"I say we start the American Revolution—a hundred and fifty years ahead of schedule!"
— Michael Stearns
1632 by Eric Flint, and its many sequels making up the Ring of Fire series a.k.a. the 1632 series.In the spring of 2000, a small West Virginia mining town is taken back in time — land, people, resources and all — to central Germany in the middle of the Thirty Years' War. Mike Stearns, a miner and head of the local union, convinces the townsfolk to open up, expand, and build a new society based on living up to the high ideals the US has always claimed to represent. Quickly realizing that they are screwed if they don't get some support — the local armies outnumber them by a considerable margin and are much more experienced in the ways of killing things — the people of Grantville ally themselves with the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf, also known as Gustavus Adolphus.Unfortunately, the arrival of Grantville upsets the balance of power that Cardinal Richelieu, First Minister of King Louis XIII of France and the de facto leader of France has worked so hard to engineer. A brilliant strategist, Richelieu quickly realizes the importance of the event termed the Ring of Fire and the implications of the historical and technical manuals found in Grantville's library and quickly sets about seeking to block Grantville's influence and use the knowledge of the future to make France the Supreme Power of the world.Most of the novels in this series are collaborations, often drawn from the large pool of officially canon short stories written by other authors found in the Grantville Gazette.The books may be purchased at the series page on Baen Ebooks. The first book may be read for free here.
1634: The Ram Rebellion (structured short story collection)
1634: The Baltic War with David Weber
1634: The Bavarian Crisis with Virginia DeMarce
1635: The Cannon Law with Andrew Dennis
1635: The Dreeson Incident with Virginia DeMarce
1635: The Tangled Web by Virginia DeMarce (structured short story collection)
1635: The Eastern Front
1636: The Saxon Uprising
1636: The Kremlin Games with Georg Huff and Paula Goodlett
1635: The Papal Stakes with Charles Gannon
1636: The Devil's Opera with David Carrico
1636: Seas of Fortune by Iver P. Cooper (two unrelated novellas published in one volume)
1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies with Charles Gannon
Ring of Fire collections of narratively important short stories
Ring of Fire
Ring of Fire II
Ring of Fire III
Grantville Gazette collections of less relevant but still canon short stories. Currently there are 46 electronic issues (numbered with Arabic numerals) and 6 print collections (numbered with Roman numerals) — starting with V, the paper editions have been best-of collections rather than straight reprints of the electronic version.
This series provides examples of:
Action Girl: Julie Mackay (née Sims), sniper. Before the Ring of Fire, she was being seriously considered for the Olympic biathalon, and was training up for it when Grantville shifted in time.
Actually, I Am Him: In "A Witch to Live", a short story by Walt Boyes in Ring of Fire, when Father Friedrich Spee is sent to defend a young woman from a false accusation of witchcraft, he finds her case being retried by the Trapped in the Past modern Americans — and himself sitting in the rectory when Father Mazzare, the American priest, gets out an encyclopedia to look up the name of the great heroic opponent of witchcraft in the 1630s ... Father Friedrich Von Spee.
Adorkable: Jeff is a major wargaming and Dungeons & Dragons geek before the Ring of Fire, and outside of a few friends was uneasy in a social context.
Alien Space Bats: The Assiti, a race of solipsistic artists. While Grantville was an accident caused by a "shard" of one of their space-time "sculptures," the side-story novel Time Spike suggests they have since started aiming Shards at Earth to see what happens.
All-Loving Hero: Tom Stone is mentioned as extremely, almost unbelievably nice due to his hippie history. He also mass produces medicine which he sells at cost (as he puts it, he refuses to profit from another's pain);note his wealth comes from clothing dyes, which he does make a considerable profit on, as he has absolutely no problem profiting off of someone's vanity something which some uptimers, his downtimer wife, and his father-in-law find impractical. However, his generosity has made him extremely popular with the downtime poor and sickly — so much so that it is mentioned that a town is petitioning the pope to have him declared a saint. However, Father later Cardinal Mazzare noted that the canonization is highly unlikely to go through. Stoner, while definitely virtuous enough to be considered a saint, fails three key criteria: He isn't dead, he has no miracles to his name, and he isn't any denomination of Christian, much less Catholic.
Alternate History: The arrival of a modern West Virginia coal town in the middle of Germany during the Thirty Years War changes quite a few things.
A.K.A.-47: Played with in 1636: The Kremlin Games; the first person to come up with a workable design for a mass-produced breechloading rifle is Russian gunsmith Andrei Korisov. The most practical design is the AK4, whose clip-fed variant is designated as the AK4.7.
In negotiating vassalship with Gustavus Adolphus the problem arises that the US has to forbid establishment of religion whereas Gustavus' status as King demands it. Rebecca arranges for Gustavus to be the Feudal Overlord with the title of "hereditary captain-general", because that way when he is not a King he can be more flexible.
America Saves the Day: Played with. The Americans do engage in a bit of day-saving, but the downtime Germans who've adopted American principles, ideals, and knowledge do plenty of it themselves. Plus, in later books, the Americans get occasionally one-upped. As a cases in point: In 1634: The Baltic War, Marshal Turenne's researchers crack a critical problem that had led the uptimers to believe that a certain form of ammunition was unfeasible to produce with the industrial base they had available. Also, in 1635: The Papal Stakes, a Spanish spymaster working for Cardinal Borja is able to (temporarily) stymie Crazy Awesome commando Harry Lefferts by outthinking Harry and anticipating his actions.
Angrish: Melissa Mailey devolves into this when she learns that Harry Lefferts and company set fire to the Globe Theatre to cover their escape from the Tower of London. Which they also blew up, along with London Bridge. The adjective used to describe her reaction is "gobbling".
Cardinal Richelieu, a rather nice and enlightened individual for the time period who regrets the way circumstances have forced him to become Grantville's enemy. Flint commented in an article that he could easily envision a story in which Richelieu was one of the good guys, but he needed a smart adversary. Richelieu himself even laments at one point that history in this new timeline will see him as a villain, more so perhaps than in the old timeline, but that he must do what he sees as necessary for the betterment of France regardless of his high admiration for the Americans, the ideals, and their creativity.
In The Eastern Front, the narrative points out that while Poland may not be as socially progressive as Sweden let alone the USE at large, the Poles are justified in fighting back against the forces of a foreign monarch who's already invaded them twice.
Likewise in The Kremlin Games, one Russian leader is arguing with an uptime American and mentions that the United States of Europe isn't that different, when you compare the military ambitions of its leader, from Nazi Germany. The primary differences, the leader notes, is that unlike the Germans under Adolf Hitler, the Swedes under Gustav Adolph know how to successfully prosecute a war during the winter, and thus are an even bigger threat to the Russians than the Nazis were.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Even the most religious uptimers generally believe the Ring of Fire to be a natural — although extraordinary — event. In-Universe, many downtimers find this quite astonishing, given that it seems as dramatic a miracle as the parting of the Red Sea.
Sometimes upheld — this is the Thirty Years' War. However, often subverted, as many — from Gustav Adolf on down — are portrayed as quite decent people, even if they hold notions of class and human rights which are normal for the day but repugnant to uptimer sensibilities. (A key theme running through the series is that people and issues are much more complex, close-up and on the scene, than can be seen at the remove of several centuries.)
Upheld, at least to some extent, in the novels 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising with Axel Oxenstierna and the other reactionary nobles who attempt to launch a coup during Gustav Adolf's incapacity. The leader, at least, is — as befits the pattern of the 1632verse — a more complex, indeed tragic case, as he honestly believes, or at least has talked himself into honestly believing, that he is protecting his old friend while ignoring that his actions are downright opposed to what the king would actually want. See Well-Intentioned Extremist below.
Armies Are Evil: Except the Grantville/US army and to some degree the Swedish, whose OTL malignant activities are tempered by uptime techniques and policies — including, in 1635: The Eastern Front, enforcement at gunpoint of the rules against rape and pillage. This is after all the Thirty Years' War, where atrocities were committed by many armies in the historical conflict
A character expresses his ambivalence over Wallenstein's offer to join the uptimers' side by presenting brutal action after brutal action Wallenstein ordered. After a downtimer counters each point and points out that, compared to most other nobles of the era, Wallenstein is actually a lesser evil, the uptimer finally mumbles out "They say he believes in astrology."
Jeff Higgins explains the reasons he thinks the future time Grantville was from was no safer than the seventeenth century. In order, these are: thermonuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons, the Ebola virus, overpopulation, food additives, and automated phone systems.
Artificial Limbs: John Simpson has a prosthetic replacing a lower leg lost in an ambush, in his service during The Vietnam War, first mentioned in 1633, co-authored by David Weber. Eddie Cantrell later gets one after losing his leg during the engagement at Wismar, in 1633.
Asskicking Equals Authority: The greatest princes in Europe do not negotiate with the leader of a band of miners because of his impeccable lineage.
A-Team Firing: Noelle Murphy (later Stull) is famous for this. For example, in 1634: The Ram Rebellion, when she misses a stationary target carefully aimed at from less than seven feet away. (She doesn't let that stop her from acts of aggravated badassery, though.) The only time she manages to hit what she's aiming for is when firing from a bridge... when firing down at the river itself.
Attack Pattern Alpha: In 1634: The Baltic War, the only response Admiral Simpson needs to make to a threat by the Dane's ambush with a flotilla of torpedo boats attacking under cover of thick smoke is to pass the following order to his captain: "Have Ajax take the lead, then Achilles. The ironclads will follow behind them, and the squadron will assume Formation Charlie on a heading of zero-niner-five."
Author Catchphrase: Certain turns of phrase that Eric Flint likes using in other works tend to show up in this series as well, some particularly common ones being "butter wouldn't melt in his/her mouth" and "[insert adjective here] as you please."
Author Filibuster: A couple. Jeff's courtship/marriage to Gretchen is just one spot where the narrator takes a step back to pontificate...
Almost no down-timers appreciate rock and roll music. Lots of down-timer country music fans. Lots of down-time folk music fans. There are down-timer fans of jazz. And it goes without saying that opera and orchestral music are beloved. But... no down-timer fans of rock and roll. Not even relatively "light" rock and roll like the early Beatles. And the less said about the reaction to rap music the better. Coincidentally, these views happen to mirror the musical tastes of Eric Flint almost precisely.
Virginia DeMarce is a professional genealogist. A lot of the books and stories in the series written by her feature paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of long, involved detail regarding just how one person is related to another, and what the implications are to a third. Because of this, at least a couple of her works seem to be more character study than plotted stories.
Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The greatest power in 17th century Europe has yet to enter the fray: The Ottoman Empire is in the early 17th century still at the peak of its military and economic power, with a very advanced technology for its time, and while the official stance of the regime is that the Ring of Fire did not happen, its spies and engineers are already reverse engineering the best that Grantville has to offer. This might count as a subversion as the giant is already awake and just staying on the sidelines, until the end of 1636: The Saxon Uprising. The Ottomans are massing forces in their Balkan territories for an invasion of Austria. It is documented on the Baen forums and the 1632 Web Site that there is a forthcoming book titled "Viennese Waltz" which involves the Ottomans and Vienna.
Awesomeness Induced Amnesia: In 1634: The Galileo Affair, Father Mazzare is tasked with speaking in defense of Galileo, at his trial for heresy. The speech isn't explicitly mentioned, but afterward he's congratulated for what he said. However, in a bit of a daze afterwards, he mentally mentions that he doesn't know what he actually did say in Galileo's defense.
Awesome Personnel Carrier: in the 20th century they left behind, the coal trucks were just fit for that. In the 17th century, where the few weapons that can hit that are incapable of penetrating it? They become the best troop carriers you could find.
