Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Videos for Alternate Historians #6

Due to the flood of videos I've watched this week, I decided to bring Videos for Alternate Historians to you a little early. First we begin with the talented Lindsey Stirling whose new song "Roundtable Rival" has a new music video with a steampunk atheistic:
Her last music video also had a strong steampunk influence as well. Next up, apparently we can see time travel:
And to finish, the guys at Cracked share five (well actually 6) terrible first drafts of iconic characters:
Yeah Woody was pretty frightening.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

My Thoughts on Irish Alternative History in the Modern Era - Part 2

Guest post by Mark Lynch.
I recently submitted a guest blog relating to possible Irish alternative history scenarios during the latter part of the 20th century. In the first part of the article I mainly focused on hypothetical PODs during World War Two and particularly during the Northern Irish Troubles. I explored these specific time periods because they are my main areas of interest and knowledge, however, it was pointed out by some readers that there are many other potential PODs from the revolutionary period (1912-23), some of which could have resulted in far reaching consequences for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This is perfectly true and therefore I have developed a number of scenarios from this period and have examined the potential consequences of such divergences. Enjoy...

1912-14: The Home Rule Crisis and the prospect of an Ulster Protestant uprising 

At a cursory glance, the pre-WW1 Home Rule Crisis appears to be one of the most bizarre occurrences in modern history. This was a confrontation in which a militant Ulster Unionist movement threatened to fight against an elected UK government, and the stated aim of the Unionists was to maintain the link with London and to remain under the control of the same government they were threatening to rise up against! This paradox can be partly explained by several factors. During the early 20th century, North East Ulster and the city of Belfast in particular was an industrial hub for ship-building and linen production, amongst other industries. Belfast had greatly benefited from the Union and from its place within the Empire. Unionist industrialists feared that a Dublin government would favour the agricultural sector over industry, as the Southern economy was still predominantly agrarian. Religion was also a factor as, by the late 19th century, the political affiliations within Irish society were largely determined by the sectarian division. The Unionists argued that Home Rule would mean ‘Rome Rule’, i.e. a nation and government controlled by the Catholic Church. Furthermore, the Ulster Unionists (UUC) weren't alone in their campaign as they enjoyed considerable support from the British Conservative Party.

Home Rule itself was not full independence, but rather self-government within the Union. Devolution had been the long-term political objective of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), and was supported by the British Liberal Party. Previous Home Rule Bills had been defeated in 1886 & 1893, but constitutional changes meant that the 1912 Bill would become law after a delay of 2 years. With their parliamentary safeguard removed, the UUC leadership elected to take more militant action to oppose Home Rule; with the mass signing of the Ulster Solemn League & Covenant, the formation of the 100,000 strong Ulster Volunteer Force, and the purchase and importation of 25,000 rifles from Britain’s continental enemy, Imperial Germany. With the Act due to pass into law in August 1914 and with no satisfactory compromise reached, the grim prospect of civil war appeared on the horizon. So what happened to avert this potential disaster? Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and the whole of Europe went to war. Both the IPP and UUC backed Britain’s war effort, and the implementation of Home Rule was suspended until the end of the European conflict.

The intriguing POD here is; what if world war had not broken out in August of 1914? Would there have been a civil war in Ireland? The general consensus is probably not. Lloyd George’s Liberal government were in an unenviable position due to the political pressure from Bonar Law’s Tories. What’s more, on paper at least, the UVF significantly outnumbered the Crown forces in Ireland, and the loyalty of the Army Officer Corps was already in question due to the Curragh ‘Mutiny’ of March 1914. The IPP had established their own Volunteer force in support of Home Rule, with a total strength of 180,000. However, this force was poorly armed with only 1,500 antiquated rifles. Under these circumstances it is likely that the Liberals & Nationalists would have agreed to a political compromise rather than risk an unwanted war. Also, it is questionable whether the UVF could or would have gone to war if their bluff was called. An uprising against even a section of the British government/security forces would surely have been treated as an act of treason, and an armed campaign would surely have exposed the stark contradictions inherent in their campaign. From a military standpoint the UVF had only one rifle for every four men. Such a relative shortage of weaponry would likely have reduced the UVF to fighting a guerrilla style war, and such tactics would not have been favourably looked upon by the Unionists’ Tory allies. Bearing all this in mind, one can imagine a Protestant Uprising degenerating into a dirty, bloody insurgency which would surely have damaged the Unionists’ political credibility.

