Penname: Northumbrian [Contact - ]
Real name: Neil
Member Since: 2009.07.26
Last Login: 2018.07.29
The Cursed Child, and Canon Compliance
I joined this site on 26th July 2009, more than seven years ago. Harry was a twenty-eight year old father of three (according to both my timeline and book canon), it was mere days before his twenty-ninth birthday.
So, I’ve been posting “canon compliant” stories (at a pathetically slow rate) for 2,575 days, which (until very recently) equalled 61,800 turns of a Time-Turner. I have always tried to keep my stories within canon, and JKR’s twitter post on 1st September 2015 last year was enough to concern me.
“I'm in Edinburgh, so could somebody at King's Cross wish James S Potter good luck for me? He's starting at Hogwarts today.”
As I said at the time, with that announcement, JKR fixes James Sirius Potter’s birthday as falling between 1 September 2003, and 31 August 2004, and places him two school years ahead of Al. In my stories, his birthday is 8 October 2004, and he’s only one year ahead of Al (although he is a little over 21 months older than his brother, whose birthday I’ve fixed as 14 July 2006. Although “my” Lily is two school years behind Al, her birthday (29 February 2008) makes her only 19 months younger than Al. I have always tried to keep to canon. That was the first crack in my canon timeline, and it concerned me. Now, of course, I have a much bigger problem.
I’ve tried to stick to canon, and I’ve tried to incorporate much of what JKR said in her interviews and comments, too. That is no longer possible. I don’t own the Cursed Child, I haven’t read it, and I haven’t seen the play. The information I have is based on spoiler reviews. So, on that basis, some of what follows may be incorrect.
My understanding of the Cursed Child is that it’s a time-travel story. That might have been no big deal, because Prisoner of Azkaban is a time travel story. But...
PoA is a very cleverly plotted “predestination” story. Harry and Hermione don’t directly interact with anyone. They save Buckbeak, simply because they need a way to free Sirius. They had assumed Buckbeak was dead, but they didn’t actually know the truth. It’s almost certain that Dumbledore suspected they’d had a hand in it, hence his instructions to them. And although Harry thinks his father saved him, he realises that he saves himself. It’s a closed loop. Everything that happens, happens.
Cursed Child uses a new and more powerful Time-Turner which allows travel back years, not hours. It’s in the hands of the Malfoys (if it’s a Malfoy heirloom, why didn’t they use it to change time to help themselves win the Battle?) Timelines are changed several times (and changed back again, too). The plot (it seems to me) is a reverse “Let’s Kill Hitler” paradox. Voldemort’s daughter (seriously? Is that right?) has Daddy issues, and she wants him back.
Leaving aside the problems with book canon, I have a really hard time believing that the 1/7th of a man Voldemort is in HBP has any interest in fathering a child, or even having sex. But the two biggest problems for me are the “Lets Kill Hitler” paradox at the centre of the plot, and Harry’s relationship with Albus.
First: The “Let’s Kill Hitler” paradox. It runs like this.
Adolf Hitler was responsible for some unspeakable atrocities, the world would be better off had he never existed. So, someone invents a Time Machine, travels into the past, and kills baby Hitler. Easy? Problem solved? No, because if Hitler is dead, why would the man who kills him travel into the past and commit infanticide? He doesn’t know how evil the man is, because he Hitler never grew up. But if he doesn’t kill baby Hitler, then Hitler grows up and... That, simply, is why not even the Doctor tries to change the past (remember the mess that Rose’s attempt to save her father created?).
Second: Harry and Albus.
I got this message recently, from someone who has never left me a review, and who—so far as I can tell—joined fanfiction.net simply to send me this message:
I imagine that you are conflicted about The Cursed Child and how it conflicts with your version of the characters. I'm writing because I feel for you and I want you to know that although I enjoyed The Cursed Child, your version of the Potters during those years, including what Albus Potter is like, is still more consistent with canon to me than the Albus and Harry in The Cursed Child. There has been a lot written about what is inconsistent with Rowling's world having to do with time travel and some of the mechanics, but for me it comes down to the interaction between Harry and Albus right before he gets on the Hogwarts Express at the end of Deathly Hallows. That is the conversation between a sweet, sensitive boy (who is close with his cousin Rose), who really does fear being in Slytherin, would prefer to be in Gryffindor, and who has a dad who listens to him and hears him already. Those are the characters that I know and that you write about!
I have to say that I agree with all of this. In addition, a regular reviewer sent me this:
I would rather you not let this book change your stories. I personally prefer things how they are currently.
So, I will be getting back to “Strangers” and my other stories, and I hope to update this month. I can no longer claim that my stories are fully canon, but I hope that I can, and will always be able to state that: My stories comply with canon as established in the seven books in the original Harry Potter series.
Let’s just wait and see what surprises “Fantastic Beasts” brings, shall we?
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