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: Another note on Chesterton (tiny spoiler): the intro to The Napoleon Of Notting Hill contains Chesterton's funny "Cheat the Prophet" routine, which he uses to mock books like Looking Backwards and to set the scene of the book, which is an early 21st century in which things have not changed significantly since the early 20th century. Then the very first thing he does in the very first chapter is talk about all the changes that have happened in the past hundred years! (Sample changes: the end of war, abolition of the nation-state, etc; generally carried out through the effective technique of "people realizing" that since there's no mechanism that could underly the author's intended societal change, they need to carry it out through spontaneous action. Sometimes I imagine crackpot science fiction along these lines: "'You see, Trudy,' said the handsome captain, 'The twentieth century was full of wars and horrible problems, but once people realized that ACCELERATION AND TIME ARE PLUS SPACE EQUIVALENT, it was a trivial matter to CREATE WORLD FOCUS BEAM FOR GOOD LOVE and STOP CAPITALIST SPINE REALIGNMENT MUNCHERS.'" This is a really long parenthetical, but it's coming to an end now.)

Why would Chesterton do this? There's the possibility that he never noticed the inconsistency, but that seems unlikely to me. I think it more likely that he decided that the 'Cheat the Prophet' routine was so good an introduction for his a-utopia that it was worth a small inconsistency in the story (there's no technological change between 1900 and 2000 in NoNH, so in that respect the intro is consistent with the story).

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