Easter 1916 – A nation-wide rising, or no rising at all

The 1916 Dublin Uprising is considered a great watershed moment in modern Irish history. The violent rebellion launched by a coalition of radical fringe groups kick-started the Irish revolution and would ultimately lead to independence, although few commentators of the time would have predicted this outcome. The rising itself was a military fiasco, and was only marginally more successful than the abortive Irish rebellions of the 19th century. Although a military failure, the rising turned into a major propaganda victory for the republican participants, not least due to the British military executions of the rebel leaders (which provoked widespread sympathy and outrage amongst the Irish people).

There are several possible PODs emerging from the Easter Week of 1916. The Dublin Rising itself almost didn't occur. A shipment of arms was due to be landed in Tralee Bay by the German trawler Aud, but the ship was intercepted by the Royal Navy and scuttled by its Captain. Roger Casement, the rebel’s liaison with the Germans, was captured around the same time.  Furthermore, Eoin MacNeill (commander of the Irish Volunteers) opposed the uprising and countermanded the orders for planned manoeuvres on Easter Sunday. Patrick Pearce, James Connolly, and the other leaders vowed to go ahead with their plan on the next day, but the setbacks meant that only around 1,200 rebels could be mobilised, and the uprising itself was almost completely confined to Dublin city centre.

It is nearly impossible to imagine any scenario where the rising could have been successful. If MacNeill and the full strength of the Volunteers had backed the rebellion, and if the Aud’s rifles had been landed and distributed, then the rebellion would have been more widespread across Ireland and likely would taken more British time, men and resources to suppress. Nevertheless, the final outcome would surely have been the same.

But could the British authorities have stopped the rising from occurring? The short answer is yes, although (surprisingly) such a preventative action may not have made much of a difference to the overall political situation. British Naval Intelligence knew about the Aud and so was able to intercept the arms shipment, however, the authorities in Dublin Castle assumed the threat had been averted and so were taken by surprise on Easter Monday. If British Intelligence was better informed they may have been able to prevent the uprising by arresting the leadership. However, the arrests, trials and likely executions (remembering that Roger Casement was hung even though he never fired a shot in anger) would surely have resulted in the same anti-British backlash from the Irish people. In any event, anti-British feeling reached fever pitch with the passing of the 1918 Irish Conscription Act (a piece of legislation which would have passed even without the rising).

It is true that the rebellion was not initially well received by the Irish public and famously the captured rebels were jeered and pelted by local Dubliners. This poses yet another interesting question i.e. could the British have recovered from the aftermath of the rising and retained political support in Ireland? This is perhaps a trickier question to answer. Two major factors impacted on the British position in the immediate post-rising period; their punishment of the captured rebels, and their efforts to boost the moderate IPP. Although much is made of the executions of the 15 rebel leaders (and later of Roger Casement), the British reaction was hardly extreme given the context of the time. If any other European power had suffered a rebellion at a time of war (not to mention a rising backed by their enemy), they surely would have responded as harshly as the British did, if not more harshly. Lloyd George did initiate fresh negotiations aimed at implementing Home Rule in 1916, but again these talks broke down due to Unionist intransigence and the now likely prospect of partition (which politically, John Redmond’s IPP couldn’t accept). As it turned out, the IPP was irreparably damaged by the rise of anti-British feeling during the 1916-18 period, by their own failure to deliver Home Rule, and by the huge number of Irish casualties suffered during the Great War (which Redmond had supported). Sinn Fein were in the best position to benefit from the growing disillusionment of the Irish nationalist population, and this Party won a huge victory in the 1918 general election; an election which provided Sinn Fein with a popular mandate for full Irish independence.

