The 1632 series in briefEdit
Eric Flint's novel concept was simple—take a small American town typical of his youth limited in population, stockpiled goods, and manufacturing capabilities— swap them across time and space with an equal volume of real estate in emerging Early Modern Europe in a critical formative time (during the religious strife of the Thirty Years' War)— and extrapolate what a new history might result as the American ("up-timer") capabilities and ideas of democracy, labor, religion, equality of the sexes, etcetera mix with "down-time" European attitudes dominated by established State churches, religion, authoritarianism, and class structures and a nascent university structure. The Gazettes and much of the main series as it has developed, are the results of the nearly quarter of a million posts to the webboard chat forum 1632 Tech Manual on publisher Baen Books website Baen's Bar seriously exploring that premise.
This particular sub-series, the various Grantville Gazettes include encyclopedia grade fact articles by members of the 1632 Research Committee which cover the technological issues faced in fitting 21st century knowledge and base technology to the 17th Century setting of the parallel universe milieu. The internet forum Baen's Bar hosts the 1632verse oriented sub-forums 1632 Tech and 1632 Slush and both forums figure prominently in the background of these works as is covered in the The Grantville Gazettes and 1632 Editorial Board main articles. The series as a whole, and this sub-series in particular are an example of internet-age collaborative writing in the literary field.
Consequently, the Gazettes are mixed-works which include many fact articles initially published in online e-zine format, all set in the '1632verse' parallel universe created by the departure point established in the February 2000 hardcover novel 1632 by author-historian Eric Flint, who serves as editor of the overall mass of works, or co-author of the series. In one volume at least, 1634: The Ram Rebellion, he managed both roles at once.
About the GazettesEdit
The bi-monthly Grantville Gazettes are published with clockwork regularity; all edited by assistant editor Paula Goodlett and vetted by Eric Flint who maintains editorial control over the canon for the series on the 1632.org website. They began quite differently with Flint as sole Editor, as well as keeper of the canon, and were very much an experiment on several levels explaining somewhat their early irregular appearance, that can best be described as "sporadic and haphazard". Beginning with issue #22, they became bi-monthly, and began using Arabic numerals instead of Roman numerals.
After the initial explosive interest in 1632, Flint's first idea was to open the universe to other experienced writers to ride the wave of popular interest and internet buzz, for he had no plans for a sequel and had other projects drawing on his time. That solicitation of stories included an invitation to fans of 1632, and generated far too much good "fan" fiction for a single anthology. In the event, best selling author David Weber was also attracted by the opened universe, and contracted with Flint to co-author five novels in the series. The release of any short fiction was held up by Jim Baen while 1633 was written and rushed into production.
Currently, Mrs. Goodlett, in conjunction with the 1632 Editorial Board, nowadays selects groups of stories from those formally submitted on the web forum 1632 Slush put together each volume with regard to length and diversity and the select the various 1632 Research Committees generated period oriented fact articles and essays which also characterize the gazettes, and distance them from the Ring of Fire anthologies. The e-ARC version of The Grantville Gazette (volume 1) followed the hardcover 1633 sequel and antedated the e-ARC release of Ring of Fire by nine months (February 2003 vs. November, 2003), as did Grantville Gazette II (August 2003). Flint then reviews the assembled collection of stories and alternates, and approves them as canon or not. Those he sets aside sometimes find themselves promoted to a prominent place in the series (see 1634: The Ram Rebellion and Ring of Fire II, or might just be held for canonically compatible developments to be revealed before they are given publication. Others are simply rejected as non-canonical despite the Editorial Boards selection. The Editorial Board and Research Committee members are all volunteers being regular participants to the Baen's Bar web fora 1632 Tech Manual, 1632 Slush, and 1632 Slush Comments.
The earliest Gazettes were technically rated as fan fiction, which meant the authors did not qualify as members in the Science Fiction Writers Association, which requires three stories be published in an accredited publication before a writer is eligible. This changed with Grantville Gazette X when the publication became qualified as a SFWA publication and began paying better than usual pro-rates. The gazettes idea began because there was so much good fan fiction submitted for Ring of Fire, which included half the stories written by established authors. Flint had in fact, solicited input for ideas from fans before setting out to field research the flagship novel in 1999, so fans were involved in discussing the development of the neohistory from the outset. Subsequently, Flint, an experienced editor, suggested the idea of an online magazine to generate some income flow for the work to publisher Jim Baen using a similar concept to that used for Baen's Webscriptions monthly release. Baen agreed to the experiment, and the Gazettes began as a serialized e-zine produced only sporadically, the segments of which were collected into an then electronic volume marketed as an e-book.
A subsequent experiment by Baen and Flint was to release the e-book version with an additional story by Flint in print as a mass market paperback. The experiment was successful, and Grantville Gazette II and Grantville Gazette III followed, with Grantville Gazette IV under contract as the last sale from Flint to Jim Baen shortly before his death. Beginning with Grantville Gazette II, they were initially released in hardcover. Beginning with the hardcover release of Grantville Gazette V, the print editions have used a "best of" format covering several e-editions, still with an additional print-only story by Flint. By that time, the electronic Gazette been bi-monthly for some time, and the ever-growing gap between the latest print edition and the latest e-edition made translating each e-book into a paper book unfeasible. (As of mid-October 2013, the latest print edition is Grantville Gazette VI, while the latest e-edition is #49.)
In addition to fiction, the Gazettes include fact articles (based on the work output of the informal group, the 1632 research committee, written by one or more of its members) and stories which are initially vetted through a tough peer review on the Baen's Bar sub-forum 1632 Slush, typically requiring several rewrites then are subsequently nominated by the "EdBoard", whereupon Flint chooses the stories for inclusion in the canon and for each volume based in part how it leads into or integrates with the ongoing main storyline 'threads' in the various novels.