Ring of Fire (anthology)

Ring of Fire (anthology)

Infobox Book
infoboxwidth = 200px
name = Ring of Fire
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Eric Flint (ed.)
and various others
illustrator =
cover_artist = Dru Blair
country = USA
language = English
series = 1632 series or Ring of Fire
subject = Anthology, fiction in a shared universe setting
genre = Alternate history, Science-Fiction
publisher = Baen Books
release_date = 2004-01-01
notes= Physical Description: 6.6"x9.7"x1.6"; 528 pages; 1.6 lbEdition Info: Physical Description: 6.6"x9.7"x1.6"; Hardcover; 2004-01-01
english_release_date =
media_type = Hardcover
pages = 528 pages; 1.6 lb, Physical Description: 6.6"x9.7"x1.6"
isbn = ISBN 0-7434-7175-X (2004 hardcover)
ISBN 1-4165-0908-9 (2005 paperback)
preceded_by = 1633 (novel)
(Written in parallel, with crossed plot lines)
followed_by = (novel) or in time
The Grantville Gazette (more anthologies, Nov-2004)

"Ring of Fire" is the important canonical third published book of editor-author-historian Eric Flint's popular 1632 series, an alternate history series begun in the novel 1632 (February 2000). The "Ring of Fire" is both descriptive of the cosmic event as experienced by the series' characters, but also is at times used as the name for the series itself. The series is set in war torn Europe during the middle of the Thirty Years' War in the era when the modern world was aborning— in a time when religion was a pretext for war veiling ambition or greed and authoritarianism held a hard hand around the throat of the populace imposed by both religion and governments.

"Ring of Fire" is collection of short stories —half by a variety of established science fiction authors invited into the setting, half fan-fiction by enthusiasts who helped take the stand alone novel into a series numbering works in the tens of books; all set in the universe initially created by Flint's science fiction novel "1632" written as a stand-alone novel and turned into a series by popular demand. Unlike most short works in a novel created series, the stories within are important milieu shaping creations—story threads which are formalized into the series canon for they helped establish it, and act as a spring board for further developments in the books. Many characters debut in these short stories who play an important role in subsequent longer works.

The book is eponymously named for the mysterious cosmic event described from within and without by those who witnessed it, and is seen in the wider world by some as work of the devil, a miracle, or a warning from God. Religious thought permeates the world view of the "down-timers" throughout and stands in stark contrast to the secular outlook of the 3,000 "up-timer" Americans who act as an (mainly) ensemble protagonist in the books.

The various infamous Catholic Inquisitions appear in the works regularly, as do obstinate public figures acting on beliefs rooted in religious dogmas. So do attitudes about property and the interaction of classes and frictions between townspeople and country folks. But faith based infamies are not limited to just the church of Rome— both Protestants and Catholics have a tendency to cry witchcraft and start piling up firewood, and the works correctly depict that toleration between various Protestant sects was rare as well.

;Series namesThis descriptive connection with "the cosmic event" (the term "Ring of Fire" is first used in the novel "1632") has led to it also lending its name to the earliest "Publishers name" for the series. By the time GG03 was released, Baen Books had for some reason instead marketed the series as "Assiti Shards Series", a misnomer in that Eric Flint has no less than three other Assiti Shards based books, two of them expected to be series on their own, written, or in planning— the first of these 1781 (novel) is actually overdue, as was in production circa July 2006. While the first books of each set will share the same kind of departure point (an Assiti Shards event), they will have nothing to do with the 1632/163x-verse/Ring of Fire series—George Washington and the Continental Army swapping places from 1781 with a Roman Legion in Trans-Alpine Gaul simply don't share background, or characters. Even as this paragraph is written, Baen Books still has the series listed under Assiti Shards [http://www.baen.com/series_list.asp] (very outdated page though— the last three published works are missing entirely) while Amazon.com [http://www.amazon.com/dp/1416542531] clearly lists it as "Ring of Fire", back to the original name.


The 1632 series is alternate history —a science fiction sub-genre which has precisely one departure point from our history—the arrival in Thuringia in a sphere of flame and light of a small typical American country centered town of about 3,000 souls, some light industries, a couple of larger industries, the unusual good luck to have both a power plant and the natural resources of coal and natural gas and a supply line which has been sundered by #expr:2000-1631 years. What came through into the German states with the three mile radius sphere that surrounded the town is all there is, and there is no army with helicopter gun ships nor a Marine Expeditionary Brigade to call on when the bad guys charge up the hill.

