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The 1632 series, also known as the 1632-verse or Ring of Fire series, is an alternate history book series and sub-series created, primarily co-written, and coordinated by Eric Flint and published by Baen Books. The series is set in 17th-century Europe, in which the small fictional town of Grantville, West Virginia, in the year 2000 was sent to the past in central Germany in the year 1631, during the Thirty Years' War.
The 1632 series began with Flint's stand alone novel 1632 (released February 2000). It is, excepting the lead novel and the serialized e-novel The Anaconda Project (2007), virtually all collaboratively written, including some "main works" with multiple co-authors. However, Flint has mentioned contracts with the publisher for at least two additional solo novels he has in planning on his website. Flint, whose bibliography is dominated by collaborative work, claims that this approach encourages the cross-fertilization of ideas and styles, stimulating the creative process and preventing stale, formulaic works.
1632 occurs in the midst of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). The plot situation allows pragmatic, American, union-oriented, political thought to grind against the authoritarian, religion-driven societies of an unconsolidated Germany barely out of the Middle Ages. Flint explores examples of suffering due to the petty politics of self-aggrandizement and self-interest on the one hand, and the irreconcilable differences of the schism in Christianity such as the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation on the other. Despite the fact that the shift puts Grantville in May 1631 initially, because of the ongoing war and the primitive transportation networks of the day Grantville's arrival has something of a delayed impact, so the bulk of the book's action takes place in 1632, hence the name.
The series was initially continued with two collaborative works that were more or less written concurrently: 1633 (with best selling novelist David Weber) and an anthology called Ring of Fire (with other established science-fiction writers, including long, "deep background" stories by both Weber and Flint).
Overall, the narratives are not oriented on one group of protagonists with a strong lead character, but instead are carried by an ensemble cast—though most books or short stories do have several strong characters who carry the action and plot forward. Flint had intended from the outset that the whole town would be the collective protagonist; a reflection of his philosophy that historic forces are not centered in the main on the actions of one or two key individuals, but on the many small independent actions of the many going about their daily lives and coping as best they can.
By late in 1632, the New United States-led coalition of the Confederated Principalities of Europe had become the arsenal and financier (through Jewish connections of real historical interest) for Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus. This leads the scheming Cardinal Richelieu, who'd been previously financing him to spite and weaken the Habsburgs, to turn on the Swedes. Various books from up-time Grantville, especially history books, had found avid readers amongst Europe's ruling elites, changing the plans and strategies of major players of the time. The readers, not understanding the chaotic nature of events (i.e., trivial-seeming changes can have large effects, and vice-versa), often believe that these histories give them a strong idea of how they can guide events in a different direction. The "players" sent back through time have no intention of strongly guiding events, but understand how key forces (democracy, sanitation, medicine, egalitarianism, etc.) affect things in the long run to the betterment of mankind, and intend to promote and spread those even if they themselves are not "in control" of what results.
Richelieu forms a four-way alliance, the League of Ostend, to oppose the New United States, Gustavus' expeditionary army, and allied princes of the German states. After the first book, the series begins multiple plot lines or story threads reflecting this independence of action by a multitude of characters. The sequel 1633 spreads the Americans out geographically over Central Europe. Next, the novel 1634: The Galileo Affair, and the first of the anthologies called the Grantville Gazettes introduced new strong characters. The former begins what is called the South European thread, and some of the stories in the latter and Ring of Fire began the Eastern European thread (Austria-Hungary northwards to Poland).
Co-author of 1633 New York Times best-selling author David Weber was contracted for no less than five books in the series in what is called the Central European thread or Main thread of the series, but there was a lengthy delay before the two busy authors could synchronize schedules to write that next mainline sequel together, 1634: The Baltic War, released in May 2007.
Without waiting for Weber, other sequels such as 1634: The Ram Rebellion, 1635: The Cannon Law, and the Grantville Gazettes continue in one thread or another with in-depth looks at societal ramifications from technology, religion, and social unrest as Europe deals with the outlandish ideas of Grantville's influential presence, to machinations of Europe's elites trying to maintain their hold on power, or leverage off of Grantville-triggered events or knowledge for reasons of self-interest.
