alternate englands: when?

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Mon Feb 7 11:01:22 EST 2005


Kyra:

>I feel like the implication of this passage is that the world is at the
>same time point as our own - it doesn't say "it's a little earlier on in
>time than ours" but simply "things are generally more old-fashioned."
>That sounds like it's comparing the material functions of existence, not
>time itself.  And I feel like the comparison of the state of Italy in each
>world also sort of implies that we're talking about two worlds at the same
>point in time, although this is less clear, because, even if
>Chrestomanci's world is taking place in the early part of the 1900s, it
>would still be accurate to distinguish the state of Italy from that of our
>own world at the same time.
>
>The line that things are generally more old-fashioned actually comes
>originally from _Charmed Life_ (have I mentioned yet that Amazon's
>Search-Inside-the-Book feature is neato!?).  Janet asks if there are cars.
>Cat says that there are, but only rich people have them.  Janet then
>points out that there is electric light, "but everything else is
>old-fashioned compared to my world."  She goes on to provide her own
>explanation for this (which I probably read when I was young enough that
>it tends to be my default explanation for this kind of thing in fantasy
>stories in general) - "I suppose people can get what they want by
>witchcraft."

I think this is the default explanation too, but it just doesn't work 
that well for me.  If people *could* get what they wanted by 
'witchcraft', why would the world not be as developed as the 
contemporary one - possibly not entirely evenly so, but as a sort of 
average?  And why does 'old-fashioned' social structure seem to 
follow naturally as well?  I could see this in a world like that in 
Stroud's Bartimeus books, where it's all too clear that magicians 
have used their power unfairly to keep 'commoners' down-trodden, but 
not in the Chrestomanci one.

Hallie

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