And so, maybe the Easter Rising was not as decisive as many assume. But interestingly enough, perhaps the most intriguing ‘what if’ from 1916 is this; what if Eamon De Valera had been executed by the British after his capture? If so, Ireland would have lost her most dominant and influential political figure of the 20th century.

[Editor's Note: If you want to see more Easter Rising what ifs, check out Andrew Schneider's take on the rebellion.]

The Civil War, the first Northern Irish Troubles, and the assassination of Michael Collins

It is one of the sad ironies of the revolutionary period that the most brutal and vindictive conflict was not between the British and the Irish, or even between the Protestant and Catholic communities. The Civil War was in fact fought between opposing factions within the Republican movement, the very same movement which had fought a successful guerrilla war against the British state and had forced a truce by July 1921. The split resulted from the negotiated Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921, which basically led to the formation of a 26 county Irish Free State and a self-governing 6 county Northern Ireland. The Pro-Treaty faction, led by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins, supported the Treaty as a stepping stone towards an Irish Republic. In contrast, the Anti-Treaty side opposed the agreement as they resented the terms which would recognise partition and keep the Free State under the Crown and within the Commonwealth. The Civil War was short but bloody. The Pro-Treaty side emerged victorious but the wartime divide would continue to poison Irish politics for decades to come.

Several PODs were possible during this period. The most obvious scenario is that of an Anti-Treaty victory. The reality is that the A-T IRA waited too long before commencing hostilities and, by the time the shooting started in late June 1922, the initiative had been lost. The Anti-Treaty side had lost the votes in the Cabinet, the Dail and, most importantly, they were decisively defeated in the first Free State election. Despite this, the majority of the ‘old’ IRA was against the Treaty and so their best opportunity for victory would have been to launch a coup d’état in early 1922, before Collins was able to build up the 50,000 strong National Army. If the IRA had succeeded in taking control in 1922, this poses some more interesting ‘what ifs’? If the IRA did take power they would not have enjoyed a democratic mandate to rule the country and, even before the war, the IRA Command had spoken of establishing a military dictatorship. The collapse of the fledgling Irish democracy makes for a sobering prospect, especially as the British government were unlikely to have accepted such an outcome and could well have intervened militarily.

A secondary outcome of the Southern Civil War was an end to the serious sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, which had been ongoing since the summer of 1920. There was fresh violence during the spring of 1922 as the IRA launched a campaign along the newly established border. In fact, the Pro and Anti-Treaty factions co-operated against the North and Collins covertly supplied arms to Northern IRA units. After June 1922 much of the pressure was taken off the Northern Unionist government, as the IRA units withdrew to fight for both sides in the South. There were other factors involved in the decline of violence in the North (such as the imposition of internment, etc.). Nevertheless, if the Civil War hadn't broken out in June, the Unionist government would have remained under extreme pressure and would have found it difficult to survive, although it’s tough to imagine a scenario where partition could have ended in 1922 (as even De Valera admitted it would not be possible to absorb 1 million hostile Protestants against their will).

There are moments in history where a single bullet or bomb can dramatically change the course of events. One such instance took place during the Irish Civil War, on the 22nd August 1922, when Michael Collins was shot and killed during an ambush in his native County Cork. At the time of his death, Collins was a young, dynamic and resourceful leader who had already demonstrated his military skills during the War of Independence, and his political finesse during his spell as Finance Minister and through his role as chief negotiator with the British government. Collins’ assassination was closely followed by the death of Arthur Griffiths, leaving the uninspiring W.T. Cosgrave to lead the ruthless suppression of the A-T IRA and to guide the Free State through the austere and intellectually barren 1920s. So, what if Collins had survived? It is likely that he would have remained a leading figure in Irish politics for many years, if not decades, to come. It is known that Collins wanted to make peace with the Anti-Treaty side at the time of his death. If a truce had been possible in 1922 then perhaps the decades long, poisonous divide in Southern Irish politics could have been avoided. At the very least Collins could have offered an alternative leadership to the dominance of Eamon De Valera during the 1930s and 40s. As with JFK, the premature death of Michael Collins robbed a nation of so many possibilities...