Badass: Michael Stearns (who beat a man to death with his bare hands in the first book), Gustav Adolf, Harry and his little commando unit, you know what? Let's just say half the cast and be done with it. Mike Stearns status as a badass was lampshaded by Gretchen Richter during their first meeting. While noting that Stearns was only half the size of Ludwig, the mercenary who had effectively enslaved her and who kept his authority in the army on the basis of his strength and ferocity, she also noted that "this man [Stearns] could have broken Ludwig in half!"
Badass Biker: Buster Beasley is the spitting image of a "Hell's Angel" biker, though without the criminal attitude. In 1635: The Dreeson Incident, he wades into a (manufactured} crowd of rioters and takes out several handfuls before he's overwhelmed by their numbers.
Badass Bookworm: Jeff at the start of the series isn't all that martial in general, but as it progresses his skills and reputation build as a soldier, to the point where in some circles he's almost as well known as his rabble-rousing wife Gretchen.
This area is now under the protection of the UMWA. If you try to harm or rob anybody we will kill you. There will be no further warning. We will not negotiate. We will not arrest you. You will simply be dead. We guarantee it. Go ahead. Try us.
While he doesn't have grandchildren yet, John Simpson fits this. It surprises up-timers, given their initial perception of him as some stuffy, old rich prick, but he was a naval combat veteran. He demonstrates this experience in the short story "In the Navy" where he quickly shoots down three assassins with his Browning Hi-power pistol with practiced ease.
Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz, among his other adventures, engages six assassins, taking down four of them before his uptime allies can assist, and kill the last two.
BFG: Oh, more then a few examples. Let's start with the German love affair with shotguns. Actually, everyone loves shotguns.
In 1634: The Galileo Affair, Captain Lennox and his company manage to work their way into the church where Galileo's trial was being held by pretending to be a Polish delegation, based solely on the Horse Marines being in full dress uniform and exactly one of the group of a half-dozen — Father Gus Heinzerling, a German Jesuit — actually able to speak Polish.
Subverted in the direct sequel, 1635: The Cannon Law. Ruy Sanchez tells several Spanish soldiers that he is a captain in the Spanish army, and gets valuable information from them. The Americans think he's pulled a Bavarian Fire Drill, until Sharon informs them that Ruy is a captain in the Spanish army. He left out the part where he's working for the Americans, though.
Because You Were Nice to Me: Quite a few uptimers end up inadvertently earning the Undying Loyalty of downtimers all because they treated them with common courtesy most people don't even comment upon in the modern age but is seen as extraordinarily magnanimous in the 1600s.
Major General Mike Stearns is generally a very easygoing sort of commander. However, do NOT commit atrocities against civilians if you are under his command, otherwise, you will end up having a date with a volley-gun firing squad!
Gustavus Adolphus is extremely sensitive about his poor eyesight, to the point where his bodyguards cringe when Julie suggests that he should get glasses.
Do not suggest in front of James Nichols that the rest of Europe should be left to fend for itself regarding antibiotics and sanitation that help ward off diseases like the Bubonic Plague. Goodbye smiley, affable Combat Medic, hello Scary Black Man ex-Marine Chicago ghetto street thug. It's noted in 1633 as the only time since the Ring of Fire that James Nichols has ever lost his temper.
Beta Couple: James and Melissa in 1632. They're the only pairing in the novel that gets together without a hint of trial, trouble, or tribulation, and nothing ever seems to ruffle them for long.
The Americans, especially when they run into the farm house being ransacked by German mercenaries shortly after their arrival.
Jeff Higgins and his three friends facing down an entire mercenary company with shotguns. After having just charged up on motocross bikes. Shortly followed by mine-haulers-turned-AP Cs charging to Jeff's rescue. Which they need badly, because four guys with shotguns against a few hundred mercenaries with pikes and muskets isn't likely to end well for the four guys.
Michael Stearns in 1634: The Baltic War rescues the escapees from the Tower of London, escaping down the Thames on a barge, with the "timberclad" he was in charge of having repaired, after an earlier mechanical failure.
Captain Gars and his cavalry taking on the Croat skirmishers at the Grantville High School, as well as Julie Sims doing her "Angel of Death" routine to keep Gars alive during the same battle, in 1632.
Bilingual Bonus: Sprinkled through the books. A minor character in 1634: The Bavarian Crisis is called Michel l'Esclavon, duc d'Espehar, marquis de Choses-sans-Valeur, vicomte de Lavion, seigneur de l'Haleur, chevalier Sanscourage de Contre-Ours,which, in English, comes to Michael the Slavic, Duke of Hope, Marquis of Things-without-Value, Viscount of the Airplane, Lord of Haulers, knight Without Courage of Opposing Bears.
Bling of War: The USE uniforms tend to look plain next to those of other countries. One high-ranking Polish character's uniform includes leopard skins. The USE armed forces make some concessions to the spirit of the times, though. For instance, army officers' epaulets are much more akin to the gaudy ones of the Napoleonic era than the plain shoulder straps of the Civil War era on which said uniforms are otherwise based; also, in 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Rebecca Stearns orders up extremely fancy dress uniforms for the USE Marines detailed to guard Crown Princess Kristina in Magdeburg as a way of boosting morale and a psychological maneuver against the reactionary forces.
Blue Blood: Melissa Mailey, who hails from the Boston Brahmins. Being Melissa Mailey, however, she is a flaming radical liberal feminist who has, in her quite checkered past, been arrested multiple times for protest marches and acts of civil disobedience — and is currently (and quite happily) living in sin with a doctor who served in the Marines and grew up in the Chicago ghetto.
Grantville becomes this. Like many small, rural towns dominated by one industry, it was shrinking and withering during the 1980s and 1990s... until the Ring of Fire. The town suddenly found itself the most high-tech place in the world and its population mushroomed with refugees. Inhabitants have tried to maintain building codes and labor standards for all the new construction and industry, but the fact that they haven't always succeeded has been a plot point more than once (e.g., in the short story "Hell Fighters", which appears in one of the Grantville Gazette compilations). Later in the series the importance of Grantville fades after the formation of the USE, but it's still a reasonably large town by contemporary standards, and retains the technical and educational centers even after the capital of the State of Thuringia-Franconia is moved to Bamberg.
Magdeburg is a boom town in a way as well. It's not new, but historically, the city was almost completely massacred during the war (before which it was a major city), but in the new timeline of the story it is being turned into the capital of the United States of Europe, making it much larger than it was and making it one of the most high-tech cities in Europe, after Grantville itself.
Bothering by the Book: In the treaty with Gustavus Adolphus it is arranged that Gustavus will be declared "hereditary captain-general" (whatever that quite means to be interpreted as convenient) over the USE because a king rules by divine right; he doesn't have to persecute but he does have to at least enforce established religion and the Americans consider that unacceptable. An "hereditary captain-general", on the other hand, is bound by no such constraints.
Bowel Breaking Bricks: Proving that memes can transcend time, The Cannon Law has Don Francisco Nasi make this observation regarding the very Protestant Gustavus Adolphus's possible reaction to Mike Stearns's decision to approve political sanctuary for Pope Urban VIII and his clan. His wording makes it extra hilarious.
Don Francisco Nasi: ... I think State will be responsible for the brick that will be found, come the morning, in the privy of Gustavus Adolphus."
Bourgeois Bohemian: Before the Ring, Tom "Stoner" Stone was a survivor of the last wave of hippie-ism. In the new world, Stoner, as one of the few in town educated in industrial chemistry, becomes one of the richest men in Europe — but remains completely and sincerely devoted to the hippie ideals of peace, love and understanding. This shows up as early as his introduction in the Ring of Fire short story "To Dye For": he adamantly refuses to charge people more for his medicines than he spent making them, and therefore chooses to make his money solely from other ventures, most prominently clothing dyes. Even after the dye works have made him fabulously rich, he and his family live fairly modestly, reinvesting most of their income back into their business.
Every time Rebecca gets bemused or horrified by the uptimers she's gotten close to she says, "Hillbillies! You have no respect!"
Gretchen's is "What a scandal!", almost always in reference to Jeff — her husband — checking out her truly magnificent bosom.
But I Would Really Enjoy It: Missy Jenkins flatly refuses to sleep with Ron Stone because downtime birth control is questionably effective at best, and she's not at all into the whole "babies before marriage" thing. Which does not stop them from snogging each other — and a bit more than that — at every conceivable opportunity, including one notable incident involving a snowbank. This being an Eric Flint series, by the end of the novel, the two are engaged.
Cargo Cult: A battery-powered, light-up Buddha knicknack makes its way to the current Dalai Lama via trade. It causes a considerable stir in the Dalai Lama, especially since the description of Grantville (a town from somewhere else manifesting within a perfect circle) matches the Tibetan Buddhist descriptions of the Kingdom of Shambala (an otherwordly realm in the form of a Mandala/Circle).
Literally. One of the miners brings a sawed-off shotgun to the first battle but is convinced to swap it for a more useful weapon. In the first book's climax Rebecca uses the same shotgun in defense and to fight off the invading Croats until help arrives.
Another literal example is with the .40 Heckler & Koch USP semiautomatic pistol given to Gustavus Adolphus' personal bodyguard in 1633. In the later novel The Eastern Front the bodyguard and the pistol play a prominent role, saving an unconscious Gustavus from being killed by Polish hussars at the cost of the bodyguard's life.
Chekhov's Gunman: Some seemingly minor characters introduced in earlier novels end up as major point-of-view characters in the later ones. In 1632, a prostitute in Jena mentions a student named Joachim who's nice to her and interested in politics. In 1633, Joachim von Thierbach is one of the leaders of the Committees of Correspondence and estranged from his aristocratic parents because he intends to marry a prostitute.
The Chessmaster: Cardinal Richelieu was a master manipulator in the original timeline, but uptime history knowledge allows him to hone his craft. Mike Stearns also develops increasing inclinations toward this over the course of the series, and engages in some self-reflection over this in 1635: The Eastern Front, worried that the Machiavellian actions he's having to take to achieve the uptimers' objectives of bringing liberty and justice to Europe could eventually end up eroding his conscience beyond repair.
Combat Medic: Dr James Nichols, veteran Marine who does as much asskicking as lifesaving.
Comically Missing the Point: When Julie Sims gives a local nobleman a hunting rifle to examine, he is suitably impressed, but thinks that the scope is marred because of the crosshairs obstructing his vision.
Composite Character: It is noted that in-universe, the legendary popular retelling of Gretchen's "origin story" eventually mixed together the roles of her rapist Ludwig (who died in the battle), and the other brute, Diego, whom she killed to protect her sister.
Consummate Professional: In 1634: The Bavarian Crisis, Captain Raudegen, a soldier serving in the Bavarian military, is tasked with chasing down those who fled the duke, following two of them he spotted, even after he changes his allegiance from Bavaria to Duke Bernard, a foe of Bavaria. Toward the end of the novel, the two escapees meet the captain (now a Colonel) again shortly after finally losing him, when he's assigned to escort the group the two are with instead of hunt them down. One looks suspiciously at the colonel after realizing he's the one that's been chasing them, but the colonel replies "I'm a professional, boy. [...] When [Duke Bernard] says capture her, I try to capture her. When he says protect her, I use everything I know to protect her. Not just until your relative from Lyons joins her. All the way to Brussels," later adding that he's against cruelty for its own sake (though cruelty to gain information is perfectly reasonable to him, as demonstrated with his treatment of a blacksmith he thought had lied to him earlier).
Continuity Lockout: An unfortunate side effect of Flint's decision to allow fans to submit their own stories about the setting, to be made canon. Even if you read every book in order, there's still the odd reference to these stories. Luckily, the ones with the biggest impact on the main books are collected in their own "Ring of Fire" volumes.
Converting for Love: Invoked by the title character of "Pastor Kastenmayer's Revenge." After his daughter elopes with a Catholic up-timer, the Lutheran Pastor Kastenmayer seeks his "revenge" by encouraging the women of a destroyed village to catch the attention of up-timer men without religion and get them to convert to Lutheranism as a condition of marriage.
