United States of Britain: Where in the world is Prism?

October 18, 2018

In my last blog post, I made a passing reference to 'Tartan Noir', and in doing so gave the not unreasonable impression that Prism will be set in Scotland.

 

That may or may not be true.


In fact, the exact whereabouts of Prism's action is a bit of a can of worms. It's set in a small fictional town that might remind some readers of dusty American villages. It has its own Sheriff: a decidedly American trope. It also smacks a bit of Yorkshire: they drink tea, and have a Detective Chief Inspector show up when the going gets tough.

 

Only four (minor) characters' nationalities are explicitly revealed: three British, and one European. Arguably, to point out that  three arguably are British suggests the rest are not. No character is described as American. Yet, you may have read the lead characters are based on the very American Lana Lana Parrilla, and the equally Scottish Peter Capaldi.

 

Alongside the sheriff and mayor, there's links to a fictitious American company, yet all spellings are in British English ('colours' and 'favourites' abound). Currency is described in quantum only - your bar bill is 8.95 but you can decide if that's pounds or dollars. And nobody in this crazy place has a legally registered firearm.

 

You'd be forgiven for thinking it, but the reason for this isn't sheer indecisiveness. I'm being annoying on purpose. It's a tad unsettling not to know which continent you're on (one would imagine). Everything is a bit familiar but a bit unusual. Nothing is as it seems, and the setting is no exception.

 

For those who enjoy uncertainty about as much as colonic irrigation, there are real places to grab onto. Followers of @prismbook will know there are short passages set in Manchester, Amsterdam and Brussels. I've been to each this year and written the appropriate portions in situ. I have a few more stops to make before the year is out.

 

Ironically, I dislike uncertainty myself (even if I did go to Brussels during Brexit negotiations). I'm of the sort who is on IMDB to get the lowdown on something unclear straightaway, so I know what I inflict. If you notice the unsettling-setting situation, it will be fleeting. There's far more important things for you to worry about. 

 

And I do promise plenty of answers. You'll know by the end who has done what and why. Whether or not they should have - well, that's a question for you.

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