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Mark Lynch, who has lived in Northern Ireland all his life, studied History & Politics at Queen's University Belfast and maintains a keen interest in both of these subjects. He currently works as an office administrator in Belfast city centre and writes fiction in his spare time. His first two novels, Veritas Dawn and The War of Zero-Sum are available through Amazon. His third novel, entitled American Nemesis, is due for release shortly...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Releases 10/21/14

You can support The Update by clicking the banner to your right or the links below if you are purchasing through Amazon!


Loop by Karen Akins

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.


Time's Edge by Rysa Walker

To stop her sadistic grandfather, Saul, and his band of time travelers from rewriting history, Kate must race to retrieve the CHRONOS keys before they fall into the Cyrists’ hands. If she jumps back in time and pulls the wrong key—one that might tip off the Cyrists to her strategy—her whole plan could come crashing down, jeopardizing the future of millions of innocent people. Kate’s only ally is Kiernan, who also carries the time-traveling gene. But their growing bond threatens everything Kate is trying to rebuild with Trey, her boyfriend who can’t remember the relationship she can’t forget.

As evidence of Saul’s twisted mind builds, Kate’s missions become more complex, blurring the line between good and evil. Which of the people Saul plans to sacrifice in the past can she and Kiernan save without risking their ultimate goal—or their own lives?


1636: The Viennese Waltz by Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett and Gorg Huff

When Grantville, West Virginia was transported back to the year 1631 -- in the middle of the Thirty Years' War, no less -- many things happened. Many opportunities arose. It's said that a rising tide lifts all boats. Perhaps not quite as high as the Barbie Consortium rose, however.

A cabal of ten- to twelve-year-old girls?

They aren't twelve anymore. And they gave up playing with dolls some years ago, when they sold them all and started an investment consortium. A consortium that did quite well.

The Barbie Consortium hits Vienna. In several different ways. The princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, the common men and women on the street have no idea what's about to happen.Neither do the girls, but they're determined it'll happen their way.

To fans, authors and publishers...

Is your story going to be published in time for the next New Releases? Contact us at ahwupdate at gmail dot com.  We are looking for works of alternate history, counterfactual history, steampunk, historical fantasy, time travel or anything that warps history beyond our understanding.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Map Monday: American Caesar by rvbomally/General_Finley

Although rvbomally made the map that I am featuring below, it was inspired by General Finley so they both get credit for this one:
In this universe, Douglas MacArthur established a military dictatorship after a civil war with a communist faction, turning the Cold War on its head. Rvbomally's map is set in the future of General Finely's scenario, but what I liked best of both is how it got the gears in my mind turning.

You see neither alternate cartographer went into much detail about why there was a "Second American Civil War" in the first place. Looking at the first map and second map together, you get the idea there was a lot of changes in the 1930s. An America without a New Deal, an Imperial Japan that avoided war in China and a Soviet Union that defeated Nazi Germany and "liberated" Europe on its own are just a few possibilities. I can't pin point an exact POD that would lead to MacArthur taking over America in 1940, but certainly there were a lot of changes that would make a great alternate history if anyone decided to flush out the timeline.

Honorable mentions this week go out to Bruce Munro's map (description here) on a more plausible Crystal Empire by L. Neil Smith. If you want to submit a map for the next Map Monday, email me at ahwupdate at gmail dot com with your map attached and a brief description in the body of the email.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Weekly Update #165

Editor's Note

Not much to say in this editorial. I am moving my updates on my alternate history fandom research paper to its own series of posts, so you have that to look forward to later this week. Finished the Truman biography so now I am moving on to a new book. Not sure if it will be an alternate history, but probably.

