The most difficult things about writing a story in the late 1960s/early 1970s weren’t the clothes, hairdos, lack of traffic, old fashioned weaponry or spying techniques, but the technology and social attitudes. Mobile phones, laptops and social media just weren’t available. If you wanted people to know something, you put a notice up on a board, circulated a memo or posted a letter. For national news, there was broadcast radio and television. The forces of law and order could use fax and secure telex, plus walkie talkies or car radios.
The younger of my editors asked why it was the Post Office who held records of long distance telephone calls. I explained that all telephone services were still run by the state owned post offices in the 1960s. The Post Office in the UK (formerly known as the GPO) only ceased to be a government department in 1969 when it became a public corporation, but retained its telecommunications monopoly until 1984. I think it was the first in Europe to split post and telephone departments and later deregulate. (I am old enough to remember!)
And as for social attitudes, they were the times just out of the Ark. If you think everyday sexism is bad now…
On the alternative history front, I’ve made Germany, where a significant part of the action in AURELIA is set, into a loose federation of individual states. After the (real timeline) First World War, social unrest, a communist revolution, right-wing Freikorps fightback and the bitter tea of being losers meant Germany was in turmoil. In the Roma Novan world, the Great War in the 20th century lasted from 1925-35. The victorious Allies decided to split Greater Germany back into smaller states the old ‘divide and rule’ imperative. The maxim divide et impera has been attributed to Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father, and as divide ut regnes was used by our old Roman friend G.J. Caesar and the French emperor Napoleon, so not exactly a new idea.
Some of the new/revived/re-drawn states even had their monarchs restored. As Aurelia Mitela herself says, “The plan had worked; despite a loose federation for certain strictly defined functions, the little dukedoms, princedoms and mini-republics argued about everything between themselves and didn’t have time or motivation to threaten the rest of Europe again.” The map shows the real Greater Germany in 1913, just for information, but gives you an idea of what it could look like in the Roma Novan world.
Of course, you can find out more about both of these if you read AURELIA… 😉
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