Premise of the series

The first novel, "1632", and resultant 1632 series share a common theme, which is to ask the "What if?" questions common to and characteristic of the science fiction genre: "What if a mysterious cosmic event occurred which exchanged a whole populated region of 20th century West Virginia with a matching portion of 1632 Germany?" Mix in a character focus repudiating the "Great Man" theory of history, making the whole town of Rednecked Hillbillies, hillbilly and German Rednecks your collective protagonists allowing plenty of scope for fast-paced parallel plot development, add two cups of calculating authoritarian noblemen who think social-class matters, a pinch of venal grasping clergymen, and a quart each of American law, American can-do, a dash of "biker" elan, and half-a-pound of American attitudes and imagine the fun they'll have interacting in "interesting times" when "High-Tech" means just-invented flintlock rifles.

A unusual departure

The series heralds a new kind of writing, blending both shared universe and collaborative fiction writing in large series fiction. As in other shared universes, the stories are set in a milieu shared with other writers, but usually it's done with other author's stories being set safely somewhere off to the side of the main story threads. Flint demonstrated that a series could be successfully written by ignoring convention, and deliberately asking the other writers to share in creating the main threads and plot lines of the milieu. The first two novels in the series, "1632" and "1633", were written contemporaneously so that story threads started in one novel could intermingle and generate matching action or background in the other, and vice versa. Flint is on record saying that large portions of "1633" were adjusted drastically, even thrown out and rewritten as later submissions to the 1632 series impacted the various and diverse story threads. For a fuller look on this literary development see Assiti Shards series. For the fullest enjoyment of all three books, it is best to read them in the order "1632", "Ring of Fire", and then "1633". Interchanging the last two has a relatively minor cost to understanding and in appreciation that can be avoided.

tories in the anthology

"In the Navy"'

:: by 16writ|David|Weber: Weber's short story sets up major story elements that play out in "1633" and 34TBW. In particular, the story tells how the NUS!32 Navy (and that of future Empire of the USE) came to be in the resource strapped days of 1632–33. Most notably, through the eyes and experiences of young 16char|Eddie Cantrell, the story begins the rehabilitation of John Chandler Simpson who was cast as quite unlikeable in "1632". Through the eyes of Simpson, Cantrell and fellow up-timers Jere Haygood and Pete McDougal we get a picture of the chaos involved in rebuilding Magdeburg after the city was sacked by Tilly's forces. [Cite ROF-1pb|last=Weber|first=David|authorlink=David Weber|pp=pp. 36-37]

"To Dye For"

:: by 16writ|Mercedes|Lackey

To Dye For introduces the absent minded purveyor of Wacky-Tabbacky 16char|Tom Stone and his 16char|s=The Stone Family|p=three boys as he strives for respectability in the eyes of guildmaster 16char|Karl Jurgen|Edelmann, father of spinster 16char|Magdalena|Stone|p=Magdalena Edelmann and main head-over-heels love interest of Tom "Stoner" Stone. As a daughter of a guildmaster, Magdelena Stone was wasting away as a spinster in her early thirties until a delegation from her town visited Grantville and she met her soul-mate, Tom Stone. His initial courting was received with favor, until her father decided "Stoner" wasn't the man of means he'd mistaken him to be.

"Stoner" is the last adult in the former seventies 16inst|Lothlorian Commune and had been enticed away from Pharmacology graduate school by a hippy "Chick" named Lisa, who is Faramir's (16char|Frank|Stone) mother as acknowledged son of Stoner. In the free love community of Lothlorien, whether "Elrond" (16char|Ronald|Stone) "might be" his is a question he has long abandoned, but it is genetically certain that the "Stop sign red" colored hair of "Gwaihir" (16char|Gerry|Stone) makes him someone else's boy, who is nonetheless being raised as one of his own.

As this story opens, a glum Stoner is introduced to 16char|James|Nichols|p=Dr. James Nichols by Mike Stearns, and the two have come by to pick up a horse drawn cart load of Stoner's "patented West Virginia Wildwood Weed" (which originated in a pilgrimage to Holland) that Stoner uses as an emergency cash crop grown in his ramshackle home-made greenhouse from various junk automobile sections, windows thrown in the trash, and a lot of effort and ingenuity. At the same time, interjected into this conversation are barbs by the German boy driving the horse cart just identified as 'Klaus' such as "Und Magdalena vould haf better prospects elsewhere, you haf no "income", Stoner. Effen der Veed, you gifs to der Doc".

