Ring of Fire (The 1632 Universe)by Eric Flint, James Baen (Editor)
The battle between democracy and tyranny is joined, and the American Revolution has begun over a century ahead of schedule. A cosmic accident has shifted a modern West Virginia town back through time and space to land it and its twentieth century technology in Germany in the middle of the Thirty Years War. History must take a new course as American freedom and
The battle between democracy and tyranny is joined, and the American Revolution has begun over a century ahead of schedule. A cosmic accident has shifted a modern West Virginia town back through time and space to land it and its twentieth century technology in Germany in the middle of the Thirty Years War. History must take a new course as American freedom and democracy battle against the squabbling despots of seventeenth-century Europe. Continuing the story begun in the hit novels 1632 and 1633, the New York Times best-selling creator of Honor Harrington, David Weber, the best-selling fantasy star Mercedes Lackey, best-selling SF and fantasy author Jane Lindskold, space adventure author K. D. Wentworth, Dave Freer, co-author of the hit novels Rats, Bats & Vats and Pyramid Scheme (both Baen), and Eric Flint himself combine their considerable talents in a shared-universe volume that will be a "must-have" for every reader of 1632 and 1633.
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Ring of Fire
By Eric Flint
Baen BooksISBN: 0-7434-7175-X
The stories in this anthology are all based in the alternate history setting I created in my novel 1632, which was further developed in the sequel I wrote with David Weber, 1633.
Producing "spin-off" anthologies as part of a popular series has a long and venerable history in science fiction, of course. But, in at least two respects, this anthology is different from most such-and the two differences are related.
The first difference is obvious: It is very unusual to produce a shared-universe anthology when a "series" consists, so far, of only two novels. Doing so would seem premature, since the setting really isn't all that firmed up yet.
But that was exactly why I wanted to do it so early in the game-which leads me to the second difference:
In most shared-universe anthologies, as a rule, the stories are tangential to the main line of the story as developed in the creating author's own novels. They might be excellent stories, in their own right, but they rarely have much if any direct impact on the logic of developments in the series itself. The reason is simple. Authors are generally reluctant to have other authors shape their own setting, and the contributing authors to an anthology respect that and design their stories to be somewhat "off to the side." The stories are in the setting, but they do not really affect the setting very much.
That is not true of this anthology. The stories in this anthology all feed directly into the development of the series as a whole. They are not simply part of it, they actively shape it.
Indeed, several of them have already done so. Many of these stories were written before Dave Weber and I wrote 1633, and we deliberately incorporated them into the plot of that novel. For example:
The character of Tom Stoner and his children, who appear in 1633 and will be major characters in the upcoming novel 1634: The Galileo Affair, are first introduced into the series by Mercedes Lackey in her story in this anthology, "To Dye For." (1634: The Galileo Affair is co-authored by me and Andrew Dennis, and will be published in April of 2004. Andrew is another of the authors in this anthology.)
The interaction between the Earl of Strafford and Dr. Harvey, which occurs in 1633, presupposes a prior visit to the time-transplanted town of Grantville. The story of that visit is told here, in S.L. Viehl's "A Matter of Consultation."
Dave Weber's story "In the Navy" provides the background for the creation of the new American navy, which was such a prominent part of 1633.
The character of Gerd, who appears in 1633 as one of Captain Harry Lefferts' men, is first introduced into the 1632 universe in Greg Donahue's "Skeletons."
* * *
A number of the other stories here lay the basis for future developments in the series. That is most clearly evident with my own story, the short novel The Wallenstein Gambit. The events depicted in that story will be central to most of the future volumes in the series. The story is not "on the side." It is right smack in the middle of the series as it continues to unfold.
Furthermore, the basis for The Wallenstein Gambit was, to a considerable degree, laid in this anthology by three other stories: Dave Freer's "A Lineman For the Country," Jody Dorsett's "The Three Rs," and (most directly) by K.D. Wentworth's "Here Comes Santa Claus."
Andrew Dennis' "Between the Armies" lays much of the basis for our forthcoming novel 1634: The Galileo Affair. (As does 1633, of course-the character of Sharon Nichols who figures prominently in 1633 is a major character in The Galileo Affair.) Some of the characters developed by Deann Allen and Mike Turner in their story "American Past Time" will also appear in The Galileo Affair.
