Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"I say we start the American Revolution--a hundred and fifty years ahead of schedule!"
Michael Stearns

1632 by Eric Flint and its many sequels make up the Ring of Fire series -- AKA the 1632 series.

In the spring of 2000, a small West Virginia mining town is taken back in time--land, people, resources and all--to central Germany in the middle of the Thirty Years' War. Mike Stearns, a miner and head of the local union, convinces the townsfolk to open up, expand, and build a new society based on living up to the high ideals America has always claimed to represent. Quickly realizing that they are screwed if they don't get some support--the local armies outnumber them by a considerable margin and are much more experienced in the ways of killing things--the people of Grantville ally themselves with the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf, also known as Gustavus Adolphus.

Unfortunately, the arrival of Grantville upsets the balance of power that Cardinal Richelieu, First Minister of King Louis XIII of France and the de facto leader of France has worked so hard to engineer. A brilliant strategist, Richelieu quickly realizes the importance of the event termed the Ring of Fire and the implications of the historical and technical manuals found in Grantville's library and quickly sets about seeking to block Grantville's influence and use the knowledge of the future to make France the Supreme Power of the world.

Most of the novels in this series are collaborations, often drawn from the large pool of officially canon short stories written by other authors found in the Grantville Gazette.

The first novel can be found, completely free of Copy Protection schemes and at no charge, here. [dead link] Its direct sequel 1633 and the first Ring of Fire anthology can also be found, for free, along with paid copies of all the other books on the series page on Baen Ebooks. [dead link]

Published Works in the Series: (unless otherwise stated, all are by Eric Flint, in most cases with another author or two)

  • 1632
  • 1633 with David Weber
  • 1634: The Galileo Affair with Andrew Dennis
  • 1634: The Ram Rebellion (structured short story collection)
  • 1634: The Baltic War with David Weber
  • 1634: The Bavarian Crisis with Virginia DeMarce
  • 1635: The Cannon Law[1] with Andrew Dennis
  • 1635: The Dreeson Incident with Virginia DeMarce
  • 1635: The Tangled Web by Virginia DeMarce (structured short story collection)
  • 1635: The Eastern Front
  • 1636: The Saxon Uprising
  • 1636: The Kremlin Games with Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett
  • 1635: The Papal Stakes[2] with Charles Gannon
  • 1635: Music and Murder by David Carrico (short story collection leading to The Devil's Opera)
  • 1636: The Devil's Opera with David Carrico
  • 1636: Seas of Fortune by Iver Cooper (novellas Stretching Out and Rising Sun)
  • 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies with Charles Gannon
  • 1636: The Viennese Waltz with Paula Goodlett and Gorg Huff
  • 1636: The Cardinal Virtues with Walter H. Hunt
  • 1635: A Parcel of Rogues with Andrew Dennis
  • 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught
  • 1636: Mission to the Mughals with Griffin Barber
  • Ring of Fire collections of narratively important short stories
    • Ring of Fire
    • Ring of Fire II
    • Ring of Fire III
    • Ring of Fire IV
  • Grantville Gazette collections of less relevant but still canon short stories. Currently there are 38 electronic issues (numbered with Arabic numerals) and 6 print collections (numbered with Roman numerals) -- starting with V, the paper editions have been best-of collections rather than straight reprints of the electronic version.

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the 1632 franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
  • Action Girl: Julie Mackay (née Sims), sniper.
  • The All-American Boy : Jeff and the rest of the Four Horsemen. Intellectual variant.
  • Alien Space Bats: The Assiti, a race of solipsistic artists. While Grantville was an accident caused by a "shard" of one of their space-time "sculptures," the side-story novel Time Spike suggests they have since started aiming Shards at Earth to see what happens.
    • The entire series is the work of Alien Space Bats, but a few events in-universe differ from the main timeline simply due to the butterfly effect as well, and some of them have no explanation or chain of causality better than this. In particular, Galileo's history diverged from Real Life after the Ring of Fire, but long before any protagonists ever went anywhere near Italy.
      • They didn't need to go anywhere near Italy. It's mentioned that the appearance of Grantville caused a lot of theological speculation and study in the Church (and often by secular authorities as well). That by itself would delay a number of other Church matters, such as the Galileo trial, so it's a pretty normal butterfly.
  • All There in the Manual: And how! (the official Baen forums and the 1632 Editorial board web site).
  • Alternate History: The arrival of a modern West Virginia coal town in the middle of Germany during the Thirty Years War changes quite a few things.
  • Alternate Universe: This is the general explanation given for where Grantville was transported to. Mostly this is so that the characters' brains don't explode trying to wrap their heads around the various paradoxes involved with time travel.
  • Ambadassador: Mike Stearns and Rebecca
    • In negotiating vassalship with Gustavus Adolphus the problem arises that America has to forbid establishment of religion whereas Gustavus' status as King demands it. Rebecca arranges for Gustavus to be the Feudal Overlord with the title of "hereditary captain-general", because that way when he is not a King he can be more flexible.
  • America Saves the Day: Played with. The Americans do engage in a bit of day-saving, but the downtime Germans who've adopted American principles, ideals, and knowledge do plenty of it themselves. Plus, in later books, the Americans get occasionally one-upped.
  • Anti-Villain: Cardinal Richelieu, a rather nice and enlightened individual for the time period who regrets the way circumstances have forced him to become Grantville's enemy. Flint commented in an article that he could easily envision a story in which Richelieu was one of the good guys, but he needed a smart adversary.
    • Richelieu himself even laments at one point that history in this new timeline will see him as a villain, more so perhaps than in the old timeline, but that he must do what he sees as necessary for the betterment of France regardless.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Sometimes upheld — this is the Thirty Years' War. However, often subverted, as many — from Gustav Adolf on down — are portrayed as quite decent people, even if they hold notions of class and human rights which are normal for the day but repugnant to uptimer sensibilities. (A key theme running through the series is that people and issues are much more complex, close-up and on the scene, than can be seen at the remove of several centuries.)
    • Upheld, at least to some extent, in the novels 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising with Axel Oxenstierna and the other reactionary nobles who attempt to launch a coup during Gustav Adolf's incapacity. The leader, at least, is — as befits the pattern of the 1632verse — a more complex, indeed tragic case, as he honestly believes, or at least has talked himself into honestly believing, that he is protecting his old friend while ignoring that his actions are downright opposed to what the king would actually want. See Well-Intentioned Extremist below.
      • On the other hand in The Eastern Front Jozef Wojtowicz (a Polish spy) is a decent sort and Janos Drugeth (an Austrian Imperial councilor) is the nicest noble in the whole series.
  • Armies Are Evil: Except the Grantville/US army and to some degree the Swedish. This is after all the Thirty Years' War.
    • More often subverted than not, in truth. The "Spanish" army beseiging Amsterdam and the Polish army seen in the most recent installments aren't portrayed as being villainous. Mike Stearns memorably described the type of individual who often found their way into the period's armies, in the very first book, as "fucked-up men in a fucked-up world."
    • The Swedes are depicted very unrealistically. In particular, the Finnish "Hackapells," depicted as heroes in 1632, were notorious even by the standards of their period for how cruelly they treated civilians. Although Finns under Mike's command are later shown going on a plundering and raping spree in The Eastern Front, forcing Mike to take ... serious measures to discipline them.
      • The Finns show no mercy to the Croatian cavalrymen attacking Grantville, at the very least. They aren't exactly portrayed as your friendly neighborhood soldier.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • A character expresses his ambivalence over Wallenstein's offer to join the uptimers' side by presenting brutal action after brutal action Wallenstein ordered. After a downtimer counters each point and points out that, compared to most other nobles of the era, Wallenstein is actually a lesser evil, the uptimer finally mumbles out "They say he believes in astrology."
      • Natural philosophers (who were the predecessors of scientists) and people versed in early medical knowledge were expected to know astrology. There was a great deal of belief that what star a person was born under would greatly influence their life.
    • Jeff Higgins explains the reasons he thinks the future time Grantville was from was no safer than the seventeenth century. In order, these are: thermonuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons, the Ebola virus, overpopulation, food additives, and automated phone systems.
  • Artificial Limbs: John Simpson has a prosthetic replacing a lower leg lost in an ambush, in his service during the Vietnam War, first mentioned in 1633, co-authored by David Weber. Eddie Cantrell later gets one after losing his leg during the engagement at Wismar, in 1633
  • Asian Gal with White Guy: Frank Jackson came back from the Vietnam War with a Vietnamese wife.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The greatest princes in Europe do not negotiate with the leader of a band of miners because of his impeccable lineage.
  • A-Team Firing: Noelle Murphy (later Stull) is famous for this. For example, in 1634: The Ram Rebellion, when she misses a stationary target carefully aimed at from less than seven feet away. (She doesn't let that stop her from acts of aggravated badassery, though.)
  • Author Filibuster: Subverted. Flint put it in an afterword.
    • He may have put one in the afterword, but he left a couple behind in the text. Jeff's courtship/marriage to Gretchen is just one spot where the narrator takes a step back to pontificate...
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Gustav Adolf isn't just a king, he's one of history's greatest generals. Also, a pretty intimidating man in his own right...
    • Many leaders of the time were so because of their ability to kick ass, and stay there by continuing to do so.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The greatest power in 17th century Europe has yet to enter the fray: The Ottoman Empire is in the early 17th century still at the peak of its military and economic power, with a very advanced technology for its time, and while the official stance of the regime is that the Ring of Fire did not happen, its spies and engineers are already reverse engineering the best that Grantville has to offer. This might count as a subversion as the giant is already awake and just staying on the sidelines, for now ...
    • At the end of 1636: The Saxon Uprising, the Ottomans are massing forces in their Balkan territories for an invasion of Austria. It is documented on the Baen forums and the 1632 Web Site that there is a forthcoming book titled "Viennese Waltz" which involves the Ottomans and Vienna.
  • Badass: Michael Stearns (who beat a man to death with his bare hands in the first book), Gustav Adolf, Harry and his little commando unit, you know what? Let's just say half the cast and be done with it.
  • Badass Biker: "Buster" Beasley. Tough, flamboyant, not too careful about staying within the law, but a reliable father. After his death fighting an anti-Semitic mob, his name becomes a slang word in much of Europe: a "buster" is a stalwart fellow who will NOT back down when confronting evil.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jeff
  • Badass Boast: from the first novel:

This area is now under the protection of the UMWA. If you try to harm or rob anybody we will kill you. There will be no further warning. We will not negotiate. We will not arrest you. You will simply be dead. We guarantee it. Go ahead. Try us.

  • Badass Grandpa: While he doesn't have grandchildren yet, John Simpson fits this. It surprises up-timers, given their initial perception of him as some stuffy, old rich prick, but he was a naval combat veteran. He demonstrates this experience in the short story "In the Navy" where he quickly shoots down three assassins with his Browning Hi-power pistol with practiced ease.
    • Also Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz. In spades.
  • Badass Spaniard: Ruy Sanchez De Casador y Ortiz.
  • BFG: Oh, more then a few examples. Let's start with the German love affair with shotguns. Actually, everyone loves shotguns.
    • Also a case of Truth in Television, as handguns of the time used rounds that weren't exactly tiny, by modern standards. Their main failing in delivering More Dakka was reload time and the relatively weak gunpowder of the period.
  • Battle Couple: Jeff and Gretchen.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Americans, especially when they run into the farm house being ransacked by German mercenaries shortly after their arrival.
    • Jeff Higgins and his three friends facing down an entire mercenary company with shotguns. After having just charged up on motocross bikes. Shortly followed by mine-haulers-turned-APCs charging to Jeff's rescue. Which they need badly, because four guys with shotguns against a few hundred mercenaries with pikes and muskets isn't likely to end well for the four guys.
    • Michael Stearns in 1634: The Baltic War rescues the escapees from the Tower of London, escaping down the Thames on a barge, with the "timberclad" he was in charge of having repaired, after an earlier mechanical failure.
    • Captain Gars and his cavalry taking on the Croat skirmishers at the Grantville High School.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Gretchen and Hans, especially Gretchen who has a very big slice of Knight Templar Big Sister
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Gustavus Adolphus; apparently he was like this in Real Life too. And he ain't the only one in the series.
  • Boom Town: Grantville becomes this. Like many small, rural towns dominated by one industry, it was shrinking and withering during the 1980s and 1990s... until the Ring of Fire. The town suddenly found itself the most high-tech place in the world and its population mushroomed with refugees. Inhabitants have tried to maintain building codes and labor standards for all the new construction and industry, but the fact that they haven't always succeeded has been a plot point more than once (e.g., in the short story "Hell Fighters", which appears in one of the Grantville Gazette compilations).
    • Magdeburg is a boom town in a way as well. It's not new, but historically, the city was almost completely massacred during the war (before which it was a major city), but in the new timeline of the story it is being turned into the capital of the United States of Europe, making it much larger than it was and making it one of the most high-tech cities in Europe, after Grantville itself.
    • Slightly subverted later on in the series: Grantville is in the wrong place and doesn't have the infrastructure to really become a major city, so, as noted above, the U.S.E's. government moves to Magdeburg, and the government of the State of Thuringia-Franconia moves to Bamberg. However, Grantville will continue to be a center of technology and education.
  • Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Proving that memes can transcend time, The Cannon Law has Don Francisco Nasi make this observation regarding the very Protestant Gustavus Adolphus's possible reaction to Mike Stearns's decision to approve political sanctuary for Pope Urban VIII and his clan. His wording makes it extra hilarious.

Don Francisco Nasi: ... I think State will be responsible for the brick that will be found, come the morning, in the privy of Gustavus Adolphus."

  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Tom "Stoner" Stone. Before the Ring, he was a survivor of the last wave of hippie-ism. In the new world, Stoner is one of the richest men in Europe, since he is the only person alive with any knowledge of industrial chemistry, but he is also completely and sincerely devoted to the hippie ideals of peace, love and understanding and adamantly refuses to charge people for his medicines, making his money solely from other applications of his chemistry, such as clothing dyes.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Hans and Gretchen.
  • Catch Phrase: Everytime Rebecca gets bemused or horrified by the uptimers she's gotten close to she says, "Hillbillies! You have no respect!"
  • Cargo Cult: A battery-powered, light-up Buddha knicknack makes its way to the current Dalai Lama via trade. It causes a considerable stir in the Dalai Lama, especially since the description of Grantville (a town from somewhere else manifesting within a perfect circle) matches the Tibetan Buddhist descriptions of the Kingdom of Shambala (an otherwordly realm in the form of a Mandala/Circle).
  • Cavalry Officer: Mackay. Captain Gars (AKA Gustavus Adolphus).
  • Chekhov's Gun: Literally. One of the miners brings a sawed-off shotgun to the first battle but is convinced to swap it for a more useful weapon. In the first book's climax Rebecca uses the shotgun to fight off the invading Croats until help arrives.
    • Another literal example is with the .40 Heckler & Koch USP semiautomatic pistol given to Gustavus Adolphus' personal bodyguard in 1633. In the later novel The Eastern Front the bodyguard and the pistol save an unconscious Gustavus from being killed by Polish hussars at the cost of the bodyguard's life.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Some seemingly minor characters introduced in earlier novels end up as major point-of-view characters in the later ones.
  • Cold Sniper: Julie MacKay (née Sims)
  • Conscripted Hooker With a Heart of Gold: Gretchen. Sort of. She has a heart of gold, but her situation demands emphasis on other qualities.
  • Cool Old Guy: Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz
  • Cough-Snark-Cough: A lovely example of the disbelieving cough occurs in 1632, when the Scots cavalrymen who don't yet fully grasp what late-20th-Century firepower can do are stunned that the Americans want them to be ready to pursue an enemy force.