Cool Horse: Morris Roth borrows one in "The Wallenstein Gambit". Then buys it, because it's just so darned cool.
Cooperation Gambit: One of the main strategies adopted by Mike Stearns. The time-displaced Americans, for example, teach everyone they meet (friends, opponents, or enemies) how to make the antibiotic chloramphenicolnote which is brutally nasty, but also brutally effective. They know that any major production will require them to educate their workforce, and thus let in more radical ideas. Stearns also directly advises his political rival Wilhelm Wettin in how to build an effective political party that could rival his own.
*Cough* Snark *Cough*: A lovely example of the disbelieving cough occurs in 1632, when the Scots cavalrymen who don't yet fully grasp what late-20th-Century firepower can do are stunned that the Americans want them to be ready to pursue an enemy force.
Pursuit? Cough, cough. Doesn't that, ahem, presuppose that you've already defeated the enemy?
Covers Always Lie: Several of the cover illustrations for the series have accuracy problems, but the one for 1634: The Baltic War is particularly egregious. It depicts a U.S.E. Navy ironclad blasting Swedish warships out of the water, when, in reality, the U.S.E. and Sweden are not only closely allied, but share the same sovereign.
Crazy-Prepared: Apparently there are some advantages to being a redneck town in which everyone owns a gun.
Creepy Good: In The Eastern Front, Mike Stearns is starting to fear that his troops will fall into the standard habits of the Thirty Years' War. So when one of the units slaughters a small village, he first uses volleyguns to execute the perpetrators, then commissions a regiment with Jeff Higgins as its head (and the volley guns as its artillery) as military police. The latter unit is then deliberately sent first into the next town being stormed because Mike knows perfectly well that soldiers automatically hate MPs but will at least respect them if they think them to be Badass. The symbol of the new regiment is a hangman's noose.
Creepy Souvenir: In 1633, Gunther Achterhof of the Magdeburg Committee of Correspondence was said to carry around the ears, noses, and private parts of two soldiers he had killed before joining the CoC, in revenge for the killing of his family by an army passing through the area.
Crowning Moment Of Awesome: Invoked by the narration in 1632, as the author takes time out of the narrative to pontificate on the Battle of Breitenfeld as one of the very few times when the course of human history revolved around the actions of one man — in this case, King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden — and cites said battle as his eternal Crowning Moment.
Narration: The Father of Modern War, Gustavus Adolphus almost certainly was not. But he may very well have been the Father of the Modern World. Because then, at that place, at the moment when the Saxons broke and the Inquisition bade fair to triumph over all of Europe, the king of Sweden stood his ground.
And proved, once again, that the truth of history is always concrete. Abstractions are the stuff of argument, but the concrete is given. Whatever might have been, was not. Not because of tactics, and formations, and artillery, and methods of recruitment—though all of those things played a part, and a big one—but because of a simple truth. At that instant, history pivoted on the soul of one man. His name was Gustavus Adolphus, and there were those among his followers who thought him the only monarch in Europe worthy of the name. They were right, and the man was about to prove it. For one of the few times in human history, royalty was not a lie.
Two centuries later, long after the concrete set and the truth was obvious to all, a monument would be erected on that field. The passing years, through the bickering and the debates, had settled the meaning of Breitenfeld. The phrase on the monument simply read: freedom of belief for all the world.
Whatever else he was or was not, Gustavus Adolphus will always be Breitenfeld. He stands on that field for eternity, just as he did on that day. September 17, 1631.
Breitenfeld. Always Breitenfeld.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Occurs whenever the Americans get enough technology into the field.
In the Battle of the Crapper in 1632, a small unit of a couple hundred uptimers working with a downtime Swedish cavalry unit absolutely obliterate a tercio with thousands of hardened, veteran soldiers.
The Baltic War has three, two of them involving American ironclads, and the Battle of Ahrensbök, lifting the siege of Luebeck, though arguably the last was more due to General Failure on the part of the "League of Ostend", particularly French forces.
The Battle of Hamburg was even more one-sided. To drive the point home how powerful ironclads are, Admiral Simpson lets the Hamburg forces fire for ten minutes before returning fire... with explosive shells. At the end of the day, the ironclads are undamaged, and Hamburg's vaunted fortifications have been... well, turned into Hamburger.
Grantville Mayor Henry Dreeson and Hans and Gretchen Richter's grandmother Veronica.
Dr. James Nichols and the local history teacher, Melissa Mailey.
Dashing Hispanic: Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz embodies this one, a suave, witty swordsman who bests opponents easily half of his sixty-something years of age. One character, the uptime woman he eventually marries, theorizes that he was the basis for Inigo Montoya.
Deliberately Bad Example: The way John Simpson is used in the mass meeting in Grantville in 1632, where the time-displaced Americans for the first time gets to know what has happened and what they will do about it. Basically, he was used to set up one way to react that Stearns could target, and thus quickly be established as the leader. Written that way simply as a halfway realistic way to avoid lots of tedious discussion and drawn-out wrangling. Later in the series, Simpson got more screentime and lots more nuance.
The Truth in Television conditions of the Thirty Years' War are beyond horrible to the point that giving no quarter to defeated enemies and rape are unworthy of note by most of the "down-timers." As a consequence, the Americans essentially sort captured mercenaries into the camp of ordinary guys going along with the Crapsack World who should be given another chance and villains who are exiled under pain of death. Most mercenaries fall in the former camp; the near-certainty that most of them have done some variation of Rape, Pillage, and Burn that would have them shot or hanged in any modern army is overlooked.
The Americans were initially so appalled at the general conduct of mercenaries that they leaned heavily towards just shooting everyone or using them as forced labor. On consideration of the scope, this was deemed impractical and barbaric, in roughly that order.
Gretchen's introduction to the Americans at the Battle of the Crapper captures this perfectly. It's more of a shock to her that this new army does not rape camp followers and execute prisoners than most pieces of technology she observes. To say nothing of the lack of noble class structure where she would automatically rank as dirt or men caring about her emotions and pleasure.
Downtimers are surprised that Americans do not seek noble affectations and insist that they are provincial burghers when everyone can see they are nobles by virtue of their obvious wealth (by local standards). They also think that there is nothing shameful about a noble impregnating a commoner but there is in him marrying her instead of abandoning her. In fact they think Jeff was an insult to the nobility even though he had behaved in a perfectly upright manner—and had even waited until the wedding night to obtain his reward. They considered the dishonor to lie not in having relations with a desperate camp-girl but in refusing to discard her afterwards.
Downtimers and child raising. The way they use violence and the rod can (and had) come quite jarring to many uptimers. One of the downtimer protagonists wanted to study psychology — but without all the "nonsense of the downs of violence in children". 1634: The Bavarian Crisis showed one of the most horrible realities of the war: enemies who torture/slaughter can not only go with impunity but become allies, as happened with Captain Raudegen after he crippled a blacksmith to get information regarding Maria Anna and Mary Simpson. Captain Raudegen is a special case, particularly unnerving, since until he tortured that blacksmith he came across as a highly admirable soldier — intelligent, observant, careful, professional in the best sense — who just happened to be on the other side — in short, a Worthy Opponent.
Gustavus Adolphus is at first shocked by the Americans targeting enemy generals, but he admits they have a point when the Americans point out that they bear more responsibility then the mooks and so it makes sense to target them.
Veronica Dreeson (née Richter, née Schusterin) works her way across war-torn Europe for the sake of reclaiming lost property, in 1635: The Bavarian Crisis.
Landgravine Amalie Elizabeth of Hesse-Kassel, when her husband Wilhelm is killed in a later book. Unlike most German noblewomen of the time — or German nobles of the time, for that matter — she is possessed of quite a formidable brain, and she uses it ruthlessly to carry on her husband's work with the USE's Crown Loyalist party.
Double Standard: The characters argue over whether women belong in their makeshift army. Early in the novel it is assumed, and completely unquestioned (even by the resident liberal feminist!) that the army will be composed entirely of males. Much later in the book, a few of the female characters decide that they don't like this double standard very much... But it is an uphill battle against some of the more traditional males.
Drives Like Crazy: Hans Richter. Somewhat justified because he's a 17th-century printer's assistant, and there were not many driving schools in the 1600s. However, even other 17th-century natives who have been taught to drive think Hans drives like a lunatic. Fortunately for the nascent USE Air Force, his flying is much better at least until his death in 1633.
Edutainment Show: Or, more accurately, Edutainment Book: Not only does this series give a remarkable amount of information about the seventeenth century, but it shows what it is like to found a new nation in a remarkably insightful way. The sequels and short stories also explain such diverse topics as textile-dyeing and the manufacture of mechanical sewing machines.
The Jesuit order, as a whole, are allies to the Pope, who eventually becomes allied with the uptimers. Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld is portrayed in Ring of Fire as a decent man, and an uptimer encyclopedia listing his virtues and good works nearly brings him to tears. There are some bigoted Jesuits, and a Jesuit serves as a minor antagonist in The Bavarian Crisis, but they are no more bigoted than many of their time — some non-Jesuit uptime allies are even more intolerant.
After the Spanish Cardinal Borga's actions in The Cannon Law(usurping Pope Urban VIII and then trying to murder him, while murdering several of his allies in the Church), the Jesuits begin to suffer a schism. One faction remains loyal to to Pope Urban VIII and are thus friendly to the uptimers; the other — mostly composed of Spanish Inquisitors and witch-hunters — become outright hostile.
Exact Words: In The Bavarian Crisis, Raudegen asks a village woman if she's seen a man and boy pass through. She says no with a clear conscience, because she knows the "boy" is a Sweet Polly Oliver.
Fake Real Turn: In the Ring of Fire II short story "Diving Belle", Ginny Cochran, an assistant librarian from Grantville, engineers such a turn by maneuvering the Con Man Fermin Mazalet — who had stolen books from the Grantville library to help sell a get-rich-quick scheme based on salvaging the warship Vasa — into a partnership with the four Lennartson brothers whom she had befriended. The four brothers then sign half their shares over to her, and she uses her technical knowledge and the money Mazalet raised to arrange the actual salvage of the ship.
First Name Basis: Their use of first names marks a sea change in the relationship between Mike Stearns and John Chandler Simpson in 1633.
Fix Fic: The entire series could be seen as this for the disaster that was the Thirty Years' War, as Grantville's arrival rapidly changes the balance of power in the Germanies.
Fourth Date Marriage: Jeff rescues Gretchen at the Battle of the Crapper. They get engaged that night, and married four days later. Despite not having a common language. Nevertheless, their relationship works, and is still going strong as of 1636.
Friendly Sniper: Julie Mackay (née Sims), high school cheerleader and would-be Olympic sharpshooter. Ebullient, enthusiastic, and personable, but on her first battlefield, when she's asked if she'll have trouble killing people, she makes it pretty clear that she has no qualms, given her probable fate if the army she's in loses.
Frozen Face: John Simpson is noted for giving absolutely nothing of his feelings away, leading most to assume he simply doesn't have any. This makes the moments when he does lose control all the more powerful — the ending of 1633 is a textbook example.
Frozen in Time: Potential authors (see below) are reminded that the "up-timers" are from 2000. Pentium 2s running Windows 95/98, video storage on VHS, pre-Bush-presidency, pre-9/11, pre-Iraq War.
The United Mine Workers of America, to start with.
"And just exactly who is this—the Umwa? Sounds Polish. Is there a Polish baron somewhere in this area?"
Down-timers even express amusement, bemusement, and even frustration at the tendency of the up-time Americans to use a lot of acronyms, although some acknowledge that it can be useful for long formal names.
The abbreviation for the New United States, "NUS", looks like Nuss, the German word for nut, leading to fears the Germans will call them a bunch of nuts. When renaming it, a suggestion to call it the Province of Thuringia, or "PoT" for short was thrown out because nobody wants to be a citizen of pot. The problem continues when Thuringia is joined with Franconia — they opt for "State of Thuringia-Franconia" as the new name on the grounds that SoTF beats SoFT.