Fans are encouraged to contribute to the series though an online message board known as Baen's Bar. The entire Grantville Gazette and large portions of the Ring of Fire anthology, both of which are considered canonical, are paid, fan-written (albeit edited by Flint) works, and have directly contributed material to the main novels. The author also worked with other established authors to develop new stories and plot lines for further novels which are also published in the two Ring of Fire anthologies.
Ring of Fire has several levels of meaning: First it is the eponymous reference to what the townfolk themselves (and the few outside German witnesses) have come to call the observed phenomenon of their time-space juxtaposition. Secondly, it is a disparaging reference to the effects on the population of Germany at large, suffering under the war's environment outside American-controlled territory, used by Mike Stearns addressing a town meeting:
|“||Then to the crowd: "According to Melissa Mailey, we now live in a world where kings and noblemen rule the roost. And they've turned all of central Europe—our home, now, ours and our children's to come—into a raging inferno. We are surrounded by a Ring of Fire. Well, I've fought forest fires before. So have lots of other men in this room. The best way to fight a fire is to start a counterfire. So my position is simple. I say we start the American Revolution—a hundred and fifty years ahead of schedule!"||”|
1632 is the first novel in the alternate history 1632 series. It is a science fiction novel originally released in November 2000, but atypically, continues to actually increase in quarterly sales, as do most of the sequels. Originally a single stand-alone story, the novel is now the first of an open-ended series with over twenty-six works of all kinds including e-published only works (e-books) of which twelve are standard trade printed books. Three (of eighteen of the bi-monthly Gazettes, and counting) are the printed canonical Grantville Gazettes (I, II, and III, the first of which is almost entirely longer fiction Flint couldn't put in the already lengthy Ring of Fire shared universe collection, the de facto first sequel antedating collaborative work on 1633, and of which two have been best sellers), published in print, and an additional, rapidly growing number of related Grantville Gazettes e-books or e-zines (not in print).
In writing 1632, Flint's web forum Mutter of Demons at Baen's Bar was soon taken over by exploratory posts as captivated readers commented on the E-ARC released book, creating a ground swell of interest ("Internet buzz") in the months before its hardcover release. So strong was the response, especially after the release of the printed work, that a new 1632 Tech Manual sub-forum was created for discussions about it in early 2000, for the discussions had also spilled over into Weber's Bu-ships tech forum, and Weber joined the bandwagon by suggesting a sequel was in order. In the event, the two co-wrote 1633 and collaborated further on integrating the short fiction (much of it unsolicited) into the de facto Ring of Fire sequel. It was followed by two other related forums: 1632 Slush and 1632 Comments, within the next two years.
The Grantville Gazettes are a series of short stories in the collaborative fiction experiment, which started life as an online serialized magazine with an inconsistent and sporadic publication history. After the death of Jim Baen and with the publication of Grantville Gazette X by Baen Books, the last under contract with Baen, the Gazettes were again reconstituted as a subscription e-zine, now published regularly at six per year (bi-monthly) and paying above standard rates for submissions. They are a "boiler room" powering the collaborative synergy by the people involved with the 1632 Tech Manual and have developed into a repository for new ideas and themes in the series, although most explore the personal experiences of minor characters in the series or examine in depth some aspect (e.g. a multi-part serial explores and details Grantville's impact on public health in general, and the establishment of twin teaching hospitals as a joint project of the University of Jena and Grantville's new hospital, the Lahey Clinic). In general, the anthologies in the series depict deep background canonical to future tales, but which are not in the main stream "action" of the novels focus. A group of stories have on several occasions produced a new plot thread. As of the end of 2012, there are now 42 volumes of the Grantville Gazettes, most of them available in Amazon Kindle editions as well as some other electronic formats.
