to things outside a high school civics class, and assuming that the outrage of the Clinton scandal was genuine and not party politics.

      This is the guy who hadn’t heard of the Chicago Five until Steven Spielberg asked him to write a script for it. I don’t think he pays much attention to these things.


  8. Martin Porter
    December 29, 2020 @ 9:26 am

    “Fascism is the thing that liberal science fiction pointedly refuses to see”

    Which is rather bizarre as almost all of it was written during the post-war consensus, which was itself a reaction to Hitler and Stalin. It’s as if those two people, and the systems which created them, were written off as aberations of history.

    The exception, of course, is RTD and his Years and Years. I suppose it didn’t really predict the new fascism, as it was already a thing, but shows how it works , including how it seduces left wing critics of liberalism.


  9. WLGR
    February 26, 2021 @ 12:42 am

    It’s worth recalling that denazification in Germany involved hanging people for war crimes, barring others from future political participation, and the actual outlawing of nazi views.

    Not to throw cold water on you here or anything, but tell that to the legions of “ex”-Nazis after the war who continued to occupy high positions in the West German government and security services, in the anticommunist covert operations of US global empire, and even in the formal military command structure of NATO itself.


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