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1636: Seas of Fortune by Iver P. Cooper
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451639391
Date: 07 January 2014 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The Ring of Fire changed the world. The biggest impacts were in Europe as Grantville and its knowledge and technology were left there. Most of the stories set in this universe focus on the events in Europe, but there are a ton of stories waiting to be told about the rest of world. This collection presents the stories from South America and Japan.

The first set of stories focus on the activities of Henrique Pereira da Costa and his servant Mauricio and their adventures that lead them to a new colony. At this colony are Dutch looking for plants and materials that can be traded. Things go well until a new threat arises, the discovery of gold.

Gold and resources are also a motivation for the Japanese. The Japanese know they need more resources. Knowledge of the New World provides an opportunity to exploit the West of North America. In addition, they can remove some problems. They can send the Christians that will rebel in the near future and the wandering Ronin there. Once in the Americas, the colony struggles to set up the infrastructure needed while trying to survive both nature and the local Indian tribes.

This is a rare collection from a shared universe. There is a fairly low bar to entry as none of the action is truly dependent upon the main action of the Ring of Fire series. If readers know that the city of Grantville, West Virginia, was teleported into 1632 Germany, that is about all that they need to know to follow the stories. Very few of the major characters from the main storyline make an appearance. For long time readers, Cooper is exploring a part of the world that has been rarely mentioned.

I really enjoyed Cooper's first collection of short stories. I was a little thrown off as the action switched to the Japanese set of stories as I was looking for continuity with the South American set. Once I quit trying to tie them together, I was able to enjoy the exploration of the New World.

One of the issues that hasn't really been in the fore in previous Ring stories is that of slavery. In South America it is a big deal as slavery is used to exploit the natural resources. Uptimers are notoriously antislavery. Another issue is treatment of native populations. Both the Europeans and the Japanese must make choices in how they relate to the indigenous populations. Not everyone makes the most civilized choices.

The collection holds twelve stories and is worth a read.

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