1632 plot threads refers to the complex mix of overall story arches or sequences within the best selling alternate history series 1632 series, which grew rapidly from a stand-alone novel 1632 to published works numbering in the high teens as of October 2007—and most of that since 2004. This article will attempt to survey the general meaning of the term plot threads within the series and on the very active Baen's Bar web discussion forums related to the series, in particular, 1632 Tech Manual which is the sub-forum where many of the details of the shared universe mega-series have been hammered out, researched and reported on to other participants.
Milieu creator, series Editor, and keeper of the fictional canon Eric Flint has opined he thinks in terms of plot threads in terms of major protagonists. But most web chatter devolves around geographical "spheres of influence", locations, or where protagonists have a general effect. As a series focused on displaying a parallel universe given the series beginning—of being as realistic as possible given the initial series premises—the two approaches both fail equally in covering all the cases by any strict measure, because the rich character set who is starring in one thread will almost invariably appear in one or more other story lines as a personal departure point for that characters personal biographical history, or as a supporting role for events depicted in a book mainly covering events in another thread.
"Real history is messy," Flint has written in the foreword to Ring of Fire in explaining why he took the unusual step of opening a universe consisting of a single novel at the time into a shared universe. A champion of the common man, Flint disdains the "Strong Man theory of History", where big figures of heroic scope define events, but instead lays claim throughout the entirety of works in the series, that history is the small actions of common men acting in their own self-interest who in the aggregate determine historical forces and force events and responses from those in power, who might lay some claim to being a giant of history—the statesmen and power brokers who dot the I's and cross the T's and add occasional curlicues to the historic march of events—riding the torrent far more often than leading it in Churchillian or Rooseveltian fashion. That some persons of that mold have existed is not disputed, but that the narrative report that makes up historical reporting tends to overstate their impact and role, is Flints theme.
No matter what approach one takes to classifying a plot sequence in the series—be it geographical or character based—the key element of the series to comprehend is that the events depicted in its now voluminous works are not taking place in a vacuum, but in most cases are concurrent with developments in other parts of the European center. Indeed, in an October 2007 announcement on his web site, Flint announced an agreement that the three joint books (under contract since 2002) with best selling author David Weber will take place in a Naval thread, indicating the Eurocentric focus of the series, at least taken with some expressed interest by Michael Stearns to curtail slave trading before it builds up steam, will likely create settings well outside Europe as the technologically advanced naval capabilities of the United States of Europe give it a reach not available to the average European power, even if it resorts to sailing ships over oceanic distances where the Grantville Emergency Committee and New United States authorities were careful to hide key portions of their library resources in order to maintain a technological edge as they "gearing down".