|1632||2000||Eric Flint||0-671-57849-9||This is the first work in the Assiti Shards fictional universe and the 1632-verse|
|Grantville, West Virginia, in the year 2000, is transposed within an area of southern Thuringia of Germany in the 1630s. Grantvillers subsequently take on the Holy Roman Empire's troops in the Thirty Years' War, in order to maintain their own town's integrity.|
|1633||2002||Eric Flint||David Weber||0-7434-3542-7||This is the direct sequel to 1632|
|Grantville joins sides with Gustavus Adolphus, and tries to recreate the Germanies in the image of the United States.|
|1634: The Galileo Affair||2004||Andrew Dennis||Eric Flint||0-7434-8815-6|
|A diplomatic and trade mission to the Italies goes awry when youngsters attached to the mission decide to rescue Galileo from the Inquisition, and end up in a plot to assassinate the Pope. The plot is hatched by a French operative turned rebel, who wishes to destroy France to allow the rise of the Huguenots.|
|1635: The Cannon Law||2006||Andrew Dennis||Eric Flint||1-4165-0938-0||This is the direct sequel to The Galileo Affair|
|Cardinal Borja, incensed with the behavior of Pope Urban, decides to assassinate the Pope and his political allies and to have himself declared the new Pope. Though managing to take over the Vatican and establish quorum with cowed Cardinals, the old Pope escapes.|
|1634: The Baltic War||2007||David Weber||Eric Flint||1-4165-2102-X||This is the direct sequel to 1633|
|Western Europe maneuvers to contain Gustavus Adolphus, resulting in a naval battle in the Baltic, and the conquest of Denmark by Sweden, and victory for Grantville's navy of ironclads.|
|1634: The Bavarian Crisis||2007||Eric Flint||Virginia DeMarce||978-1-4165-4253-7||This is the direct sequel to The Baltic War|
|The Prince Cardinal Infante of Spain takes on vice-regal duties in the Spanish Netherlands, then decides to separate from Spain and declare himself King. With the aide of Grantvillers, he acquires a bride in the rebellious daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Duchess Anna Maria.|
|1635: The Dreeson Incident||2008||Virginia DeMarce||Eric Flint||1-4165-5589-7||This is a sequel to The Cannon Law|
|The French Huguenot rebel plots to destroy Grantville, by assassinating the heads of Grantville. This leads to plots to oppose vaccination and destroy the Jews, as covers for assassination, which ends in the deaths of two of Grantville's leaders, and a violent purge of all anti-semitic forces in the area controlled by Grantville's allies.|
|The Anaconda Project||2008–||Eric Flint||TBD||Serialized publication; this is a direct sequel to the novelette "The Wallenstein Gambit" by Eric Flint, as found in the anthology collection Ring of Fire I.|
|This serialized novel covers the plot by Wallenstein, King of Bohemia, to acquire an empire in Eastern Europe, by the conquest of Ruthenia with Ashkenazi and Cossack help.|
|1635: The Eastern Front||2010||Eric Flint||1-4391-3389-1||This is a sequel to The Baltic War|
|Sweden and USE invade Poland, Gustavus Adolphus is seriously injured, and the invasion comes to a halt.|
|1636: The Saxon Uprising||2011||Eric Flint||978-1439134252||Direct sequel to The Eastern Front|
|Oxenstierna usurps the power of USE parliament, sides with the nobility, and forces the country into a civil war which is ultimately won by supporters of FoJP and CoC led by Mike Stearns.|
|1636: The Kremlin Games||2012||Gorg Huff & Paula Goodlett||Eric Flint||978-1451637762||Novelization of the Butterflies in the Kremlin stories|
|Bernie Zeppi takes a job as technical adviser to the Russians' attempt to bootstrap themselves into an industrial revolution.|
|1635: The Papal Stakes||2012||Charles E. Gannon||Eric Flint||978-1451638394||Direct sequel to The Cannon Law|
|The Pope is pursued across Italian countryside by assassins sent by Borja, while the USE mounts commando raids to rescue Frank Stone and his wife from Spanish captivity.|
|1636: The Devil's Opera||2013||David Carrico||Eric Flint||978-1451639285|
|A semi-detective novel set in Magdeburg, from December 1635 to March 1636.|
|1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies||June 2014||Chuck Gannon||Eric Flint||978-1476736785||Start of the naval thread|
|Eddie Cantrell and Anne Cathrine marry and are sent by Admiral Simpson to Caribbean to secure access to the Jennings Oil Field. Naval battle ensues with the Spanish and settlers which ends in a standoff.|
|1636: The Vatican Sanction||2015||Chuck Gannon||Eric Flint||Sequel to The Papal Stakes|
