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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.

29 Comments

  1. David Gerard
    September 13, 2015 @ 12:58 am

    The best thing about HPMOR will probably be the slate voting.

    This drove the author into a still-continuing fury. Wonder how he'll react to more general literary criticism.

    Did you make it all the way through? I rambled a bit about it here. tl;dr it's pretty darn good for a fanfic, but that's not saying so much.

    Reply

  2. Sean Dillon
    September 13, 2015 @ 6:01 am

    From what I've read of the novel, it was quite good. And yet, I it's not going to turn into my favorite fan fic or even my favorite Harry Potter fan fic when I finish it. (for the record, Outrage of the Zygons and Path of Decision respectively)

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  3. Blueshift
    September 13, 2015 @ 7:33 am

    There are lots of great Steven Universe episodes, but Full Disclosure is not the one I'd have chosen. Rose's Scabbard or The Return/Jailbreak or Sworn to the Sword all stand out as far better episodes (Full Disclosure is still good mind, but it's very much a 'season finale aftermath' episode)

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  4. Sean Dillon
    September 13, 2015 @ 7:43 am

    I felt the episode was a perfect summation of the themes and Ideas of the series and it's core ideology which highlighted what the show is about best. Plus I know someone else is going to do The Return/Jail Break (and most likely better than I) and I can't talk about an episode about Pearl because she hits way too close to home for me.

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  5. Nicholas Caluda
    September 13, 2015 @ 8:17 am

    Oh, yikes. That is some horrendously clunky dialogue. And that rape thing is "My Immortal (Fanfic)" levels of problematic.

    Reply

  6. arcbeatle
    September 13, 2015 @ 8:44 am

    Since Phil asked for positive reviews, I kept the problems I do have with the piece out of my review. The dialogue can indeed get pretty bad, and really the book is at its best when its entirely within Harry's head. It would have worked better in the first person.

    But I hold unflinchingly that it is an important and groundbreaking work this year, and deserving of consideration. There are plenty of highly flawed works that do something innovative and nifty, and hey, this is one of them.

    I was in the middle of reading it when Phil asked me to review it for this, so yeah I skimmed and then skipped to the end :P.

    I should also add that I think "pretty darn good for a fanfic, but that's not saying so much." Isn't fair to quite a lot of fanfic. There's plenty of fanfic out there that is truly wonderful, and a few pieces from various fandoms I've thought were better than the source material (and no, I don't think this is better than the source material).

    Reply

    • AG
      September 17, 2015 @ 5:53 pm

      I’m of the opposite opinion: HPMOR is very indulgent from Harry’s perspective, and is when the fic is most referential to geek culture. It’s when we get into Hermione or Draco’s heads, or glimpses into how cultural upbringing contorts what one considers rational in the first place, that HPMOR transcends its “Harry/Naruto/Shinji gets a spine” power-fantasy fanfic roots.

      It’s much like the Monogatari anime series: when arcs center around main protagonist, Araragi, things can be really fun, but self-indulgent. (The tournament arc of HPMOR is one of my favorite bits of fanfic, period, and much of it stems, as you noted in your review, from binding itself throroughly to the source material implications.) It’s the arcs where the other characters get their turn narrating, that the work’s worth as a great piece of media is secured. (I have no desire to reread the Hermione anti-bullying arc, but it’s so important, critical to making this fanfic worth remembering.)

      Reply

  7. Sean Dillon
    September 13, 2015 @ 8:52 am

    The more I think about it, the more I've come to the conclusion that Fan Fiction is based on whether or not a property is in the public domain. I mean, I have yet to read a serious review/interview that calls Sherlock, Wicked, or the aforementioned Frankenstein album fan fiction.

    Reply

  8. David Gerard
    September 13, 2015 @ 8:57 am

    I should also add that I think "pretty darn good for a fanfic, but that's not saying so much." Isn't fair to quite a lot of fanfic.