A historical example: Captain Gars is derived from "Gustavus Adolphus Rex Sueciae" (Gustavus Adolphus, King of the Swedes).
Gambit Pileup: Europe always was a continuous Gambit Pileup until quite recently. This setting is one of the more "piled up" eras though.
Genocide Backfire: Charles I is anxious to prevent his historical beheading and preemptively rounds up the people who had him killed in up-time history.
Oliver Cromwell wasn't thinking of regicide at the time, but his wife and son are murdered during his arrest, which gives him a whole new motive to kill the king.
Cromwell: Predestination, is it? Leave it to King Charles to kill a regicide's wife and son, and leave the regicide alive. I advise you to have me executed. For I will do my best, I can assure you, to see that God's will is not thwarted.
In "Jenny and the King's Men," the attempted murder of Jenny Geddes sparks the kind of civil unrest that she was supposed to have instigated.
Gentle Giant: Tom Simpson is built like the pro American Football player he almost was before marrying Rita Stearns, but for the most part is slow to anger.
General Torstensson: I'm curious. What would be your weapon of choice? In a duel, I mean. Tom Simpson: Ten-pound sledgehammers.
Germanic Depressives: Inverted with the Down-Time Germans' opinions of the Up-Time US. The Germans derive much humor from the fact that the Up-Time stereotype of Germans is as rule-obsessed, bureaucratic control freaks, whereas Down-Time Germans are notorious throughout Europe as a disorderly, happy-go-lucky lot and it's the Americans who are in love with rules and forms.
Archduchess Maria Anna: How amazing that those American heretics brought along such a magnificent tribute to the Austrian spirit. So morally uplifting. The Baroness Maria was so admirably pious. The marriage must have been morganatic, of course, but that is all right, since the baron had plenty of legally acceptable heirs from his first marriage.
In Ring of Fire story "Biting Time," a group of women sell the publishing rights to their collections of up-time romance novels (the authors not being present to object); by the time of The Bavarian Crisis they've spread far enough that Don Fernando name-drops Harlequin.
Girl Next Door: Julie Sims is noted as pretty but not knock-out gorgeous, but thanks to her cheery personality she doesn't really have any enemies outside of those opposed to the USE.
Giving Radio to the Romans: The 'Takes A Village' Variant, with uptime knowledge from Grantville being applied to speed the technological and political advancement of the 17th century.
God Guise: After her defense of the high school, Captain Gars' only somewhat Christianized men come to the conclusion that Julie Sims is an avatar of Loviatar, Goddess of Hurt, Maiden of Pain. This never gets brought up again.
Going Native: The Abrabanel family are the most notable locals to go native in Grantville and the Richters (especially Gretchen) the most fanatical. Numerous other downtimers do. For their part the uptimers adopt a number of local customs. And of course they adapt very successfully to the basics of seventeenth century political discourse.
Good Is Not Dumb: Near the beginning of the first book, When Mike Stearns rejects ex-CEO John Simpson's proposal at the town meeting to drive off German war refugees as being extra mouths and a plague menace to boot, he uses two lines of attack. First, that it would be contrary to the American way. Second, that helping the refugees would win their loyalty among a great pool of potential workers, artisans, and soldiers who could be educated to technological skill centuries ahead of time and thereby form the most effective support for their infant country that could be imagined.
Good People Have Good Sex: Jeff and Gretchen, in their first night as a married couple. Unlike her previous sexual encounters with the mercenaries she and her extended family were camp followers to, the narration notes how she gave her virginity, in a non-physical sense, to Jeff.
Good Shepherd: Father Lawrence "Larry" Mazzare, noted as one of the finest examples of a small-town Catholic priest anywhere in the up-time universe, so impresses His Holiness Pope Urban VIII that, about ten minutes after the two meet, Father Mazzare becomes Cardinal Mazzare.
Got Me Doing It: After spending some time with Princess Kristina, Prince Ulrik barely stops himself from calling Axel Oxenstierna "Uncle Axel."
An especially nasty one from the very first novel; a Croat soldier takes a point blank sawed-off shotgun blast to the testicles, with a detailed description of the shot's path.
In "A Filthy Story," The Neidermeyer is emasculated by an ax to the groin; the ax-wielder gets latrine duty because it was a genuine accident (he confides he was trying to kill the man, but slipped).
Guns Akimbo: Subverted in the climactic scene of 1632 where Sheriff Dan Frost decides to be more professional about it than trying to re-enact union legend about Matewan. It doesn't make him any less awesome.
Although he is more than capable of handling himself in a fight, one of Mike Stearns' greatest skills is to win battles (or avoid them altogether) by playing politics. This becomes a plot point in The Saxon Uprising, when Gretchen Richter breaks down in tears of relief when Mike proves he hasn't discarded his republican principles by leading his army to fight her besiegers.
In 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Axel Oxenstierna's plan to seize control over the United States of Europe includes crushing his political opponents on the battlefields of the resultant civil war. Unfortunately for him, the leader of his opponents is Rebecca Stearns nee Abrabanel, who recognizes that this plan will only work if they take up arms against him.
Hahvahd Yahd In My Cah: Despite living for decades in West Virginia, Melissa Mailey's Boston accent hasn't faded.
Handicapped Badass: Gustav Adolf's cousin, Colonel Erik Haakanson Hand, who has lost most of the use of his right arm due to a battle injury. He doesn't let this stop him from carrying out field operations as Duke Ernst's aide and taking a prominent role in 1636: The Saxon Uprising, after Gustav Adolf recovers and resumes power following his incapacitation at the hands of Polish forces.
The trope description says this is often true of (fictional) hippie parents, but Tom Stone averts it neatly. He is a nurturing and attentive parent to his three sons, even though only one of them is definitely his biological child.
One of the town girls has her mother play this trope straight and is actually nearly brought to tears upon this realization since even the Stones—who many in town, including her, considered a family of losers before the Ring of Fire—actually had a better, more supportive family life than she ever had.
Happily Married: Jeff and Gretchen, Mike and Rebecca, Julie and Alex Mackay. And many, many more in subsequent novels. Basically, if you are a protagonist/good supporting character in an Eric Flint novel, you are probably either already happily married, or going to become so in the future.note Or you're James Nichols and Melissa Mailey, who are quite happily committed to each other — but not married, because apparently Melissa has "principles". (And two failed marriages behind her, which might explain those principles.)
Albrecht von Wallenstein, in The Wallenstein Gambit. Originally the commanding general under the Habsburgs, and given the task of crushing both King Gustav II Adolf and the Americans, he switches sides and becomes a valuable ally to both. The also infamous Pappenheim also switches sides along with Wallenstein.
Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand (known in the books as "Don Fernando") as well, though he's much less of a villain than Wallenstein was. He's still nominally allied to Spain, although he and his aunt Isabella have laid the groundwork to break with Spain and ally openly with the USE. The impending rupture between Spain and the Low Countries, under Fernando's leadership, seems likely to break wide open in the wake of the events recounted in 1635: The Papal Stakes, as Fernando, Isabella and Queen Maria Anna have sent troops — the Irish "Wild Geese" — to rescue Pope Urban VIII, and later invite him to seek sanctuary in the Netherlands. This, of course, goes directly against Madrid's (extremely reluctant, to be sure) support for Cardinal Borja.
At the climax of 1633, a mortally wounded pilot (Hans Richter) makes an aerial suicide attack against the Danish navy, becoming a folk hero to the Germans.
An attack on the Pope from a horde of assassins sent by Spanish Cardinal Borja is fended off by George Sutherland, at the cost of the defender's life..
The stand by Buster Beasely against the anti-Semitic mob during the Dreeson Incident in the novel of the same name. After which his name becomes a slang term for someone who will not back down from what's right when confronted by miscreants, no matter what.
High School: The local high school becomes, by default, the greatest repository of knowledge in the world. Ties in with Writer on Board — Flint uses it to demonstrate just how much knowledge is available in such a typical school.
A brutally ironic example in The Dreeson Incident has the Jewish Don Francisco Nasi calling the ruthlessly efficient CoC elimination of all anti-Semitic and witch hunting groups in the USE Operation Kristallnacht. Just to spite the Nazis and their infamous anti-Semitism uptime.
Something that's historical for both the up-timers and down-timers: in "The Wallenstein Gambit," Wallenstein has Emperor Ferdinand's man in Prague defenestrated, after making good and sure he won't have a soft landing.
Historical Villain Upgrade: Discussed in 1633, in which Tom Simpson gives a lecture to a staunch Irish-American who loathes Oliver Cromwell as a one-dimensional Irish-oppressor and is previously established to have Failed History Forever. To make it worse for the Irish-American in question, the history teacher who failed him — none other than Melissa "Schoolmarm from Hell" Mailey — describes his failures in gleeful and exhaustive detail.
Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The series is set so far in the past that no characters will ever get to see it, but Mike Stearns and Gustav Adolph both state that a goal of theirs is to prevent the world wars of the 20th century. If Germany can be unified more or less peacefully in the 1600s, the hope is, it won't have aggressive, racist policies when the 20th century comes. (Realistically, the first book alone threw sufficient spanners in the works to ensure that WWI and WWII wouldn't happen the way we remember, and bringing 20th-century science into the 17th century might start wars early for all we know, but the hope is that democratizing and liberalizing earlier will make things better.) Pretty much every character on every side tries to avert the world wars, even the villainous Cardinal Richelieu is mainly motivated by his theory that Grantville is a warning message that the excesses of democratization led to the totalitarian horrors of the 20th century, (he specifically brings up Hitler in a discussion with Rebecca), and that he can avert them by arming a strong, stable aristocracy with up-time technology.
Horseback Heroism: Morris Roth, in the novella "The Wallenstein Gambit" in the first Ring of Fire anthology, assumes the role in the defense of Prague from Holk's mercenaries, but not just with the traditional rearing horse and sword waving. While when the defenders first gathered he did, when Holk's goons actually showed up the next day, while astride a horse borrowed from Pappenheim he simply kept his uptime rifle kept handy but not yet being wielded, his calmly awaiting the arrival of the mercenaries serving the purpose of calming his poorly trained troops far better than the sword waving routine.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Nonromantically, when Gustav Adolf and Julie Sims interact they are repeatedly compared to a bear and a chipmunk.
One of the major sources of information on black-powder combat for the uptimers was civil war reenactors.
The Four Musketeers, besides being best friends and dirt bikers, are all enthusiasts of Tabletop Games of all kinds ... and it pays off:
"In the Navy" has Eddie Cantrell revealing his status as the naval expert of the group who just happens to have a pile of reference books about everything from sailing-ships to Civil War ironclads.
In the Grantville Gazette I short story "Curio and Relic", Eddie Cantrell uses a trick he pulled in a Dungeons & Dragons game to maneuver a local tightwad into giving up his spare weapons to bolster the town's armory.
By the beginning of 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Jeff Higgins been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and placed in command of an army regiment. Which he runs the same way he ran tabletop RPGs as a DM.
In 1636: The Kremlin Games, one of the pastimes that Bernie Zeppi introduces to Russia is hex-based wargames. The Russian military promptly invokes the trope and adds a more sophisticated version — including fog of war, for example — to their officer training.
When Eddie Cantrell finally gets his serial number, it's 007. He proceeds to feed the king of Denmark all kinds of misinformation, including claiming that one of Grantville's best engineers is Elvis Presley. This comes back to bite him when the king starts reading his up-time encyclopedia, a more modern edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica than the 1911 edition that Eddie assumed he would have because it was more useful for building up from a 17th century tech level.
In The Papal Stakes, when meeting with a contact code-named Romulus, Harry Lefferts uses the code-name Vulcan. This time it actually makes sense — a down-timer would assume that Romulus would be meeting with Remus.
