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by Eric Flint

Short fiction has always been an integral part of the 1632 series. The third volume in the series was an anthology of short fiction: Ring of Fire, which came out after 1632 and 1633. More than a decade has gone by since 1632 was published in February of 2000, and seven years since the first Ring of Fire anthology was published in 2004. Over the course of that time, to date, nine novels have appeared in the series and the same number of anthologies.

The anthologies fall into three categories: the Ring of Fire volumes; the paper editions of the Grantville Gazette, whose stories are taken from the electronic magazine by that name; and braided-story anthologies. Only one volume has so far appeared in that last category, 1634: The Ram Rebellion. The second one, 1636: The Wars on the Rhine, is being put together at the moment.

Roughly, the distinction between the three types of anthologies is as follows:

The Gazette volumes represent the traditional type of anthologies connected with popular series. The stories are all set in the 1632 universe, but have no particular relationship to each other and may or may not have much impact on the series as a whole. Some do, but they are not chosen for that reason. They are included simply because Paula Goodlett and I think they’re good stories. (Paula is the editor of the magazine from which the stories are selected.)

The braided-story anthologies like 1634:The Ram Rebellion are collections of short fiction that share a common story arch. The “short” fiction involved always includes at least one short novel.

The Ring of Fire anthologies are more loosely organized. But, with a few exceptions, every story in the anthology is either closely connected to existing story lines in the series or opens up new story lines for later development. And each volume ends with a short novel written by me.

In this third Ring of Fire volume, my short novel (“Four Days on the Danube”) provides the sub-plot hinted at in 1636: The Saxon Uprising and serves as a bridge to the next novel in the series centered on Mike Stearns.

Chuck Gannon’s story “Upward Mobility” comes just before mine because it provides some of the background for my story.

Mercedes Lackey’s story “Dye Another Day” lays some of the basis for a novel she and I will be writing later in the series.

Walter Hunt’s story “Les Ailes du Papillon” is connected to a novel that he and I are working on at the moment. And, as with Chuck Gannon’s other story “Birds of a Feather,” starts to bring the New World into the series.

Panteleimon Roberts’ “Mir Arash Khan” and Kim Mackey’s “Salonica” do the same thing for the Ottoman Empire, which will also come to play a prominent role in the series as time goes on.

The Far East has so far been almost completely absent in the 1632 series. Garrett Vance’s “All God’s Children in the Burning East” begins to change that situation. Other stories develop the series in still different ways. Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett’s “Royal Dutch Airlines” illustrates the ongoing development of air travel—as does Gannon’s “Upward Mobility.” David Carrico’s “Sweet Strings” continues his exploration of the impact of the Ring of Fire on music—and, at least indirectly, helps lay some of the basis for a novel he and I are writing entitled 1636: Symphony for the Devil. Aspects of Jewish history have been an important part of the series since the very beginning. Tom Roesch’s “Falser Messiah” continues in that tradition.

In one way or another, all of the stories in this volume open up or further develop various themes in the 1632 series. And, at least in my opinion, all of them are good stories in their own right.

I hope you enjoy them.

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