A mysterious cosmic force the "Ring of Fire" has hurled the town of Grantville from 20th century West Virginia back to 17th century Europe, and into the heart of the Thirty Years War. With their seemingly magical technology, and their radical ideas of freedom and justice, the time-lost West Virginians have allied with Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, to form the United States of Europe, changing the course of history in ways both small and large. University students, a restless breed in all centuries, become even more rambunctious in Cambridge, England because of the personal and theological impact of the time-lost Americans. At the same time, American teenagers conquer new financial worlds when their elders are looking the other way. A Lutheran pastor schemes to gain new adherents among the Americans. A Benedictine monk finds a new calling for his order. Practitioners of 20th century medicine and its 17th century counterpart struggle to find common ground in healing the sick and injured. These and other new stories including a new story by Eric Flint himself return the reader to one of the most popular series in alternate history science fiction.
About the Author
Eric Flint is the author/creator of the New York Times best-selling Ring of Fire series. His impressive first novel, Mother of Demons (Baen), was selected by SF Chronicle as one of the best novels of 1997. With David Drake he has written six popular novels in the Belisarius series, including the new novel The Dance of Time, and with David Weber collaborated on 1633, and 1634: The Baltic War, two novels in the Ring of Fire series, and on Crown of Slaves, a best of the year pick by Publishers Weekly. Flint received his masters degree in history from UCLA and was for many years a labor union activist. He lives in East Chicago, IL, with his wife and is working on more books in the best-selling Ring of Fire series.
Read an Excerpt
Grantville Gazette-Volume III
By Eric Flint
Baen Publishing EnterprisesCopyright © 2004 Eric Flint
All right reserved.
Pastor Kastenmayer's Revenge
By Virginia DeMarce
Ludwig Kastenmayer would never forget the day. April 11, 1634, by the reckoning of these up-timers, who had adopted the pope's calendar. The day that one of them had stolen his daughter. It was the worst thing that had happened to him since Count Ludwig Guenther assigned him to the new parish of St. Martin's in the Fields after the Rudolstadt Colloquy.
The man should not even have been in Grantville. He was an officer in the military of the New United States and should have been in Erfurt, where he was assigned.
Jonas-Jonas Justinus Muselius, the youngest teacher at the Lutheran elementary school attached to the church and a friend of several of the up-timers-had said that he was on "R and R." Even after Jonas had explained it to him, Pastor Kastenmayer found it peculiar. There was far more to do in Erfurt than in Grantville. Theological lectures by guest professors. Organ concerts. Choral performances. Sermons by visiting pastors. The man should have stayed in Erfurt for his holiday. Erfurt was a magnificent city. Kastenmayer had greatly enjoyed all four of his visits there.
That man should not have come to Grantville and, within less than twoweeks, seen Andrea on the street, walked up to her, introduced himself, persuaded her to accompany him to a public restaurant for a meal, and-married her! Six weeks before the end of the school term at Countess Katharina the Heroic School next to St. Martin's, leaving her younger sister Maria Blandina to manage all of the youngest children by herself. Still, there were only eighty-three of them, after all. There had been little reason for Maria Blandina to complain so bitterly.
Barbaric, this idea that couples could marry in three days' time and without the consent of the parents. Especially when anyone who thought about it should have realized that the parents would not consent. The man was-well, ultimately, to put it plainly?
At least he hadn't insisted that Andrea convert to his church. That would have been the final embarrassment. Nonetheless, it had been difficult to explain to the consistory in Rudolstadt. Extremely difficult, to say the least. Better yet, they had not married in the Grantville Catholic church. Pastor Kastenmayer had derived some minimal satisfaction from discovering that St. Mary's forbade such an absurdity as manifestly disastrous mixed- confessional matrimony on three days' notice, even if the civil laws did not. They had married before the mayor at the Rathaus, the man saying casually (Pastor Kastenmayer had heard second hand; he had not been there in person) that they "could get the religious stuff sorted out when they had time."