In The Baltic War, Princess Kristina barges through a guard post on behalf of Caroline Platzer and Thorsten Engler in part by claiming they're the Countess of Oz and the Count of Narnia. (Her father later arranges for the latter to become the truth by renaming the village Nutschel before ennobling Thorsten.)
Immodest Orgasm: As the new Mrs. Higgins happily discovers with Jeff on their wedding night, sex can be quite pleasurable and not the loathed chore it was while she was as a camp follower prior to the Battle of the Crapper. Her younger siblings are puzzled by the noises, as she had "never" made them before. Her grandmother though knows what those sounds mean and smiles.
When Hans Richter regains consciousness, his first words to Sharon Nichols are, "Take me, angel. I am ready." He mistook her for an angel of death waiting to usher his soul to heaven.
In the Grantville Gazette story "The Painter's Gambit," the artistic title character doesn't understand why up-timers are so amused when he talks about how he'd like to show his girlfriend his etchings.
Mary Simpson is "The American Lady" and "The Dame of Magdeburg".
Mike Stearns is the "Prince of Germany".
Gustav II Adolf is the "Lion of the North".
Admiral John Simpson is (affectionately) the "Old Bastard".
Jesse Wood, leader of the USE Air Force, is "Der Adler" ("The Eagle").
Melissa Mailey has several. They include "Schoolmarm from Hell", "She-Creature from the Black Lagoon", and a number of others, which get progressively worse.
Insistent Terminology: Anne Cathrine of Denmark is a king's daughter. Not princess. King's daughter.note This is actually Serious Business for the times; King Christian's marriage to Anne Cathrine's mother, Kirsten Munk, was morganatic, meaning that any children by her were not in the line of succession; morganatic marriages were usually contracted between a royal and someone of considerably lower rank. Anne Cathrine is thus the king's legitimate daughter, but is not a princess.
Inspiration Nod: Despite the bucketfuls of literary references, Mark Twain's books are scarcely mentioned anywhere in the series. This is most likely because they don't want to bring up the overt links between the stories and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (especially Gustav/Arthur).
Ironic Echo: An almost instantaneous example: in 1633, after Joachim von Thierbach has gone halfway around the room pointing out all the people whose lives have been ruined by mercenary soldiers, he begins to wrap up his remarks:
Joachim: Such is the piety of aristocracy, King and Chancellor. Such is what — nothing more — all of your fine distinctions between Lutheran and Calvinist and Catholic come to in the end. Which nobleman gets to plunder and abuse which commoner at his convenience. Oxenstierna: Enough! Joachim: Yes, indeed, Chancellor. Precisely my point. Enough.
Iron Lady: Gretchen. To the point where Melissa is taken aback by her propensity to cuff the children in her entourage. Gretchen for her part senses that and is confused, then amused by it after seeing Melissa simply bark an order and have it followed.
Gretchen: Well, no wonder. I bet she never has to slap a child. Not her!
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: 1634: The Galileo Affair references the famous line, in regards to the stormy evening at the start of the fifth chapter.
The autumn night that Don Francisco Nasi was musing on was a filthy one, slapping its rain and wind against the glass. It was the kind of night on which bad novels began.
Chip Jenkins in 1632, a football player who resents his girlfriend Julie's far more impressive battlefield accomplishments; before long, she dumps him. He gets better in later installments and proves to have a talent for the violin.
In 1636: The Kremlin Games, Bernie Zeppi is a mild version of this. Cass Lowry, though, is a really horrible example, and one of the nastier protagonist characters in the whole series.
Law of Inverse Fertility: In The Dreeson Incident a widowed merchant marries Velma Hardesty partly because she's presumed to be past childbearing age, fulfilling a promise to his existing children not to further divide his inheritance. Turns out she isn't quite past it.
Like a Son to Me: Though he's never said the words out loud and can, in fact, hardly bring himself to think them, John Chandler Simpson feels this way about Eddie Cantrell — much to his own surprise.
Played with; downtimers hate rock and roll, and most music from the late 20th century (with a few exceptions, like Reba McEntire). However, at least some of them love music from in between 1632 and 2000, like Beethoven or Mozart.
The live theater production of The Sound of Music is a big hit, especially in Austria, where it was almost single-handedly responsible for Austrian proto-nationalism. In fact Broadway musicals in general seem to be popular. Guys and Dolls inspires the creation of a downtime Salvation Army in the short story "The Devil Will Drag You Under".
It's rap that the downtimers particularly can't stand.
While it likely already existed down-timenote this catalog entry on the song notes an entry in the Stationers' Register (a proto-copyright institution) in 1586 and mentions a likely allusion in a 1611 play, the modern American version of the English folk song "The Romish Lady" becomes very popular among the German Lutherans in "The Rudolstadt Colloquy."
Intentional — Flint wanted to avoid the "Great Man" theory of history and used as many characters as reasonable in the original novel. Add in the size of the series and it's shared universe nature and this trope just goes crazy. Though Flint does admit that there are moments when a Great Man can change the course of history, naming Gustav Adolphus' actions at Breitenfeld as an example, he just doesn't think that all events that shape history are like that.
Also, in universe. The Bavarian Crisis features a play with several hundred speaking parts.
Long Distance Relationship: Two of the main couples of 1632, Mike/Rebecca and James/Melissa, spend most of 1633 and 1634 separated. In this case, though, the traditional gender roles are reversed; James and Mike are safely home in Grantville (usually), while Rebecca is in besieged Amsterdam and Melissa is trapped in the Tower of London. At least Mike can get up to see his wife every so often, but poor James spends the best part of a year enduring Melissa's absence, with the expected effects on his temper and workaholism.
Long Runner Tech Marches On: Carefully averted. The author has noted that as the years go by he has to be increasingly careful to avoid mentioning anything that didn't exist until after 2000.
In 1634: The Bavarian Crisis, the play chosen to celebrate the wedding of Duke Maximilian to Maria Anna is referred to initially by its short title, Belisarius, Christian General, but Maximilian's sister-in-law Duchess Mechthilde mentally notes the full name of the play is A Tragi-Comedy of the Rise and Fall of Belisarius, Christian General, who Fell from the Highest Happiness of Fame into the Extreme Mockery of Misfortune under Emperor Justinian, about the Year of Christ 530. note The play was intentionally chosen for the parts that weren't given in the short title, as the Duchess was trying to assist in Maximilian's initial wish to abdicate from the Bavarian throne and retire to a monastery, instead of being pushed into staying on by his advisers.
A story in the third Ring of Fire anthology, regarding a siege of a town by the Ottoman Empire, is titled "A Relation of the Late Siege and Taking of the City of Yerevan by the Turk Including an Authentic Narrative of the Death of the Persian Commander and an Account of the Destruction Wrought by Terrible New Engines of War".
Loophole Abuse: According to Captain Bartley in 1636: The Saxon Uprising, there's no rule that the Dollar is the exclusive currency of the USE, allowing the Third Division the capability to produce its own currency for purchasing supplies.
Susanna was Catholic, and Marc a Calvinist, which was a pretty big deal during the 17th century given their respective faiths were nominally on opposite sides of the Thirty Years War.
In the same book, Dorothea Richter and Nicholas Moser are also a Catholic and a Calvinist, but they give the logistics much less thought. Mayor Dreeson ends up giving their newborn child a "civil" baptism after they're unable to decide on a faith.
Love at First Sight: In 1632 alone Rebecca Abrabanel and Mike Stearns are immediately drawn to one another, as are Jeff Higgins and Gretchen Richter. Hans Richter is also immediately captivated by Sharon Nichols, who he initially mistakes for an angel.
MacGuffin: The Assiti Shards that appear in the prologue of the first book are essentially just plot devices that Eric Flint can use over and over again to write Alternate History and Science Fiction novels (his words). They are never mentioned, alluded to, or considered in any way ever again as soon as the first chapter begins.
Macross Missile Massacre: The trope name is a fairly good description of what happened to Holk's mercenaries during the Battle of Prague in "The Wallenstein Gambit".
While it's not elaborated on, the first novel does mention in passing that Melissa Mailey's romance (and cohabitation) with the African-American James Nichols gave Grantville's local bigots fits. Melissa, as ever, ignored them.
More significantly, the leaders of Grantville chose to defy this trope in the case of Jeff Higgins and Gretchen Richter, as a way of emphasizing by deed that German citizens were considered on an equal footing with native Americans.
Manly Tears: At the end of 1633, Admiral John Simpson completely breaks down when he finds out that Eddie Cantrell survived the Battle of Wismar.
Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The siblings Hans and Gretchen Richter, especially in the beginning and backstory of 1632. Gretchen is compared to a Valkyrie; Hans is a sensitive bookworm who comments that she's much more suited to be a soldier (then he discovers motor vehicles).
May-December Romance: When Sharon accedes to the courtship of a man old enough to be her grandfather (Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz), she worries that her father will disapprove for this reason.
Memetic Mutation: In-universe, Count Ludwig Guenther is often portrayed wearing a backwards baseball cap in political cartoons—far out of proportion to the number of times he actually put one on.
Mighty Whitey: Inverted heavily by the dark skinned Dr. Nichols and his daughter, Sharon, a nurse. They wind up teaching modern medical science to the poor, backward white folks of Europe. Being exotic helps (no one ever argues with them); the best doctors of the time are either "Moors" or Jewish anyway.
Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: Frank Jackson came back from the Vietnam War with a Vietnamese wife. Subverted when the wife actually makes an appearance; Diane Jackson does not often put her foot down over something, but when she does, Frank can't overrule her.
Mistaken for Subculture: Specifically, for Nobility. Downtimers meeting Americans for the first time almost always assume that they are nobles of some kind.
What mattered—what had always mattered, more than anything—was what people are. And the Americans, it was plain to see, were nobility. It was obvious in everything they said and did, and didn't say and didn't do. It shone through their simple carriage. [...] Every American, on some level, took a fundamental truth for granted. I am important. Precious. Human. My life is valuable.
That attitude infused them, whether they knew it or not. And it was that unspoken, unconscious attitude which the German newcomers immediately sensed. They reacted automatically, just as Gretchen had instantly assumed an American schoolteacher was really a duchess.
Mistaken for Racist: In 1633, after coming off very badly in the previous book with his attempts to shut out German refugees etc., John Simpson asserts that he's not actually racist—against Germans or otherwise—though many of his supporters are. His wife also calls him out on catering to the bigoted demographic during his election campaign.
After setting the Wartburg on fire with napalm, Mike ponders that it probably is considered a historical monument back in the American's native time. (Which is indeed the case by the way.)
From 1634: The Baltic War, the Globe Theatre was set on fire as a distraction for the escape from the Tower of London, which also got some explosive renovations done to it in the process. The latter doesn't make Melissa Mailey happy, but on finding out about the fire she goes absolutely ballistic. Which makes sense, since she's a history teacher.
1635: The Cannon Law has, in addition to the sacking of a major, ancient city in Italy (specifically, Rome), a massive explosion intentionally triggered in a castle's armory (specifically, Castel Sant'Angelo, containing Hadrian's Tomb) to cover the escape of Tom Simpson, Ruy Sanchez, and Pope Urban VIII from the castle.
Mooning: Gustav Adolf does this to the forces retreating from the siege of Luebeck in The Baltic War.
More Dakka: The "flying artillery" and mitrailleuse, both discussed in 1634: The Baltic War, for the army and navy, respectively. See also the mass use of single-shot weapons, particularly in the first few battles involving Americans armed with semi-automatic rifles in the first novel, and the salvo that fatally wounded Hans Richter in 1633, when the fleet besieging Wismar was engaged.
After Jeff announces his intention to marry Gretchen, in 1632, Ed Piazza offers the use of his high school office for the night, with the warning to have everyone up and out of the way when Vice Principal Trout shows up for his morning coffee.
It was universally known by the high school's students that you did not want to arouse the vice-principal's ire before he'd had his dose of three cups of coffee, laden with sugar and cream. Not.
