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The Grantville Gazette

The Grantville Gazette (later Grantville Gazette I or more recently yet, Grantville Gazette, Volume 1) is the first of a series of collaborative anthologies that now form a substantial sub-set of books within the 1632 series inspired by Eric Flint's novel 1632. The series now numbers in print plus the electronically published the Grantville Gazettes which are now reaching long novel length with regularity, making up the majority of the series for the foreseeable future. Because of a soft market for anthologies, it is not anticipated that most of the Gazettes will reach print, save perhaps as a "Best of" type of collection, despite the publication of the first three in print.

The Gazettes were originally an experiment initially published as serialized e-magazines and then as e-books taking a page from the Baen Books experience with EARCs—Electronic Advanced Reader Copies, which had been instituted several years earlier. The electronic sales were successful and Baen contracted with Flint for ten issues, to be published 3-4 times per year and each would form part of the canonical background for the other works (novels and anthologies) in the rapidly growing Ring of Fire series. Subsequent results were that they were published far less regularly as Baen found itself undermanned to maintain the production pace leaving the next issues waiting for a free window of opportunity for the Baen copy editors and production staff to ready the next. was produced jointly by Baen and Eric Flint Enterprises which now e-delivers a new issue bimonthly.

Series premise

The first novel, 1632 and resultant 1632 series share a common theme, which is to ask the "What if?" questions common to and characteristic of the science fiction genre: "What if a mysterious cosmic event occurred which juxtaposed the location of a whole populated region of West Virginia with a matching portion of early modern Germany?" Flint added the additional query to his premise: "What if the two places also switched their respective places in time so that the region from our here-now traveled back in space-time to the land and peoples of 369 years ago?" Mix in a character focus repudiating the Great Man theory of history, making the whole town of Rednecked Hillbillies and German Rednecks your collective protagonists allowing plenty of scope for fast-paced parallel plot development, add two cups of calculating authoritarian noblemen who think only social-class matters, a pinch of venal grasping clergymen, and a quart each of American law, American tradition, American can-do elan, and half a pound of American attitudes and the reader can begin to imagine the fun they'll have interacting in interesting times when High-Tech means just-invented flintlock rifles.

Authors

The various other authors featured in the Gazettes are part of Flint's online experiment (Phase II) in developing a milieu in conjunction with many others on the web forum Baen's Bar. For specifics see the sub-article 1632 Editorial Board. These authors first submit to a tough peer review process, which is the province and venue of the 1632 Slushpile sub-forum (Slushpile is publishers terminology for the stack of unsolicited manuscripts— The term is no longer appropo, as 1632 Slush does solicit submissions now.).

Once critical readers have deemed the nascent story worthy, the work passes to an editorial board, which also considers how the work will fit into and affect the milieu as currently planned out and plotted. Some stories have thus served as the genesis of their own 1632 universe sub-series or plot thread. This is chaired by Flint, who retains veto power over all work in the 1632 universe, and who then decides to which issue or volume of the Gazette the story should be allocated. Authors originally got paid a sub-professional rate upon the acceptance of the work by Flint from Baen, and additional financial remuneration and considerations when the anthology reaches print at a later time. In the evolution after Jim Baen's death, Flint launched a separate members only by subscription web e-zine at grantvillegazette.com which is both Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) certified, and pays pro-rates—SFWA certification is important to new writers who need three published stories to qualify for SFWA membership.

The Gazettes thus contain short stories based in the world of Flint's 1632 series, and articles about the restrictions on technology available in the time-stranded town and the plausibility of items and redeveloped technology within the milieu of the 1632 multiverse; these essays are written by a member of a more formal subset of contributor-advisors known as the 1632 Research Committee.

Table of Contents

Grantville Gazette Volume I
Table of Contents
Title Writer Page
About Baen's Bar Online community and
Editor's Preface for the Paperback Edition
by Eric Flint p  1

Fiction
     
Portraits by * p  5
Anna's Story by p 17
Curio and Relic by * p 77
The Sewing Circle by * p115
The Rudolstadt Colloquy by * p233

Fact Articles
       
Radio in the 1632 Universe by * p297
They've Got Bread Mold, So Why
Can't They Make Penicillin?
by * p319
Horse Power by * p335
Afterword by Eric Flint p361

*  Writer is a member of 1632 Research Committee or 1632 Editorial Board, or both.

