After the blinding and painful flash of light that they call the Ring of Fire, the people of the little town of Grantville, West Virginia, had to come to terms with the notion that they were . . . well, not in West Virginia anymore.
It took a while for them to figure out that they now lived in a different universe, started at the moment of the flash. Some hoped it would all go back. Others dived in to the new situation.
They found themselves in the middle of Germany, in the middle of the Thirty Years’ War. That was the bloodiest, nastiest war in a thousand years, and it was being fought over religion and lands that had been taken from one set of adherents and given to another. The 1629 Edict of Restitution made that clear; the Holy Roman Emperor sought the return of lands lost by Catholicism since the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. Dynastic concerns, rather than religion, became increasingly important as Catholic France supported Lutheran Sweden against the Habsburgs of Catholic Spain and Austria.
Aided by enormous luck, and native West Virginia pluck, the Grantvillers manage to defend themselves, insert themselves into 17th-century politics, and keep Gustav II Adolf, the king of Sweden, from being killed by his own men at the battle of Lützen. Gustav makes common cause with the up-timers from Grantville and gives them enough support that they win through the first couple of years after the Ring of Fire.
But it has never been a case of Amerika Uber Alles. At the first election after the Ring of Fire, the people of Grantville knew enough not to try to make themselves a new aristocracy, imposing their vision of America on the 17th Century. For one thing, there weren’t enough of them. And for another, they quickly found that the down-timers were mostly just folks like them. Ideas from the future, not just American ideas, would percolate into the cultures of the 17th century and make something entirely new.
It is now quite a few years on, in the New Time Line. The effect of the people from the future, the “Americans,” has been huge. In this edition’s stories, our authors explore that effect from many different angles.
In “Ultimate Airport Magdeburg: Blacktop,” Kerryn Offord shows us what happens when a couple of cut-ups find themselves in the middle of an emergency, and realize that they can’t make mistakes, whether getting tar off of a down-time worker’s arm or packing a parachute.
In “Engines of Change: Digging Deeper” husband and wife author team Kevin and Karen Evans continue their stories about the way steam engines will affect the things we might never consider—like dredging a harbor. And along the way, we see a pair of enemies becoming unlikely friends.
“In That Place,” by Tim Roesch, is a hard-edged story about what happens when Blaise Pascal’s father has finally had enough of the “Greatest Mathematician in the World” and gives him a dressing-down that he’s deserved ever since the young man arrived in Grantville.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and thoughtless behavior often begets situations we regret. Eric S. Brown and Robert E. Waters show us what happens when LARPers don’t think things through in “The Wampus of Grantville.” And don’t worry, the dog doesn’t die.
Tim Sayeau shows his versatility as a writer with two stories this month. In the first, “The Bad Seed,” he poignantly shows the dangers of knowing the future as a father and mother come to terms with the fact that in the Original Time Line’s future, their three-year-old daughter became an adulteress and a murderer. Exactly what do you do with that kind of knowledge?
In Sayeau’s second story, “You’ve Got to Be Kidding!” he shows us what really happens when royalty wave their scepters and make grand pronouncements. What happens backstage when Gustav II Adolf names Thorsten Engler the “Count of Narnia?” And exactly where IS Narnia? Only the poor beset bureaucrat knows!
We continue mining the humorous vein with Jackie Britton Lopatin’s “The Invisible Dogs of Grantville.” It starts out innocently enough as a young man finds a gag stiff leash with collar attached, and takes his “invisible dog” for a walk. Things, as they are often wont to do, spiral quickly out of control.
In our Serials, “Ein Feste Burg” continues, as Rainer Prem details what happens when a family squabble leads to attempted murder. We have no Time Spike episode, and no Annex story this month. They will both return in future issues.
In her essay this month, Kristine Katherine Rusch talks about the effect of Star Wars on herself and society. And in an excellent non-fiction piece, Sean Little discusses the effect of a single set of books from the future on the design and construction of warships in the 1632 Universe.
Finally, but certainly not least, we present a look into the process of building a novel as Charles E. Gannon shows us some “Faces from the Cutting Room Floor” that didn’t make it into his collaboration with Eric Flint, 1635: The Papal Stakes.
We hope you enjoy your sojourn in the 1632 Universe!