Forums: IndexRetiring Room Dates

Hello! I'd like to question where the dates being used on this Wiki are coming from. They're being added without any reference at all and are completely wrong.

"Three hundred years, the mulefa had said: that was how long the trees had been failing. Given the Shadow-particles passed through all the worlds alike, presumably the same thing was happening in her universe too, and in every other one. Three hundred years ago, the Royal Society was set up: the first true scientific society in her world. Newton was making his discoveries about optics and gravitation.
Three hundred years ago in Lyra's world, someone invented the alethiometer.
At the same time in that strange world through which she'd come to get here, the subtle knife was invented.
—Mary Malone's thoughts[src]

This comes from the beginning of chapter 27 of The Amber Spyglass.

According to their official website, the Royal Society was founded in 1660. This means the events of The Amber Spyglass happen in approximately 1960.

Further evidence that the dates given in the Wiki are incorrect comes in Northern Lights.

"And it were Lord Asriel that fought day and night in the floods of '53"
—John Faa[src]

This quote comes from chapter 8. The current dates on the Wiki have Lord Asriel as being born in the early 50s. How could he be saving the lives of Gyptian children when he'd only just been born?

The reason I am writing this forum post rather than editing the dates is because there is something of an issue of adding other dates. We can only add approximates. All we know is that in The Amber Spyglass Marisa Coulter thinks that Lyra was conceived 13 years before, which isn't much to base a whole timeline on. In Northern Lights, Lyra gives her age as 11, but that could be a lie. There are no real indications as to what kind of timespan the series covers.

So, I'm posting this to open a discussion of sorts about what we should do about dates. Should we give approximate dates based on what we can glean from the story, or avoid it altogether? —This unsigned comment was made by Amyosaurus (talkcontribs) .

I'll admit that there are incorrect dates currently (Asriel was definitely not born in the 50s), but I've been going through and trying to correct them. I believe the answer is quite simple, actually. I've been rereading through the books (I'm currently on The Amber Spyglass, so there may be more evidence to discover) and have been picking up on a lot of hints.

Will was born in early 1985,[1] the year his father went missing, and he is twelve during the story, so the story takes place in 1997. From that, we can assume Lyra was also born in 1987 since they are the same age. We also know that Mrs. Coulter had Lyra after being married, so she had to be at least 18, making the earliest Marisa could have been born as 1969, although it's highly unlikely she married at age 18.

We know that Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison met in 1962, and Lee was born in 1938.[2]

And, when Dr. Malone said the thing about three hundred years ago, she was likely making an approximation. --Rowan SalazarTalk 20:24, July 29, 2012 (UTC)

Yes, you're right, I forgot about the reference in The Subtle Knife! I still haven't read Once Upon a Time in the North. I must fix this! Anyway, thanks for your response. :D - Amyosaurus 21:36, July 29, 2012 (UTC)

No problem ;) And I definitely suggest you read Once Upon a Time in the North. It's very interesting, and gives some background on Lee and Iorek which is pretty fascinating. --Rowan SalazarTalk 23:55, July 29, 2012 (UTC)

I remember a few months back, an anonymous editor altered several pages on the "the series starts in 1960" argument; it turned out that they were using Wikipedia as a "source", so I reverted all those edits on the grounds that open wikis cannot, by their very nature, be reliable reference sources, and indeed Wikipedia's own policies state this. -- RobertATfm (talk) 00:41, July 30, 2012 (UTC)

Looking back at The Subtle Knife, it actually seems that Will was born in 1984. Does this mean other dates should be changed and that the events of The Amber Spyglass take place in 1996?

"24 June 1985 [...] Will had been a year old when that letter was written"
—Will's age[src]

As far as Marisa Coulter goes, when she died she was 35.

