Eric Flint: Grantville Gazette.Volume IX

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Eric Flint


Grantville Gazette.Volume IX

Assistant Editor's Preface

Wow. Here we go again. Grantville Gazette, Volume Nine.

Who knew, back a few years ago, just how many people would be interested in the continuing soap opera of Grantville, WV, United States of Europe? I certainly didn't, but I spend part of every single day being happy that I picked up that book with the pickup truck and hillbillies on the cover.

In this issue, as usual, we continue telling the "little" stories. By that, I mean the stories about the regular, everyday people who wound up in a situation they never could have anticipated, even if they'd been science fiction readers in the first place. The everyday sort of young man who misses speeding on the highway-as many young men would, I suspect. Read about him in Mark Huston's "Gearhead." The everyday sort of young soldiers, who always complain about the food in the dining hall on base. You can read about them in Kerryn Offord's "A Matter of Taste." Terry Howard's "Anna the Baptist" looks at religion in a manner that Pope Urban just might not appreciate all that much. And Richard Evans' postulates a "super secret" organization of up- and down-timers in "Order of the Foot." "Pocket Money" by John and Patti Friend shows us just how determined kids can be… if there's something they want badly enough.

For European everyday sorts of people, try "Mail Stop" by Virginia DeMarce-although I must admit that Martin isn't the sort of guy you run into just any day of the week. He's a touch unusual, what with that newly acquired hillbilly accent of his. "NCIS – Young Love Lost," by Jose J. Clavell shows us a grittier side of the coin, while Iver P. Cooper's "Under the Tuscan Son" takes us to Italy and a young man with ambitions. John Zeek's "The Minstrel Boy," tells us about the desire and longing for family, while Karen Bergstralh's earnest blacksmith faces misfortune in "Tool or Die."

What changes will having crystal radios cause? Gorg Huff and I explore a bit of that in "Waves of Change," while Kim Mackey's "Little Jammer Boy" presents the more, ah, reactionary side of that argument. We're still talking about Russia in "Butterflies in the Kremlin, Part 2," and Kim brings his "Essen Chronicles" to a close in Part 3 of that story.

Non-fiction this issue covers the usefullness of mica, from Iver P. Cooper's "The Sound of Mica," while Rick Boatright's "Radio, Part 3" tells us one of the uses. Food-and yes, it is food-is covered in Anette Pedersen's "The Daily Beer," while Kerryn Offord explains sweeteners in "White Gold." Terry Howard discusses just why the Anabaptists were so unpopular in "A Tempest in a Baptistry."

Finally, we have a new feature in this issue. For lack of a better term, we're calling them "European Interludes." They began with a multi-part challenge: Write me something that doesn't use a single up-timer. It can't be set in Grantville or Magdeburg. Tell us what starts happening in the rest of the world, when all the knowledge that Grantville has starts leaking out. The characters don't have to succeed, they just have to try.

We had a lot of takers. Quite a number of challenge stories are included in this volume and more have been written. Those will be included in future volumes.

We hope you enjoy it.

Paula Goodlett and the Grantville Gazette

Editorial Board

FICTION


Mail Stop


Virginia DeMarce

Home, Sweet Home

Frankfurt am Main, March 1633

Martin Wackernagel drew up his horse, first looking back at the route he had just completed and then forward toward the walls of Frankfurt am Main.

Via regia. Die Reichsstra?e. There would never be anything to equal the Imperial Road. Sure, if you wanted to be prosaic, it was just one more trade route, a commercial connection between the great cities of Frankfurt and Leipzig and their fairs. It had been for centuries.

But it was more than that. He hoped that it always would be. Merchants, teamsters, journeymen looking for a new place to demonstrate their existing skills and acquire new ones. Crowned heads, princes of the church, pilgrims on their way to the great shrine of St. James of Compostella, Santiago, in Spain. Victorious soldiers who had triumphed and beaten soldiers in retreat. Unemployed soldiers looking for work, entertainers looking for audiences, peddlers, and beggars. Sometimes it was hard to tell them apart, but they all used the road.

Martin loved the road. He had been riding it as a private messenger for fifteen years, ever since he finished the apprenticeship that his father had forced on him and refused to go ahead and become a journeyman in the trade. Not that he had anything against Uncle Reichhard. He had been a good master, but he was a belt-maker. Belts were necessary, of course, but not very interesting.

So, then and now, he carried messages from Frankfurt to Erfurt via Hanau, Langenselbold, Gelnhausen, Wachtersbach, Soden and Salmunster, Steinau an der Stra?e, Schluchtern, Neuhof, Fulda, Hunfeld, Vacha, Eisenach, and Gotha to Erfurt; then back again. Sometimes he had covered the further stretch to Weimar, Naumburg and Leipzig if there was no one available in Erfurt to pick up the rest of the run, but Frankfurt to Erfurt was his regular route. Or had been, until he started adding the leg that took him to the new city of Grantville, which sent out a truly amazing amount of correspondence.

He knew that all of this caused his mother a lot of distress. She recited with some frequency-every time he got back to Frankfurt, in fact-a lament that she was beginning to wonder if he would ever settle down and get married.

It wasn't as if, being a widow, she needed him to marry and make a home for her. She lived very comfortably with his older sister Merga and her husband Crispin Neumann. She just wanted him to settle down and marry. No special need for it-just a want.

She just could not understand why he loved the road so much.

Good Lord, Mutti, he thought. Do you suppose you could let it go just this once?

Mechanical Ingenuity

Bonn, Archdiocese of Cologne, March 1633

Arno Vignelli had something to sell. Of course. He was an Italian engineer. Most engineers were Italian. They made incredibly ingenious machines in Italy. Italians produced clever devices and then crudely set out to make their fortunes by selling them to that portion of Europe's population that lived north of the Alps.

Evrard Holmann's job, at the moment, included investment in new technology on behalf of Duke Ferdinand of Bavaria, Archbishop of Cologne. He shuffled through the papers on his desk. The man now standing in his office was the student of someone famous. Holman shuffled again. He had the information here somewhere, he was sure. He moved the pile in front of him to the side and snagged another one which should have the letter of introduction. Vignelli had also been to Grantville. He had built this particular device on the basis of something he had observed there.

Vignelli ignored Holman's paper shuffling and went on running through his spiel. "Then, at this 'museum,' I saw the machines which lie at the basis of my new invention."

"Museum?" Holmann raised his eyebrows at the unfamiliar term.

"It is, ah, like a cabinet of curiosities, but the size of a building. It is devoted to the history of the region where this Grantville came from. And since it was a region where people used many various and different technical devices, it is full of them. That is where I saw the 'mimeograph.'"

"They let you come and examine this freely, with no restrictions?"

"Well, not freely. There is a charge to visit the 'museum,' but it is really a quite small one. I could afford to return for several days in a row. They had a placard posted that indicated the costs. The fee is reduced for visits by groups of school children. Otherwise, as to 'with no restrictions,' yes. There were guards, but to prevent damage and theft. Not to prevent visitors from examining the exhibits closely."

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