alternate englands: when?

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at
Mon Feb 7 08:54:52 EST 2005


> For me the difficulty arises because I tend to assume that if the
> people in the different worlds are effectively the *same* people in
> many cases (Gwendoline/Janet, and so forth) they need to have had
> effectively the same ancestry, which somehow implies at least the same
> number of generations.  I'll agree that on one world people may get
> married when they are much younger, as a trend, but even so I am left
> feeling that the worlds ought to be the same "age" as each other, and
> Chrestomanci's home-world and Janet's 1960s-ish one feel somewhat at

I'm interested that you think of Janet's world as 1960s-ish.  The book
was written in the mid-late '70s, and I assumed that Janet's world was
contemporary.  In Witch Week, Janet is still Chrestomanci's ward, and
the date in the WW world (which is very closely linked to hers) is
explicitly given in the journal entries as contemporary.

> odds.  The one in which Gwendoline ends up is sufficiently more-
> different for it not to jar so much, but the Chrestomanci, the
> Magicians of Caprona and the Janet one are too alike as well as too
> different, and the Witch Week one too one can see how it got there
> from here.  As it were.  So the different tech niggles more in the
> ones that are more alike.
> This is badly-expressed, as it always is when I start thinking about
> this, because it confuzzles me.
> The alternative would be that given a fairly small original gene-pool
> (isn't it something like fifty or sixty individuals are ancestors of
> everyone in the world, or something?) one might end up with the same
> combinations from entirely different ancestry, in an entirely random
> pattern.  And I am not struck on that as an explanation.

I don't think it's quite that simple.  Someone with no analogues in the
Related Worlds is a 9-lived enchanter.  If analogues have the same
ancestry in all worlds, Chrestomanci's kids should also have no
analogues.  And yet there's no suggestion that Julia and Roger are
multi-lived, let alone powerful enchanters.  After all, before they
found Cat they were thinking of looking off-world for the next enchanter
to be Chrestomanci after Christopher.

So I think that part of the related worlds magic (that which keeps
languages together, for example) tries to throw up analogues of people
in other worlds from different ancestry. if the same ancestry isn't
available, and only if it fails do you get the 9-lived enchanter.

(Rather like Fritz Leiber's law of conservation of time, or whatever
it's called)


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