Sunday, July 15, 2012

Noted Review: Grantville




Flint, Eric. 1635: The Eastern Front. Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2011. 400 Pages. Kindle e-book. (N)

Flint, Eric. 1636: The Saxon Uprising. Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2011. 416 Pages. Kindle e-book. (N)

Flint, Eric, editor. Ring of Fire III. Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2011. 512 Pages. Kindle e-book. (N) 


(The books above are available in digital and paper formats.)


Grantville Gazette, Volumes 26-41. Moore, OK: 1632, Inc., 2010-12. Digital downloadable file (various formats). Subscription rates vary. (N)



I began reading Eric Flint's 1632 series in the Spring of 2002. We had a District Pastoral Conference in Riverton, WY and I found an odd little paperback in a used bookstore. 


The basic plot? Grantville, a city from West Virginia (present-day) got scooped up along with all of its people, technology, books, and ideas, and was dropped in the middle of Germany back during the 30 Years War. After that, there has been no other "outside intervention" or time travel. 


The very presence of the Americans changed what we know as history. Oh, and did I mention that there are Lutherans all over the place. Imagine: Johann Gerhard as a sci-fi character; Gustavus Adolphus lives!



The most recent volumes in the series we've seen begin with 1635: The Eastern Front, by Eric Flint.



The Thirty Years War continues to ravage 17th century Europe, but a new force is gathering power and influence: the United States of Europe, a new nation led by Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, and the West Virginians from the 20th century led by Mike Stearns who were hurled centuries into the past by a mysterious cosmic accident. While the old entrenched rulers and manipulators continue to plot against this new upstart nation, everyday life goes on in Grantville, even under the shadow of war, as this lost outpost of American freedom and justice must play David against a 17th century Goliath of oppressive feudalism (Publisher's website).

Religious and political themes dominate the series. One of the other strengths is something that makes good drama good and what made Star Trek in particular appealing to those who don't like all sci-fi: characterization. 


Eric Flint oversees an entire "universe" of characters and events. He has to keep track of everything, working with other others and fan-authors. The "butterfly effect" is in full swing. History has unfolded differently. The Americans are at the core of a new United States of Europe. Its Emperor is none other than Gustavus Adolphus.



the story continues in 1636: The Saxon Uprising by Eric Flint.



The West Virginia town of Grantville, torn from the twentieth century and hurled back into seventeenth century Europe has allied with Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, in the United States of Europe. So, when Gustavus invades Poland, managing to unite all the squabbling Polish factions into repelling the common enemy, the time-lost Americans have to worry about getting dragged into the fight along with the Swedish forces.

But Mike Stearns has another problem. He was Prime Minister of the USE until he lost an election, and now he's one of Gustavus's generals; and he has demonstrated that he's very good at being a general. And he's about to really need all his military aptitude. Gretchen , who never saw a revolution she didn't like, has been arrested in Saxony, and is likely to be executed. The revolutionary groups which she has been working with are not about to let that happen, and suddenly there's rioting in the streets. Saxony's ruthless General Baner is determined to suppress the uprising by the time-honored "kill them all and let God sort them out" method, which only adds fuel to the fire. So Gustavus orders Mike Stearns to go to Saxony and restore order. But he makes one mistake.

He didn't tell Mike to take his troops along on the mission. But he didn't tell him not to, either . . .

About the Author
Eric Flint is the author of the New York Times best sellers 1634: The Galileo Affair (with Andrew Dennis), 1634: The Baltic War and 1634: The Bavarian Crisis—all novels in his top-selling "Ring of Fire" alternate history series. His first novel for Baen...was picked by Science Fiction Chronicle as a best novel of the year. His 1632, which launched the ring of Fire series, won widespread critical praise, as from Publishers Weekly, which called him "an SF author of particular note, one who can entertain and edify in equal, and major, measure." A longtime labor union activist with a Master's Degree in history, he currently resides in northwest Indiana with his wife Lucille.
(Publisher's website)

Those who love political intrigue, the idea of adapted and re-invented technology (guns, etc.), and the impact of more modern religious groups and their ideas (Mormons, Methodists, ELCA Lutherans, et al) on 17th Century Germany, you'll enjoy reading this series.

