by Eric Flint
BAEN Books, 2001, 597 pages, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction.
A small West Virginia town is mysteriously uprooted and displaced in time and place, finding themselves in the middle of the Thirty Years War. The citizens of Grantville do their best to bring American values and superior rate of fire to 17th century Germany.
Flint skillfully depicts the horrors of a war torn Europe while juxtaposing it with a character study of small town America. The West Virginians come from a United States somewhat different than our own; published seven months before 9/11, 1632's characters bear less resemblance to an independent Appalachian community and more to citizens of metropolitan areas like New York City. Flint's one concession to life in a small town is the ubiquity of firearms, though this seems parodiable in its extremity. The real strength of the novel comes from the depth of knowledge and detail of 17th century German life. Though Flint's characterization of the Americans is simplistic (the minor antagonist of the main character, his metropolitan father-in-law, is laughably one dimensional), the Europeans are diverse and well-developed. If a bit long winded at times, 1632 is a great read for enthusiasts of historical and alternative fiction.