And now the news...

More on Amazon TV's The Man in the High Castle

The Seattle Times reported that filming of The Man in the High Castle pilot has wrapped. Among the many locations filmed throughout Washington (O crap, it might look like Twilight), scenes were shot at the Paramount Theatre that were reportedly "intended to resemble New York’s Times Square in the 1960s." So we may not only see the Japanese occupied West Coast, but also the Nazi occupied East Coast. This was confirmed when The Woodinville Weekly reported that there is a Nazi watchtower and a “Missouri Autobahn Patrol” vehicle outside Monroe, WA.

So far a date has not been set for the premier of the pilot. We will continue to keep you informed as we get more details. In the meantime, check out these pics of the flag of the Pacific States of America.

Videos for Alternate Historians

This week in videos we begin with a Halloween themed episode from History Respawned, who discuss the Christian and Pagan symbolism from Diablo III:
Speaking of symbolism, did you know Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is heavily influenced by African culture? Culture Shock of The Game Theorists channel highlights the design choices for the bosses in the game in the first of a three part series:
And finally, just in case you weren't paying attention to what was happening in Scotland last month, here is a summary of the momentous (yet anti-climatic) decision:

Links to the Multiverse

Books and Short Fiction

Beth Bernobich: The Time Roads at Magical Words.
Hild (Excerpt) by Nicola Griffith at Tor.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Reread: Part 2 by Kate Nepveu at Tor.
Listen to an Audio-Excerpt of Ben Tripp’s THE ACCIDENTAL HIGHWAYMAN at SF Signal.
Review: Necropolis by Chris Nuttall at Rising Shadow.
Review: Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets edited by David Thomas Moore at Falcata Times.
SF Masterwork Of The Week: Pavane at SF Gateway.
Through a funhouse mirror: the challenge of building alternate histories by Andrew Knighton at AltHist.
Victorians, Steampunk, and Séances by Colleen Gleason at


What If Famous Crossovers Happened at Different Comic Book Companies? by Brian Cronin at CBR.

Counterfactuals, History and News

Alternate History: What If Kathryn Howard Had a Child With Henry VIII? by Alexandria Ingham at Wizzley.
Ann Romney: If Mitt had been elected president, ‘I do not believe there would have been an invasion in Ukraine’ by Bianna Golodryga at Yahoo News.
A Black Detective, an 1870 Trial and a What If by Jennifer Schuessler at The New York Times.
Censoring American History by Benjamin Dancer at The Humanist.
The Collectivization Counterfactual: Stephen Kotkin's New Stalin Biography at The Counterfactual History Review.
Dreaming a Different Apollo by David SF Portree at Wired.
The Hindenburg Wasn't The First Experimental Airship To Explode by Esther Inglis-Arkell at io9.
Report: Tom Brady Coulda Been a Jet by The Zookeeper at Gossip Gorilla.
What would a world without fossil fuels look like? by Michael Le Page New Scientist.

Film and Television

Is This Concept Art From The Teenage Mutant Ninja Alien-Turtle Movie?! by Rob Bricken at io9.
NBC Cancels Comedy 'Mission Control' Before Premiere (Exclusive) by Lesley Goldberg at The Hollywood Reporter.
Review: Doctor Who, S8, E8: Mummy on the Orient Express at Geek Syndicate.
Ten Things You Should Know About Dracula Untold by Genevieve Valentine.


Crusader Kings 2: Charlemagne expansion out now by Phil Savage at PC Gamer.


Gail Carriger at Reddit.
AS King at Book Riot.
Anne Lyle at Skiffy and Fanty.


