The Bartimaeus series features an alternate London run by magicians who summon demons to do their bidding. As such, it's not quite the real world. However, although there's a reference to American colonies, there's obviously a bit of alternate history going on, since the technology is definitely past the 1700s. That said, it's not really clear how advanced the technology is supposed to be, if it's consistent at all. There are definitely cars, and possibly planes, but they seem to use imps instead of CCTV cameras. Consumer electronics seem to be missing or uncommon, but then, commoners seem to be intentionally excluded from the majority of luxuries.

So what's the general technology level, if any? 1980s Britain, 1960s, earlier? Or even later?


About 50-60 years behind (barring the occasional anachronistic gaffe).

I found an interview with the author which addresses the same point:

In the modern world of Nathaniel's London, it's the 21st century, but technology there is much more limited than it is in our own world. So there are cars, there are - even a computer mentioned in The Amulet of Samarkand, but I was a bit cross about that afterwards, because actually that's probably too advanced - in the end it's a little bit like our world, but it's just probably 50, 50 to 60, years behind us. Because of this magical influence: because the magicians - all those intelligent people become magicians - magicians use different means to get what they want. So they aren't going out working on cell phones or satellite dishes and that sort of thing.

Since the books take place during the first decade of the 2000s, that means the technology is (intended to be) roughly at the level of 1950.

(For the record: I knew Stroud has answered a lot of fan questions about the Bartimaeus series, so I just Googled bartimaeus stroud technology and this was one of the video results.)

  • Looks like you should have checked your own question history! (For the record I found the video on that question and was in the middle of transcribing it but got distracted so you beat me to it). – TheLethalCarrot Aug 29 '19 at 11:44
  • After doing all the transcribing, I clicked through to my own question to get the link to include, and saw the same video there. (Are you a Bartimaeus fan too, @TheLethalCarrot? Or just a Googler-to-answerer?) – Rand al'Thor Aug 29 '19 at 11:51
  • This series was fantastic. It's been a go-to since I was a kid. I noticed the laptop on my latest read-through, though computers were never mentioned again. I'm glad to see someone formally asked and answered this question! – Pyrotrain Aug 29 '19 at 17:48
  • It makes sense that it would be even farther behind us. The magicians essentially create the equivalent of robots, flying vehicles, advanced weapons and communication. From the functionality viewpoint, they are ahead of us now 2019) in many ways. So, as in Harry Potter, non-magical technology lags. (And magicians would not allow technology to advance beyond their capabilities.) – Wayne Aug 29 '19 at 22:53
  • @Wayne Regarding flying vehicles, they do have (technological) aeroplanes. But yes. – Rand al'Thor Aug 30 '19 at 7:26

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