|You mentioned that a lot of the book takes place in this parallel London where oil was never used. Could you talk about how you got that idea, and how plausible you think that parallel world is? |
I read a thing in New Scientist a couple of years back, and it was kind of “what-ifs in science,” and it was fascinating. There was the usual stuff, you know, Babbage and the calculating engine and all that—that’s okay. But there’s a fascinating one that . . . I think it was Cavendish, possibly—I’m terrible with names, I never remember names—but it might have been Cavendish, the English scientist, almost discovered the electric motor in the 1780s. If he’d done something different, he would have discovered the electric motor, and therefore also the electric generator. And instead of the dark satanic mills of the nineteenth century, it would all have run on electricity, and I find the idea of an electrically powered eighteenth century very, very cool indeed. So I thought, well, why not just take away the oil, so you don’t have any internal combustion engines. I wanted to have airships as well, because you have to have airships—parallel worlds, you have to have airships. I was trying to think, what’s a feasible world that would have airships? Well, one that didn’t have jet engines. Why wouldn’t they have jet engines? Because they don’t have any liquid fuel. Why don’t they have liquid fuel? Because they don’t have oil. And then, couple that with the whole idea of them discovering electrical power in the 1700s, and I suddenly had a world I really, really liked. And then extrapolating that into a present, you know, a 2011—in Earth 3, which is what this parallel world is—that seems convincing. There is another parallel world, Earth 2, which I refer to, which I’ll be coming back to later in the series, which is alternate geography, which is where Britain—not Ireland, Ireland’s fine—where Britain is an island lying just off the coast of Spain and Morocco. “Alberac,” it’s known as—a play on “Albion.” So it’s this very cool, high-tech Moorish London. I’m actually coming back to that because I like it a lot. It’s an extremely cool universe. I’ve got several others as well, but I can’t mention them, because it’s giving the game away! But there will be some very, very cool stuff indeed.