1634: The Baltic War Review


*Starred Review* Call it 1632, or call it Ring of Fire, the alternate-history saga launched by Flint and sustained with the help of, first, Andrew Dennis (1634: The Galileo Affair, 2004; 1635: The Cannon Law, 2006) and then Weber (and others: see the Grantville Gazette theme anthologies) is certainly a landmark in that subgenre. The transplanted modern West Virginians and their allies in the United States of Europe now take to the sea, with Admiral Simpson bringing essentially Civil War naval technology to the seventeenth century. The impact is considerable. Meanwhile, the Spanish siege of Amsterdam simmers, with Gretchen Richter and the Committee of Correspondence holding high the banner of radical politics, which is quite plausible, given the era's many uprisings. The French besieging Luebeck are more determined, but the USE has such assets as Sweden's King Gustavus Adolphus and an early machine gun. And the sympathetic characters, who are in the majority even if on the wrong side, face ethical dilemmas far more complex than either the political machinations or the at-this-time advanced technology. The charming Swedish princess Kristina wants to learn to fly, but will that mean giving up autocratic habits and marrying a Danish prince? Eddie Cantrell wrestles with helping the king of Denmark build new weapons for use against the USE and with whether he can safely bed that same king's nubile daughter. And a German machine-gunner of peasant stock wonders whether he can love and be loved by someone obviously from the future—a social worker. A splendid example of character-centered alternate-history, this is a must read for its series' growing fandom. Green, Roland n