by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Carolyn Frank
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781416591429
Date: March 2009 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
This anthology of Eric Flint stories spans the many Worlds which he and his several co-authors write about. One or more stories are set in each of these universes. If you have already read one or more of the novels in each universe, the short story or novella provides a diverting tangential view. If you have not, the tale serves as a welcome introduction to places you might care to visit in your own future.
From the Belisarius series, "Islands" tells the romance of Calopodius and Anna in a Roman world recently invaded by malevolent aliens, the Malwa. As a matter of property and lineage, the two teenagers were married off to each other. Calopodius being far more interested in joining the war effort against the Malwa than in a cold and distant bride, joined up with General Balisarius' forces in India and during a violent fight, lost his eyesight. Having lost none of his flair with words, he begins to write a history of the war and exceedingly well-received weekly dispatches back to Rome. Anna, disliking her meaningless-to-her status decides to find Calopodius. As she travels through war-weary Mesopotamia and up the Indus River toward him, she acquires a rather different perspective on their lives, as does he.
From the 1632 series, "The Wallenstein Gambit" tells the story of how Morris Roth, the smalltime Jewish jeweler from the town of Grantville, West Virgina, starts to change the condition and status of Jews in 17th century Central Europe. A year after modern Grantville has been literally uprooted and plunked down in the middle of the Germanic states in 1632, Morris Roth seizes an opportunity to move to Prague and potentially avoid the Chmielnicki massacre of 1648, the largest mass pogrom against the Jews before the Holocaust. As a 20th century American minimally-practicing reform Jew, Morris has little more than a few prayers in common with the 17th century orthodox inhabitants of the Prague ghetto. But as the 17th century Germanic states and various royalty and other strongmen attempt to carve out their own small empires, many physical battles are being waged, and possibly some moral and cultural battles can be won along the way.
Based in David Weber's Honor Harrington universe, "From the Highlands" introduces the Mesa and the topic of genetic slavery. Helen, the only daughter of Captain Zilwicki of the Royal Manticoran Navy, has been kidnapped. They are on Terra where he is on assignment doing intelligence work. She is trying to literally dig herself out of her prison. He is disobeying all orders to do nothing and let the Solarian police find her. Having sleuthed out highly-inflammatory information about exactly who is trading in genetic slaves, he takes his findings to the Lady Catherine Montaigne, Manticoran Countess of the Tor. He needs her invaluable connections to the escaped Mesan slaves who he believes are the only ones who can rescue his daughter. The Peeps are here too, with plots and counter plots, and everything works out, although not quite in the fashion that anyone involved expects.
Fascinating stories are also included from the Joe's World series, the Rats, Bats and Vats series, and the Ranks of Bronze series. If you have not yet met any of these worlds, this volume will provide an enticing introduction. And if you are familiar with them, you will definitely enjoy discovering them from a slightly variant perspective.