Story synopses

"Portraits"

"Portraits", by Eric Flint, deals with the decision to smuggle information about antibiotics to hostile forces besieging Amsterdam, where Rebecca Stearns is trapped. It features Anne Jefferson, introduced in S. L. Viehl's Ring of Fire short story "A Matter of Consultation". As well as presenting the moral and ethical issues implicit in aiding the enemy, the story focuses heavily on artist and diplomat Pieter Paul Rubens, whose portrait of Jefferson forms the book's cover art. The events of this story are referenced in 1634: The Baltic War and other works in the series.

"Anna's Story"

Loren Jones takes up the task of answering "What ever happened" to that farm girl fleeing those mercenaries that bowled over Chief Dan Frost and signaled the arrival of conflict and war at the opening of 1632. It is a poignant story that was just barely cut from according to Flint in the forward, mainly because Ms. Jones already had another tale in the collection, but also because of space considerations— is nearly 800 pages. The story also turns to the task of elaborating on her families fate, and introduces a lovable if idiosyncratic farmer who finds a new family this side of the Ring of Fire.

"Curio and Relic"

tells the tale of a reclusive ex-combat veteran and gun collector who lives so far from Grantville center there is no longer any roads connecting his cabin with the world. Set in the weeks immediately after the ROF, is one of several out-reach workers who are combing the nether regions about to make sure everyone is informed about the Grantville Emergency Committee's edicts, and soliciting resources for the Allocation Committee to manage. has his heart set on Vietnam War veteran , a noncom who was a "tunnel rat", joining the army as a trainer of cadre, for he has more combat and years of general military experience than everyone else in town put together, excepting . Santee carries shrapnel around in one hip and the last thing he wants is to train snot-nosed kids, or to enter military discipline himself again.

Reality intrudes when a band of men ransacks his remote cabin and he realizes just how much times have changed and that he was now dependent upon others. He takes on a position under Jackson with the assistance of Eddie Cantrell begins to collect and organize the spare arms in the city, organizes an ammunition reloading program and train residents who need it, how to use their weapons. Going out with Cantrell to test fire and evaluate different load combinations in the three calibers selected for use by the Army the two stumble upon brigands raiding a nearby farm and become involved in the . The down-timer Germans had chopped down several trees behind the battlefield of the to gauge and evaluate the penetration power of the rs firearms, and used the knowledge to create an armored (timberclad) wagon. Under fire from Santee and Cantrell, eight of the rogue ex-mercenaries use the timberclad wagon to begin to close on the position of the two Americans. Realizing their bullets will not penetrate, a wounded Santee bravely orders Cantrell to return to the arsenal and return with an elephant gun while he holds them in check himself.

"The Sewing Circle"

On the large picture level, the Sewing Circle is a canonical look at the meshing of the resource limited with the extant economy of war torn central Germany. On another, it is a reminder that kids are more capable than many think, and a cute Tom Sawyerish tale of entrepreneurial adventure. In 's well written and witty story, four American teenagers set themselves the goal of launching a new industry, waging an uphill battle against adult skepticism as well as the intrinsic difficulty of the project itself. Armed with a father who has become part of Grantville's Finance Subcommittee the one girl has a dinner conversation involving "Federal Reserve [Bank] Fairies", who magically make more money and regulate the economy.

Grantville, newly arrived in 1631 has some fast talking to do to have its money stand up and be negotiable specie. On thing which is surprisingly salable is things with plastics, particularly dolls that a rich nobleman might buy a favorite daughter.

Soon after, the four Junior High classmates, meet along the banks of a creek. Two, Brent and Trent Partow, are twin brothers, are mechanically inclined and the fourth, , is smitten by the lass, the carrot-topped Sarah, who pines for one of the twins. Just to add more angst to David's life, his mother is something of an overprotective loser and his father has long departed for greener pastures—and went back to his wife. The four kids realize resources are very limited, manpower is short as hell, and that is absolutely necessary from the very beginning.