"Her eyes found the eyes of her daemon. The golden monkey's expression was as subtle and complex as it had ever been, in all their thirty-five years of life."
—Marisa Coulter's thoughts before she dies.[src]

- Amyosaurus 07:42, July 30, 2012 (UTC)

Where did that first date come from, as in what page number? My copy of The Subtle Knife says he was born the same year his father disappeared. --Rowan SalazarTalk 19:09, July 30, 2012 (UTC)

The first date came from page 113, the beginning of the last letter Will reads. The part that says he was one year old was page 114. In case you have a different edition, the part where he says he was one is the 4th paragraph from the end of chapter 5. - Amyosaurus 19:18, July 30, 2012 (UTC)

"Will had been just a baby when that letter was written. Seven years after that had come the morning in the supermarket when he realized his mother was in terrible danger...."
—This paragraph?

This also implies he was born the year his father disappeared, because he was seven years old when the grocery store incident happened, and this says seven years later.

But, for further proof, here is solid evidence I found in the middle of chapter 4 (p. 80, for me):

"Will found the library easily enough, where the reference librarian was perfectly prepared to believe that he was doing some research for a school geography project and helped him find the bound copies of The Times index for the year of his birth, which was when his father had disappeared."
—This is what led me to believe he was born in 1985[src]

--Rowan SalazarTalk 18:10, July 31, 2012 (UTC)

It's interesting that the first quote is different in our two editions. Mine says he was one and the incident happened six years later. The second one you brought up is the same though. I suppose you have a newer edition which fixes the discrepancy! - Amyosaurus 18:22, July 31, 2012 (UTC)

Hello! Thanks Amyosaurus for your response over on my talk page. I've a few issues with the dates on the wiki which are as follows:
  • So far as I know, there is no consensus for dates in Lyra's world (we can judge Will's(/our) world fine via the letters in The Subtle Knife). However - the Collectors states that time runs differently in other worlds (and this is especially relevant because it is a character from Will's/our world saying this with reference to a character from Lyra's world (Marisa van Zee)). 
  • Pullman purposefully inked out the date on the Bill of Lading in Once Upon a Time in the North (save the 19- part). I'm at a loss to where it states Lee's birth/meeting of Iorek. Can someone provide a firm source for this (e.g. a page number - possibly with some reference to whereabouts in the story it is as of course we have no chapters!) (perhaps it is an edit in some other edition of the text because I'm certainly at a loss to find it in mine). 
  • Further to this point, in Lyra's Oxford, the SS Zenobia extra gives a date of arrival to Famagusta as Weds April 30 and arrival to Latakia as Fri May 1st. Ordinarily I'd say that this could be an error in printing but I think considering what was said in the Collectors, we can conclude that this was added intentionally: [Thursday] April 31st just does not exist in our world. I think this is an indicator that we cannot make any firm judgements on time in Lyra's world. Ok, there could be an International Date Line between Cyprus and Syria, or perhaps a date is added to April and taken from January or some other 31-day-clad month; but we don't know and therefore I don't think that any firm judgement can be made unless it is detailed specifically in-text or by Pullman. All we can know is that time is different
  • All of this considered, it appears Pullman prefers the time - at least in Lyra's world - to remain ambiguous/mysterious (and that makes sense for an author of a pparallel world). We CAN say that yes, there was a 1953 in Lyra's world, when Asriel helped in the floods, and there was an 1899 when a particular Tokay was made, and Lee and Iorek met c. 1950-70 (see Lyra's dissertation title) at some point prior to the events of the main trilogy - but we just cannot say that Lyra was born in 1985 - though the date can correspond to our world, it never explicitly states it. We just cannot supply those dates with any certainty. Does all of this make sense? What can be done however, is a timeline of events - which I think can be found in Frost's Definitive Guide to HDM (if anyone has the time!). Emilykoroleva (talk) 14:22, October 30, 2017 (UTC)
  • As an added point perhaps we could have a page similar to the dating conventions page at the HP wiki here . Emilykoroleva (talk) 14:25, October 30, 2017 (UTC)