Early in the series was a unique volume called Ring of Fire after the phenomenon that transported 2000 A.D. Grantville, WV to 1632 Germany. What makes it unique is that the main author, Flint, delegated writing duties to others to help round out the series, sometimes with unpredictable results. This helps make the 1632 series more readable, and realistic. The latest volume like this, edited by Flint, is Ring of Fire III.




Let's do the "Time Warp" again! Another anthology of rollicking, thought- provoking collection of tales by a star-studded array of top writers such as bestseller Mercedes Lackey and Eric Flint himself&all set in Eric Flint's phenomenal Ring of Fire series. After a cosmic accident sets the modern-day West Virginia town of Grantville down in war-torn seventeenth century Europe, these everyday, resourceful Americans must adapt or be trod into the dust of the past.

Rock on, Renaissance! A cosmic accident sets the modern West Virginia town of Grantville down in war-torn seventeenth century Europe. It will take all the gumption of the resourceful, freedom-loving up-timers to find a way to flourish in mad and bloody end of medieval times. Are they up for it? You bet they are. The third rollicking and idea-packed collection of Grantville tales edited by Eric Flint, and inspired by his now-legendary 1632 (Publisher's website).

Flint also contributes to these volumes to keep everything tied together as much as possible. His novella, "Four Days on the Danube" provides the necessary backstory to better comprehend the aforementioned 1636: The Saxon Uprising. Readers are also treated to short tales by Chuck Gannon, Mercedes Lackey, Walter Hunt, Panteleimon Roberts, Kim Mackey, Garrett Vance, Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett, David Carrico, and Tim Roesch.

One of the drawbacks of reading these volumes in kindle format is that it deprives me of the use of my typical "post-it note" bookmarking system. 

That brings me to my main concern as a reader, reviewer, and recommender of books. I spent the winter catching up on books outside of those for our book review journal. I read two entire series of crime fiction by Wyoming authors. I wanted to see what was common in fiction outside of what I read for review, like this series. I found that "colorful adjectives" are common. 

And I had an interesting interaction with a member of my congregation. She told me that she went to a book signing for one of these authors. While there, she took her few moments with the author to kindly encourage him to drop using as many "colorful adjectives," including and especially the famous f-bomb. Further, I noticed that her request has been largely honored by that author. 

Might I ask the same of the author(s) of the 1632 universe? I believe it is still possible to tell a manly adventure story without resorting to carpet bombing readers (especially young readers, your future audience, and people of faith, those who should be a natural audience for sci-fi that is informed of the existence and importance of Concordia Triglotta in the life of Lutheranism). 

Thank you for your kind consideration of this recommendation. I doubt if you would lose current readers or writers. And I'm sure you would gain many more.

The first volume of Ring of Fire led to something else. You may have heard about fan fiction. What if Star Trek had a crossover story with Star Wars? Such an event is a licensing and copyright nightmare, but that doesn't prevent sci-fi fans from imagining what could happen as they compose their own stories.

Now, apply the idea of multiple fan authors to the 1632 universe. What do you get?


Volume 42 is the latest volume available.


After going through a peer-reviewed "pitching" and refining process, the GG editors select various stories (and non-fiction articles to inform future stories) for official publication. And the writers get paid! You could be published in this series. 


Grantville Gazette can be read by purchasing individual volumes or as a paid subscription. I've downloaded and printed (2 pages/side) all the issues to date. I'm a little behind on my reading because there are so many interesting stories and continuing serials.


The very, very best of the GG digital issues were also printed in paperback. Numbering for the paperback volumes uses Roman numerals.



We thank the publisher for their generosity in continuing to provide us review copies of these novels and Grantville Gazette. If you like a little theology with your science fiction, consider the 1632 series.




The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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