Additionally, Salome, his second wife, suggested that it was his own fault for not having arranged marriages for the daughters of his first marriage in a more timely manner. Indeed, she had commented that it would not be entirely surprising if Maria Blandina chose an equally unsuitable spouse. She hadn't quite said that the girls were both self-centered young snips with pretty faces ... not ... quite.
Pastor Kastenmayer had duly sounded out Jonas about Maria Blandina. It would have been quite suitable; the father of young Muselius had been his second wife's half-brother. But he had received a courteous refusal. Too bad. God had blessed Pastor Kastenmayer greatly-five children from his first wife, all surviving (and the two oldest earning salaries, one as a city clerk and one as a junior pastor, which was also a great blessing). Eight children from his second wife, seven surviving. And, ah, of all those, currently, three sets of board, room, and tuition at the university in Jena; two sets of board, room, and tuition at the Latin school in Rudolstadt, and two boys still not old enough for Countess Katharina the Heroic. All on the salary of a parish pastor, with a bit of tutoring here and there. Salome had recently informed him that they were to be blessed again. I am supposed to find a dowry for Maria Blandina just where? he asked himself. He sighed most gloomily and considered lengthening his morning prayers.
But Jonas, although refusing the offer of a wife, had suggested an alternative. What he called a "payback."
Jonas felt very responsible for the remainder of the village he had led into Grantville. A few old people, a couple of young mothers, and quite a few children. Well, some of the children had been adolescents in 1631, and most of the adolescents had been girls. The older boys had stayed behind with their fathers to fight the delaying action against the mercenaries from Badenburg. The boys lay dead with their fathers, in a mass grave next to the burned-out church. Now, in 1634, the older girls were becoming-at least at the ages the up-timers considered suitable-marriageable. Also without dowries. The arable lands of Quittelsdorf had been removed to West Virginia, Herr Gary Lambert had told Jonas. At least, that was the up-timers' best guess as to where God had chosen to put their fields. God moved in most mysterious ways. If they had not fled from the mercenaries, they too, presumably, would have been removed to West Virginia. It had been a good day to work in the fields.
"So," Jonas had said, "if the Habsburgs can do it"-he quoted the proverb about "happy Austria" waging matrimony rather than war, in Latin, of course-"then so can we. We must ask 'die Krausin.'" Margaretha Krause, widowed with three children, had gone into service as housekeeper and cook for a middle-aged American whose wife had been left up-time and shortly thereafter had married him.
Before the construction of St. Martin's in the Fields, be it known. Pastor Kastenmayer had had nothing to do with it. The man was not Lutheran. On the other hand, he was a skilled artisan with a regular position, owned a house, and did not interfere with her church attendance. He had allowed her to have their daughter baptized Lutheran at St. Martin's. Things could be worse.
"But," Pastor Kastenmayer had protested, "I do observe the truth that the different churches and their pastors of this Grantville appear to survive in this parity arrangement without excessive conflict. But still-if we try to pluck away their members. That will certainly cause offense. Which Count Ludwig Guenther does not wish to cause. They are his allies. He is part of their confederation."
Jonas cocked his head to the side a little. "More than a third of these up-timers belong to no church at all."
"You mean that they do not enforce attendance?"
"No. People who do not belong to any of the churches in the town. They are not only not Lutherans. They are not even heretics." The honest sense of scandal that had enveloped Jonas when he first discovered this was still plain to be heard in his voice. "But, anyway. We steal their men, but we don't steal them from any of their churches. How can the other pastors complain if we convert the heathen?"
From the perspective of his sixty-five years, the first forty-five of them spent among the feuding theologians of Saxony, Pastor Kastenmayer predicted grimly, "They'll find a way."
But it had been irresistible. He called upon "die Krausin," now known to the Grantville public as Mrs. Burton Vandiver. He did not overreach. The weapon that God had forged to his hand consisted of, after all, a dozen quite ordinary village girls, even though they had been given two or three years more schooling in Grantville. His requirements were basic. He needed a list of up-time marriage candidates: just, "no constant drunkards, no brawlers, no lazy louts who will expect their wives to support them."