The Americans are horrorized to learn that coffee is really, really hard to get, with the only source being the Ottoman Empire. So, when Don Francisco Nasi (from the Istanbul Abrabanels) arrives, the first thing he does is to open the coffee trade with the city.
As William Harvey finds out in the first Ring of Fire short story collectionnote "A Matter of Consultation" by S.L. Viehl, thanks to this trope, one of the up-timer's top priorities when establishing trade routes is coffee.
Piazza: We have to conserve [the photocopier's] use these days, but doing the books are no problem. Especially after your generous gift of coffee, and telling us where to find the Turkish traders to buy more. Harvey: I have never seen grown men weep like that. Over a beverage, no less. It was most disconcerting.
My God, What Have I Done?: Expressed by a Russian doctor when he learns that the dementia suffered by his syphilis patients, including a former czar, was likely caused by his mercury treatments rather than by the disease itself.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Through a quirk of fate, regiments in the USE army have names as well as numbers. In 1635: The Eastern Front, an elite regiment is formed in the Third Division to deal with problems of discipline — The Hangman.
Necessarily Evil: Richelieu knows that he will likely be viewed as a tyrant in the history books of the new timeline, more-so even than in those of the old, but says he must carry on regardless, as he is duty-bound to do what is best for France.
Mike Stearns. A retired boxer, he calls upon the training this gave him in keeping his cool many times — most explicitly after being made a general in the USE army. (Of course, anyone who watched him standing out in the open in 1632 to draw fire away from the Abrabanel carriage would know this.)
Jeff Higgins. Starting in 1632 — first, when he rescues Rebecca Stearns from an ambush, and second, when he takes down a dozen professional cavalrymen in the Last Stand at the high-school gymnasium.
Gustavus Adolphus. At one point Mike Stearns is reminded of Shelby Foote's description of Ulysses S. Grant being possessed of "four o'clock in the morning courage" when Gustav is unperturbed after being awakened with a piece of bad military news.
Gretchen — as demonstrated quite early on at the eponymous incident during the Battle of the Crapper.
Nice Hat: Played somewhat straight in the climax when the Croat captain's hat isn't even damaged when Dan Frost shoots him in the face.
Displaced American upper-class John and Mary Simpson are polite to their German housekeeper, but John is shocked to discover just how polite they're considered in comparison to the usual treatment servants get from German nobility of the period. In 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Prince Ulrik says that he plans to follow Simpson's lead.
Similarly, in the novella "The Wallenstein Gambit", Morris and Judith Roth establish a key bond with the downtime Jewish community in Prague by being courteous to their servants (drawn from the Jewish ghetto).
For all that Richelieu may be considered "evil" by some, he's said to always be polite to his staff, and repays loyalty from them with loyalty to them. Even the author admits that Richelieu isn't so much "evil" as he is "diametrically opposed to the USE and all its goals, because those goals threaten France, and That Is Not Acceptable".
Nightmare Fuel: The threat of widespread, untreatable, and deadly epidemics is this to James Nichols, who openly admits that he has had nightmares about pneumonic plague since the Ring of Fire. And then explains, as only a doctor can, why they should be Nightmare Fuel to everybody. invoked
Guinevere: No man, you say? But I am not a man, nor have I ever been.
Noble Bigot: A lot of the allies of the up-timers (and even some up-timers themselves) still hold to their own prejudices. Centuries worth of ingrained cultural acceptance of said prejudices don't usually disappear all that quickly.
No Communities Were Harmed: While Mannington, West Virginia circa late 1999 does not have a power plant and does have oil wells, the town of Grantville is specified to be otherwise analogous. This simplifies worldbuilding when asking questions like "How many ham radio operators would there be in a town that size?"note According to the article in the first Grantville Gazette, there were eighteen — three Extra (the highest class), two Advanced, five General, one Tech-plus (making eleven people fluent in Morse Code), five Technician (sixteen, generally knowledgeable about radio operation), and two Novices. Some of the fan authors have even taken tours of Mannington (guided by Flint) to help improve the accuracy of their depictions of Grantville.
Noodle Incident: Several uptimers apparently have colorful pasts as juvenile delinquents, irreverent hicks and/or troublemaking rednecks, and the level of detail given to these activities varies greatly. In a few cases the omniscient narrator simply describes the events, but most are just referred to in dialogue between characters, so readers might never hear exactly what happened. See There Is a God!.
Oh Crap: Mike Steans reacts this way in 1635: The Eastern Front when Jeff Higgins shows him a Polish radio set found on a battlefield.
One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: In the Ring of Fire II short story "Diving Belle", Per is nervously watching his brother play the deceptively-scrawny role when the protagonist, Ginny Cochran, enters the taproom of the Silver Eel bar where the match is taking place.
Averted. Several characters, including the fictional ones, share the same first names. Tom Stone and Tom Simpson, for one, not only share the same first name, they also have the same initials.
Lampshaded in The Bavarian Crisis, which points out the numerous historical aversions. By the end the siblings Ferdinand and Maria Anna are married to the siblings Fernando and Mariana. And they're all Habsburgs.
There's at least two Joe Buckleys in the series; the most prominent one is an Intrepid Reporter in The Galileo Affair, while another is autopsied by Anne Jefferson in a Grantville Gazette story. (It's a hallowed tradition at Baen Books to use the name "Joe Buckley" for Designated Victim characters.)
Despite technically being completely different names, it doesn't help that the Countess of Schwartzburg-Rudolstadt and the Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel are named 'Emilie' and 'Amalie', respectively.
But Flint has said that if he'd known 1632 was going to be more than a one-off novel, he'd have chosen a name for the town priest, Larry Mazzare, that was less similar to the historical character, Cardinal Mazarini.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Gretchen Richter's baptismal name is Maria Margaretha, but it hardly ever comes up.note "Gretchen" is a diminutive of "Margaretha". Her younger sister, Annelise, was baptised "Anna Elisabeth" but is never called that.
Papa Wolf: John Chandler Simpson has quite a few flaws, all of which are illustrated in painstaking detail in the text — but God help you if you hurt one of his Navy boys. 'The Navy protects its own' might as well be tattooed on the man's forehead.
Frank Jackson: [after Denmark has been rather decisively defeated by the USE Navy] ...the admiral... was making loud noises by then about reducing the rest of Copenhagen to rubble if his lieutenant wasn't goddamit produced on his flagship right fucking now. Even then, Gustav had to do some truly imperial squelching before the admiral shut up.
Parental Sexuality Squick: Just because Sharon Nichols highly approves of the romance between her father and Melissa Mailey does not mean she wants to think about what goes on between them in the bedroom.
Though it started out as a betrothal of political convenience, Prince Ulrik of Denmark and Princess Kristina of Sweden have grown quite fond of each other by the time of 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising. One of Ulrik's biggest worries was being married off to a boring, court-spoiled noblewoman, and he finds Kristina's feistiness and intelligence a good prospect for the future. Kristina has grown to trust and care for Ulrik, to the point that she admits that she greatly fears the possibility of him leaving her. Of course, it's still all chaste at this point since Ulrik is in his early twenties while Kristina is eight.
Despite the disparity in their ages — he is in his fifties, she is 19 — Ludwig Guenther and Emilie are consistently presented as loving, mutually supportive, and politically on much the same page.
Pet the Dog: In the opening scene of 1633, Richelieu is genuinely delighted by the gift of a Siamese kitten. The same chapter establishes that he's also Nice to the Waiter.
The Power of Rock: Or, in this case, The Power of Musical Theater. Marla's rendition of "Do You Hear the People Sing" is used to rally the USE against Oxenstierna in The Devil's Opera.
Powder Keg Crowd: At the end of 1633, one of these was gathering in Magdeburg after word of [[spoiler: the death of Hans Richter reached the general public. Mike Stearns and company defuse the situation before it actually blows up, though.
In 1632, Rebecca utilizes this to stop a roomful of arguing people in their tracks.
Rebecca: "I think we should register people at-large." "I think we should register them by residence." Who gives a shit?
Gustav Adolf doesn't care about swearing in general, but things are really serious when he blasphemes, such as the Establishing Character Moment when he learns of the sack of Magdeburg or when he confronts Oxenstierna after his recovery.
Pregnant Badass: Three in the climax of 1632. As expressed by James Nichols,
"Boy, did they pick the wrong time to piss off pregnant women."
Promotion to Parent : After their town is sacked and their family is dragged away as Camp Follower s Hans and Gretchen end up as the co-parents of their siblings. This as much as anything is what makes Jeff fall in love with her.
Propaganda Machine: A major part of The Devil's Opera is the production of an opera about King Arthur in order to make Magdeburg look more like a grand city and worthy capital of the USE than Berlin, which is Oxenstierna's capital (Choosing the subject of the opera to be a sleeping King who will return in his nation's hour of need being a deliberate parallel to the incapacitated Emperor). That plot becomes something of a Shaggy Dog Story when Oxenstierna loses the actual war a month before their ultimate weapon in the propaganda war is ready.
Rags to Riches: Pretty much every up-timer has knowledge and skills that could be parlayed into a small fortune down-time, but Tom Stone and David Bartley stand out. Tom Stone is an aged hippie who has turned a Masters degree in chemistry he got to be able to make LSD into making Europe's only bright, waterproof dyes, making him one of Europe's three or four wealthiest captains of industry. David Bartley was a high-school sophomore who turned a wild attempt at building a sewing machine into a venture capitalism group, and made so much money by the time he turned eighteen that he can prop up a failing national currency with his personal fortune and the loans he could get.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Well, Grantville thinks so, particularly the men. Though they're not too keen on the "pillage and burn" portions of Rape, Pillage, and Burn either, it's the suggestion of rape that really enrages them. The approximate reaction to any soldier attempting to rape anyone is "Over my dead fucking body," after which the soldier in question is generally used for target practice.
Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: And the Assiti, the aliens that the prologue states caused this, who we will probably never hear from again, they learn this lesson the hard way. Another civilization exterminated them after the Assiti had disregarded numerous stern warnings to cease their dangerous and irresponsible 'art'.
Real Men Wear Pink: In a Grantville Gazette short story, downtime experimental aviators tend to wear pink scarfs, reasoning that Jesse Wood made the first aircraft pink as the color of courage. The actual reason it's pink, however, is because of the Formica counter top material he used for part of the construction of the aircraft's fuselage, not out of any particular emotional reasoning regarding the color.
Reasonable Authority Figure: King Gustav. At least in part, this seems to be because Gustav really believes in the divine part of the notion of the divine right of kings, and believes that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, so he has a duty to be a wise and decent ruler. Also, he feels the uptimers were sent as a message from God about ends and means. He won't unquestioningly accept everything they say, but he will consider it, because to ignore them would be to ignore God's message.
In "Seas of Fortune", Henrique Pereira da Costa's friend and assistant Mauricio was his father's slave. On his inheriting his father's estate, Henrique immediately freed him and employed him as an equal.
In the original story Gretchen was rescued from being a Sex Slave by the Grantsville Army and marries a soldier, gaining a reputation as a Rabble Rouser.
The downtime Germans give Jesse Wood, an Air Force reserve aerial tanker pilot and commander of the downtime U.S. Air Force, the title of "Der Adler" (The Eagle).
Mike Stearns becomes, as the series progresses, known as "The Prince of Germany" or just "The Prince." In The Saxon Uprising newspaper headlines are quoted saying things like, "The Prince Victorious" and "Prince Confers With Emperor" (Emperor referring to Gustav Adolf).
Axel Oxenstierna comes to be known as "The Ox". It isn't meant as a compliment — political cartoons criticizing his policies depict him as a minotaur menacing figures representing the freedoms the USE is supposed to stand for.
Reformed Criminal: the Grantville Gazette short stories written about the downtime NCIS (the stories are explicit homages to the TV show of the same name) have more than a few reformed criminals in the service, including the main male protagonist.
