The Grantville Gazette has reached its milestone hundredth issue. The alternate history series created by a vast community of writers began over 20 years ago. Eric Flint can tell you about the beginnings of the 1632 story, and current Grantville Gazette editor Walt Boyes brings us up to date in “The Story So Far”, which he shares with File 770 in the following excerpt.
THE STORY SO FAR . . . by Walt Boyes: Whew! We made it. We made it to Issue 100 of the Grantville Gazette. This is an incredible feat by a large group of stakeholders. Thank you, everyone.
I don’t think Eric Flint had any idea what he’d created when he sent Jim Baen the manuscript for 1632. In the intervening two-plus decades, the book he intended to be a one-shot novel has grown like the marshmallow man in Ghostbusters to encompass books from two publishing houses, a magazine (this one, that you are holding in your metaphorical hands) and allowed over 165 new authors to see their first published story in print. The Ring of Fire Universe, or the 1632 Universe, has more than twelve million words published. The Grantville Gazette is bi-monthly, publishing six times a year. To do this requires a dedicated group of editors and proofreaders, authors, and artists. Later in this issue, you can read interviews with Eric Flint and Paula Goodlett about the early days of the Grantville Gazette.
From the Grantville Gazette’s unique beginning, we knew it would be a different magazine. Growing as it did out of the writing group from Jim Baen’s Universe, it was always dedicated to finding and grooming new writers–writers who had oftentimes never published anything before, or who had published only non-fiction for their entire careers. We set up the conferences in Baen’s Bar that we still use today as a permanent floating crit group where you could post your story, get comments and criticism, rewrite and repost your story until the editor bought it. There wasn’t another crit group like it anywhere–the prize was, “We bought your story.”
I am the third editor of the magazine, and with my right-hand man, Bjorn Hasseler, we continue to build the legacy of this wonderful magazine and its crit groups on Baen’s Bar. We are always looking for new authors, and we keep finding them. Bethanne Kim, Sarah Hayes, Joy Ward, and others have been looking at the 1632 Universe from a woman’s perspective, so it isn’t all about hillbillies in Germany. Joy and others have written about LGBTQ issues in the seventeenth century. Robert Waters, Griffin Barber, and Iver Cooper have written about the collisions between 20th-century mindsets and South America, India, Japan, and the Native Americans on the West Coast of the United States. The canvas of the 1632 series is utterly vast–an entire world! Garrett Vance, who is our Graphic Designer, has also written about saving the Dodo, the thrust toward a balanced ecology, the Japanese diaspora, and the Time Spike universe. These are just the tip of the iceberg of authors and visions and topics and themes. These are only a few of the authors who have collaborated with Eric Flint’s world as he built it. As an homage to Jim Baen’s Universe magazine, we have kept a portion of the Gazette we call the Universe Annex, to publish really good science fiction from great authors, just not in the 1632 Universe.
The theme of this issue is the Committees of Correspondence set up by the Americans in the first novel, 1632. Based on the committees formed in the American Revolution, the Committees of Correspondence (CoCs) have been dedicated to improving the lives of the downtrodden in the Early Modern Era, They teach and organize on every subject from sanitation and hygiene to spreading democracy and tumbling over-reaching Adel. Above all, the CoCs are literal death to anti-Semitism and witch-burning.
We have selected twelve stories about the CoCs, including one by Eric Flint himself. It is called “1632: The Wrecking Crew” and is about Harry Lefferts and the CoC getting started. Another look at the beginnings of the CoC is from Bethanne Kim called, “Freedom Arches.” Terry Howard, one of the Gazette’s most prolific authors, gives us two stories in this issue, “Like the Mad Men of Munster,” and “Funding the CoC.” Virginia DeMarce talks about killing witch-burners in “If You Want to Write a Play with Witches.” Marc Tyrell takes a different look at the CoC killing witch-burners in “Advocatus Angeli.” In “Be Happy Now, My Enemies,” A.P. Davidson asks what happens when the Adel start fighting back. Can the CoC’s new political consciousness win against centuries of noble skulduggery?
Joy Ward returns with “It’s Only Rock and Roll, But…” showing another side of the Committees of Correspondence as a place where teenage misfits can rock out on rhythm and blues without getting in trouble, and where a young gay boy can make friends in the name of music. In “Aftermath,” Bjorn Hasseler shows that the CoC can fight and beat Swedish regulars during the rebellion of Axel Oxenstierna, and show graciousness and nobility when the fighting is over. In Michael Lockwood’s “What Price an Adel?” the story of one man’s political journey in the Magdeburg CoC is told.Edith Wild’s “Leftovers” lets us see what happens after a CoC action when a son dives in front of his father’s assassin. In “Slamfire!” by Bjorn Hasseler and Walt Boyes, a young Welsh gunsmith’s new political consciousness leads him to create a special design of shotgun cheap enough to equip all the Committees of Correspondence in Europe and North America. In the only piece of non-fiction in this issue, we present Kristine Katherine Rusch on 100 issues of the Grantville Gazette.
In the two-plus decades since Eric wrote 1632, nearly 200 people have contributed to the success of the Universe directly, and many more indirectly by reviewing and buying the books and magazines. Time passes in the original timeline, and some of those people have passed away. We want to acknowledge them and their wonderful contributions to the story:
- Leonard Hollar
- Eva Musch
- Cheryl Detweiler
- John Zeek
- Karen Bergstralh
- Pam Poggiani
- John Johnson
- Nick Lorrance
- Kevin Evans
- Karen Evans
- Rick Boatright
…Finally, I want to point out that the 100th issue of the Grantville Gazette is the first that will be issued in POD as a trade paperback on Amazon. Going forward, all issues will be done this way, and we are going to go back toward the beginning issues as we can scrape up the time to do it. Eventually, the entire backlist of the magazine will be available in hard copy as well as in multiple format ebook editions.
So once again, I ask you to strap on your seat belt, keep your arms and legs inside the car, and get ready to ride the 1632 rollercoaster! Welcome aboard!