Because He Was A Wizard

Orbital Operations for 12 May 2024

Lets Go Reaction GIF by Arrow Video

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Hello from out here on the Thames Delta. I am developing five different projects at once, planting tomatoes and growing sweetcorn, and in the process of packing my family off on holiday for a week while I stay at home, feed the animals and get all the work done. All is well. How’s you?






Letters about the creative life by Warren Ellis, a writer from England. Was this forwarded to you? Subscribe.


📖 THE NOVEL OF THE FUTURE, Anais Nin (UK) (US) - because sometimes what you really need to read is a very very good writer telling you everything she’s learned about writing. It glows with earned knowledge.

🎞️ THE WITCH’S CRADLE, a short silent (unfinished) film by Maya Deren featuring Marcel Duchamp. It’s a ghost zone I need to inhabit for one project right now.

🎙️ For another project, I need to go to space, so I’m pulling all my kosmische records off the shelves, starting with PHAEDRA.



When a project looks like it’s turning into something and going to happen, I break it out of my main Moleskine notebook and into its own Field Notes notebook(s). As of Tuesday, I’ve had to break so many things out into their own development notebooks that I’ve had to repurpose an old Maxpedition Fatty organiser as a notebook holder.

It’s pretty much all 2025 stuff, and a bunch of it is super-complex, and I need to find ways to squeeze some extra speed and power out of my rapidly ageing brain. Also, being all 2025, and in development or pre-contract, I’m not even bothering putting project codenames on them yet. I may be into scripting on one of them by the end of June, maybe even two. But this is the point where I shut up about work for a while, until stuff is announced and properly scheduled, as I go deeper into Lab Mode.

Rest assured that I am busy, I am happy, I feel great and I feel like I can fit more stuff in. (And just did, while I was working on this section, a 20pp piece for someone.)

In other non-news, I have a stack of a dozen disposable vape pens downstairs - a dozen different flavours from four different brands. I’ve decided it’s time to try and cut down on the smokes again. Issues with vape pens beyond the revolving health-scare stories:

  • Flavours! Which are sweet and often disgusting. I want a cigarette, and a cigarette that pairs with coffee, not one of those glow-in-the-dark fruit cocktail horrors my kid indulges in when she’s off the gin

  • Something about the vapour and/or the nic salt load can make me feel weird and near-nauseous

  • They dry my mouth out, which means I drink four litres of water a day, and I REFUSE to become The Old Man Who Has To Piss In The Middle Of The Night.

So I got a dozen of the least offensive-sounding flavours, including a couple that claim to be tobacco. Right now I’m using one called “Mojito” which is just fucking weird. I’m not sure the world was waiting for a mojito cigarette.



Whenever I think about murderers, I think about Mogo. Mogo was a peasant farmer in Kenya, a little under a hundred years ago. Peasant farmers worked for a landowner, but were allowed to build huts and graze whatever livestock they owned on the landowner’s grounds. And what I think about is Mogo’s very bad day. This was the day he was summoned to the landowner’s residence and told that he was fired. Because he was a wizard.

This was the rumour that had become the bane of Mogo’s life on the farm. People thought he was a wizard. People wouldn’t talk to him, because he was a wizard. They wouldn’t give him food, because he was a wizard. And, finally, his very presence was causing such ructions on the farm that he was fired for being a wizard.

So Mogo went back to the huts, gathered his few possessions, picked up a spear, went to the hut of the first person who’d accused him of being a wizard, and killed him. He killed his wife, who wouldn’t sleep with him because he was a wizard, and he killed his daughter, who withheld food from him because he was a fucking wizard, and he killed nine other people who wouldn’t bloody shut up about his being a wizard.

The massacre was noticed, of course, and the landowner sent for the police, accompanying them to the huts. There, they found Mogo readying his livestock for travel away from the farm. On being asked whether he might possibly have killed some people, Mogo cheerfully lead the little troupe to each of the bodies, and then turned to the landowner and demanded the wages he was owed before being on his way.

What Mogo did was to take ultimate action to improve his quality of life. This is at the root of murder. We kill people to make our own lives better. We kill them because they are obstacles to our desires, because they make us unhappy, because they burden us, or because they keep calling us fucking wizards. Murder increases happiness.

Notes for a talk at Studio-X, NYC, November 2013


Aron Wiesenfeld. Anyone remember his comics work, way back when? He’s an incredibly successful painter now.



The astonishing animated film ANGEL’S EGG is getting a long-overdue remaster. There is an amazing sequence in the middle where harpooners in a city try to strike and bring down the shadow of a giant floating whale.

Friend of the newsletter Craig Mod on digital reading in 2024.

And let me play you out with the Karelia Suite Intermezzo, where Sibelius invents the post-rock single in 1893. I look for versions of this all the time.



WARRENELLIS.LTD is my personal notebook, updated daily. If you use a RSS reader, it generates a feed at .

I have to say, I didn’t post anything to the notebook this week, as I wanted to take a week to reconfigure my schedule and get my head straight. Service resumes today.

Have a little stretch, then settle down somewhere comfortable and take a breath. Every week seems to feel like a long week these days, so you’ve earned some time to just be with yourself and where you are. Everyone else can fuck off for five minutes so you can take a breath. Including me. See you next week.


I’m represented by Angela Cheng Caplan at the Cheng Caplan Company, Joel VanderKloot at VanderKloot Law and David Hale Smith at Inkwell Management. Please add [email protected] to your email system’s address book or contacts and move this to your primary folder when you get a minute, thanks.