A Blog by the Author of The Definitive Guide

Nearly 20 years and 20 pounds of books later, I have decided to write a blog for the already saturated world of Philip Pullman blogs, just brief glimpses of His Dark Materials that continue to fascinate me. Why bother with the annoyances of WordPress? I’m doing it for the fantastic fandom, in hopes a few of you derive some pleasure from revisiting the worlds.

These are the books I am trawling, or really, four versions of my one book. Some of the posts are not based on the books.

The first, The Elements of His Dark Materials, was published by The Fell Press in 2006. It has been out-of-print since 2008. ScholasticUK bought all but the US rights and published Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials in paperback in 2007, followed by the hardcover The Definitive Guide to His Dark Materials in 2008. Last month, September 2019, ScholasticUK reprinted the book under the same name.

It is unlikely that the book will be published again in the US. It would be if I could make it happen. I regret this terribly, primarily on behalf of the fans, but also independent booksellers. It can be ordered from UK book dealers for delivery in the US, including Amazon.co.uk or Waterstones.

What Year Is It in Lyra’s World?

Lyra’s world is like ours in many physical ways, and not. Its history is different than ours, but how about time?

To answer this, go to Once Upon a Time in the North, a novella about how Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison met.

It is past 1911 (p. 54) when the two meet. I believe at one point in Once Upon a Time in the North, 1918 is mentioned.

Thirty-five years lapse between when Scoresby is given the rifle he uses in the final shoot-out in Cittàgazze. (In The Subtle Knife, he’ll tell Grumman he has not seen his mother’s Navajo ring in decades.)

Now look at the two found scraps that follow the story. We learn that:

  • Lyra continues at Oxford and has completed her thesis on Developments of Patterns of Trade int the European Arctic Region with Particular Reference to Independent Cargo Balloon Carriage 1950-1970).
  • One of her professors is Dr. Polstead (hero of La Belle Sauvage, I bet).
  • Her M Phil is in Economic History.

So do the math. Lyra was about 14, I’d guess, in His Dark Materials. Scoresby was probably around 55 at least when he died. So say 20 years has elapsed since Lyra was born and Scoresby died. It is past 1970 when Lyra completes her M Litt. So, very roughly:

  • Scoresby was born around 1900; dies in the mid-1950s.
  • Lyra was born in 1940; completes her degree post 1970, age 30.
  • So how did Lyra spend her teen years or 20s? Will The Secret Commonwealth cover this?
  • Or does time move differently in different worlds of the multiverse?

I’ll have more on Iorek and Lee later, when the subject of armored bears is raised at Jordan College.

Jesse James’s Winchester Rifle. https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005682813/