Pursuit? Cough, cough. Doesn't that, ahem, presuppose that you've already defeated the enemy?

  • Crazy Prepared: Apparently there are some advantages to being a redneck town in which everyone owns a gun.
  • Creepy Good: In The Eastern Front, Mike Stearns is starting to fear that his troops will fall into the standard habits of the Thirty Years' War. So he commissions a regiment with Jeff at its head as military police. They are deliberately sent into towns being stormed because Mike knows perfectly well that soldiers automatically hate MPs but will at least respect them if they think them to be Badass. The symbol of the new regiment is a hangman's noose.
  • Creepy Souvenir: In 1633, Gunther Achterhof of the Magdeburg Committee of Correspondence was said to carry around the ears, noses, and private parts of two soldiers he had killed before joining the CoC, in revenge for the killing of his family by an army passing through the area.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Occurs whenever the Americans get enough technology into the field. See the Battle of the Crapper in 1632.
    • The Baltic War has three, two of them involving American ironclads, and the Battle of Ahrensbök, lifting the siege of Luebeck, though arguably the last was more due to General Failure on the part of the "League of Ostend", particularly French forces.
  • Defector From Decadence: In The Papal Stakes, Spanish Captain Castro y Papas finally decides his country's leadership is being entirely too dishonorable.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: And how. The Truth in Television conditions of the Thirty Years' War are beyond horrible to the point that giving no quarter to defeated enemies and rape are entirely unworthy of note by most of the "down-timers." As a consequence, the Americans essentially sort captured mercenaries into the camp of ordinary guys going along with the Crapsack World who should be given another chance and Complete Monsters who are exiled under pain of death. Most mercenaries fall in the former camp; the near-certainty that most of them have done some variation of Rape, Pillage and Burn that would have them shot or hanged in any modern army is overlooked.
    • The Americans were initially so appalled at the general conduct of mercenaries that they leaned heavily towards just shooting everyone or using them as forced labor. On consideration of the scope, this was deemed impractical and barbaric, in roughly that order.
    • Gretchen's introduction to the Americans at the Battle of the Crapper captures this perfectly. It's more of a shock to her that this new army does not rape camp followers and execute prisoners than most pieces of technology she observes. To say nothing of the lack of noble class structure where she would automatically rank as dirt ... or men caring about her emotions and pleasure.
    • Downtimers are surprised that Americans do not seek noble affectations and insist that they are provincial burghers when everyone can see they are nobles by virtue of Asskicking Equals Authority.
      • They also think that there is nothing shameful about a noble impregnating a commoner but there is in him marrying her instead of abandoning her. In fact they think Jeff was an insult to the nobility even though he had behaved in a perfectly upright manner—and had even waited until the wedding night to obtain his reward. They considered the dishonor to lie not in having relations with a desperate camp-girl but in refusing to discard her afterwards.
    • Downtimers and child raising. The way they use violence and the rod can (and had) come quite jarring to many uptimers. One of the downtimer protagonists wanted to study psychology — but without all the "nonsense of the downs of violence in children".
    • 1634: The Bavarian Crisis showed one of the most horrible realities of the war: enemies who torture/slaughter can not only go with impunity but become allies, as happened with Captain Raudegen after he crippled a blacksmith to get information regarding Maria Anna and Mary Simpson.[3]
      • Captain Raudegen is a particularly unnerving case, since until he tortured that blacksmith he came across as a highly admirable soldier — intelligent, observant, careful, professional in the best sense — who just happened to be on the other side — in short, a Worthy Opponent.
    • There's a character in 1634: The Ram Rebellion who's shown coldbloodedly gunning down an eight-year-old boy — taking another shot to make sure the kid's dead — because the little boy is the son of aristocrats, and this ensures he won't grow up to come back for revenge. The killer is hinted to be a right-hand man of rising political figure Constantin Ableidinger, and there's no indication that he'll ever be put on trial for murdering the child. He is, in fact, treated later in that story as a valuable ally.
  • Double Standard: The characters argue over whether women belong in their makeshift army. Early in the novel it is assumed, and completely unquestioned (even by the resident liberal feminist!) that the army will be composed entirely of males. Much later in the book, a few of the female characters decide that they don't like this double standard very much... But it is an uphill battle against some of the more traditional males.
    • In 1634: The Ram Rebellion, "The Suhl Incident" develops because gunsmiths in new USE member town Suhl are selling improved firearms to the USE's enemies, and the local Committees of Correspondence members object to this and are making threatening remarks about how it's treason. At the end, Gretchen Richter arrives, chews out the local CoC for making these threats, and orders them to apologize to the gunsmiths. And then, she tells the gunsmiths that if her husband gets killed by one of those improved guns in the hands of the enemy, she'll hunt the smiths down and kill them. So what makes it justifiable for her to say such things when it wasn't for the others? Is it that she's talking about personal vengeance, rather than treason to the state (the state being a fuzzy concept to most people of the time)? Or is it that she's Gretchen Richter and they're one-story characters?
  • Drives Like Crazy: Hans Richter.
  • Earth Is a Battlefield: Certainly Europe is and it is hard to find anywhere else in the world that is not.
  • Edutainment Book: Not only does this series give a remarkable amount of information about the seventeenth century, but it shows what it is like to found a new nation in a remarkably insightful way. The sequels and short stories also explain such diverse topics as textile-dyeing and mechanical-sewing-machine manufacture.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Tom "Stoner" Stone's kids Faramir, Gwaihir and Elrond (aka Frank, Gerry and Ron).
  • Evil Jesuit: Averted. The Jesuit order, as a whole, are allies to the Pope, who eventually becomes allied with the uptimers. Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld is portrayed in Ring of Fire as a decent man, and an uptimer encyclopedia listing his virtues and good works nearly brings him to tears. There are some bigoted Jesuits, and a Jesuit serves as a minor antagonist in The Bavarian Crisis, but they are no more bigoted than many of their time — some non-Jesuit uptime allies are even more intolerant.
    • After the Spanish Cardinal Borja usurps Pope Urban VIII, tries to murder him, and murders several of his allies, the Jesuits begin to suffer a schism. One faction remains loyal to to Pope Urban VIII and are thus friendly to the uptimers; the other — mostly composed of Spanish Inquisitors and witch-hunters -- become outright hostile.
  • Everyone Is Armed : When the Americans arrive they are armed to the teeth — with civilian hunting weapons by twentieth century standards, but enough to to make them pretty scary nonetheless.
    • Almost everyone else in Europe who isn't a serf seems to be armed too; even peasants and townsfolk often enough. After all if you are going to wander around in this you better be armed.
  • Finns With Fearsome Forests: The Swedish light cavalry
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Jeff rescues Gretchen at the Battle of the Crapper. They get engaged that night, and married four days later. Despite not having a common language. Nevertheless, their relationship works, and is still going strong as of 1636.
  • Frozen in Time: Potential authors (see below) are reminded that the "up-timers" are from 2000. Pentium 2s running Windows 95/98, video storage on VHS, pre-Bush-presidency, pre-9/11, pre-Iraq War.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The United Mine Workers of America, to start with.

"And just exactly who is this—the Umwa? Sounds Polish. Is there a Polish baron somewhere in this area?"

    • Down-timers even express amusement, bemusement, and even frustration at the tendency of the up-time Americans to use a lot of acronyms.
    • The abbreviation for the New United States, "NUS", looks like Nuss, the German word for nut, leading to fears the Germans will call them a bunch of nuts. When renaming it, a suggestion to call it the Province of Thuringia, or "PoT" for short was thrown out because nobody wants to be a citizen of pot.
      • The problem continues when Thuringia is joined with Franconia — they opt for "State of Thuringia-Franconia" as the new name on the grounds that SoTF beats SoFT.
  • Gambit Pileup: Europe always was a continuous Gambit Pileup until quite recently. This setting is one of the more "piled up" eras though.
  • Genius Bruiser: Baldur Norddahl. Looks like a Viking in modern — well, 17th-century — clothes, and has evidently acted like one many a time, although a lot of that's Noodle Incidents since if he gave details about it he might incriminate himself. Became a technological designer for the King of Denmark. His not-yet-completed submarine convinced Eddie Cantrell that Baldur should be at "the very top of the shoot-this-mad-genius-now-before-he-goes-any-further list."
  • Gentle Giant: Tom Simpson, for the most part.