77 Telling History with Matt Mitrovich with Daniel Bensen at Kingdoms of Evil.


Main Street Theater stages must-see 'Peace in Our Time' by Everett Evans at Houston Chronicle.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Flag Friday: Confederation of Europe 1972

Originally posted on Sean Sherman's blog Other Times. Support an alternate historian by subscribing to his blog!
With the victory of the Central Powers in the Great War (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Italy, Bulgaria) Germany dominated European politics. Over the next half-century Europe, and the world, went through a series of great changes. By 1972 Germany was able to forge a new Confederation of European States to maintain peace and stability in Europe.

The initial members of the Confederation were: Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, and Luxembourg. Each member state was represented by a star on the new flag. The Confederation would continue to gain members, welcoming its 24th member in 1999.

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Sean Sherman has been a fan of alternate timelines ever since seeing Spock with a goatee.  By day he is a CPA, at night he explores the multiverse and shares his findings over at his blog, Other Times.

Interview: Paula Goodlett

We have all tried our hand at fan fiction now and again, but few have seen it get published outside of the Internet. Paula Goodlett took her interest in Eric Flint's Assiti Shards universe and become an important part of the collaborative timeline, with numerous short stories and co-authored novels under her belt. We chatted a little where she talked about herself and was able to answer some questions about the 1632 fan community. Check it out:

Who is Paula Goodlett?

Paula Goodlett is a retired air force MSgt who somehow got involved with Eric Flint's 1632 Universe back in 2003

What got you interested in alternate history?

There were a couple of books that got me started. Mostly it was due to the novel 1632 by Eric Flint. There's an ad in any number of Baen books that directs people to Baen's Bar, where they can discuss Baen novels, sometimes with the author.

But I'd had a bit of an interest in it because of reading Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove's novel, Household Gods.

How would you describe the Grantville Gazettes to someone unfamiliar with the 1632 universe?

The Grantville Gazette first started as an experiment by Eric Flint and publisher Jim Baen. Fans just kept writing fanfic set in the 1632 universe, and posting it to Baen's Bar. Unlike many authors, Eric has no real problem with fanfic. Some of it was so good that he asked Jim Baen if an anthology of fanfic could be published. Jim agreed and the first Ring of Fire anthology was published, with both fanfic and invited author's stories. After that, fans were more inspired and kept writing. Then Grantville Gazette I was published in paperback. Which eventually led to Grantville Gazette II, III, etc. We're currently working on Volume 56, which will be published online in November 2014.

When did you become the editor of the Grantville Gazettes and what are some of your duties?

Eric asked me to take the position of assistant editor in July of 2004. I became the editor in 2006. I read the slush, select the stories, copy edit them, and put them in the online magazine once they're as good as we can get them. The first five Gazettes were published in paper by Baen, exactly as the original ebooks were published. By the time we got to Volume VI, there were too many online Gazettes to continue that, so we started publishing a "Best of" volume in paper with Volume VI.

Note, the online Gazettes are numbered with Arabic numbers. But the paper Gazettes are published with Roman numerals in the title.

What do you believe sets 1632 fans apart from other collaborative efforts in the genre?

Primarily, I think, is support from the owner of the universe, Eric Flint.

Also, however, is that there quite a few people who actually like studying history. Many folks wrote their first Gazette story after reading 1632 and wondering how they would react if suddenly transported back in time.

If you could travel back in time, where and when would you go?

I have no desire to go back in time. :)  I wanna go forward. I want the Enterprise to beam me up. I want rejuve! Not getting any younger here!

As far as I'm concerned, these are the days to be female, because prior eras weren't woman-friendly in general. So I wouldn't want to go back prior to the 1980s, to tell the truth.

What are the "Minicons"?