|Urban VIII pulls together a consistory as a mini-Vatican II and is then assassinated. Cardinal Bedmar is elected as the new Pope but Borja still occupies the Vatican. Results in an incredibly deep divide within Catholicism; Spain, Poland, Bavaria go for Borja in Rome, deep division within Austria.|
|1636: A Parcel of Rogues||TBA||Andrew Dennis||Eric Flint||Sequel to The Baltic War, following characters left in Britain|
|1636: The Atlantic Encounter||TBA||Walter Hunt||Eric Flint||Novel set in French North America, former working title was 1636: Drums Along the Mohawk|
|1636: Stoned Souls||TBA||Mercedes Lackey||Eric Flint|
|1636: The Viennese Waltz||November 2014 ||Gorg Huff & Paula Goodlett||Eric Flint||Sequel to Barbie Consortium stories, continues directly with some characters from Saxon Uprising|
|Ottoman Empire attacks Austria and captures Vienna quickly. Deals with aftermath of fall of Vienna from the point of view of people who were then in Vienna.|
|1637||TBA||Eric Flint||TBD||Direct sequel to 1636: The Saxon Uprising|
|Mike Stearns is sent to capture Bavaria. Tacit agreements between Spain, Russia, and Poland to back the Ottomans but no formal agreements. Vienna falls to Ottoman forces. USE fights a two front war with Poland and Ottoman Empire and is able to just hold off both. Ends with a naval standoff in the Mediterranean Sea.|
|Ring of Fire I||2004||Eric Flint||0-7434-7175-X||Sequel to 1632 and prequel to 1633|
|1634: The Ram Rebellion||2006||Virginia DeMarce & Eric Flint||1-4165-2060-0||This is called a melded novel|
|Several intertwining short stories combine to form a narrative that covers the overthrow of the ruling order by the common people, in a democracy drive, led by a political newspaper featuring a political cartoon starring a ram.|
|Ring of Fire II||2008||Eric Flint||1-4165-7387-9|
|1635: The Tangled Web||2009||Virginia DeMarce||978-1-4391-3308-8||This is called a melded novel; it is the sequel to The Ram Rebellion|
|Several intertwining short stories combine to form a narrative that covers the development subsequent to the Ram Rebellion in Franconia.|
|Ring of Fire III||2011||Eric Flint||9781439134481|
|1636: Seas of Fortune||2014||Iver Cooper||978-1451639391||Composed of two novellas, Stretching Out and Rising Sun|
|1635: The Wars on the Rhine||TBA||Eric Flint et al.||TBD||This is called a melded novel|
|Eric Flint's 1632 Resource Guide and Role Playing Game||2004||Jonathan M. Thompson||0-9721419-4-4|
|Time Spike||2008||Marilyn Kosmatka & Eric Flint||9781416555384||Sequel to 1632|
|This novel deals with events in the timeline that the timeshifted Grantville left behind.|
1632 plot threads refers to the overall story arcs or sequences within the 1632 series. Flint has opined he thinks in terms of plot threads in terms of major protagonists. But most web chatter revolves around geographical "spheres of influence", locations, or where protagonists have a general effect. As a series focused on displaying a believable neohistory given the series beginning—of being as realistic as possible given the initial series premises—the two approaches both fail equally in covering all the cases by any strict measure, because the character set who is starring in one thread will almost invariably appear in one or more other story lines as a personal departure point for that character's personal biographical history, or as a supporting role for events depicted in a book mainly covering events in another thread.
"Real history is messy," Flint has written in the foreword to Ring of Fire in explaining why he took the unusual step of opening a universe consisting of a single novel at the time into a shared universe. A former union organizer and a socialist, Flint disdains the Great Man theory of history, where big figures of heroic scope define events, but instead lays claim throughout the entirety of works in the series, that history is the small actions of common men acting in their own self-interest who in the aggregate determine historical forces and force events and responses from those in power, who might lay some claim to being a giant of history—the statesmen and power brokers who dot the Is and cross the Ts and add occasional curlicues to the historic march of events—riding the torrent far more often than leading it in Churchillian or Rooseveltian fashion. That some persons of that mold have existed is not disputed, but that the narrative report that makes up historical reporting tends to overstate their impact and role, is Flint's theme.