General Torstensson: I'm curious. What would be your weapon of choice? In a duel, I mean.
Tom Simpson: Ten-pound sledgehammers.

  • Germanic Depressives: Inverted with the Down-Time Germans' opinions of the Up-Time America.
    • The Germans derive much humor from the fact that the Up-Time stereotype of Germans is as rule-obsessed, bureaucratic control freaks, whereas Down-Time Germans are notorious throughout Europe as a disorderly, happy-go-lucky lot and it's the Americans who are in love with rules and forms.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Shows up a lot in-universe, most notably concerning Buster Keaton and Reba McEntire.
  • Girl Next Door: Julie Sims.
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: The 'Takes A Village' Variant
  • Going Native: Mutually. Downtime princes are learning to use up-time technology while up-timers are learning to play seventeenth century power games.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Near the beginning of the first book, When Mike Stearns rejects ex-CEO John Simpson's proposal at the town meeting to drive off German war refugees as being extra mouths and a plague menace to boot, he uses two lines of attack. First, that it would be contrary to the American way. Second, that helping the refugees would win their loyalty among a great pool of potential workers, artisans, and soldiers who could be educated to technological skill centuries ahead of time and thereby form the most effective support for their infant country that could be imagined.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Jeff and Gretchen.
  • Grandpa What Massive Hotness You Have: Sharon Nichols' father wondered why she chose to marry a man who's roughly the same age as her dad. Then he met the man, and realized sixtyish Ruy Sanchez has a better physique than many thirty-something athletes, and his face isn't quite as handsome as Ricardo Montalban's. That he's brave, clever, and (intentionally) funny don't hurt any, either. Mystery solved.
  • Groin Attack: An especially nasty one; a Croat soldier takes a point blank sawed-off shotgun blast to the testicles, with a detailed description of the shot's path.
  • Guns Akimbo: Subverted in the climactic scene where Sheriff Dan Frost decides to be more professional about it. It doesn't make him any less awesome.
  • Guile Hero: Mike Stearns wins battles by playing politics. So does Gretchen Richter. But she doesn't quite trust him. There's a point in The Saxon Uprising when she breaks down in tears of relief to realize that Mike hasn't discarded his republican principles.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: The trope description says this is often true of (fictional) hippie parents, but Tom Stone averts it neatly. He is a nurturing and attentive parent to his three sons, even though only one of them is definitely his biological child.
    • One of the town girls has her mother play this trope straight and is actually nearly brought to tears upon this realization since even the Stones—who many in town, including her, considered a family of losers before the Ring of Fire—actually had a better, more supportive family life than she ever had.
  • Happily Married: Jeff and Gretchen, Mike and Rebecca, Julie and Alex Mackay.
  • Heel Face Turn: Albrecht von Wallenstein, in The Wallenstein Gambit. Originally the commanding general under the Hapsburgs, and given the task of crushing both King Gustav II Adolf and the Americans, he switches sides and becomes a valuable ally to both.
    • The also infamous Pappenheim also switches sides along with Wallenstein.
    • Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand (known in the books as "Don Fernando") as well, though he's much less of a villain than Wallenstein was.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Eddie Cantrell, Larry Wild, and Hans Richter at the climax of 1633, against the Danish navy. Hans becomes a folk hero to the Germans. Lt. Cantrell loses a leg, but survives as a prisoner of King Christian.
    • In a way, the way Hans hobbled on after Tilly's army to help Gretchen protect his younger siblings was also a heroic sacrifice. Hans wasn't a natural soldier and wasn't as tough as Gretchen but that simply made it more awesome.
    • Alex Mackay's father threw himself on a grenade to save the lives of two young boys ... and Alex's little daughter. The old man had been crippled in an accident several months before, wasn't expected to live more than another year or so, and was in pretty-much constant pain, so Alex admitted dying quickly this way was a mercy. That didn't make Alex or Julie any less furiously determined to hunt down and shoot down the men responsible for the grenade.
  • High School: The local high school becomes, by default, the greatest repository of knowledge in the world. Ties in with Writer on Board- Flint uses it to demonstrate just how much knowledge is available in such a typical school.
  • Historical In-Joke: The entire series could be considered one long cascade of these.
    • A brutally ironic example in The Dreeson Incident has the Jewish Don Francisco Nasi calling the ruthlessly efficient CoC elimination of all anti-Semitic and witch hunting groups in the USE Operation Kristallnacht. Just to spite the Nazis and their infamous anti-Semitism uptime.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The series is set so far in the past that no characters will ever get to see it, but Mike Stearns and Gustav Adolph both state that a goal of theirs is to prevent the world wars of the 20th century. If Germany can be unified more or less peacefully in the 1600s, the hope is, it won't have aggressive, racist policies when the 20th century comes. (Realistically, the first book alone threw sufficient spanners in the works to ensure that WWI and WWII wouldn't happen the way we remember, and bringing 20th-century science into the 17th century might start wars early for all we know, but the hope is that democratizing and liberalizing earlier will make things better.)
  • Horseback Heroism: Morris Roth, in the novella "The Wallenstein Gambit"[4], assumes the role in the defense of Prague from Holk's mercenaries, but not just with the traditional rearing horse and sword waving. While when the defenders first gathered he did, when Holk's goons actually showed up the next day, while astride a horse borrowed from Pappenheim he simply kept his uptime rifle kept handy but not yet being wielded, his calmly awaiting the arrival of the mercenaries serving the purpose of calming his poorly trained troops far better than the sword waving routine.
  • Improvised Umbrella: In 1635: The Eastern Front, Jeff Higgins resorts to using a wooden plank, and Prince Ulrik and Princess Kristina use a dining table.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Mike Stearns, in 1633, decides he needs a much stronger drink than the after-work beer he had been contemplating prior to getting a radio message from Gustav Adolf at Luebeck.
  • Inspiration Nod: Despite the bucketfuls of literary references, Mark Twain's books are scarcely mentioned anywhere in the series. This is most likely because they don't want to bring up the overt links between the stories and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (especially Gustav/Arthur).
  • Just the Way You Are: Invoked in a kind of backwards way in 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies. Eddie's gorgeous wife suddenly becomes very anxious about her hair, always keeping it covered. When he asks why, she finally admits that she's been using hair-curling treatments since before they met, to be in style — but her maid forgot to bring along the equipment, and now her hair has straightened out. She seems to think this almost literally counts as disfiguring. Getting a good look, Eddie is so paralyzed by how even-more-gorgeous-than-before that shining, silky straight hair is that it takes him a while to tell her so. "I didn't think hair like this was ever not in style," or words to that effect. Besides, he fell in love with a woman, not her hair.
  • Knight Templar Big Sister: Gretchen
  • Lampshade Hanging: Courtesy of Gustav's advisor, James Spens.

"A colony of Englishmen from a future America find themselves planted in the middle of Thuringia? It's a thing of fable! The tales of Rabelais and Sir Thomas More come to life!"

