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Every time I write a preface to an anthology, I remember the advice I got from Jim Baen a couple of years before he died:

“Whenever I open a book and see that it begins with a solemn, sober and serious introduction, I realize that reading this book would be an uplifting experience and do me a world of good. Hastily, I put it back on the shelves and go look for something fun to read.”

With that in mind, I will keep this short and sweet.

The first four paper editions of the Grantville Gazette were simply print versions of the first four issues of the electronic magazine by the same name. Beginning with the fifth paper edition, however, we realized that we couldn’t maintain the same system. Starting in May of 2007, the Gazette e-magazine started publishing on a regular bimonthly schedule, and it soon became obvious that Baen Books couldn’t possibly keep up with the volume of stories being produced. So, beginning with Grantville Gazette V and continuing with this volume, these anthologies consist of the best stories selected from half a dozen issues of the magazine.

I need to add a caveat to the phrase “the best of.” That’s true...with the qualification that we always have to keep the length of the stories in mind. The Gazette is unusual in that, unlike most science fiction and fantasy magazines (these days, anyway; it wasn’t always so), we publish quite a few long-running serialized stories. Many of these would easily qualify as among “the best of” the stories published in the Gazette, but for practical reasons we simply can’t include them in these anthologies.

As with all the paper editions of the Gazette, I write a short story that doesn’t appear in the electronic magazine. Following our long-standing custom, I write these stories after Tom Kidd, the artist for the 1632 series, has done the cover illustration—and I never know ahead of time exactly what that illustration will be.

It’s admittedly a game, and probably a frivolous one. But I think that viewing cover illustrations as solemn, sober and serious endeavors runs the same risk that Jim warned about when it came to prefaces. Books of fiction may be more than simple entertainment—I try my best to make mine so, anyway—but they always begin there and you ignore that at your peril. The moment a reader finds that turning the page has ceased to be fun is the moment you lose that reader, unless your book is one of those which teachers and professors choose to inflict upon their helpless students. But books with cover illustrations like these almost never fall into that select category.)

(More’s the pity. Dammit, I was forced to read books I didn’t want to when I was a callow stripling, so why shouldn’t today’s students suffer the same fate? Especially since this time around I might wind up making some money from the racket instead of spending it. Alas, ’tis not to be—proving once again that life ain’t fair.)

If you enjoy these stories, I urge you to take a look at the electronic magazine from which they are selected. You can find the Grantville Gazette at

Eric Flint

September 2011

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