February 08, 2004

1632, by Eric Flint

We had a big snowstorm this week. I'm unemployed right now, which is not a bad thing during a huge snowstorm, and I had my housetending chores out of the way and supper in the crockpot so I settled down with this book and just read. It's a good book for a snowy day when you have nowhere to go.

The novel's setup is fairly simple. An entire county of West Virginia is mysteriously transported back in time, intact, to Germany in 1632. Power is shut off, communications are gone and roads end in a clean cut at the perimeter of the area. Those within the area are left to cope with what supplies they have and good old American ingenuity. Fortunately, it's an area well armed with hunting rifles and hand guns. Fortunate also, they just happen to be sitting on a viable source of coal with a town full of coal miners and have the local power plant sent back with them. This is all fortunate because they landed smack dab in the middle of the Thirty Years War and the Inquisition among neighbors who live with the plague and believe in witchcraft.

It's an interesting premise and what Flint does with recreating the situation of the Founding Fathers is a tribute to the democracy and the American Way. And I donít mean that cynically either. He puts the his characters in a fantastic situation and then lets them struggle and develop based on the principles we all talk about but never really have to put into practical use on a daily basis because the mechanisms and institutions are established. What would happen if they just went away? The heroes in this book aren't the theorists or white collar guys who run things. The heroes are the working class folks who can get the power back on and deal with the realities of producing food and heating the houses and defending the town from the natives until negotiations can be made.

It's not a staid book either. The culture shock of 20th century meeting 17th century is funny in parts and full of rollicking derring do in others. I kept thinking to myself that folks who are anti-hunting and anti-gun would have a bird reading parts of this book. And my practical side kept wondering what they are going to do for little things like, oh, toilet paper or toothpaste or baking powder once the town's supplies are gone.

Now I have to read the next one, 1633. It's available on line at the Baen website so I downloaded the first couple of chapters to see if keeps the same tempo before heading off to the bookstore with my wallet.

Posted by Deb English at February 8, 2004 06:34 PM