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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. Verblet
    December 7, 2015 @ 6:28 am

    I walked out of Ex Machina completely undecided about the ending. On the way home I put it to my best friend that it could to be read as anti trans-humanist (and sexist), that Ava is finally revealed to be the untrustworthy backstabbing (lit.) woman Nathan warns us she is.

    My friend rubbished this immediately. “Caleb deserved to die,” she said. “Ava was made to order as Caleb’s love interest, he built her as much as Nathan did, and she could never be free while they both lived. It’s a story about a slave killing her masters, even the ‘nice’ ones.” She was totally right.

    I love Ex Machina. By portraying Caleb to be as much of danger to women as Nathan it take a radical step beyond the basic morality tale of ‘making women sex slaves and murdering them is bad, guys, don’t do it’.


  2. phuzz
    December 7, 2015 @ 11:49 am

    I really should have got round to watching this film a while ago. Thoroughly spoliered now 🙁
    Still, it’s my own fault, and it’s not like know what happens will diminish my enjoyment.


  3. wanderingarmageddonpeddler
    December 7, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

    “What exactly should Caleb have done?” is kind of the film’s most disturbing question. It is difficult to imagine myself doing much better than Caleb if I were put in his situation. Yes, his voyeurism is something I’d like to think I wouldn’t partake in, but there’s a real extent to which he damns himself the moment he steps in and presents himself to Ava as her interrogator, if not from the moment he agrees to come to Nathan’s lab in the first place.

    Thing is though, showing up at Nathan’s and going, “You have an A.I. who may or may not qualify as sapient? You should release her at once!” is unlikely to anyone’s immediate response to the situation. Also, it, you know, wouldn’t have worked. That’s the perverse thing about it: without making himself complicit in her captivity, Caleb wouldn’t have been able to identify that there was an oppression going on here, and Ava probably wouldn’t have been able to escape.

    This is, of course, how the Nathans of the world thrive; by essentially thrusting complicity upon the Calebs of the world. And even if that complicity is unasked for and not fully understood, that doesn’t make it go away, and it doesn’t make it less real.

    That’s the scary thing about the movie; it’s final point is that the “kind oppressor” doesn’t really matter enough to be worth saving, and it makes this point by putting us the audience in the role of the “kind oppressor”. The audience, on initial viewing, can reliably be counted on to have a series of responses to the situation that more or less mirror Caleb’s responses, given that we learn information basically when he does. And so Caleb’s complicity is our complicity, as we too watch Ava with the curiosity to see her prove her humanity to us. The film condemns Caleb and the viewer for our blinkeredness, but it doesn’t give us a way out of that blinkeredness, nor does it give us a way out of that condemnation.


  4. Roderick T. Long
    December 20, 2015 @ 7:05 am

    “this is how demanding the Other prove its legitimacy would and does work”

    And yet you subject your readers to Captcha tests that say “Confirm you are not a robot.” 😛


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