  • Large Ham: Gustavus Adolphus
  • A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll": Played with; downtimers hate rock and roll, and most music from the late 20th century (with a few exceptions, like Reba McEntire). However, at least some of them love music from in between 1632 and 2000, like Beethoven or Mozart.
    • And the live theater production of The Sound of Music is a big hit, especially in Austria, where it was responsible, almost single-handedly, for Austrian proto-nationalism. In fact Broadway musicals in general seem to be popular. Guys and Dolls inspires the creation of a downtime Salvation Army in the short story "The Devil Will Drag You Under".
    • It's rap that the downtimers particularly can't stand.
    • Not related to music, but a number of downtimers feel American obscenities sound particularly effective for cursing at people. One Pole mentioned what he called "the most marvelous American expression," and his friend, trying out the pronunciation, agreed, "Modderfooker...mudder—yes, it is nice."
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Intentional — Flint wanted to avoid the "Great Man" theory of history and used as many characters as reasonable in the original novel. Add in the size of the series and it's shared universe nature and this trope just goes crazy.
    • Also, in universe. The Bavarian Crisis features a play with several hundred speaking parts.
  • Loophole Abuse: According to Captain Bartley in 1636: The Saxon Uprising, there's no rule that the Dollar is the exclusive currency of the USE, allowing the Third Division the capability to produce its own currency for purchasing supplies.
  • Love Across Battlelines: Susanna and Marc in The Bavarian Crisis. Susanna was Catholic, and Marc a Calvinist, which was a pretty big deal during the 17th century.
  • MacGuffin : The Assiti Shards that appear in the prologue of the first book are essentially just plot devices that Eric Flint can use over and over again to write Alternate History and Science Fiction novels (his words, not ours). They are never mentioned, alluded to, or considered in any way ever again as soon as the first chapter begins.
    • ...Except in Time Spike, where we discover that modern-day Earth is under constant bombardment by Shards (most of which are very small and/or hit water or isolated wilderness, causing nothing more than the occasional sea serpent sighting), and the Assiti or someone deliberately transport multiple interesting points in Illinois history to the early Cretaceous.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The trope name is a fairly good description of what happened to Holk's mercenaries during the Battle of Prague in "The Wallenstein Gambit".
  • May-December Romance: When Sharon accedes to the courtship of Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz, she worries that her father will disapprove for this reason.
  • Meaningful Rename: Grantville's Roman Catholic church was originally named after St. Vincent de Paul, but shortly after the Ring of Fire, was renamed St. Mary's... because Vincent de Paul isn't even dead yet.
  • The Messiah: Tom Stone is mentioned as extremely, almost unbelievably nice due to his hippie history. He also mass produces medicine which he sells at cost (As he puts it, he refuses to profit from another's pain); something which some uptimers, his downtimer wife, and his father-in-law find impractical. However, his generosity has made him extremely popular with the downtime poor and sickly. So much so that it is mentioned that a town is petitioning the pope to have him declared a saint.
    • In 1635: The Papal Stakes, he outlines a plan to build a dirigible fleet which will rush medical attention to disaster areas, particularly disease outbreaks. A blitzkrieg of healing, so to speak, isolating each outbreak with a "fire-break" of immunizations. On his dime; he doesn't discuss government participation at all. To Tom's mind, what makes making lots of money worthwhile is that it lets him do things like that.
  • Mighty Whitey: Inverted heavily by the dark skinned Dr. Nichols and his daughter, Sharon, a nurse. They wind up teaching modern medical science to the poor, backward white folks of Europe.
    • Being exotic helps (no one ever argues with them); the best doctors of the time are either "Moors" or Jewish anyway.
    • Grantville could be called a sort of collective Mighty Whitey in a chronological rather than ethnic sense, although it must be noted that great emphasis is given to how the downtimers are just as potentially skilled as uptimers, given a small amount of training or experience.
  • Monumental Damage:
    • After setting the Wartburg on fire with napalm, Mike ponders that it probably is considered a historical monument back in the American's native time. (Which is indeed the case by the way.)
    • From 1634: The Baltic War, the Globe Theatre was set on fire as a distraction for the escape from the Tower of London, which also got some explosive renovations done to it in the process. The latter doesn't make Melissa Mailey happy, but on finding out about the fire she goes absolutely ballistic.
      • The joke here is that Julie Sims Mackay is NOT unhappy about the destruction of the Globe Theater. She went, with her husband, to a performance there, and was offended right down to the soles of her shoes by the fact that adolescent boys were cross-dressing to play the female roles (which was still common practice in the early 17th century).
  • Moral Myopia: The Grantvillers can be remarkably self-righteous. Of course they have enough to be self-righteous about. But it is not considered too much that Grantville is doing nasty things to survive and force their ideology on others. To be fair, less nasty than everyone else, for whatever that's worth.
  • More Dakka: The "flying artillery" and mitrailleuse, both discussed in 1634: The Baltic War, for the army and navy, respectively.
    • See also the mass use of single-shot weapons, particularly in the first few battles involving Americans armed with semi-automatic rifles in the first novel, and the salvo that fatally wounded Hans Richter in 1633, when the fleet besieging Wismar was engaged.
  • Mugging the Monster: Hey look a new town! Lets go Rape, Pillage and Burn it! Oh wait...
  • Must Have Caffeine: One of the first things the up-timers discuss when establishing trade is getting a supply of coffee.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: "My name is Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz. Prepare to die."
  • Name's the Same: Hilariously, one of the uptimer judges shares a name with a Harry Potter character—Tom Riddle!
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Through a quirk of fate, regiments in the USE army have names as well as numbers. In 1635: The Eastern Front, an elite regiment is formed in the Third Division to deal with problems of discipline — The Hangman.
  • Necessarily Evil: Richelieu knows that he will likely be viewed as a tyrant in the history books of the new timeline, more-so even than in those of the old, but says he must carry on regardless, as he is duty-bound to do what is best for France.
  • Nerves of Steel: Many major characters are possessed of these:
    • Mike Stearns. A retired boxer, he calls upon the training this gave him in keeping his cool many times — most explicitly after being made a general in the USE army. (Of course, anyone who watched him standing out in the open in 1632 to draw fire away from the Abrabanel carriage would know this.)
    • Jeff Higgins. Starting in 1632 — first, when he rescues Rebecca Stearns from an ambush, and second, when he takes down a dozen professional cavalrymen in the Last Stand at the high-school gymnasium.
    • Gustavus Adolphus. At one point Mike Stearns is reminded of Shelby Foote's description of Ulysses S. Grant being possessed of "four o'clock in the morning courage" when Gustav is unperturbed after being awakened with a piece of bad military news.
    • Gretchen — as demonstrated quite early on at the eponymous incident during the Battle of the Crapper.
    • Eddie Cantrell got a reputation for "berserk courage" by ramming a Danish warship at Wismar. In 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies, he demonstrates what one of history's great admirals says is much better: "cool control under fire, maintained for hours." This one isn't an accident.
  • Nice Hat: Played somewhat straight in the climax when the Croat captain's hat isn't even damaged when Dan Frost shoots him in the face.
  • Noble Bigot: A lot of the allies of the up-timers (and even some up-timers themselves) still hold to their own prejudices. Let's face it, centuries worth of ingrained cultural acceptance of said prejudices don't usually disappear all that quickly.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: While Mannington, West Virginia circa late 1999 does not have a power plant and does have oil wells, the town of Grantville is specified to be otherwise analogous. This simplifies worldbuilding when asking questions like "How many ham radio operators would there be in a town that size?"[5] Some of the fan authors have even taken tours of Mannington (guided by Flint) to help improve the accuracy of their depictions of Grantville.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Some of the book titles are this, because the year given in the title doesn't always match the year in which most of the action takes place. 1632 itself begins in 1631; the title year is when Grantville holds the new constitutional convention. Possibly the most extreme example is 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies. Of well over 800 pages, all but the last not-quite-30-page section is set in 1635. 1636: The Kremlin Games is similarly troublesome in a variant way, as its narrative begins in 1631 and devotes something like 80 percent of the book to the years between then and '36.
  • Noodle Incident: Several uptimers apparently have colorful pasts as juvenile delinquents, irreverent hicks and/or troublemaking rednecks, and the level of detail given to these activities varies greatly. In a few cases the omniscient narrator simply describes the events, but most are just referred to in dialogue between characters, so readers might never hear exactly what happened. See There Is a God.
  • Not So Different: Though it is said that the down-timers have trouble finding a social niche to put up-timers in, actually they are not really much different from Dutch, Hansa, Venetians or other rich and warlike burghers who had for centuries been a part of European life, making treaties with monarchs, fighting wars on their own account, and sometimes being ennobled.
  • Nouveau Riche: Uptimers in general. And if you have a problem with that, talk to their muskets.
    • In individual, some uptimers are bums in down time as they were in up time. But it is not unknown to find others taking advantage of their skills and reputation for skill to become wealthy or even get a blue-blooded spouse and a title.
    • The teenage girls of the "Barbie Consortium," who have a range of commercial interests that began from selling Barbie dolls, wind up with several of them declared princesses of the Austro-Hungarian Empire — because they're advising Emperor Ferdinand III on financial policy.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Janos Drugeth, friend of the Emperor of Austria, sometime Worthy Opponent of Americans and Star Crossed Lover of an American, is a Hungarian aristocrat and cavalry officer. He's a noble man in the sense of being good and honorable as well as being noble in the sense of having a successful thug as an ancestor.
  • Oh Crap: Mike Stearns reacts this way in 1635: The Eastern Front when Jeff Higgins shows him a Polish radio set found on a battlefield.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Several characters, including the fictional ones, share the same first names. Tom Stone and Tom Simpson, for one, not only share the same first name, they also have the same initials.
    • There's a brief passage in which Mike Stearns has a conversation with Mike McCarthy Senior and Mike McCarthy Junior.
  • Out of Focus: Most of the characters from the first book have fallen Out of Focus by now as more minor characters have taken center stage and the early protagonists have taken on relatively stable leadership roles. Mike Stearns was the protagonist in 1632, but his main role in recent books has been sending people on dangerous, long-term missions, and reading reports about events hundreds of miles away and discussing their implications with his advisor.
    • However, Mike comes back to center stage as a major general commanding one of the three divisions in the USE army invading Saxony in the latest full-length novels, 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising.
  • Patriotic Fervor
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Though it started out as a betrothal of political convenience, Prince Ulrik of Denmark and Princess Kristina of Sweden have grown quite fond of each other by the time of 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising. One of Ulrik's biggest worries was being married off to a boring, court-spoiled noblewoman, and he finds Kristina's feistiness and intelligence a good prospect for the future. Kristina has grown to trust and care for Ulrik, to the point that she admits that she greatly fears the possibility of him leaving her. Of course, it's still all chaste at this point since Urlik is in his early twenties while Kristina is eight.
    • Despite the disparity in their ages (he is in his fifties, she is 19), Ludwig Guenther and Emilie are consistently presented as loving, mutually supportive, and politically on much the same page.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: At the end of 1633, one of these was gathering in Magdeburg after word of the death of Hans Richter reached the general public. Mike Stearns and company defuse the situation before it actually blows up, though.
  • Politically-Correct History: Depending on where you look within the series as a whole, played straight or subverted to hell and back.
  • The Posse: When the Grantvillers first see wandering soldiers pillaging the area, they get one up to hunt down and shoot the perpetrators.
  • Pregnant Badass: Three in the climax of 1632. As expressed by James Nichols,

