28 October 2008


Just finished this properly; Terry Pratchett's Nation.

I'm not sure how well he got the balance of arguing with the narrativium; "Does not happen" is an excellent summation, but making actual causality work in a story that also has narrative causality going on is tricky, and I can't tell if the unsatisfying feeling is that he didn't pull it off or that he did.

The thing that's really and truly driving me bug, though, is that the time line cannot be made to work.

An old man who is the nominal narrator is a four-greats grandchild of a character who is young during the main story, about 20. A book published in 1770 is old in the main action, or at least sadly out of date, and the trouserman culture both does and does not have something like the germ theory of disease. (Daphne's never heard of it, and if they had it, she would have. But they do have a specific concept of disinfectant.) Daphne's also met Charles Darwin as a fellow of the Royal Society, and there's a concept of a shipping line with a chairman.

So it has to be about 1840, at the earliest; it should actually be something like 1860 for Daphne's grandmother to think Charles Darwin is the Devil, but let him publish much earlier than he did and we can get it down to 1844 or so. (Since this is clearly not our history, entirely; the dead King isn't Prinny.)

Great-great-great-great-grandfather is 4 greats, grandfather, father, six generations. So about 150 years, which gets us to now with the narrator as one of the young people coming of age, maybe, not an old man. There's either a slipped great or two in the copy editing (my prefered theory) or the point of divergence is around 1760 and the Napoleonic Wars somehow didn't happen.

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