"Canst Thou Send Lightnings?"Edit
Note: This story also appears in the print version of Grantville Gazette V.
Note: The story of The Society of Saint Philip of the Screwdriver continues in Grantville Gazette XXXVII
After learning that Lutherans had intended to make their religious radio broadcasts, the Jesuits request that the Jesuits send a jeweler to Grantville to study radio. The American radio team is desperately trying to recreate an alternator they know was built in 1906, but cannot achieve the speeds they believe necessary. They feel victimized by "Murphy's Law". After learning that Saint Mary's Parish observes the days for up-time saints who will never live, and who were canonized by popes who will never live, the Jesuit emissary Father Nicholas Smithson suggests praying to Saint Vidicon (a fictional saint from the universe of Christopher Stasheff's "Warlock" books). Father Lawrence Mazzare forbids this, but allows them the symbol of the screwdriver as a reminder to check and double check. He also suggests that they call upon the recently canonized St. Phillip, who was known for his sense of humor. Father Smithson finds the simple details of the alternator design in the Grantville library, where the self-reliant Americans never thought to look.
"Mule 'Round The World"Edit
This story is a curious historical retrospective and deep background piece that at first blush dwells upon the problems of changing the attitude of the educationally challenged down-timer Minnie Hugelmair. Minnie, in her mid-teens (estimated on the older side of 14-15) can neither read nor write, nor do arithmetic, much less age-appropriate math and sciences.
The true theme of the story is to establish family background history of Buster Beasley, spouse Christin George and foul mouthed daughter Denise, who has become best friends with Minnie. (Denise makes a later appearance as a key character in one of the four divergent 1634 novels.) Minnie and her octogenarian Methodist protector and guardian, folk singer Benny Pierce (82) previously appeared as the proximal cause of the street riots that formed the sole action scene in The Rudolstadt Colloquy, a story event which is referenced over and over in various novels.
After going through a tortuous laundry list of introduced characters, major and minor in the opening scene, the real centerpiece and the action in the story is all but unrelated. In the winter of 1631-1632, six elderly members of the Beasleys' extended family died from a mysterious quick acting illness. The dead were widowers or widows who lived together on the family farm in a big old Victorian house after the RoF. It seems that the deaths of the stricken elders were self-sacrificing. At some point, they had realized the virulent illness they were experiencing was too much for Grantville to handle, and in effect, they all decided to die from it rather than risk infecting the town. The only problem with this theory is there was no note warning their relatives, such as Buster Beasley, to be wary upon entering, nor any description of what they had experienced.
- "The phone was working—Buster used it to call Dan Frost to send someone out—so it must have come on them fast. Or else, they caught on that it was something real bad, and contagious, and deliberately decided not to call. They'd found another body in the barn—a hobo, from the look of his clothes, with a plate of biscuits next to him."
Investigating officials decided that even autopsies were too risky, and quickly interred the bodies at the farm. To prevent the possible sale of the house and barn, Buster burned them down rather than risk spreading the disease. Various members of the investigating and burial teams also became very sick for a lengthy period, surviving only by massive support measures and using up a good bit of Grantville's medicines during their protracted convalescence.
- "They'd quarantined everybody who had been out there. He, Buster and Fred got pretty sick, but they got over it, with fluids and more of the town's precious antibiotics than they had probably deserved and stuff to bring the fever down. Hell, tell the truth. He'd never been so sick in his life. If that, whatever it was, had reached Grantville without any advance warning, half of the town would have been gone in a month."
The story concludes by returning to the educational motivation of Denise's friend Minnie—Buster reveals he's got two new uncrated Harley Davidson motorcycles ("Hogs") in the storage sheds, and the two girls could each count on having one if Minnie learns her remedial lessons, including progressing past the middle school curriculum into high school.
Chad Jenkins, an auto dealer, has no market for his cars downtime due to the gasoline shortage. Contemplating the loss of his business, he plans to have his mechanics strip the cars for parts. He owns a lot of real estate, which to the downtimers makes him equivalent to nobility, a 'von Grantville'. His wife Debbie continues to manage their real estate rental properties, and he can have their wooded property logged for construction materials and firewood. One of his mechanics realizes that instead of stripping the cars, they should be converted to use propane.
After a fight among the women at the refugee center highlights the demand, he decides to manufacture laundry wringers. After locating an old one to use as a model, he needs a blacksmith to make the parts. His son Chip finds one whose arrogance has kept him out of work, but he is abusive to his apprentice. However, he has a weakness for the nobility, so the Jenkins family pulls out the stops to awe him at a 'von Grantville' dinner. Chad lays down the law to him about his attitude and his apprentice.
The blacksmith comes up with a replacement for ball bearings (which cannot be made downtime), and manufacture and sales of the wringer begin. His wife suggests making washboards to go with them, and after considering various designs they also go into production. However, the men employees sneer at the work, so women are hired instead. After arguments break out on the shop floor between the two teams, Jenkins orders a wall to be built down the middle.
"Burgers, Fries, And Beer"Edit
- By John and Patti Friend
"Grantville's Greatest Philosopher?" Edit
- By Terry Howard
Note: This story also appears in the print version of Grantville Gazette V.
As a joke, Grantvillers direct a downtimer seeking an uptime philosopher to Jimmy Dick (also known as Dick Head.) Jimmy is appalled when it turns out some major downtimers will be meeting with him, so two educated Grantvillers are enlisted to help translate. During the story, Jimmy's ex-wife plans the funeral of their handicapped daughter, whom he was never allowed to visit since her birth.
"The Misadventures of T & V, Mama Mia, That's A Good Pizza Pie!" Edit
- By Jon and Linda Sonnenleiter
Two homesick Grantvillers introduce up-time style pizza to Naples, Italy.
- By Mark Huston
An independent elderly couple refuse to move into town after the Ring of Fire. They take in a soldier and three children that he rescued. When her medications run out, the old woman dies.
"Not At All The Type" Edit
- By Virginia DeMarce
A woman with six teenagers by different fathers gets together with daughter's German father-in-law. His son objects and involves pastor.
"Trommler Records" Edit
- By Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett
Continuing Serials Edit
"Dr. Phil's Amazing Essence Of Fire Tablets (The Dr. Gribbleflotz Chronicles, Part 2)" Edit
- By Kerryn Offord and Rick Boatright
Experiments lead to camping fuel tablets, which can also be used to prepare explosives.
"Dr. Phil Zinkens A Bundle" Edit
- By Kerryn Offord
Gribbleflotz discovers a method to get zinc from sphalerite.
"Essen Steel, Part 1: Crucibellus" Edit
- By Kim Mackey
Colette Dubois, a well-educated French refugee woman, hooks up with an uptime chess player. He writes up steel information he'd been collecting for a paper before the Ring of Fire, while she writes uptime math information for wide dissemination.
Non-Fiction — Fact Essays from 1632 Research Committee members Edit
"The Mechanical Reproduction Of Sound: Developing A Recorded Music Distribution Industry" Edit
- By Chris Penycate and Rick Boatright
"Mass Media In The 1632 Universe" Edit
"Railroading In Germany" Edit
- By Carsten Edelberger
"Harnessing The Iron Horse: Railroad Locomotion In The 1632 Universe" Edit