"Boy, did they pick the wrong time to piss off pregnant women."

  • Putting on the Reb: In the American Civil War, West Virginia broke away from Virginia to stay with the Union. As such, some uptimers muse on the irony of the fact that the flag of the USE resembles the flag of the Confederate States, the USE Army uniforms are gray, and that the USE itself used to be called the Confederated Principalities of Europe.
  • Rags to Riches: Pretty much every up-timer has knowledge and skills that could be parlayed into a small fortune down-time, but Tom Stone and David Bartley stand out. Tom Stone is an aged hippie who has turned a Masters degree in chemistry he got to be able to make LSD into making Europe's only bright, waterproof dyes, making him one of Europe's three or four wealthiest captains of industry. David Bartley was a high-school sophomore who turned a wild attempt at building a sewing machine into a venture capitalism group, and made so much money by the time he turned eighteen that he can prop up a failing national currency with his personal fortune and the loans he could get.
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: And the Assiti, the aliens that the prologue states caused this, who we will probably never hear from again, they learn this lesson the hard way.
    • Not, unusually, from the reality warping itself backfiring on them, but because another civilization exterminated them after the Assiti had disregarded numerous stern warnings to cease their dangerous and irresponsible 'art'.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: King Gustav. For a king who rules by divine right, he sure is willing to accept Americans. First as allies, then as ... either subjects or citizens, it's not totally clear, but after only four years or so in-story Germany has gone from part of the Holy Roman Empire to a constitutional monarchy not unlike modern Britain.
    • At least in part, this seems to be because Gustav really believes in the divine part ... and believes that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, so he has a duty to be a wise and decent ruler. Also, he feels the uptimers were sent as a message from God about ends and means. He won't unquestioningly accept everything they say, but he will consider it, because to ignore them would be to ignore God's message.
    • Not being clear whether Americans are subjects or citizens allows Gustav to say they are subjects and the Americans to say they are citizens and each to hedge to avoid embarrassment.
    • This Character Development takes place over several years. In the first book, before he even meets any Americans he's talking very introspectively about viewing his status as a responsibility and a way to improve the world. He still believes in ruling by divine right through the first book and arguably throughout the series so far, but there are definitely many intermediate steps between "because I say so" and "what will Parliament vote for?", with which he had much experience under the Swedish system of government at the time.
    • Christian IV of Denmark also shows shades of this, particularly in the later book 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies, which includes a scene wherein he admits to his daughter that he "in many ways" admires the uptimer lack of concern for questions of low birth or high. Furthermore, near the end of the book, there's a moment that tests Eddie Cantrell's loyalty to him. When the young man finds a way to Take a Third Option, Christian's agent speculates that the king may be more pleased by Eddie's clever solution than he would've been by complete obedience.
  • Reformed Criminal: the Grantville Gazette short stories written about the downtime NCIS (the stories are explicit homages to the TV show of the same name) have more than a few reformed criminals in the service, including the main male protagonist.
  • Revenge Fic: In a way the whole series is a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for the Thirty Years' War.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Subverted and played straight. The main reason why the Americans doesn't give their Swedish allies more advanced weapons is not that they can't make them. They can create both modern weapons and ammunition. The main reason is that a Napoleonic flintlock musket is much more accurate and fast-firing than their 30-Years War fuselock counterpart, but it still uses the same ammunition and the Swedes can therefore use captured enemy ammunition. A modern rifle would not have been able to use that ammunition. Why arm troops with semi-automatic rifles if you only have two or three magazines per gun at the very least when you can give them more primitive weapons that still are at least a century ahead of the enemy's and on top of that have an endless amount of ammo at hand? On that note, a major problem with the fledgling American army in 1632 is that many of the Germans, except the newer recruits, cannot get the hang of shooting modern rifles because they were never taught to aim, just stand in a line, fire, reload, repeat. And the Germans would probably be in the habit of closing their eyes while shooting, because arquebuses make a lot of smoke. What are the odds the Swedes wouldn't be in the same habit?
  • Ruling Couple: Mike and Rebecca aren't technically monarchs, but this is their character dynamic.
  • Running Gag: From The Saxon Uprising:

Madrid, capital of Spain
There was no reaction to [important recent event] in the court of Spain.
They had no radio. They wouldn't receive the news for days yet.