Miniature conventions attended by 1632 fans, originally. The first five were held in Mannington, WV, the town upon which Grantville is based. We've been all over that town, seen the high school, talked to a coal miner, all sorts of stuff. After a while, though, people would mention that they'd really like to get together with Eric, but they couldn't make it to Mannington. So, eventually, Eric decided that he'd see if he could arrange with other conventions to run a 1632 track along with their usual tracks.  Once a year, we all trek off to wherever the minicon is, and run a program about what's going on in the 1632 universe. We did do one European minicon, back in 2007. Some 15 or so went to Germany, met some German fans, and wandered around Magdeburg, Jena, Erfurt, etc. Saw lots of interesting things there.

1634: The Ram Rebellion is one of my favorite books in the series. Can you tell me more about how that book came about?

Now, there's a story! I'd just become the assistant editor, and we (me, the editorial board, and Eric) were getting Grantville Gazette III ready for publication. That volume was intended to include most of the stories that wound up in 1634: The Ram Rebellion. Eric read the volume and decided -- out of the blue -- that many of those stories would fit into an anthology that covered land ownership laws in 17th century Germany, with a few additions from him and Virginia DeMarce. So we rushed around selecting stories to fill the holes he left in volume III, he wrote his story, and it all wound up being published as 1634: The Ram Rebellion.

As Eric said at the time, "Here's a nice pile of shiny new monkey wrenches, and let's see what we can do with it."

1636: The Kremlin Games was the first novel in the series you co-authored, correct? How was that experience?

Well, mostly it was both a lot of research and a lot of fun. Gorg Huff and I didn't really know beans about 17th century Russia when we started. Lots of books to read.

Part of the idea of the whole 1632 universe is to think about "what if?" So we wondered "what if the first Romanov czar was able to get out from under the constraints he lived with?"

When it comes to writing a 1632 story, what percentage of your time is spent researching vs. writing?

Depends on where it's set and what we're doing in that particular story. Setting a story in Grantville, not so bad. We only have to research what we don't know about whatever tech we're doing. Say 25 percent research. 1636: The Kremlin Games took a caboodle of research, though, as did 1636: The Viennese Waltz. More like 55 to 60 percent.

Speaking of 1636: The Viennese Waltz, that is the next book to be published that you co-authored. What can you tell our readers about this one?

Hapsburg Austria was a very important part of 17th century Europe. It stood as the first defense against the Ottoman Empire for many, many years. Unfortunately, its economy was truly, ah, nonexistent. The United States of Europe certainly doesn't want Austria to go broke, so they allow some help to arrive. The help, however, is a surprise.

There is a lot of speculation on certain forums about the geopolitical situation of the 1632 universe 100 or more years in the future. What do you think is going to happen in 1732?

Oh, there's just no telling. Plans for the series change with every book. Every story, for that matter. There's quite likely to be a long Ottoman war in the near future. There will be a French Revolution, albeit rather earlier than in this time line. In 1636: The Seas of Fortune, Japanese Christians settle California. Truth is, we probably won't know until we get there.

Are there any other projects you are working on?

Gorg Huff and I recently sent Eric the sequel to 1636: The Kremlin Games, which takes us back to Russia. The next book, unless the title gets changed again, will be called 1637: The Volga Rules. It continues the story of Bernie and Natasha, Vladimir and Brandy, as well as Czar Mikhail and his wife Evdokia, and how they carve . . .

Well, don't want to tell too much.

What are you reading now?

John Ringo's Strands of Sorrow, and a book about what happened after Alexander the Great died and how his empire was carved up. It's called Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great the the Bloody Fight for his Empire and was written by James Romm. Yes, there's a reason for that selection, and no, I'm not able to discuss it just yet.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep writing. Write a lot. Study grammar and punctuation. (That's the copy editor in me talking.) Mostly, just write and keep at it. It's not a picnic, true. But if you can keep at it and get better and better, you've got a chance. If you read early stories by authors published in the Gazette, and then later stories, you can see how they've improved. Including me. It's a heck of a training ground.

In fact, if you prefer science fiction or fantasy rather than alternate history, check out the Baen's Universe forums on Baen's Bar. It's a good training ground as well.