alternate englands: when?

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Mon Feb 7 07:36:01 EST 2005


>Charlie, replying to Deborah:
>>>  -- Charmed Life is contemporary, right?
>>  Surely not - I had it down as Edwardian, with Lives of Christopher Chant
>>  Victorian (say the 1880s). With scare-quotes around both those periods,
>>  of course, but just going by general things such as technology, social
>>  mores and dress - any or all of which might of course be fundamentally
>>  different in Chrestomanci's world.
>>  Magicians of Caprona I also have down in Edwardian period, but one in
>>  which the Renaissance chopping up of Italy by foreign powers never
>>  happened (and neither did its unification at the time of Garibaldi).
>>  Only Witch Week seems to be definitely contemporary.
>>  Have I been 'seeing' these books very differently from everyone else?
>Well, Charmed life is contemporary in the sense that Janet is 
>brought in from a world that I think is meant to be ours, which is 
>contemporary, and which split off from the Chrestomanci world some 
>centuries before.

Right, *if* you accept that the world from which Janet is brought is 
ours, simply because it's contemporary, then it would follow that 
Christopher's world is 'retarded' both technologically and socially, 
(as are Ingary and Dalemark).  Off the top of my head it would seem 
that this is more common as an assumption in alternate history (other 
that that like Sorcery and Cecelia, which sticks with Regency society 
as it was and just adds magic) than the opposite.  (I suppose you 
could put Tale of Time City against that, but it is rather outweighed 
by all the others.)  Does that seem right?  And if so - why?  I can't 
immediately think of anything in the Chrestomanci books or Howl 
suggesting a reason for the difference in development, and would be 
interested if there is anything.


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