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 elsewhere. It took a while for them to figure out that they now lived in a different universe, started at the moment of the flash.
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 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 Gustavus II Adolf, the king of Sweden from being killed by his own men at the battle of Lützen. Gustavus 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.
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 our serial, “Painted into a Corner, Part 3” by Robert Waters and Meriah Crawford, we see what happens when a famous and accomplished painter tries to come to terms with the fact that his career in the Original Time Line is not even mentioned in the up-timers’ books. How do you change your life so that you avoid obscurity?
In “Engines of Change: The Miller’s Tale” by Karen and Kevin Evans, a young man thinks enough sideways to realize that up-timer technology can be used to save the family business, a windmill, when the windmill’s access to wind is interrupted by the building of a big house.
In Nick Lorance’s “Sergeant Whatsisname” we find a man dedicated to upholding the true military virtues, honor, dignity, self-sacrifice, in the face of the shenanigans of a group of troublesome recruits from the Committees of Correspondence—who see themselves as revolutionaries, but without the ethics.
“The Grantville Two-Step” by David Dove reveals a man who is slowly coming out of his shell after his wife was left up-time and is as much as dead to him as if she had been shot.
In “The Monster Among Us” Eric S. Brown gives us LARPing, 1632 style!
“The Doom of Sallee” gives us a look into another society than Western European—the Sallee Rovers and their corsair republic founded by Muslims expelled from Spain. Andy Rogers tells the tale of a young woman on a mission and the Moroccan chieftain who gets in her way. Once again, this is a story where up-time history books play an enormous role.
In the “The Ice Queen” a few well-spoken words change the future of two people—and those words are in Klingon.
“Penitence and Redemption” has a young English man running up against Grantville’s 20th-century justice, and learning and growing as a person because of it.
We also feature “Sexuality in the Seventeenth Century,” by Virgina DeMarce, whose personal motto is “Time Passed in the Past.” Kristine Katherine Rusch provides the wisdom of early adopters in her column, “Notes from the Buffer Zone: Adopting.”
In the Time Spike Universe (another Ring of Fire split off from our own universe) Garrett Vance gives us “First Cavalry of the Cretaceous, Part One: A Conspiracy of Ravens” which is just as weird a scene as you can imagine from the title. Spaniards, cowboys and Indians, oh, my!
Finally, in the Universe Annex, we have a fine science fiction story, “The Flood” by Jose Iriarte.
Welcome to the world of 1632!
Editor in Chief