alternate englands: when?

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Mon Feb 7 14:47:23 EST 2005

Hallie said...

> >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?

Someone else in this thread mentioned the effect that war has on technology
(makes people find new shiny things that often have non-war applications).
If Chrestomanci's world has had fewer wars than ours (and perhaps
specifically, hasn't had the two World Wars), maybe a lot of magical
equivalents to the things we have never got invented because there weren't
the wars to push the research?

People in general do tend to like to stick to what they know, so if there
wasn't any urgent reason to come up with biros or velcro or microwaves or
whatever, I don't see why people wouldn't be happy to trundle along with
what they've got, because they have no particular reason to look for
anything else/more.

Not that new technologies (or magics) aren't going to happen at all, but
they're going to happen a lot more slowly, and some of them are less likely
to show up at all - e.g., if you have no need to write at 10,000 feet, why
would it ever occur to you to invent the biro?

> And why does 'old-fashioned' social structure seem to
> follow naturally as well?

Well, I think social structure is at least partly influenced by technology.
If you haven't got detergents and washing machines and vacuum cleaners and
fridges and electric ovens, you *need* servants to get through the utter
drudgery of cleaning and laundering and cooking and shopping every day or
two, for instance.  So in Chrestomanci's world, since servants are still
necessary, there's no reason for the "old-fashioned" mind-sets to have

Also, again, the war question.  I'm assuming that Chrestomanci's world
*hasn't* had the two World Wars, both because they're never mentioned and
because I'd expect his world to be different if it had had them.  So without
those wars, there isn't the whole bit with women having to become factory
workers during the war, or finding that there's a shortage of men to marry
after the war, thus meaning they have to support themselves, and both of
these meaning that women start changing how they think of themselves and
stop being content to be uneducated and do nothing but run a house.  (Huge
simplifications here, and only looking at one area of social structure, I



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