No matter what approach one takes to classifying a plot sequence in the series—be it geographical or character-based—the key element of the series to comprehend is that the events depicted in its now voluminous works are not taking place in a vacuum, but in most cases are concurrent with developments in other parts of the European center.
The Central European thread or more correctly, the Central and Southwest Central European thread, is the main plot thread of the series. It concerns events in the region from west to east of the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland, Northern France, the Spanish Netherlands, French Netherlands, and the Dutch Republic, and the whole of western Germany eastwards to Brandenburg and the Electorate of Saxony, and southerly to the northern reaches of Bavaria. Bavaria proper, Switzerland, Austria, Bohemia, and points easterly and north are properly geographically part of the Eastern European thread.
The Southern European thread, or Western South Europe and South Central European thread, or perhaps more appropriately, the South-Central and Southwestern European thread, involves characters introduced in the short story "To Dye For" by Mercedes Lackey but the thread plot action proper continued in the second published novel sequel of the series, the best-selling 1634: The Galileo Affair and its direct sequel, 1635: The Cannon Law, both co-written by Flint and Andrew Dennis. The main characters are, in part, Lackey's The Stone Family, combined with Flint's Sharon Nichols and Larry Mazzare.
The Eastern European thread is taken to be east of the East Central European thread, the latter of which may be understood as the baseline through eastern parts of modern-day Germany, Austria, and western Hungary. The first fiction written within this thread was the novelette "The Wallenstein Gambit" and the prequel short stories leading up to it, all published in Ring of Fire, but subsequent long fiction planned in the setting had to await authors' scheduling issues.
David Weber and Eric Flint in 2002 (writing 1633 and Ring of Fire) originally contracted together and with Baen's Books to co-write five "main series" books—the first two and perhaps some as yet unrevealed others being known as the naval thread. When working on the long-delayed 1634: The Baltic War novel and with the prolonged and ongoing demand for the series sequels, and considering the already-experienced delays imposed by the difficulty of getting schedules between themselves synchronized (it took three planned "windows of opportunity" before one worked in The Baltic War) well enough for the two to have the three to six months or so needed to collaborate successfully, the two decided to alter their original planning and spin off a new thread—one based on the United States of Europe as a naval power.
This agreement for Weber to leave aside European threads likely will follow up foreshadowings of overt dislike evinced by various Grantville natives for both the African slave trade and the Amerindian encounters with colonizing Europeans—and Flint has already written a very sympathetic, two-volume alternate history from the American Native's viewpoint in his Arkansas Wars series—and he'd written similar foreshadowings into the series' earlier works that were spun into pro-democracy and anti-anti-Semitic social themes now manifesting in the series in the Eastern Europe thread in particular, as well as an overall, muted sub-theme. This revised author's decision released a logjam of backup of other novels in the series, so that since rehashing their arrangement, 1632 series books have been released regularly every 4–6 months.
Stories in 1632 Slushpile regarding obtaining strategically important materials and some which have reached publication in regard to the Essen Steel Corporation and Essen Chemical are foreshadowing activities (mining chromium for one) in North America, and others are pursuing latex rubber in South America. In addition, the three books contracted between Flint and David Weber will in part involve expeditions sent by Gustavus and Mike Stearns to American shores.
Two novels focused on the Americas were initially serialized in The Grantville Gazette magazine:
The first full novels in the America and Asia thread were published in 2013:
When the novel 1632 was written in 1999, it was conceived as an experiment in the literary genre alternate history by Flint, without intentions of writing any immediate sequel. He had, in fact, several other years of writing projects planned, which subsequent developments were to delay as late as publication in 2006–2007. Flint—as a relatively new writer at the time, following the popular demand for a sequel, elected to invite other established authors in the Baen's stable of writers to share the universe in order to rapidly develop its potential—in this he traded on his experience as an editor. This went on concurrently with a great deal of reader input in what became the 1632 Tech sub-forum on Baen's Bar. In this initiative, he became the editor (he was already a Baen editor for the Baen Free Library) and together with fan input on Baen's Bar, and collaboration with established best-selling author David Weber on the first long sequel, 1633, concurrently put together the Ring of Fire anthology to inaugurate the short fiction in the series.