    True, true. I should note I'm speaking from the position of reading, er, pretty much nothing but Worm fanfic these days. And trust me when I say it is terrible and I read it anyway because it is about My Favourite Thing, but that doesn't mean I'm unaware of its problems, shallow and deep. Most fanfic is terrible, but most of anything is terrible.

    HPMOR starts very promising and goes not so good after 20-30 chapters, hence me asking if the review is based on getting to the end.

    > The more I think about it, the more I've come to the conclusion that Fan Fiction is based on whether or not a property is in the public domain. I mean, I have yet to read a serious review/interview that calls Sherlock, Wicked, or the aforementioned Frankenstein album fan fiction.

    Well, yes.

    Reply

  9. arcbeatle
    September 13, 2015 @ 8:57 am

    Essentially, yes. I'd utterly agree with that in terms of the public viewpoint of fanfics Sean. Though to me I see Sherlock and Wicked as being very much fanfiction, without that being a negative.

    Being able to dissect cultural icons before the whole 70's years after death thing in prose should be taken more seriously as a whole, IMHO.

    Reply

  10. arcbeatle
    September 13, 2015 @ 8:59 am

    "HPMOR starts very promising and goes not so good after 20-30 chapters, hence me asking if the review is based on getting to the end."

    Ah. Well, that's awkward. 😛 I did enjoy the ending though… But yes I skipped several hundred thousand words to get there.

    Reply

  11. ScarvesandCelery
    September 13, 2015 @ 10:03 am

    Agreed about preferring Rose's Scabbard, Jailbreak, and Sworn to the Sword, but I can see why you went with "Full Disclosure" – it's, as you say, a wonderful deconstruction of harmful tropes. That said, as good a song as "Steven's Lament" is, it can't match "Do it for him/ her", at least for my money. Honestly, I think that might just be the most melodically intricate pieces of songwriting Rebecca Sugar has done – it has so many wonderfully deft little touches.
    Incidentally, I loved the analysis of the "Narrative Collapse" structure of The Return/ Jailbreak.

    Reply

  12. ScarvesandCelery
    September 13, 2015 @ 10:07 am

    "as an aside, is it just me, or does Steven Universe look a lot like a famous Science Fiction writer named Steven?"
    It's not just you:
    http://doctorwho.tumblr.com/post/12840526660/young-steven-moffat
    The similarities are striking. With that said, I don't think Steven Moffat had a magical pink pet lion.

    Reply

  13. arcbeatle
    September 13, 2015 @ 10:14 am

    This is the real sort of question people need to be asking him. "Did you have such a lion? Why can't I pet the lion? Why is it pink? LIONS STEVEN!?!?"

    Reply

  14. Blueshift
    September 13, 2015 @ 10:27 am

    Plus I know someone else is going to do The Return/Jail Break

    But Phil said he would only post one review per tv show 🙁

    Reply

  15. Elizabeth Sandifer
    September 13, 2015 @ 10:29 am

    I'd already indicated to said someone else that I was interested in the Return/Jail Break review when I got Sean's, so I'll make the exception when it gets in.

    I mean, I'll be running twelve Doctor Who reviews, in a sense. (Not that I'll Weird Kitty brand those, but.)

    Reply

  16. David Gerard
    September 13, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

    I should talk more fully about the problem with fanfic.

    The problems are that even good fanfic is frequently:

    * an unedited first draft (run by betas maybe, but mostly unedited)
    * a serial
    * longer-winded than it should be
    * often has the "writer never kills their darlings" problem, where they put in every idea they think of
    * stalls at 150k-200k words as the writer realises just how many balls they have in the air

    and that's the good ones, the ones that a fandom talks about a lot. I could reel off endless examples in Worm, but Worm itself is a 1.7 million word novel so the fic writers don't ever wonder to themselves when they're approaching a megaword with no end in sight.

