alternate englands: when?

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Mon Feb 7 13:59:20 EST 2005

Charlie replied to Deborah...

> 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?

I think it depends on whether you're looking at the world in isolation or
with reference to the other worlds in its series.  I would call "Charmed
Life" contemporary in that our world (which is part of the same series as
Chrestomanci's) is in the late 20th century.  That leads me to assume that
Chrestomanci's world is also in the late 20th century, just that
technologically and socially it happens to more closely resemble our
Edwardian period.

For the same reasons, I'd put the "His Dark Materials" trilogy as
contemporary, because it's clear in "The Subtle Knife" that our world is in
the late 20th century.

(Of course, there's nothing to say that parallel worlds *must* be in the
same time at the same time, if you see what I mean.  But I tend to assume
they are unless told otherwise.)

> I suppose we must add Jonathan Whatsit and Mr Oddly (or whatever it's
called - a curiously forgettable title) to this list. Certainly early
nineteenth century, to judge by the cast list.

I've just started reading "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell".  It is firmly
in the Regency period; the chapters even have dates on them.  A quick
check - it runs from autumn 1806 to spring 1817.


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