The novel and anthology shaped one another, all filtered through and also shaped by the discussions on Baen's website. This process continues to this day, primarily in the form of The Grantville Gazettes. Initially an experimental e-magazine of fan fiction, the first volume was successful enough to be released as a paperback. Subsequent Gazettes have also been released in print form.
Flint, as editor of all the short fiction, also maintains the series canon (co-ordinated by the 1632.org website) and all copyrights to the alternate history universe per se, and with Flint as the controlling editor, the consequence is, semi-pro or professional payment rates aside, Baen doesn't publish anything in the series which is not canonical.
In point of fact, the short fiction in the series frequently provides a more in-depth background and foreshadows larger events that are the meat of the long fiction in the series. The longer works are replete with mentions to events covered in the shorter works, and with characters and the history and events unfolded in such materials. Flint always publishes one of his own stories within the short fiction collections, or in the case of 1634: The Ram Rebellion, considerably more, as it introduces several important background factors that are central to further series developments as the altered history is to unfold to the reader.
The Gazettes began as an experimental, semi-professional, online magazine featuring fan fiction and nonfiction edited by Flint and (eventually) a volunteer editorial board. At the time of Jim Baen's death in the summer of 2006 ten Grantville Gazettes were under contract and they had (with some fits and starts) settled into a new version roughly and irregularly three times a year. Baen's production staff was somewhat overworked by the deadline and the serialized magazine gave way to an e-book release from the sixth volume onward—though this was explained by Flint as primarily being due to Flint's other commitments, such as editing the new science fiction magazine Jim Baen's Universe. Earlier on, he'd explained the production delays in terms of overworked proofreaders, executive editors, and so forth. Issues VI through X, after being released as e-books, seem unlikely to see print; whereas Jim Baen has been releasing (all but the first) issues some months later as hardcover books, the last he bought has yet to appear. Flint has explained that the market for anthologies is always very soft, no matter the genre, and it seems likely that any new print version from the Gazettes will be a Best of The Grantville Gazettes.
In the meanwhile, Grantville Gazette X was jointly published as an e-book by Baen, but also as the first foray of Eric Flint Enterprises at grantvillegazette.com, which looks to be a joint venture of Baen Books and Flint, where the new incarnation of the e-zine also pays SFWA rates and maintains a bi-monthly (six per year) publishing schedule. It is modeled very much on the same lines as Jim Baen's Universe, which is edited by Flint.
Beginning in early 2007, the Gazette's publishers added an online, web-based edition published quarterly and moved the paper series to an annual "best of" volume. Additionally, the publishers moved to paying full professional rates instead of the semi-pro rates that had been paid. The Gazette is an SFWA-qualifying market.
In June 2013, the Ring of Fire Press was created, which will be reissuing certain materials originally published online in the Grantville Gazette. First, it will be publishing certain stories that were serialized across several issues of the Gazette, so they can be read without hunting through the various Gazette issues. Second, it will be publishing several themed collections of fact articles. Five Ring of Fire Press volumes are presently available through Amazon as Kindle editions.
As of 2014, four books in the series had significant large number of sales of hardcover editions to become included on the New York Times Best Seller list. 1634: The Galileo Affair was able to stay on the best seller list for hardcover fiction for 2 weeks during April 2004 while reaching number 27. 1634: The Baltic War was on the same list for 2 weeks during May 2007, peaking at number 19. 1634: The Bavarian Crisis was on this list for a single week in October 2007 at number 29. The most recent book, 1636: The Kremlin Games was on the NY Times list for a single week during June 2012 at number 30.
Almost all of the books in the series sold well enough to get listed on the various the Locus (magazine) Bestsellers Lists with some titles listed multiple times and a few even reached the top spot for the month.
1635: The Papal Stakes is the first book in the series to get listed on the Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Books list.