    HPMOR falls afoul of all of these. It's got a great idea and it makes a lot of promises, then it sort of runs out of energy and goes weird. The author did just stop writing it at all for years. Then picked it up again and finished it, to his credit. But it's bloated, rambling and seriously needs to be about half to two-thirds the size.

    So HPMOR is a good example of a style with a tendency to particular structural problems.

    Some fics are great. Given I'm complaining so much, I should recommend something: If you've read Worm, you really should read the Memorials series (Cenotaph/Wake/Legacy), which is tightly-written and in-character and is generally held to be The Best Worm Fic. It also doesn't fall afoul of the fandom's tendency to logorrhea.

    Reply

  17. David Gerard
    September 13, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

    I was also somewhat disconcerted by the reactions to perfectly ordinary literary criticism of HPMOR. This is someone writing a completely normal analysis of the main character as a narcissist … apparently without realising the degree to which HPJEV is a self-insert. Note the special pleading in the comments from readers. Death of the author? Never happened.

    Reply

  18. John
    September 13, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

    Is it worth noting here that Yudkowsky is basically a cult leader who gets all his money through the largesse of a crazy libertarian billionaire?

    Reply

  19. David Gerard
    September 14, 2015 @ 1:24 am

    For the present context, I think that (and that HPMOR was openly and expressly written as publicity material for the author's ideas and organisation) would be one of those fascinating metafictional tidbits that make a work just that much more fun to discuss 😉

    Reply

  20. Daibhid C
    September 14, 2015 @ 2:43 am

    "Though to me I see Sherlock and Wicked as being very much fanfiction, without that being a negative."

    ISTR Moffatt was once asked what he thought about Sherlock fanfic, and he responded with a story about how when he was a kid he was disappointed Watson got married off-page, because he reckoned Holmes must have been the best man, and that would have been hilarious, concluding that yes, the whole of Sherlock was his Sherlock Holmes fanfic.

    Reply

  21. Matt Marshall
    September 14, 2015 @ 2:56 am

    I eagerly anticipate much discussion of mirrors/reflections and ascension! Though no chairs, sadly…

    Reply

  22. phuzz
    September 14, 2015 @ 3:23 am

    I hadn't even realised that music could be eligible for a Hugo, but as a space geek who was already a fan of Public Service Broadcasting I've been loving The Race For Space.
    The track "The Far Side" featuring audio from Apollo 8's first pass behind the moon is a particular favourite, a great tune and a strong theme.
    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8LlUrT7MFo)

    Reply

  23. David Anderson
    September 14, 2015 @ 6:22 am

    All of Western culture is Epic of Gilgamesh fanfic.

    Reply

  24. Aylwin
    September 14, 2015 @ 7:03 am

    Nah, the epic is just fanfic of the original Sumerian Gilgamesh poems.

    Reply

  25. The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca
    September 14, 2015 @ 8:06 am

    HPMOR is something I've always read in fragments, and I have nothing but seething contempt for it, general because Harry lacks something every good scientist needs: a sense of wonder. On seeing the impossible, his instinct is to deliver a lecture on why the phenomenon is stupid and impossible when he ought to get a gleam in his eye and a desire to analyze everything that just occurred. 'Shit, that guy levitated: I am going to do everything in my power to fit that into conservation of energy, and if I can't than the only rational conclusion is that the theory is incomplete."" Really the work should be fuelled by Clarke's Three Laws, but – and, admittedly, I've not read the work in full – it just comes off as the smarmy counterpoints of a Big Scientist.

    Reply

  26. John
    September 14, 2015 @ 1:05 pm

    If by "all of Western culture," you mean "John Peel's Timewyrm: Genesys." Which, I mean, fair enough.

    Reply

  27. John
    September 14, 2015 @ 1:07 pm

    It probably gets slightly more interesting when you realize that Yudkowsky isn't just a smarmy Big Scientist, but an actual straight up nut job.

    Reply

  28. David Gerard
    September 14, 2015 @ 1:08 pm

    You vicious sneer culturist, you.

    Reply

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