Eric Flint: Grantville Gazette.Volume VII

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Eric Flint


Grantville Gazette.Volume VII

ASSISTANT EDITOR'S PREFACE

Eric said, in the preface to Grantville Gazette Volume Five:

"Sigh. Not one of these stories deals with Ye Big Picture. Not one of them fails to wallow in the petty details of Joe or Dieter or Helen or Ursula's angst-ridden existence.

Pure, unalloyed, soap opera, what it is."

And we continue in our grand soap operatic tradition with Grantville Gazette (count 'em) Volume Seven.

Is Jon and Linda Sonnenleiter's introduction of up-time style pizza to Naples critical to the war? Nope. Don't think so. Neither is Mark Huston's quiet story about an elderly couple and their choices. But the fans don't much care, we've found.

Ditto for John and Patti Friend's crew of misfits who, somehow, make their way to Magdeburg. They're not important to the events we'll all read about in 1634: The Baltic War, at all. Neither is Virginia DeMarce's Minnie Hugelmair or Tina Marie Hollister. They're just not at all the type to get involved in politics and war.

No more so is Russ Rittger's Chad, who manages to find himself as something of a laundry mogul, or Terry Howard's Jimmy Dick, who seems to drink himself into a philosophical mood with some regularity.

On the other hand, Rick Boatright's radio heads just might have an effect on that little altercation up in the Baltic, and there's just no telling what Kerryn Offord's Dr. Phil might come up with next. Kim Mackey's Colette… well, she's got this really, really rich relative who just might come in handy to know.

And, if you'd like to build a Victrola, explore the mass media implications, plan the route for a railroad-not to mention learn about the engines for the trains, well, this is the place. Chris Penycate, Gorg Huff, Carsten Edelberger, Iver Cooper and I will tell you what we know about those.

So, grab your coffee (or whatever beverage), load up on the chocolate bonbon's, kick back in the chair, and have a good time. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Paula Goodlett and the Editoral Board

April 2, 2006

FICTION


Canst Thou Send Lightnings?


By Rick Boatright

In like manner the lightning when it breaketh forth is easy to be seen; and after the same manner the wind bloweth in every country.

(Deuterocanonical Apocrypha, The Epistle of Jeremiah: 61)

To: The Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Rome

From: Adolph Wise S.J., University of Eichstaett.

Enclosed with this letter you will find an example of the 'Crystal Radio' that is being distributed throughout Thuringia. I enclose also instructions for the construction of more of these Radios as distributed by the American government.

I testify, of my own knowledge, further attested by the witnesses signatures hereto affixed and sealed, that anywhere within fifty miles of Grantville on most evenings, when you place your ear next to the opening in the box, you can hear voices and music and other sounds which originate miles away in Grantville. These voices are sent through the air itself by the lightnings into the wires of the Radio. The Radio is delicate and fails to function with the least mis-adjustment. However, when adjusted properly, at the correct time of day anyone can hear the Voice of America sent forth from the great stone tower of the Radio Station in Grantville.

No one that I have spoken with here in the university can begin to understand how this works. The Americans insist that this is nothing but another of their mechanical arts, related to the "electricity" of which I wrote in an earlier letter. They maintain that there is nothing more involved than the proper arrangement and composition of mundane physical materials. If so, then, as with so many other devices to be found in and around Grantville, it is the knowledge they possess that is important.

I have spoken with the local clergy, and they inform me that the Radios are being built mostly by jewelers and others who are used to working with fine wires and small detail work. There are others who are working on the equipment to send the lightnings from the great tower to the Radios. Again, the local clergy tell me that this equipment, although considerably more robust than the Radios, is still remarkably delicate in some ways and requires the deft touch of jewelers and similar folk.

The Americans insist that they welcome students. They also are training workers to assist in building their next "Radio Station," which they plan to locate in Magdeburg. When completed, it will be placed at Gustav Adolphus' disposal. It is said that he intends to use this voice to promote Lutheranism.

I beg of you to find within our ranks a young man, skilled in the jeweler's arts and firm in the Church, and send him to us. Some one of us must take this training, in order that we may first gain the knowledge of how this art works, and second, perhaps in some way delay or prevent the establishment of Gustavus Adolphus' Voice of Luther. Simultaneously, we must work to produce a Radio Station that can bring to the people the saving grace of the Holy Mother Church.

Signed

Adolph Wise S.J.

(and 12 other witnesses.)

Father Nicholas Smithson lowered the letter, and looked at Father Andrew White, his superior in the Society of Jesus. "Do you believe this, Father Andrew?"

"It does not matter what I believe, Nicholas. The Father General of the Society may or may not believe it, but he has indicated it shall be treated as fact until it is proved otherwise."

"So be it. What the Father General orders shall be done." Nicholas nodded, then pursed his lips. "This is all very interesting, Father, but why is this letter here in London, and why are you discussing it with a humble parish priest?"

Father Andrew smiled. "Read the letter again. Paying particular attention to the skills of the workmen and the request made by Father Adolph."

When Nicholas set the letter down again, he was stunned. He could feel that his eyes were wide. He opened his mouth a time or two, but nothing came out. Finally, he coughed. "They have chosen me?"

"Aye, Nicholas." Father Andrew was sympathetic. "You are the son of a jeweler, trained in his craft, who is also a Jesuit. You are the very man that Father Adolph has called for."

"But… but what of my parish? Who will serve Mass, and catechism, and the rites to those hidden members of the true church if I leave?"

"My son." Father Andrew stood and walked to the window to stare out at the busy evening London street scene. "The situation in London-indeed, in all England-grows ever grimmer. Despite the fact that King Charles at one time did seem disposed to provide some little relief to those who follow Rome, since the advent of Grantville he is of no mind to tolerate dissent of any kind, even from priests. I am afraid he sees gunpowder under every chair. It may well be that we are returning to the dark times we walked under during Elizabeth's reign."

Turning back to the room, the older priest leaned against the window sill. "Nicholas, I do not doubt your courage. I am aware that if a martyr's crown called, you would respond willingly. The society has many brave, fervent men who can and will serve as priests in the darkness of London, perhaps to become martyrs if God so wills. But you, you are best suited to another task. You are called to a different work."

Nicholas sat quietly, staring at the hands folded in his lap. There was only one decision he could make, as much as he might desire otherwise. When he accepted that, peace descended. When he finally raised his head to look at Father Andrew, he felt calm.

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