In writing the review for 1636: The Kremlin Game, the reviewer for the SFRevu wrote a positive review stating that the book "is another side story in the ongoing Grantville saga" and that the "action is carried on by characters that haven't played a significant role in earlier parts of the series" and the book "allowed fans to get involved in the development." The reviewer for the San Francisco Book Review wrote that this book "is a standout even in a wonderful series" and it has "has war, political intrigue, romance, [and] even car chases." The Midwest Book Review said that this installment "is an enjoyable thriller with a wonderful second order effect on Bernie and the Russians."
1636: The Kremlin Games is the fourth book in the 1632 series to be listed on the New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover fiction. This book reached number 30 on the NY Times list during a single week in June 2012. Besides being listed on the NY Times Best Seller list, 1636: The Kremlin Games was also listed on the Locus (magazine) Hardcovers Bestsellers List for the month of September in 2012 at number 6.
The reviewer for SFRevu writes that "Charles Gannon takes the helm in this installment" and that "Gannon hits all the right notes." The Midwest Book Review called the book "a fabulous thriller as Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon prove a deft pairing." The reviewer for the Mixed Book Bag also agrees that Flint and Gannon make a good writing team and adds "This is a story that flows smoothly and is focused on the problems the characters face" and "the action is great and keeps the story arc moving along".
However a blog reviewer had problems with Gannon contributions to the series since it appeared that "several of the formerly strong female characters seem to lose about twenty I.Q. points each during the course of the story" and "Gannon tends to describe female characters in an overtly sexualized manner that made me extremely uncomfortable."
1635: The Papal Stakes is the first book in the 1632 series to get listed on the Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Books list for Hardcover Science Fiction, which gets their data from the Nielsen BookScan. This book was able to stay on this list for two weeks during October 2012, topping at number 6.
The reviewer for Booklist that the book is "Another engaging alternate history from a master of the genre." However, he does warn readers that "familiarity with previous stories is, if not essential, at least strongly recommended." The reviewer for SFRevu wrote "This is a later book in a well-established world and is not the best entry point." Mark Lardas of the Galveston Daily News called it "an old-style police-procedural mystery, set in 17th century Germany." Two separate reviews were published in the Midwest Book Review. One reviewer called the book "a powerful and fast-paced story" while the other called it "an engaging for the most part low key tale". The Fistful of Wits reviewer admired "the pacing and denouement" of the novel.
The reviewer for SFRevu wrote that "This is a rare collection from a shared universe. There is a fairly low bar to entry as none of the action is truly dependent upon the main action of the Ring of Fire series... Cooper is exploring a part of the world that has been rarely mentioned." The Midwest Book Review writes "Both segues expand the Ring of Fire universe into new or previously limited geography and culture" and "built on real events enhanced by historical speculation but with a nice Grantville twist." Although he recommends the book, the reviewer for the Fistful of Wits wrote that the book appears to be "somewhat disjointed" and has a "short story feel" and that he didn't "feel like this book told the whole story of any of the characters involved".
Eric S. Raymond called the book "a solid installment in the ongoing series". The reviewer for SFRevu wrote that "This is a pretty standard Ring of Fire novel. Fans of the series will find a lot to enjoy here, even though it isn't advancing the main story line." However, he still finds the story interesting and looks forward to the continuation of this storyline.
1632 Tech Manual, 1632 Slush, and 1632 Slush Comments are each specialized sub-forums of a specific sub-community of the general online community known as Baen's Bar, which is a web site focused on the publishers' works, and forums to let fans interact with writers. The first sub-forum, 1632 Tech Manual (from early 2000—generally known just as 1632 Tech), is dedicated to developing the background for collaborative fiction in the first Assiti Shards-type fictional universe—1632 universe or 1632-verse—that began in the novel 1632 by Eric Flint, and the second two are spin-offs related to the fact that the series generated a lot of solicited fan fiction, which has become a hallmark of the series, when such is accepted as canon. That process is ongoing at grantvillegazette.com and in part explains the synergy of the series as literally hundreds of well-educated people and experienced people have worked together to put together a logical and likely chain of events and societal impacts given the departure point postulated in the initial novel—a town of thirty-five hundred from a blue collar, rural community characteristic of the town that Eric Flint's mother called home.
