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Grantville Gazette VII (The Ring of Fire)
Edited by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476780290
Date: 07 April 2015 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Grantville West Virginia was transported back in time to 1632 Germany, these are the stories of the people that came back and the ones they meet. This is another collection of 24 of the "Best of" from the electronic publication, The Grantville Gazette. To be accurate, there is an original story by Eric Flint that was needed to correct an error in an upcoming novel.

The stories run quite a gamut. There are mysteries, action adventure, and little bit of rewritten history. The tales revisit many characters from prior Grantville Gazettes. There are brief appearance by many of the leaders of Grantville, but none of them drive the stories. The stories take place over Europe and range over the all of the time from 1632 until 1635.

One of the first stories, "The Pitch", tells how differently men and women view the utility of items. The story sets the quirky nature of many of the stories. It is one of the things that is most enduring about the stories set in the universe. The characters have a sense of humor. When something is funny, they laugh and can shake their heads at unintentional puns.

The stories aren't all humorous, they also deal with subjects related to inequality and opportunity. The First story, "An Awkward Situation", despite the pun title, wraps serious topics in with the humor and a police procedural.

Another really good part of the series, is the serious discussion of technology and how old technologies can be recreated until the equipment needed to build the modern technology is available. The stories which deal with flight need to explain a lot of technology in a way that is accessible to readers, the authors do a nice job. There is a story about the electrification of many processes. In order to that, people need a source of electricity, "An Electrifying Situation", explains how this process is developing.

This is the seventh collection of Gazette stories. Many of the stories can be read without having read the whole series, but knowledge of the universe is helpful. The Gazette has been a pipeline for developing authors. That is one of the best things about the 1632 Universe, Fans have a chance to share their passion and create stories that add depth to the material created in the main line stories by Eric Flint. There is discussion of creating a Hugo Award for best Saga. If it happens, the 1632 Universe will be a strong competitor for the inaugural award.

I don't often comment on the cover art, but the scene from the Magdeburg Aviary hit a special note for me. The scene portrays many birds that were extinct at the time Grantville went back in time. In the far background were several other extinct animals from other parts of the zoo. Long live the Dodo!

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