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    Review of GRANTVILLE GAZETTE III by Eric Flint (editor) (see his website)

    Baen, January 2007

    Although war still rages across Europe, one thing both protestants and Catholics agree on is that the mail must go through--and they hire a pretty American woman to serve as model for the new stamps they'll use to make the mail work. Then there's the matter of a bunch of German women left without dowries by the war and the deaths of their men--solution, use them to seduce non-church-going Grantville uptime Americans into both marriage and Lutheranism. An injured downtime musician discovers the future of music. A group of teen entrepreneurs creates a combination mutual fund/venture capital fund. A downtime priest discovers the beauty of the Dewey Decimal system and firefighting. A young woman in Oxford discovers Latin--and steps toward liberation. A woman fears being trapped and the son of a monster seeks redemption. A church leader travels to Grantville. Scholars examine the role of iron/steel and modern agricultural practices suddenly introduced to early seventeenth century Europe.

    In the world of Eric Flint's Ring of Fire, the West Virginia town of Grantville was mysteriously thrust into the past--right into the midst of the 30 Years War that devastated Germany. The War, partly over religion (with Austrian Catholics battling against Swedish Protestants, but with France egging the protestants on and with divided Germany suffering the bulk of the damage), but largely over politics (with the massive Hapsburg Empire, swollen with treasure from the New World attempting to assert power in the Holy Roman Empire), takes a dramatic turn when Grantville introduces religious tolerance and democracy--backing these up with modern weapons.

    The major novels in this universe (beginning with 1632--which we review here) tell the tale of the battle and heroes of the revolution. The collections of short stories and technical articles, written mostly by fans, make up the Grantville Gazettes.

    GRANTVILLE GAZETTE III is surprisingly easy to read for a compilation. The stamp story and the article on steel are especially compelling. The other stories all have their points of interest but, possibly because of their page limits, seemed to leave out some of the most important details. In the discussion of the introduction of modern agricultural practice, the biggest issue--what happens to the farmers--is left untouched. Where a 1632 farming village might support a dozen families, using modern equipment, that same land could be farmed by a single family. So, what happens to the others? In England, with the enclosures, the others were thrown off the land and sent to workhouses. Will this happen in Germany? Will industralization create jobs quickly enough to hire all of the unemployed--especially since many of the able-bodied men have been killed by war? If a single stamp is good across Europe, how is revenue distribution handled? Will venture capital firms control speculation, or will they, instead, accelerate it by giving the appearance of professional management and safety? Will a group of German girls really be able to transform the losers of West Virginia society into productive members of society and church-goers, or are they being set up to be the abused mail-order brides of an earlier time.

    As Science Fiction authors go, Eric Flint (see more reviews of novels by Flint) is a far better sociologist than most. In the Grantville Gazettes, though, he seems to let his fans run more than a little stary-eyed. Oh, well, it's still fun and, as I said earlier, solidly written. You won't miss much if you skip the Gazette, but if you enjoy the universe and Flint doesn't deliver enough novels in the series to entertain you, the Gazettes definitely add a bit.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 6/23/07

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