The later two forums were eventually created and set aside as a submission venue and talk forum about such submitted work for the initial anthology Ring of Fire and the eventual series of serialized e-zines, The Grantville Gazettes, all of which resulted from (originally) unsolicited manuscripts plus Flint's decision to make the milieu a shared universe by inviting in other writers. About that time, Flint was contributing a short story and contracting for a novella to the Honorverse spin-off series Crown of Slaves and had become good friends with David Weber, who has opened that sub-series in similar fashion to other writers. Weber expressed an interest in writing within 1632-verse, and that discussion may have given Flint the idea of soliciting manuscripts from other writers on the huge infant canvas. It is certain, he had no plans for a sequel beyond the initial novel.
As the collaborative effort evolved, the Grantville Gazettes—along with 1632 Tech, where technical aspects are hammered out and discussed to a surprising thoroughness—became a seed stock of new ideas and developments which give the rich verisimilitude to the background and plotting of the longer fiction in the series. Another distinction (sometimes very indistinct) is that stories in the Gazettes are normally told from the viewpoint of the common resident living through the international repercussions that the influence of Grantville's knowledge has caused on the larger stage. In seeming contradiction, about half the fiction in the Gazettes is merely emotive—amusing, tragic, or dramatic, sometimes taking on many aspects of the popular soap opera—which is to say commercially successful and desirably entertaining to its subscribers. Even though those kinds of tales have little importance save as "color" or deep background, they serve to gradually illuminate the society coming into being and are valuable to the reader in illuminating the dissonances between our modern era and the emerging Europe of the fictional neohistory, as well as the practices and life of the Europe in our real history. Quite frequently a character developed in a minor, soap opera-ish story will appear elsewhere in the series in a more important role, including as a main protagonist anchoring a major work (e.g. Noelle Murphy and others in about half the book 1634: The Ram Rebellion).
Slushpile is publishing trade jargon referring to the pile(s) of unsolicited submissions to a periodical. In the "continuing adventure" of the Grantville Gazettes, according to Flint, the unsolicited stories began shaping the background thought in the series milieu, and the magazine "idea" was born whilst he tried to recoup some of the time costs involved in examining the fan fiction. Also, he judged some of the tales to be professional quality, and indeed, incorporated many of them into about half of Ring of Fire. The flagship novel was written as a stand-alone literary work, an experiment with the new Assiti Shards story premise, and was but one of three such universes planned by Flint in 2000. However, the sensation and interest engendered by the 1632 novel's publication subsequently caused the other works to be delayed while the 1632 series was developed. The other books in the overall Assiti Shard series currently under contract are:
1776 supposes George Washington and Frederick the Great are transposed to ancient Rome's Crisis of the Third Century, By Any Other Name takes place in several different time frames including a transposition of the Assiti themselves into Elizabethan England, and Time Spike involves transpositions of various populations into the unpopulated late Cretaceous era (145–66 million years ago).
The 1632 Tech Manual forum has had a large role in developing the overall series as its discussions revolve around the course of likely events, reactions, and developments as the fictional town of 3,000 souls is transplanted into the middle of the religion-based Thirty Years' War.
The following list is derived from the order suggested by Flint himself at 1632.org. It makes a few arbitrary placements where Flint didn't specify an exact placement, and follows as strict ordering what he made more flexible with commentary. There are (many) alternative orders to read some of the books in, but this is a suitable one which does not allow any given timeline or event track to get too far ahead of any other. For more information, including alternatives as specified by Flint himself, see the "Reading Order" page link at 1632.org.
Ring of Fire I
Grantville Gazette I
Grantville Gazette II
1634: The Baltic War
The Danish Scheme
Grantville Gazette III
1634: The Ram Rebellion
1634: The Galileo Affair
1634: The Bavarian Crisis
Grantville Gazette IV
Ring of Fire II
1635: The Cannon Law
1635: The Dreeson Incident
1635: The Tangled Web
Grantville Gazette V
1635: The Papal Stakes
1635: The Eastern Front
1636: The Saxon Uprising
Ring of Fire III
1636: The Kremlin Games
1636: Seas of Fortune