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    Review of THE GRANTVILLE GAZETTE by Eric Flint (Editor)


    Baen, November 2004

    Grantville, West Virginia, is thrown back into Germany during the 100 Years War and the Americans need to figure out how to survive one of the most destructive conflicts of all time--and spread the wisdom of American democracy as well. GRANTVILLE GAZETTE collects several stories and articles about this alternate history universe, adding detail to the main novels written by Eric Flint (see our review of Flint's 1632).

    The first of the stories, 'Portraits,' by Eric Flint, deals with the Grantville decision to smuggle a drug-making formula to the Catholic enemies of the new U.S. of Europe as well as the interesting historical figure of Pieter Paul Rubens--the famous artist. This story inspired the somewhat odd cover and deals with an intriguing social and ethical issue--the responsibility of the Americans to share some of their knowledge with the entire world, rather than merely with their allies.

    The second story, 'Anna's Story' by Loren Jones is a simple tale of an aging American as he deals with the changes, including creation of a new family based on local 'downtime' Germans. It's a pleasant enough story with a bit of emotion but doesn't really deal with the alternate history or larger social issues Flint touches upon.

    The third story, 'Curio and Relic' by Tom Van Natta, suggests that the transportation of Grantville to the medieval past might have been a lifesaver to a Viet Nam veteran who was disaffected and displaced in an America that neither understood nor respected his work. Paul Santee's dilemma seems real and convincing.

    The fourth, and longest story, 'The Sewing Circle' by Gorg Huff, is also the most rewarding. Recognizing Grantville's need to create rather than merely sell it's capital, a group of high-school students (high school students play a key role in 1632 as well) decide to create pedal-driven sewing machines. The discussions of economics, sourcing, and trade, as well as the family and social dynamics are solid alternate history.

    The fifth story, 'The Rudolsadt Colloquy' by Virginia De Marce tells of a religious gathering. Not much happens. We don't care about the characters involved. Students of religious history might find some value in this but although I'm interested in just about everything, I just couldn't find any reason why this needed to be here.

    After the stories, three articles, 'Radio in the 1632 Universe' by Rick Boatright, 'They've Got Bread Mold, So Why Can't They Make Penicillin?' by Robert Gottlief, and 'Horse Power' by Karen Bergstralh deal with the obvious topics. Anyone interested in writing alternate history will do well to read these as examples of the type of questions that can come up and that can be dealt with.

    A common problem with anthologies connected with novel-series is that the primary series author doesn't want too much to happen that will confuse the readers of the main track. Unfortunately, GRANTVILLE GAZETTE definitely falls into this category--and as a result, not much happens. 'The Sewing Circle' works because it shows really critical but possibly below the radar-scope activities happening. The other fiction is just pleasant stories that don't do much to deepen our understanding of the 1632 universe or anything else. The articles are interesting (did you know that there was a low in sunspot activity during this era) but really relevant only to people who are so in love with the 1632 Universe that they probably already attend the on-line discussions on

    If you love this series as much as I do, you'll definitely want to read this book--but don't expect too much. Everything is well written and nothing is really bad, but it only adds a bit.

    See more reviews of novels by Eric Flint.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 2/23/05

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