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Preface by Eric Flint

1635: The Tangled Web is set in the 1632 universe, also known as the Ring of Fire universe. I created that alternate history universe with the novel 1632, published in 2000. Many novels, anthologies and magazine stories, and articles have followed since. Most of those novels have been collaborations between myself and several different authors. With the exception of David Weber, those authors emerged within the 1632 universe itself, as writers who were first published in the Ring of Fire anthology and the electronic magazine devoted to the 1632 series, the Grantville Gazette.

Virginia DeMarce has been one of those authors. She was first published in the Ring of Fire anthology with the story "Biting Time." She took the character of Veronica, the grandmother of Gretchen Richter and a minor figure in the novel 1632, and developed her considerably. That development would continue in Virginia's first collaborative novel with me, 1634: The Bavarian Crisis, in which Veronica is a major character.

Before co-authoring that novel, Virginia produced many other stories which were published in the Grantville Gazette, and she continues to do so. She also co-authored the recent novel 1635: The Dreeson Incident with me, and was (along with me) the major author in the anthology 1634: The Ram Rebellion. That anthology consists of related stories by a number of different authors which follow a common story arch, and culminates in the short novel The Ram Rebellion, which Virginia and I wrote together.

In short, she is a central author in the unfolding and by now very extensive 1632 series—which it would probably be more accurate to call a literary complex rather than a series. As regular readers of the series are well aware, once you get past 1632, 1633 and the first Ring of Fire anthology, the various novels and anthologies in the series do not follow the linear Book 1-2-3 sequence which is typical of most series. Some of the novels and all of the anthologies overlap each other, often with stories that take place simultaneously but in different areas and involving different characters.

(See the afterword for my recommendations concerning the reading order of the series, along with a sketch of the various upcoming volumes.)

With this volume, we're trying a new experiment. I say "a" new experiment because the 1632 series has been experimenting almost since the beginning. The first anthology, Ring of Fire, had a number of stories by well-established authors like David Weber and Mercedes Lackey. This is the typical pattern for shared universe anthologies. But I also set aside half the book for stories by new authors, which I organized by using the 1632 conference in Baen Books' online discussion area, Baen's Bar. (If you've never been there, go to and select "Baen's Bar" from the far right side of the top menu.)

Several of the authors who have since become prominent in the 1632 series got started in that anthology. In particular, in addition to Virginia herself, Andrew Dennis got started there with his story "Between the Armies." Since then, Andrew has collaborated with me on the novels 1634: The Galileo Affair and 1635: The Cannon Law and will be doing the same with several more volumes to come.

Following the success of that experiment, we launched the online magazine Grantville Gazette, with stories and articles by many different authors. (Over sixty authors, the last time I counted.) That magazine has now come out with twenty-six issues in electronic form, along with five editions in paper format. And there are more coming.

But there's been one thing that all of these volumes have had in common, leaving aside the purely electronic editions. They've all had at least one story by me in them. With this volume, we're expanding that format and, for the first time since the inception of the 1632 series, producing a volume which consists of stories written entirely by another author.

The author, in this case, is Virginia DeMarce—and this volume consists of four inter-related stories (one of them a short novel) which intersect with, and in some places overlap, the stories contained in the novel 1635: The Dreeson Incident and in the forthcoming anthology 1635: The Wars on the Rhine. I say "in this case," because if this experiment is successful—which means "sells enough copies," to put it crudely—then we will be able to repeat it with later volumes. Virginia is by no means the only author working in the 1632 series who could produce volumes of their own which would be well worth publishing.

But that's for the future. For the moment, enjoy this volume by Virginia DeMarce—and rest assured that the courier Martin Wackernagel and the deeds of the three young dukes of Württemberg will continue to appear and resonate throughout the series. For the title of this book could just as easily be applied to the 1632 series as a whole.

A tangled web, indeed.


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