Virginia DeMarce's "Biting Time" lays the basis for a novel which she and I are working on, which will both continue the story she began as well as link it to the story line I develop in The Wallenstein Gambit.
To one degree or another, that is true of every story in this anthology. Many of the characters you first encounter here will re-appear in later volumes of the series-and sometimes as major characters in their own right.
* * *
I wanted to produce this kind of anthology early in the series because I wanted, as much as possible, to capture something which is usually missing in alternate history series:
History is complicated. It is not the story of a few people, it is the story of an immense number of people-each of them full individuals in their own right, each of them having their own greater or lesser impact on developments.
In the nature of things, fictional series-like biographies-tend to give the illusion that history marches more-or-less in lockstep with the actions of the main characters of the story. That's almost inevitable, given the very nature of narrative. But it is an illusion, and I wanted to avoid it as much as possible in the unfolding 1632 series.
Yes, Mike Stearns and Rebecca Abrabanel and Jeff Higgins and Gretchen Richter and the other major characters I created in 1632 will continue to be major characters in the series. But they are not Greek gods and goddesses. They are simply people-and what happens to them will, in the end, be deeply affected by the actions of a Jewish jeweler in Prague trying desperately to prevent one of the worst pogroms in history, a small town Catholic priest undergoing a crisis of conscience, and a woman in late middle age who simply decides to found a school.
And ... enough. Welcome to the Ring of Fire.
Excerpted from Ring of Fire by Eric Flint Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Eric Flint is a new master of alternate-history science fiction. His 1632, prequel to 1633, received lavish critical praise from all directions and enjoyed high sales. His first novel, Mother of Demons, was picked by Science Fiction Chronicle as a best novel of the year. He has also shown a powerful gift for humorous fantasy adventure with Forward the Mage and The Philosophical Strangler, which Booklist described as "Monty Python let loose in Tolkien's Middle Earth." With David Drake he has collaborated on five novels in the popular "Belisarius" series, the next of which will be The Dance of Time. A longtime labor union activist with a degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in African history, he currently resides in Indiana with his wife Lucille.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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The premise of many people tackling short stories set in and around several complex novels is likely to be a mess, so the coherence and high quality here throughout is really surprising. I was particularly surprised how genuinely moving many of the stories were rather than only clever and many of the stories reveal some deep thinking and insights rather than just a facile twist or entertaining characterization. The character development is very strong using many very minor or off-stage characters from the novels and weaving them back in. I'm not a big fan of short stories as I prefer the kind of development that takes hundreds of pages so I was surprised how much I enjoyed this anthology. If you bought 1632, 1633, and 1634, you need this one and will relish it.
This is an excellent book which continues the universe created by Eric Flint in 1632. It introduces new characters and breathes new life into the old characters. Some of the characters who were the bad guys in 1632 are developed and become good guys in this book. It continues the development of the 1632verse and makes me look forward to the next book.
Unlike most Alternative History where the characters are the real people of the era kept in the story no matter how much events would have been changed by the changed starting point, the 1632 Universe recognizes that everything could have been different. This is the real pleasure of reading these books. The reader gets a sense of what might have been, and from that realizes the importance of what choices we make today. My personal favorite story of the entire series to this point is 'Between the Armies'. It contains a discription of the War between Protestant and Catholic armies as being one where the opposing forces treat their religions just like the gang colors of today. It's a profound statement and inditement of the Thirty Years War and by implication the violence in Northern Ireland and the current struggles in the Near East. It's also only one of the multitude of thought provoking concepts you will be exposed to in this landmark series of books.
This book is much better than the previous sequel 1633 but not near as good as 1632 which started the series. At least this one is right up front letting you know that it is a collection of about 15 short stories -- unlike 1633 which pretended to be a sequal but was about 4 short stories intermixed haphazardly throughout the book with about 3 or 4 hundred pages of boring history and old plane safety and flying. The stories in Ring of Fire introduce new people and have occasional appearances of our heros and heroines from 1632 - some of the stories happen before 1633 and some after 1633. A few of the stories even had some of the joy and adventure which made 1632 so good. It was a nice look back into the Mr Flint's 1632 time frame by many authors but did not really advance the overall series much except Flint's longer short story 'Wallenstein Gambit' which was both good and advanced the series. Hopefully Mr. Flint will re-engage and put some more effort into writing a real sequel for 1632.