From the introduction:
While the diverse cultures of the World of Witch Hunter in 1689 have an extraordinary amount of differences, there is one important manner in which all of them are like each other, and different from most of those existing in our lifetimes. While there have been some significant technological advances in the years leading up to 1689, the rate of change is infinitesimally slower than it is today. The Industrial Revolution, in its time the most rapid and sweeping set of technological changes the world had yet seen, will not even begin for over 50 years. As a result, the people of seventeenth-century Earth had no reason to expect that their day-to-day jobs and lives would be significantly different than those lived by their great-grandfathers, or that their children's lives would be significantly different than their own. Obviously, this is a generalization; individuals moving to new colonies would obviously have different lives than their forebears, and most parents try to make their children's lives better than their own. But it is important to remember that the sense of inexorable progress that is commonplace in the twenty-first century was completely absent in the seventeenth.