Stoner, who is particular adept with recreational extra-sensory stimulatory compounds, especially as a pharmacological graduate school drop-out from Purdue University refuses to take payment for the weed, saying repeatedly that he wouldn't make money off of other peoples pain. Klaus turns even that, "Dat earns you a place in Heaffen, maybe, but on Earth, no income." A matter which becomes the topic of a general family discussion after the medical visitors have left, brought up by the boys. Soon, the family conference reminded Stoner of a past fiasco at a town fair where a cloud-burst had ruined the sales of many exotically tie-dyed tee-shirts, also ruining what would have been a great day as the tee-shirts hadn't been processed to set the dye into the cloth—inadvertently dyeing many a now irate customer. But Stoner knew how to make things colorfast, he was in fact a very good chemist, and had loads of left over dyes here and there on the grounds.

Soon, with the boys eager help, the Stones had gone into series production of embroidery yarns, as the product which would stretch the dyes and return the maximum in income. Karl Edelman was impressed and Stoner had a new life partner, one who had a ruthless business savvy that he'd never own. As the story closes, Stoner is recalling the history early organic dyes leading up to the Mauve Decade, when coal-tar dyes such as Perkin's mauve were developed and generated huge fortunes for the ready market existed in the mindset of status-conscious Europeans of the day, as they did in 1631-32 Germans. The neat thing, was it would be ecologically sound for the dyes needed could be taken from the coal fired power plant with the addition of scrubbers on the chimneys. Splitting the profits bothered Stoner not a bit. They would be huge.

;impact on the milieuIn the after-story, the sequel 34TGA, Magda accompanies her antibiotic analgesic and clothing dye wizard of a husband to a years posting to lecture at the University of Padua, as part of the Embassy sent to Venice. There, she takes her husbands wealth and shows the business acumen learned at her father's side and a shrewed judgment of men and ruthlessness which built it into a fortune, and turns the couple into the wealthiest family in Europe with the able assistance of 16char|Sharon Nichols, who builds up a goodly fortune of her own.

"A Lineman For the Country"

:: by 16writ|Dave|Freer

"Between the Armies"

:: by 16writ|Andrew|Dennis

"Biting Time"

:: by Virginia Easley DeMarce

"Power to the People"

:: by 16writ|Loren K.|Jones

"A Matter of Consultation"

:: by 16writ|S. L.|Viehl:"A Matter of Consultation" by veteran science fiction S. L. Viehl expands on the character 16char|Sharon|Nichols created by Flint, who becomes one of the lead characters in both 1633 and the plot thread|South European thread's two novels, and . Also in "A Matter of Consultation" Viehl introduces the nurse 16char|Ann|Jefferson, a classmate of Nichols whom he pairs with Nichols in this story. Flint later will make her into an American poster girl of sorts in his purpose written short stories in each of the Grantville Gazettes GG01|s="Portraits"|p=I, GG02|s="Steps in the Dance"|p=II and GG03|s="Postage Due"|p=III where she is caught up in the 16batl|siege of Amsterdam and ends up as the common subject of many famous down-time artists starting with 16CHAR|Peter Paul|Rubens [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Paul_Rubens] and including Rembrandt, who is a virtual unknown at the time. Those three stories set canon for increased information flow and detail the beginning of a common postal system across Europe.

:Viehl has Nichol's and Jefferson face off against Dr. William Harvey, the "discoverer" of the circulatory system, and the two nurses "give him some pointers", including a severe dressing down. Concurrently, Anne Jefferson meets her future husband, diplomat and mathematician 16CHAR|Adam|Olearius [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Olearius] , who is traveling as diplomat and guide to Harvey in this story. In canonical importance, Dr. Harvey visits Grantville, and its libraries, and as a courtesy, has some medical books copied for him. While killing time he discovers encyclopedia's and has pages detailing English History copied at the end of his stay. Charles I of England uses these warnings of the revolution to change England to repress the future revolution, thus setting the stage for the English international politics in the series.