The Real Lifecoup de théâtre that Cardinal Mazarini pulled off as part of the settlement of the War of the Mantuan Succession, riding between two warring parties waving a blank piece of paper and saying it was the formal settlement document for the war to buy time for the real thing to be finished, is referenced in the novella Between the Armies and in 1634: The Galileo Affair.
Tsar Mikhail I Romanov and the Tsarina need to get into the town of Bors, who most likely won't side with them in the power struggle he accidentally started in support of a minor noble family and their up-timer employee. So they defuse the situation by standing on top of the barge they're on and wave to the soldiers and people watching them.
Reluctant Ruler: Mikhail Romanov in 1636: The Kremlin Games. The narrative notes that when he was informed of taking the throne as Tsar, he cried.
Right-Hand Cat: Surely this was the point of presenting Richelieu with a Siamese kitten. The image of the elegant, aristocratic Cardinal stroking a sapphire eyed siamese lazing in the lap of his scarlet robes as he schemes is one to conjure with.
Rock Beats Laser: Subverted and played straight. The main reason why the Americans don't give their Swedish allies more advanced weapons is not that they can't make them. They can create both modern weapons and ammunition. The main reason is that a Napoleonic flintlock musket is much more accurate and fast-firing than their 30-Years War fuselock counterpart, but it still uses the same ammunition and the Swedes can therefore use captured enemy ammunition. A modern rifle would not have been able to use that ammunition. Why arm troops with semi-automatic rifles if you only have two or three magazines per gun at the very least when you can give them more primitive weapons that still are at least a century ahead of the enemy's and on top of that have an endless amount of ammo at hand? On that note, a major problem with the fledgling American army in 1632 is that many of the Germans, except the newer recruits, cannot get the hang of shooting modern rifles because they were never taught to aim, just stand in a line, fire, reload, repeat. And the Germans would probably be in the habit of closing their eyes while shooting, because arquebuses make a lot of smoke. What are the odds the Swedes wouldn't be in the same habit?
Royally Screwed Up: Don Fernando is not happy that up-time the Hapsburg are mainly known for this, in particular the "Hapsburg lip".
Mike and Rebecca aren't technically monarchs, but this is their character dynamic.
Kristina and Ulrik will probably become this. Kristina, of course, will have the final say.
While her husband is officially its head of state, everyone knows that Amalie Elisabeth of Hesse-Kassel has just as much power as her husband — and more brains.
Runaway Fiancé: In The Bavarian Crisis, Maria Anna is engaged to her uncle Maximilian of Bavaria but eventually flees to marry another, her cousin Don Fernando. Her original intended goes postal as only a 17th c. absolute ruler can arresting, torturing and executing people right, left and center until even downtimers think he's insane and Maria Anna was justified in running away from him.
Melissa Mailey would make Harry Lefferts/Darryl McCarthy/whoever has annoyed her write lines on the blackboard, if there was a blackboard around for her to use.
Schizo Tech: Considering how the knowledge of three hundred plus years of technological development just got dumped into the Early Modern Era, this was sort of bound to happen.
The Americans realize early on that maintaining the technological level of the US from the year 2000 will be impossible in some ways and impractical in many more ways (see Rock Beats Laser above), so they begin pursuing a policy of gearing down to roughly 19th-century technology for most things, supplemented by higher tech when possible. A naval campaign in the book 1633 consisted of limpet mines on enemy vessels planted by scuba divers, three speedboats appropriated from civilians fitted with rocket launchers made in a high school shop class, one of which was forced to make a suicide charge, and two barely-tested Alleged Airplanes running on car engines ... all to buy time to finish building boats modeled closely on American Civil War vessels.
In a short story, when one group tries to start a telephone company but gets overwhelmed by the technical and financial and political problems, they eventually gear down to a telegraph company, and then gear down even further, saving time and money by tying the lines to trees.
Shared Universe: Fan Fic authors are invited to submit stories which are regularly published in the "Grantville Gazette" and "Ring of Fire" anthologies. There's also one fan novel, The Kremlin Games, that has been published as a standalone work. Fan Fic probably makes up the majority of the wordcount for the series at this point, and even the books by "real" authors are almost invariably written by two or more people.
Shipping: Of Historical Domain Characters, no less! Eric Flint admitted that part of the reason for the plot behind The Bavarian Crisis was that he and co-author Virginia DeMarce were "firmly convinced that this sprightly lass (Maria Anna of Austria) can do a lot better for herself than Maximillian (of Bavaria)". invoked
Shipper on Deck: Mike and Rebecca ship Melissa Mailey/James Nichols in 1632. Melissa, meanwhile, ships Mike/Rebecca and Jeff/Gretchen.
Melissa: Michael Stearns, there is something absolutely preposterous about you playing matchmaker for your former schoolteacher.
Eddie Cantrell ends up marrying the oldest daughter of King Christian IV of Denmark when he's caught with her after two and half days of This and That in a prototype Danish submarine (long story). The trope itself is even referenced by name. Although, it's made clear later that the situation was engineered by the Danish royal family so they'd end up with a son-in-law who's not only a distinguished naval hero but also a technical wizard with knowledge of uptime technology.
That's the most prominent and important example, but these seem to be happening all the time. It's rural West Virginia to start with and all reliable birth control ran out in months. The United States of Europe is being founded by up-timers with 20th-century views on sex and down-timers with 17th-century views on marriage. Lots and lots of babies are getting born, or at least conceived, out of wedlock.
Played with in the case of Wes Jenkins and Clara Bachmeier. They marry via the old agree-that-we're-married method while locked alone together in a pantry, but get it quietly formalized once they finally get back to Grantville — by which time Clara's expecting.
Near the end of 1632, Julie Sims is apprehensive about telling Alexander Mackay that she's pregnant after her contraceptives failed. Gustav Adolf promptly arranges a wedding on a day's notice, though the groom turns out to be less than reluctant.
"Won't tolerate such behavior on the part of one of my officers," gruffed Gustav, in blithe disregard of his own not-entirely-reputable history. "Bastardy is a shame before God!"
In one scene, the aforementioned Cool Old Guy tells his enemies, "My name is Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz. Prepare to die." An American witness realizes Ruy isn't quoting The Princess Bride; Inigo Montoya was a "comic twist on an ancient and very real model. Meet Ruy Sanchez — the original." In a sense, The Princess Bride was quoting him.
In an early scene in 1632, Jeff Higgins and friends wonder whether Voyager ever made it home.
In 1633, during a discussion addressing why a flintlock is better for the current era than a more-advanced caplock would be, one of the characters mentions that "maybe Clarke was right. 'Superiority'."
The aforementioned Cool Old Guy goes undercover, posing as a slow-witted porter from Barcelona. His first piece of dialogue in that role is "¿Qué?". He's of course chosen to call himself Manuel?
In 1634: The Galileo Affair the Scottish Lieutenant Taggart announces a crime scene with the phrase "There's been a murder".
1634: The Ram Rebellion contains another In-Universe example courtesy of Constantin Ableidinger, who at one point introduces himself as "Helmut, speaking for the Ram."
1635: The Papal Stakes has Harry Lefferts, gone all angsty after a failed rescue attempt, completely losing it when he discovers the Italian fishing boat he's on is named the Minnow. Plentiful Gilligan's Island references follow along with a rendition of the famous theme song.
Shown Their Work: Flint does this a bit but it is more common for the Expanded Universe authors to go off on tangents where characters talk about the author's pet issue in loving detail. For instance, any story in which Virginia DeMarce (a genealogist) participates in the creation of will feature long disquisitions by the characters about events in which family interrelationships play a key part.
Signature Item Clue: In 1635: The Papal Stakes, the presence of "uptime" casings for shotgun and rifle rounds for use in 20th century gun designs reveals the presence of United States of Europe agents and groups, in investigations by Cardinal Borja's assistant Pedro Dolors into the whereabouts of Pope Urban VII.
Single Issue Psychology: While incredibly heartwarming and awesome, the scene of Gretchen and Jeff Higgins was incredibly goofy and a little jarring for those who had studied psychology about how fast she "got over it". In a broader sense, the way downtimers react (in part thanks to Eric Flint's "Middle Man" ideology) can also break a little flow, adapting to monumental changes both social and technological far faster and with better results than many "Middle Man" people can do to things that had barely happened in their own society. It could be explained that since they'd been living in a literal Hell on Earth, it was easier and better to just go "insane" as put by Gretchen, but still it can come as quite unrealistic, in a human behaviorist kind of way.
Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: Overall Type II. The initial Point Of Divergence is Alien Space Bats material, but everything following the Ring of Fire never goes bellow Type III, with those being minor tweaks which are justified/handwaved by it technically being an alternate universe rather than straight time travel, and the majority of the events/characterization flowing naturally from the given changes.
Socialite: Mary Simpson, of the Spoiled Sweet variety. An impeccably mannered, upper-class Navy wife and later CEO's wife up-time, she parlays these skills into an absolute flourishing of the arts in Magdeburg, while also sweetening the increased taxes on the aristocracy by offering perfectly legal tax-breaks for charitable donations to the arts, hospitals, etc. Her grace, politesse, and ability to effectively schmooze with and win over Germany's aristocracy earns her the name of "The Dame of Magdeburg".
Sophisticated as Hell: In 1634: The Baltic War, Admiral Simpson's debriefing of Eddie Cantrell uses this to truly epic effect as he attempts to cajole his junior officer ("whom I have quite distinct recollections of being forthright even to the point of annoying the piss out of me") into acknowledging that he has had premarital sex with the daughter of the king of Denmark.
Specs of Awesome: Glasses aren't that common in the 17th Century, and most downtimers expect them to be used only by nobility or high-rank academics. They are deemed an unnecessary luxury for soldiers. So when downtimers see the glasses worn by Jeff Higgins, who is actually pretty intimidating as a soldier, they conclude that he is a cold killer who uses the glasses to see his victims better. Given also that his initial pudginess has been turned to muscle by 1636, and that his stature was big to begin with, and it's a very good thing that he's generally so good-natured.
Spit Take: In 1635: The Dreeson Incident, Chad Jenkins, politically conservative in the up-time US sense, winds up spewing his coffee clear across the table he was sitting at when he finds out that the town he represents will essentially be the "hippie district" in the State of Thuringia-Franconia's Senate, with the state capital moving from Grantville to Bamberg, but leaving behind most of the education and technology centers.
The Spock: Father Mutio Vitelleschi, Superior General of the Society of Jesus and is pretty much The Spymaster for Pope Urban VIII. Described as being unnervingly calm, composed, and carefully logical (he did teach logic in Real Life, after all). The pope and his nephew have expressed gratitude that the Jesuits have an extra oath for personal loyalty to the Pope, as they shudder to think what he would be like as an enemy.
The Spymaster: Don Francisco Nasi, for Mike Stearns. Don Estuban Miro, for Ed Piazza. Father Mutio Vitelleschi, for Pope Urban VIII.
Steam Punk: What American society ends up resembling once they "gear down".
Some Diesel Punk as well since the Americans have also started petroleum-drilling operations and have made planes and ironclad warship using repurposed land vehicle engines. At the beginning, diesel engines were swapped out for gasoline ones in the school buses, mine truck APCs, etc. because the Ring of Fire included a large, already-tapped deposit of natural gas which spark-ignition engines can be converted to run on but compression-ignition ones can't.
As of 1635: The Eastern Front Europe in general is promising to become this in a big way. Several companies and governments are building steam powered tanks and are working on computers using fluidics instead of electronics. Also the Ottoman Empire has dirigible bombersnote Not zeppelins; there's actually a discussion in-story of how they differ rumored in The Eastern Front, confirmed in 1636: The Saxon Uprising. They're used in the conquest of Baghdad (offscreen). In the short story "Upward Mobility" a blimp company gets started. In the novella "Four Days Along the Danube" they get co-opted by the military for scouting and supply runs as well as napalm bombing runs. In 1635: The Papal Stakes these blimps play a key role in the attempt to rescue Frank and Giovanna Stone from Spanish captivity.