    • Also, the original name of the Roman Catholic church in Grantville. St. Vincent de Paul is still alive, and it is often mentioned - by Catholic church officials, including at least three cardinals - that he should absolutely not be told about his future sainthood because it would go to his head.
  • Schizo-Tech: Considering how the knowledge of three hundred plus years of technological development just got dumped into the Early Modern Era, this was sort of bound to happen.
    • The Americans realize early on that maintaining the technological level of America from the year 2000 will be impossible in some ways and impractical in many more ways (see Rock Beats Laser above), so they begin pursuing a policy of gearing down to roughly 19th-century technology for most things, supplemented by higher tech when possible. A naval campaign in the book 1633 consisted of limpet mines on enemy vessels planted by scuba divers, three speedboats appropriated from civilians fitted with rocket launchers made in a high school shop class, one of which was forced to make a suicide charge, and two barely-tested Alleged Airplanes running on car engines ... all to buy time to finish building boats modeled closely on American Civil War vessels.
    • In a short story, when one group tries to start a telephone company but gets overwhelmed by the technical and financial and political problems, they eventually gear down to a telegraph company, and then gear down even further, saving time and money by tying the lines to trees.
  • Shared Universe: Fan Fic authors are invited to submit stories which can be, and have been, published.
  • Shipping: Of Historical Domain Characters, no less! Eric Flint admitted that part of the reason for the plot behind The Bavarian Crisis was that he and co-author Virginia DeMarce were "firmly convinced that this sprightly lass (Maria Anna of Austria) can do a lot better for herself than Maximillian (of Bavaria)".
  • Shotgun Wedding: Eddie Cantrell ends up marrying the oldest daughter of King Christian IV of Denmark when he's caught with her after two and half days of This and That in a prototype Danish submarine (long story). The trope itself is even referenced by name. Although, it's made clear later that the situation was engineered by the Danish royal family so they'd end up with a son-in-law who's not only a distinguished naval hero but also a technical wizard with knowledge of uptime technology.
    • That's the most prominent and important example, but these seem to be happening all the time. It's rural West Virginia to start with and all reliable birth control ran out in months. The United States of Europe is being founded by up-timers with 20th-century views on sex and down-timers with 17th-century views on marriage. Lots and lots of babies are getting born, or at least conceived, out of wedlock.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In one scene, the aforementioned Cool Old Guy tells his enemies, "My name is Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz. Prepare to die." An American witness realizes Ruy isn't quoting The Princess Bride; Inigo Montoya was a "comic twist on an ancient and very real model. Meet Ruy Sanchez — the original." In a sense, The Princess Bride was quoting him.
    • In an early scene in 1632, Jeff Higgins and friends wonder whether Voyager ever made it home.
    • In 1633, during a discussion addressing why a flintlock is better for the current era than a more-advanced caplock would be, one of the characters mentions that "maybe Clarke was right. 'Superiority'."
    • The aforementioned Cool Old Guy goes undercover, posing as a slow-witted porter from Barcelona. His first piece of dialogue in that role is "¿Qué?". He's of course chosen to call himself Manuel?
    • In 1634: The Galileo Affair the Scottish Lieutenant Taggart announces a crime scene with the phrase "There's been a murder".
    • 1634: The Ram Rebellion contains an In-Universe example with Constantin Ableidinger, who at one point introduces himself as "Helmut, speaking for the Ram." The first up-timer to recognize the reference breaks down in giggles.
    • A particularly big airplane gets built, and for whatever excuse, its official name is "Jupiter Two."
    • Uptimer Bernie Zeppi is recruited to help Russia modernize. The official who escorts him there, Boris Petrov, introduces him to Princess Natasha Gorchakov. Boris is short and stocky; Natasha is tall, slender, and currently wearing cosmetics that make her look very pale. Bernie realizes he's looking at Boris and Natasha and starts laughing uncontrollably. Later, he teaches Princess Natasha to do a pretty fair imitation of "Boris, darlink" Natasha's voice and speech pattern....
    • 1635: A Parcel of Rogues has a brief appearance by a Scottish soldier who has very poor hygiene, as anyone with a functioning nose can tell when within ten feet or so of him. His name, as might be expected, is McAuslan. Based on his superior's comments, though, he's rather more competent than his twentieth-century namesake.
    • Toward the end of one of the short stories, Gerry Stone asks his sister-in-law to send him his copies of Yertle the Turtle and Guards! Guards!, saying he's going to lend the books to some aristocrats in hopes it'll give them ideas....
    • In 1635: The Papal Stakes, Harry Lefferts collapses in laughter when it's finally made clear to him the Italian boat he's aboard has a name that could be translated as Minnow. He laughs even harder when he realizes the boat's captain and one of the crew are of ages and body types resembling the Skipper and Gilligan himself. "Where's the Professor? He'll figure out the attack plan we need. And Ginger—oh, Ginger—"
    • A character in 1636: The Cardinal Virtues recalls that when she was growing up, her father enjoyed graphic novels — and meeting Monsieur Gaston, heir presumptive to the French throne, she thinks he resembles V's Guy Fawkes mask.
  • Shown Their Work: Flint does this a bit but it is more common for the Expanded Universe authors to go off on tangents where characters talk about the author's pet issue in loving detail.
    • Especially the ones written by Virginia DeMarce, which are guaranteed to have what this troper refers to as Boring Genealogical Bits. Three guesses as to what her big hobby is; or, barring that, that she's a former president of the American Genealogical Society.
  • Single-Issue Psychology: While incredibly heartwarming and awesome, the scene of Gretchen and Jeff Higgins was incredibly goofy and a little jarring for those who had studied psychology about how fast she "got over it". In a broader sense, the way downtimers react (in part thanks to Eric Flint's "Middle Man" ideology) can also break a little flow, adapting to monumental changes both social and technological far faster and with better results than many "Middle Man" people can do to things that had barely happened in their own society. It could be explained that since they'd been living in a literal Hell on Earth, it was easier and better to just go "insane" as put by Gretchen, but still it can come as quite unrealistic, in a human behaviorist kind of way.
  • Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: Overall Type II. The initial PoD is Alien Space Bats material, but everything following the Ring of Fire never goes bellow Type III, with those being minor tweaks which are justified/handwaved by it technically being an alternate universe rather than straight time travel, and the majority of the events/characterization being either Type I or II.
  • Sobriquet: The downtime Germans give Jesse Woods, an Air Force reserve aerial tanker pilot and commander of the downtime U.S. Air Force, the title of "Der Adler" (The Eagle).
    • And Mike Stearns is "The Prince of Germany" or just "The Prince." In The Saxon Uprising newspaper headlines are quoted saying things like, "The Prince Victorious" and "Prince Confers With Emperor" (Emperor referring to Gustav Adolf).
  • The Spock: Father Mutio Vitelleschi, Superior General of the Society of Jesus and is pretty much The Spymaster for Pope Urban VIII. Described as being unnervingly calm, composed, and carefully logical (he did teach logic in Real Life, after all). The pope and his nephew have expressed gratitude that the Jesuits have an extra oath for personal loyalty to the Pope, as they shudder to think what he would be like as an enemy.
  • The Spymaster: Don Francisco Nasi, for Mike Stearns. Father Mutio Vitelleschi, for Pope Urban VIII.
  • Squee: Invoked when Eddie Cantrell's sister-in-law Leonora, who has strong scholarly inclinations, meets an elderly scholar she's revered for years. Her sister Anne Cathrine has picked up a few appropriate uptime terms from Eddie, and thinks in amusement that the only thing keeping Leonora's reaction from being that of a total Fangirl is that she hasn't said "squee." Yet.
  • Steampunk: What American society ends up resembling once they "gear down".
    • Some Dieselpunk as well since the Americans have also started petroleum-drilling operations and have made planes and ironclad warship using repurposed land vehicle engines.
      • Literal diesel, not so much. At the beginning, diesel engines were swapped out for gasoline ones in the school buses, mine truck APCs, etc. because the Ring of Fire included a large, already-tapped deposit of natural gas which spark-ignition engines can be converted to run on but compression-ignition ones can't.