Then they tried to eliminate the impractical. But what makes the difference between practical and impractical? That is not so easy a thing to determine, and each kid came at the question from a different angle. To Brent and Trent it was still very much a game, so their version of practical had more to do with interesting than anything else. Sarah imagined presenting her parents with a list of things that could be sold and gaining their respect, so her version paid much attention to what would be salable.

The kids problems are just beginning. While Mrs. Higgin's Singer is nearly 100 years old, the gap between early 20th century and 17th century manufacturing technology and techniques is vast—particularly for underexperienced would-be twin engineers not yet in high school. David turns out to have a head for organizing and management, and keeps the project moving forward with an able assist from his Grandma Higgins. She eventually bankrolls a big piece of the company, while David figures out how to make it pay. Sarah has a grasp of finance beyond her years, and teams with David—which he minds, not a bit. The project becomes "Real" to the adults in town after the following exchange:

"It works like this, Grandma. We have a sewing machine. If we sell it, it's gone. Mr. Marcantonio's machine shop could make sewing machines if we didn't need it to make other stuff, but eventually it's going to have breakdowns, and it won't be able to make sewing machines any more. Especially if all it's making is sewing machine parts and not machine shop parts to keep the machine shop running. But if Mr. Marcantonio's shop makes some machines that make sewing machine parts, then when those machines break down we have some place to go to get more of them. Every step away from just taking what we have and selling it costs more, but means it takes longer for us to run out of stuff to sell. The machines that make the sewing machine parts don't have to be as complicated as those in Mr. Marcantonio's shop, because they don't need to be as flexible. 'Almost tools,' Brent says."

Just to make their life more complicated, an ambitious seventeenth-century German blacksmith has been eying the American's material wealth and has designs to marry into their budding commercial empire and take it over lock, stock and barrel.characters in "The Sewing Circle": (in order of appearance)

  1. Delia Ruggles Higgins
  2. Ramona Higgins Bartley and her boys David and Donny
  3. Don Bartley (Donny), possibly Donovan see "Uncle" Donovan -
  4. Fletcher Wendell
  5. Judy Wendell, the eldar; formerly Judy Higgins
  6. Sarah Wendell
  7. Judy Wendell, the younger -- younger sister of Sarah, a central character in the later sequels as part of the ""
  8. Hayley ???
  9. Vicky ???
  10. Brent Partow
  11. Trent Partow
  12. "Uncle" Donovan - David Bartley's quasi-stepfather, Donny's biological father
  13. Mr. Marcantonio - Machine shop owner that helps kids build the specialty production machines

"The Rudolstadt Colloquy"

Setting: , April of 1633'

This story is 's second fictional foray in the series and like , the tale establishes some important canonical underpinnings that draw references, or are extrapolated upon in the various novel sequels. It is likely that no other event introduced in a short story is mentioned as often as this protestant (Lutheran) Colloquy is mentioned in the first printed major works of the series, and that ignores the more voluminous lengths of the Gazettes existing solely as e-published works, where it occasionally also crops up. The Rudolstadt Colloquy as historical background sits at the heart and center of the religious strife between Protestant sects which in our time line (OTL, or the real history of Europe) continued to divide the new churches even as they collectively battled the Roman Catholic dominated world and that church's Counter-reformation, the effort to reimpose a uniform religion on all of Europe.

At the heart of the matter is the strongly held believe by the authoritarian philosophies embraced by the nobility and churchmen alike that a state could not stand without a uniform official religion. To the modern mind, this seems a curious and perhaps incomprehensible point of view, but the modern man does not embrace the concept either that one class of people was explicitly set above all others and destined from birth to rule. Further, the position and power of all nobles goes to that belief and that the position of kings being the chosen and anointed protectors of both church and state, regardless of how well or poorly they conducted the business of taking care of the populous at large. Considered in that light, the colloquy and it's results is a major supporting event in the overall 1632 theme championing religious toleration.