"Family Faith"

:: by 16writ|Anette M.|Pedersen

"When the Chips are Down"

:: by 16writ|Jonathan|Cresswell and 16writ|Scott|Washburn: "When the Chips are Down" explores some of the issues involved in "16inst|gearing down". Larry Wild is one of the 16char|Four|Musketeers introduced midway through the novel 1632, and is the central character in the tale which involves both Larry's employment in one of Grantville's machine shops, where he demonstrates a regretable inconsistency, an inability of always paying proper timely attention and so breaks on occasion valuable and irreplaceable machine tool cutting heads. Most of the story involves preparations for a Christmas celebration which Larry presses forward with despite experience and difficulties and displays quite humorous adverse interactions with members of the extended family of 16char|Jeff|Higgins|p=Jeff and 16char|Gretchen|Richter|p=Gretchen Higgins, and especially the formidable grandmother 16char|Veronica|Dreeson|p=Veronica Richter.

"American Past Time"

:: by 16writ|Deann|Allen and 16writ|Mike|Turner


:: by 16writ|Greg|Donahue

"A Witch to Live"

:: by 16writ|Walt|Boyes

"The Three R's"

:: by 16writ|Jody|Dorsett

"Here Comes Santa Claus"

:: by 16writ|K. D.|Wentworth

"The Wallenstein Gambit"

:: by 16writ|Eric|Flint: Flint's novelette set in December 1632—Spring 1633, is the basis for a major plot thread in the milieu, the plot thread|Eastern European thread. In the work, Albrecht von Wallenstein having been near fatally wounded by the sniper fire of sharp shooting 16char|Julie |Sims at the fictional 16batl|Battle of Alte Vesta decides he'd rather ally with Gustavus and the Americans rather than face the assassination the Americans' history books have him slated for in 1634. He'd also rather not face them or Gustavus again in battle, and in particular not the American rifles which had torn up his jaw and had put him in declining health since he could not ingest solids. He reasoned that the American's health care could also fix him up (See ROF-1|"Here Comes Santa Claus")

: He plots (together with Gottfried Pappenheim) to expel imperial administrators from Bohemia and depose the absent Archduke Ferdinand III of Austria, then also king of Hungary (1625) and Bohemia (1629) whilst he was occupied opposing the Ottoman Empire while his father Ferdinand III prosecuted the Thirty Years' War his reign in Bohemia triggered. Meanwhile, some Grantville people come to ) install a telephone system for Wallenstein's residence in Prague, while a Jewish couple from Grantville settle in Prague and gain influence in Josefov, the Jewish quarter.

: Wallenstein's coup succeeds, but he must take his troops out of Prague to meet Ferdinand's army in a "Second Battle of White Mountain". Mercenary chief Heinrich Holk decides to exploit their absence and attack the city. However, successors of religious hussites and the Jewish population emerge as citizen defenders of Prague, led by elderly American tycoon Morris Roth, who amazes himself by becoming a popular leader: don Morris, hidalgo of Jews.

:Campaignbox Khmelnytsky Uprising

:At the heart of the storylkine backplot and that of Flint's plot thread|Eastern European Thread is the "Chmielnicki Rebellion":

The Chmielnicki Rebellion (also Khmel'nyts'kyi/Chmielnicki Uprising or Khmelnytsky/Khmelnytsky Uprising) refers to a rebellion or war of liberation in the lands of present-day Ukraine which raged from 1648-1654 and involved massive anti-semetic pograms against the Jews in Poland—many who had fled central and western Europe since the plauge years in the fourteenth century had created pograms against them, as did the spread of Lutheranism which was at the heart of the Thirty Years'War.

In the Rebellion, under the command of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Zaporozhian Cossacks allied with Crimean Tatars, along with the local Ukraine peasantry, fought several battles against the armies and szlachtian disorganised militia of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and eradicated the control of the Polish szlachta (nobles), Roman Catholic priests and their Jewish intermediaries (arendators [Paul Robert Magocsi. A history of Ukraine. University of Washington press. p. 147.] ) in the area.

The Uprising started as the rebellion of the Cossack estate, but as other Orthodox Christian classes (peasants, burghers, petty nobility) of the Ukrainian palatinates joined them, the ultimate aim became a creation of an autonomous Ukrainian state. In between, the endemic dislike of the Jewish rent collectors was generalized to the Jewish population in general and massive bloodlettings ensued in both Poland and the Ukraine. The Uprising succeeded in ending the Commonwealth influence over Cossack lands, but effectively transferred those territories from the Polish to the Russian sphere of influence. Further weakened by internal conflicts and hostilities with Sweden and Russian Tsardom, the power of the Commonwealth was severely diminished during this period (referred to in Polish history as The Deluge).

ee also

* Ring of Fire II


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