It is discussed that an actual steampunk-style society may emerge, given that steam technology is easier to start from the ground than oil-powered, and uptimers include several aficionados of steam power, happy to provide efficient designs.
Stereotype Flip: Related to the Germanic Depressives example above. Given how the uptimers are applying uptime government bureaucracy techniques to a chunk of the fractured 17th Century Germany, there is general amusement regarding the fact that in the new time line the traditionally German stereotype of "Alles in ordnung" is fast becoming an irrevocably American stereotype.
Stern Teacher: Melissa "Schoolmarm from Hell" Mailey. Other, more pejorative names for her include "Melissa the Hun" and her personal favorite, "She-Creature from the Black Lagoon" — after which, according to Mailey herself, they get worse. If she found out she was no longer being called those things, she'd consider herself to be slipping. That said, according to her once-student Harry Lefferts, whom she made write "I will not be a smartass in front of a way smarter teacher" 200 times on the board for sassing her, "I was being a smartass, and she is smarter than me."
Thoroughly averted with John Chandler Simpson, a staunch conservative who disagrees with the protagonist on almost every issue and is also in opposition to the author's real-life political beliefs, but who is portrayed generally sympathetically and gets a lot of character development in later books, indeed being one of the prime protagonists of1634: The Baltic War. He even features as a viewpoint character every once in a while, and is depicted as a thoroughly decent human being (and something of a Badass) despite being a political opponent. The authors make it clear that while he'd have been a disaster as a political leader if he had achieved his original aim of supplanting Mike Stearns in 1632, he has found his niche as Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S.E. Navy, in which role all of his strengths of character can be brought into play.
Though 1635: The Dreeson Incident gets pretty bad about it with the 250 Club members. One literally thinks that "conspirator" and "Commie" are synonyms.
When Gustav Adolf, in 1632, disbelieves that Julie Sims can shoot accurately at a distance far in excess of even the finest firearms of the day, her fiancé translates her acceptance of the challenge without mentioning that she called him a fathead.
In 1634: The Galileo Affair, when Sharon is relaying to a bedridden Ruy Sanchez the gist of an argument involving a mob outside the USE embassy in Venice seeking vengeance for the murder of Joe Buckley, which they believe was done by the Spanish envoy currently in the building, she mentions that she's cleaning many obscenities from the report, and muses that "in another universe I should look into getting a job as a UN translator".
Tank Goodness: While not exactly a tank, the coal trucks modified with armor and firing ports practically serve that role, as well as that of an APC, in the universe as 17th century weaponry can do little against them.
A Tankard of Moose Urine: During Grantville's first post-Ring of Fire news broadcast, Rebecca tactfully suggests that the Germans might want to teach the Americans how to make proper beer, instead of "that colored water the Americans confuse it with". Melissa can't hold back the laughter after that.
Tantrum Throwing: It's stated that Gustav Adolf does this so often his quarters are deliberately stocked with cheap furniture.
Tear Off Your Face: In 1635: The Eastern Front, an explosive trap set to take out a fleeing John George blows his wife's face off of her skull, the face winding up plastered onto the hindquarters of one of the horses hauling their carriage.
There Is a God!: Melissa Mailey (aka "Schoolmarm from Hell", a self-identified atheist) uses the phrase several times in regards to Daryl McCarthy, when he acts as a mature adult with a good education, neither of which were previously considered to be accurate descriptions of him.
The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Played with. The Grantsvillers as such are more interested in settling down and making a life and indeed except for the technology fit in to the system better then one might think (they are Not So Different from Dutch when you think about it). The Committees of Correspondence are constantly suspected of having tendencies toward this-even by Americans.
Throwing the Fight: Hans Metzger was ordered to do this in a boxing match in The Devil's Opera for a purse large enough to ensure that he could care for his crippled sister for years. He refused to do it on general principle (Though he nearly ended up losing legitimately), earning him the wrath of his employer, who sends toughs after him to reclaim the prize money. They kill him, but not before he manages to kill or main all of them.
This Is My Boomstick: 'Downtime' Soldiers find shotguns either a wonderful or a horrifying improvement over contemporary musketry, depending on if said shotguns are held by them or pointed at them.
Time Travel Tense Trouble: How does one properly describe an event will happen three hundred years from now in an alternate history? One noble suggests that finding an answer would be a useful task to put philosophers to solving.
Token Minority: James and Sharon Nichols are the only black uptimers, though given the region Grantville came from it's not unreasonable that most uptimers are Caucasian. The only other exception is Frank Jackson's Vietnamese wife Diane, the only uptime Asian in Grantville.
The short story "Cinco de Mayo" revels that at least a half dozen Mexican-Americans got caught in the Ring of Fire.
Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Julie Sims isn't opposed to dressing up in a "feminine" way or doing traditionally "female" things, but is a crack shot and was at one point under consideration for attempting to gain a slot on the US Olympic team in the biathlon.
Too Dumb to Live: One character's prior love interest, a highschool jock with no particular weapons skills, picks a fight with her current love interest. Her current love interest is a veteran mercenary Violent Glaswegian who happens to come from a culture where dueling to the death is common and accepted, has just come from a dental appointment without painkillers, and is wearing a battle-grade saber at the time. Only the intervention of Michael Stearns saves him from being skewered by said saber.
Jeff Higgins was a Dungeons & Dragons nerd before the Ring of Fire, but within a year, he's a Badass Biker soldier. By 1636, he's a Lt. Colonel Badass, commanding "The Hangman", which is widely reputed to be the most badass regiment in the USE Army.
Pam Miller starts as forty-something conservationist. By the end of "Second Chance Bird" she's a full on Action Girl ship captain with a fearsome reputation for slaughtering pirates and slavers. Oh, and she saved the dodo from extinction for good measure.
In 1631, Gretchen Richter was a camp follower who nobody outside of the army that murdered her father and dragged her along with them had ever heard of. By 1635, her work with the Committees of Correspondence had turned her into the most feared woman in Europe, and also (With the possible exception of Rebecca Stearns) the most politically powerful.
Mike: So, Doc. Did the judge give you a choice? Between the Army and the Marines, I mean. James: Not hardly! "Marines for you, Nichols." Mike: You poor bastard. He let me pick. Since I wasn't crazy, I took the Army. I wanted no part of Parris Island.
Translation Convention: Many uptimers speak of, and are shown to be, learning German, but 99% of the dialogue is still in English. Of course, within the USE, German is merging with English into a new dialect called Amideutsch, which would be incomprehensible to 21st Century Germans and English-speakers alike.
True Companions: The "Four Horsemen", close friends from before the Ring of Fire that became almost inseparable for the first few months following it, as all of their respective parents had been left in 2000.
Unable To Support A Wife: Being as the story takes place in the seventeenth century, this trope is alive and well. The most prominent early appearance is from the first Ring of Fire short story collection: in "To Dye For" by Mercedes Lackey, Tom "Stoner" Stone has to overcome this before his father of the woman he loves will allow their union. The solution he comes up with, as mentioned in earlier tropes, makes him one of the richest men in Europe.
Unfortunate Names: Agathe Donner, "Tata" for short. Also, Fuchs von Bimbach tends to be referred to as "von Bimbo" by up-timers. One of the U.S.E. Army's division commanders rejoices in the first name, or perhaps nickname, "Dodo".
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: In The Papal Stakes, the plan of the Wrecking Crew is carefully explained and justifies the reasoning behind their first plan to rescue Frank and Giovanna. Naturally, it goes horribly and bloodily wrong.
Up Through the Ranks: Frank Jackson had served as a grunt in the Vietnam War and then worked as a miner, when he was called to organise and lead the defense of first Grantville and then the United States of Europe.
Given an interesting twist in 1632. On the surface, it's obvious which is which regarding "James Nichols, doctor from Chicago" and "Melissa Mailey, rural West Virginia schoolteacher" — but the doctor from Chicago grew up on the streets in that city's roughest gang and only joined the Marines after being offered a choice between service and prison time, and the West Virginia schoolteacher is actually a scion of the Boston Brahmins. This plays an important role in the plot.
Eddie Cantrell, high school kid turned navy lieutenant, with the king's daughter Anne Cathrine of Denmark in 1632: The Baltic War. Another one with an interesting twist: the two's Shotgun Wedding was actually engineered by her father — aka the king of Denmark — because he wanted a son-in-law with knowledge of uptime technology.
Vomiting Cop: The state of victims' bodies after boiler explosion in "The Devil's Opera" causes several Magbeburg cops to loose their lunches.
Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In 1632, the sheer brutality of seventeenth-century Germany has this effect on Melissa Mailey. The incident is also a critical part of her character development.
The Von Trope Family: Well, this is in the middle of noble-infested 17th century Germany. The naming can be a bit dodgy at times, though, such as with Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld, referred to as "von Spee," which is a common rendering of the name but historically inaccurate. Then there's Pappenheim, who is referred to as "von Pappenheim" instead of "zu Pappenheim," which denote very different things in the nomenclature of Germanic nobility. These were addressed and corrected in later installments and in the Shared Universe publications.
Webcomic Time: 1 novel titled for the each of the years 1632 & 1633, then 4 for 1634, 6 for 1635, 9 (4 published, 5 announced) for 1636...
"Well Done, Son" Guy: While neither of them would ever be able to admit it, it's plain to see that all Eddie Cantrell really wants is for Admiral Simpson to be proud of him. Which he is, even if he'd never be able to admit it to Eddie himself.
Gretchen has more then a little of this in her, in her campaign to bring uptime political ideas like freedom and democracy to the 17th century.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The teenage girl fleeing rape in the beginning of 1632 isn't followed up on until "Anna's Story" in the first Grantville Gazette.
When She Smiles: Prim, proper, acerbic schoolteacher Melissa Mailey has a rarely-seen smile that Mike Stearns actually calls "quite dazzling".
Wise Beyond Their Years: Princess Kristina of Sweden is characterized as an extremely intelligent and intuitive seven year old. To many characters, uptime and downtime alike, her uncannily sharp mind borders on Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour. The Danish Prince Ulrik, betrothed to Kristina after the events of 1634: The Baltic War is just fine with this, though; his greatest fear had been that he would have been matched up with a dull, boring woman when the time came for him to be married, and life with Kristina will never be boring.
The Women Are Safe With Us: The debut of Grantville in the seventeenth century involves filling rapist soldiers with lead. Of the buckshot variety.
Yank the Dog's Chain: In the Ring of Fire story "When the Chips Are Down" things don't start out well for Larry Wild. He seems to screw up any attempt at work, he misses his family, which was really close and loving, and later his attempts to make potato chips cause him some grief. Still, it seems to end pretty well, with the town loving his chips. He even gets to dance with a girl he likes. Then 1633 comes along and he gets killed in the Battle of Wismar when a cannonball cuts him in half. Making it worse is that 1633 was published first, so the reader knows this is just a Hope Spot for poor Larry.
Yellow Face: A group of Swedish sailors on a Chinese junk they captured from some pirates employ this to take down some other pirates who outnumber them signifigantly. The only uptimer in the crew briefly reflects on how it goes against her values but is also their best shot at victory under the circumstances. It works.
""He's ambitious as Satan and, whatever else, one of the most capable men in the world. Plus, he doesn't seem to share most of this century's religious bigotry. That doesn't mean he won't burn down the ghetto. He will, Morris, in a heartbeat. But he won't do it because you're Jews. He'll do it because you failed him."
Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: A fundamentalist Spanish Inquisitor commends a Spanish captain on putting down a riot by ordering a massacre. Since the captain is sickened by his order to fire, and he really dislikes the Inquisitor in question, he has to restrain himself from killing the priest on the spot. This officer, who is a thoroughly honorable and ethical man, eventually becomes so disgusted by the moral cesspool into which imperial Spain has fallen that he defects to the U.S.E. at the end of 1635: The Papal Stakes.