One more year. Palm Sunday, 1635. Harvest time coming in the spring. He smiled upon his congregation from the pulpit. "Today we welcome into fellowship through the rite of adult confirmation ... Herr Ryan Baker, Herr Derek Blount, Herr James Anthony Fritz, Herr Mitch Hobbs, Herr Michael Lewis Jenkins, Herr Errol Mercer, Herr Roland Worley ..."
The men stood in front of him, closely shaved, their hair cut very short with the exception of Herr Mercer, who had grown his to a respectable length for an adult man since leaving the army, wearing "neckties" and, most of them, the semi-stunned expression of guys who have not fully analyzed the process by which they got themselves into their current situation.
According to Herr Lambert, the "neckties" were a good omen, indicating that the men were taking their oaths seriously.
The girls of vanished Quittelsdorf had done well in the service of their Lord. Indeed, one was also betrothed to the stepson of "die Krausin," but that young man, like his father, was a church member elsewhere; another was betrothed to a colleague of Ryan Baker, but that man also belonged to an up-time church. Still, he had seven. "Seven at one blow," he thought, as the story of the brave little tailor flitted through his mind. Four of the Quittelsdorf girls, prompted by Jonas, had even made their chosen husbands go back to school and get the magic "GED" before they agreed to marry. Jonas was, after all, not merely a school teacher, but their own former teacher, from their lost village; they listened to him. Pastor Kastenmayer proceeded through the liturgy in a dignified manner, but part of his mind was on other things.
Things Could be Worse: Ryan Baker and Magdalena Heunisch?
Ryan Baker had gotten out of the army-stupid amount of paperwork involved with that, it turned out-and gone for a beer. Where he had found the girl. Magdalena. He called her Meg-Magdalena didn't come off his tongue very well. Four hours later, he asked a little doubtfully, "Don't you need to go home, or something? Won't somebody be worried if you don't turn up? What about your mom and dad?"
She wasn't any more than five feet tall, if that. Narrow little shoulders; flat little chest; tiny little waist; a bit more in the way of hips, but not a lot. Now she crossed her arms on the table, put her chin on them, looked at the mug of beer he had bought her, and said, "Dead."
"Father dead. I was little girl. Had stepfather. Dead when the soldiers came. Had brother. Dead when the soldiers came. Mother bigger than me. Strong. Worked hard. Stayed to fight the soldiers. Brave. Dead." She picked up the beer mug.
It was dawning on Ryan that there might be situations in the world worse than the one in which he found himself. He had never been particularly fond of Dayna Shockley, who had already been his stepmother for ten years as of the Ring of Fire. It wasn't that she was awful-just that if Dad hadn't married her, he would never have talked to the woman. But his mother was left up-time, so there hadn't been much option except to move in with Dad and Dayna after the Ring of Fire until he finished high school.
He graduated in 1633, did his basic and one year in the full-time military, and really, really, didn't want to move back in with Dad and Dayna now that he was getting out and had a job as a trainee at the Grantville-Rudolstadt-Saalfeld Railroad and Tramway Corporation.
Meg was continuing. "Things maybe worse. Have little sister. Half-sister. Still alive. Lives with me. No-lives with Maria. I live with Maria. Maria is stepsister. All live in "refugee housing" with Maria's aunt. She is alive, too. She has two daughters still alive."
She lifted her chin. "Things maybe worse. If everybody else dead, much worse."
Ryan admired her for being so upbeat about it all.
"Maria's aunt not worry where I am. Too much work, too many girls, too busy. I am the end one to worry about."
Ryan put his arm about her shoulders, in what he intended to be a friendly and comforting manner. She cuddled her head against his neck. Her light brown hair was slick and smooth. He realized that he had a key to Mitch Hobbs' parents' empty house.
The next morning, she was quite friendly and cheerful. Which was good, all things considered. She'd been a virgin and she might have gone all tearful on him. Instead, she climbed out of bed, fixed porridge and said, "I go to work."
"Kitchen at Cora's. Peel vegetables. Peel fruits. Peel, wash, peel, scrub. Peel more." Her hands moved descriptively.
"Ah." Ryan paused. What next? "Ah, what time do you get off?"
"When done. Cora pays overtime." Meg beamed brightly.