In the , internal tensions within the Lutheran community are contrasted and displayed including the up-timer splinter sect, __________, whose position is scandalously presented by a woman. Heads of State throughout Europe, both Catholic and Protestant either have the heads of state attending in person or by proxy by sending a personal envoy to the long theological debates, which is chaired by the Graf , Count of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, both towns of which happen to be among the very nearest neighbors to s geographic position. Schwarzburg, in the fictional canon, in fact is so close that the Ring of Fire (ROF) transfer of territory between space-time continuums actually cuts through the outlying houses of the town, and several more that did not go to West Virginia in OTL 2000 AD, slid down the "newly formed" destabilized cliff that resulted immediately after the ROF, as is told in detail in . Towards the end of the novel , has charged Graf Ludwig with chairing and adjudicating an even larger coloquy in the city of Magdeburg (The ) to settle larger issues within his new realm.

Fact Essays on 1632 Tech

Fact essays are put together by individuals or groups heavily involved with the discussion conference 1632 Tech Manual, or directly with 1632 Research Committee. As a rule, the "Baen's Barflys" who haunt the 1632 Tech conferences tends to be mature, well-established aficionados in the heart of middle age, which is to say experienced and expert within their realm of expertise.

"Radio in the 1632 Universe"

Rick Boatright makes his living in technology and is a technophile and ham radio enthusiast who has been advising Flint, et al. on radio matters in the 1632 universe. Amongst other matters discussed in the essay, Boatright explains that reached Europe during the height of a Maunder minimum, which means that radios are shorter ranged and less effective because of the reduced ionization in the atmosphere due to the lack of sunspot activity. Manufacturing hurdles, bottlenecks, and pitfalls are discussed as well as relatively lower end radios, the "famous" crystal sets of the early 20th century, which in a variety of the series' works is the current mass market technology of the neohistorical day—large radio towers have been constructed by the and the in several cities and can receive broadcasts out to about . This is not an inconsiderable institution, Prime Minister is counting on small seemingly innocuous "improvements" offered by the up-timer technology and knowledge to inflict "a death by a thousand cuts" to the underpinnings of the old society and its unquestioned unconscious acceptance of authority to pull of the goal announced at the first Emergency town meeting: "to hold the American Revolution right here 150 years early".

"They've Got Bread Mold, So Why Can't They Make Penicillin?"

by Robert Gottlief

"Horse Power"

This essay by Karen Bergstralh discusses horse breeds and their characteristics common and uncommon to the era of the Thirty Years' War and Europe. Work output, rates and other parameters such as strength, endurance, size, and so forth. Riding horses and even the gaits and tendencies of breeds for this or that trait are discussed in some depth.

Publishing history

This first gazette was envisioned as an e-magazine experiment funded by Baen Books, originally to be published solely as a monthly electronic serialized-book anthology from Baen Books. The experimental joint venture between author-editor Flint and publisher Jim Baen was so successful that the e-magazine has become a sustained, self-funding operation of its own, now with Grantville Gazette VII in pre-production and Grantville Gazette VI released in March 2006 as a serialized e-magazine. Publication by e-magazine and e-book release is tabulated in the main article: The Grantville Gazettes, but the pattern will be broken with Grantville Gazette III — it will be released solely in the three book formats as Eric Flint has become the editor of the new Jim Baen's UNIVERSE e-magazine venture.

In November 2004, The Grantville Gazette was also released in a mass market paperback edition. The second volume was released in hardcover in March 2006, and Grantville Gazette III was released in hardcover in January 2007, and the fourth (delayed by the death of Jim Baen) has been purchased by Baen and should be released in early 2008.


  • Eric Flint (2004). The Grantville Gazette. Baen. ISBN 0-7434-8860-1. available as free e-book from the Baen Free Library, Paperback First printing, November 2004
  • Eric Flint (2006). Grantville Gazette II. Baen. ISBN 1-4165-2051-1. was released in hardcover in March 2006

---- As of October 2007 electronic editions were available up to volume Fourteen, the first ten through Baen's webscription, and the sub-series is arguably open ended considering its ongoing momentum.

References

External links

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