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Bewildering Stories

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Book Review: Ring Of Fire - Edited by Eric Flint

By Jerry Wright

Ring Of Fire
Editor: Eric Flint
Publisher: Baen Books
Hardcover, January 2004
528 pages
ISBN: 074347175X
Price: HB--$23.00

Eric Flint burst on my consciousness as a writer to watch with the publication of 1632. A late 20th Century West Virginia coal mining town is engulfed by some sort of cosmic "accident"(?) and blasted back through time and space to 16th century Germany, right in the middle of the 30 Years War. As a piece of "alternative history" it followed in the footsteps, sort of, of S.M. Stirling and his Island In The Sea Of Time series (also highly recommended), but where Nantucket was simply (?) moved in time, Grantville, Kentucky is moved in space as well.

Ring of Fire is a "shared universe" collection of short stories by various authors both well known and unknown (Mercedes Lackey, for example) as well as a novelette by Eric Flint. Timewise, these stories generally fit in between 1632 and its sequel 1633. And oddly, for a shared world anthology, characters introduced in these stories have important parts to play in 1633 as well as the forthcoming Galileo Affair.

Generally speaking, I would NOT recommend this book as an introduction to Grantville, please read 1632 for that, but as illuminations upon the world of 1632, I can't recommend it highly enough. To get a taste of this book, you can actually read the first four chapters from Ring Of Fire here.

As an example of "alternate history", American ingenuity, "strangers in a strange land", etc., this is a truly wonderful series. But the transplanted Americans needs must beware, for the people who've only been characters in history books, have READ those history books now, and know what the future used to be...

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