"Ah. I'll be off first, then. If I come pick you up ..."
He stopped rather awkwardly.
"We could go see Maria's aunt. Give her this address. Tell her where you're living now."
He wasn't one hundred percent sure of that, but he was pretty sure that Mitch wouldn't mind having him rent a couple of rooms. The upstairs in the Hobbs house had two bedrooms that you got to on a really narrow and steep staircase. Mitch probably wouldn't be using them after he got out. There was only one bath and it was downstairs, but at least there was a bath. Some rent would help pay Mitch's taxes. And Meg would be a really good reason not to move back in with Dad and Dayna. Once Dayna found out. He thought he'd tell Dad first. Maybe let Dad tell Dayna. When he wasn't there.
Maria Krause looked at her stepsister with exasperation. "You're urping in the morning because you're pregnant, that's what."
Meg nodded quite cheerfully. "Ja, okay."
"You're pregnant and you are not married."
"I told Ryan. He says we'll go to the Rathaus and get married right away. It's all okay." Meg was not about to admit to her stepsister that she had been happily surprised by her boyfriend's reaction to the news.
Walpurga Hercher said, "No!" Very forcefully.
Maria looked at her reproachfully. "No? She is lucky that she will not be suffering for what she has done. Why not?"
"Because it won't help Teacher Muselius's project. Pastor Kastenmayer's project. Magdalena is one of us. We must make our husbands Lutheran for them. If Magdalena just marries Ryan at the city hall, it won't help."
Maria's answer would have been better placed in the barnyard.
"She can always fall back on city hall if he won't go along with it," Walpurga conceded.
* * *
Ryan was very startled to discover that although Meg was (when not morning sick) just as friendly, cheerful, and pleasant as ever, she didn't jump at the prospect of immediate marriage. Meg, truth to tell, would have preferred to jump at it, but she found Walpurga Hercher rather intimidating. So she said, "Want to marry by Pastor. See Teacher Muselius. You be Lutheran."
It was weird, really. Hugh Lowe, the big boss at work, had thought it was a good idea to see this Teacher Muselius. "You might as well find out what you're letting yourself in for, kid. Besides, they outnumber us. They're most of our customers. It can't hurt us to have an in with them, when we're looking for workers and supplies."
Ryan had quickly come to the conclusion that Pastor Kastenmayer moved through life at a stately pace. The confirmation instructions had been excruciatingly step-by-step. It looked like this wedding was going to be a prime example of what Hugh called just-in-time scheduling. Meg was so little, to start with. As the months went by, there had seemed to be more and more baby, with less and less Meg to go around it, like she was shrinking. He'd had the marriage license for three weeks, just in case she started popping before today. And he'd called the mayor, who had agreed to run over to the hospital and marry them off before the kid showed up, in an emergency.
He stood in the front of St. Martin's, his mind wandering as the liturgy flowed over him.
Dad and Dayna were here for the confirmation and wedding. Well, Dad came and dragged Dayna with him. They never went to church. Plus his sister Sam, who didn't ever go to church either. Plus Dayna's two kids. Plus, somehow, Dayna's ex, LeVan Jessup, and his wife, who was German and went to church here, plus her kid and their kid. Teacher Muselius had been very glad to see them. He'd led them to one of the front pews; introduced them to several officers of the congregation.
If it's a little girl, Meg says she wants to name the kid for her mom. Heroically dead in the defense of Quittelsdorf and all that. Ottilia? What do you call a kid named Ottilia? Ottie, nah. Tillie, well, maybe.
At least she wants to call a boy after her brother, not her dad. David's better than Hermann any day. David's a sort of nice name ...
Things could be a lot worse.
Excerpted from Grantville Gazette-Volume III by Eric Flint Copyright © 2004 by Eric Flint. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The continuing story of Grantville, a West Va town that finds itself in the midst of 16thh century Europe. This compilation of short stories focuses on characters from the ongoing series. If you are familiar with the main storyline it is much easier to appreciate the snippetts presented here. Not a book for anyone disinterested in the scifi/fantasy genre so if your a novice move on. If you enjoy alt history it is right up your alley.