    • As of 1635: The Eastern Front Europe in general is promising to become this in a big way. Several companies and governments are building steam powered tanks and are working on computers using fluidics instead of electronics. Also the Ottoman Empire has dirigible bombers[6] rumored in The Eastern Front, confirmed in 1636: The Saxon Uprising. They're used in the conquest of Baghdad (offscreen). In the short story "Upwardly Mobile" a blimp company gets started. In the novella "Four Days Along the Danube" they get coopted by the military for scouting and supply runs as well as napalm bombing runs.
    • It is discussed that an actual steampunk-style society may emerge, given that steam technology is easier to start from the ground than oil-powered, and uptimers include several afficionados of steam power, happy to provide efficient designs.
      • On the other hand, 1636: The Devil's Opera includes an "accident" (sabotage) showing, with (in-story) lose-your-lunch gruesomeness, just how horrific the casualties can be if a large steam boiler explodes: thirty-nine men scalded to death almost instantly[7], and anyone who tried to rescue them (not that they could've been saved) would either be likewise scalded or suffocate because the steam drove out all the oxygen in the area. Two uptimers, one of them James Nichols, mention that they've long felt it's best to have nothing to do with steam.
  • Stereotype Flip: Related to the Germanic Depressives example above. Given how the uptimers are applying uptime government bureaucracy techniques to a chunk of the fractured 17th Century Germany, there is general amusement regarding the fact that in the new time line the traditionally German stereotype of "Alles in ordnung" is fast becoming an irrevocably American stereotype.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Glasses aren't that common in the 17th Century, and most downtimers expect them to be used only by nobility or high-rank academics. They are deemed an unnecessary luxury for soldiers. So when downtimers see the glasses worn by Jeff Higgins, who is actually pretty intimidating as a soldier, they conclude that he is a cold killer who uses the glasses to see his victims better.
  • Stolen Good, Returned Better: Mike Stearns' sister Rita tells an Englishman that Mike, in his late teens, often "borrowed" people's cars for a bit of joyriding. But he always brought the car back with no damage and a full tank of gas — and sometimes washed, too. So "nobody really cared that much."
  • Story Within a Story: The Brillo Tales, humorous short stories about the doings of an unusually clever ram, featured in The Ram Rebellion.
    • And then there's "71" by David Brin, in which a German refugee in Grantville writes science fiction concerning what may have happened to the region of 1631 Germany that Grantville displaced. Suppose instead of being swapped into 2000 West Virginia (as 1632's prologue says occurred), it went somewhere and somewhen else? Still farther into the past, to where a troop of Landsknechts with wheel-locks have weapons superiority to about the same degree that the Grantvillers did in the 17th Century.... Teenaged science fiction fans Hercule Savinien Cyrano and Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also refugees in Grantville, are very interested in the possibilities.
  • Swedes With Mighty Muskets : These are of course a somewhat different kind of Swede then the kind of modern times.
  • Tank Goodness: While not exactly a tank, the coal trucks modified with armor and firing ports practically serve that role, as well as that of an APC, in the universe as 17th century weaponry can do little against them.
  • Tantrum Throwing: It's stated that Gustav Adolf does this so often his quarters are deliberately stocked with cheap furniture.
  • Tear Off Your Face: In 1635: The Eastern Front, an explosive trap set to take out a fleeing John George of Saxony blows his wife's face off of her skull, the face winding up plastered onto the hindquarters of one of the horses hauling their carriage.
  • There Is a God: Melissa Mailey (aka "Schoolmarm from Hell") uses the phrase several times in regards to Daryl McCarthy, when he acts as a mature adult with a good education, neither of which were previously considered to be accurate descriptions of him.
  • This Is My Boomstick: 'Downtime' Soldiers find shotguns either a wonderful or a horrifying improvement over contemporary musketry, depending on if said shotguns are held by them or pointed at them.
  • Time Travel: Only used to set up the basic premise, though discussed in-universe several places in 1632.
  • Token Minority: James and Sharon Nichols might as well spell their last name "T-O-K-E-N-B-L-A-C-K". Justified, in this troper's opinion, as the story is meant to put the USA into the Thirty Years' War, and America isn't complete without that part of our history and culture.
  • Too Dumb to Live: One character's prior love interest, a high-school jock with no particular weapons skills, picks a fight with her current love interest. Her current love interest is a veteran mercenary Violent Glaswegian who happens to come from a culture where dueling to the death is common and accepted, has just come from a dental appointment without painkillers, and is wearing a battle-grade saber at the time.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jeff. A Dungeons & Dragons nerd before the Ring of Fire, but within a year, he's a Badass Biker soldier.
  • Translation Convention: Many uptimers speak of, and are shown to be, learning German, but 99% of the dialogue is still in English. Of course, within the USE, German is merging with English into a new dialect called Amideutsch, which would be more or less incomprehensible to 21st Century Germans and English-speakers alike.
  • True Companions: The "Four Horsemen"
  • The Von Trope Family: Well, this is in the middle of noble-infested 17th century Germany. The naming can be a bit dodgy at times, though, such as with Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld, referred to as "von Spee," which is a common rendering of the name but historically inaccurate. Then there's Pappenheim, who is referred to as "von Pappenheim" instead of "zu Pappenheim," which denote very different things in the nomenclature of Germanic nobility. These were addressed and corrected in later installments and in the Shared Universe publications.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Axel Oxenstierna. After Gustav Adolf's head injury in 1635: The Eastern Front, he decides to lead a ruthless campaign against uptimer ideas by overthrowing the constitutional government of the USE and starting a new one in Berlin, in the course of which he sends an army to besiege one of his own cities and allows an enemy to sack another, just to weaken the parties that might object.
    • Gretchen has more than a little of this in her.
  • Wire Dilemma: Subverted in one of the later books — a downtimer finds a large quantity of explosives with a clock-and-battery arrangement to set it off. He sends a friend to look for someone familiar with electrical devices (while he stays with the bomb, ready to try something based on desperate guessing if he doesn't get expert advice in time). But when a guy who knows enough arrives, he merely pulls one wire loose, explaining that this bomb was clearly too simple to have anti-tampering devices, so there wasn't a real dilemma. On the other hand, the desperate measure the first fellow had been about to try would've set it off at once.[8] He faints when the more knowledgeable man explains this.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Princess Kristina of Sweden is characterized as an extremely intelligent and intuitive seven year old. To many characters, uptime and downtime alike, her uncannily sharp mind borders on Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour.
    • In Commander Cantrell in the West Indies, Eddie's sister-in-law, king's daughter Leonora of Denmark, is another such. She's fourteen now, but yes, she was already fascinated by science at seven.
  • Wants a Prize For Basic Decency: Subverted. In a covert mission to Grantsville, Janos Drugeth kills a man to subdue a mutiny but refrains from killing an old woman. One of his train of hired traitors and low-lifes thanks him for not killing her. Janos is annoyed at the idea of thanking a Hungarian warrior in his prime for such "restraint" and muses that he might have been asked why he is not a coward. By contrast he falls in love with the female up-timer captive who witnesses this and shows him enough respect to ask why he did kill the first mutineer.
  • Writer on Board
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In the Ring of Fire story "When the Chips Are Down" things don't start out well for Larry Wild. He seems to screw up any attempt at work, he misses his family, which was really close and loving, and later his attempts to make potato chips cause him some grief. Still, it seems to end pretty well, with the town loving his chips. He even gets to dance with a girl he likes. Then 1633 comes along and he gets killed in the Battle of Wismar when a cannonball cuts him in half. Making it worse is that 1633 was published first, so anyone reading in publication order knows this is just a Hope Spot for poor Larry.
  • You Have Failed Me...: Mike Stearns has this to say about Wallenstein.

""He's ambitious as Satan and, whatever else, one of the most capable men in the world. Plus, he doesn't seem to share most of this century's religious bigotry. That doesn't mean he won't burn down the ghetto. He will, Morris, in a heartbeat. But he won't do it because you're Jews. He'll do it because you failed him."

  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: A fundamentalist Spanish Inquisitor commends a Spanish captain on putting down a riot by ordering a massacre. Since the captain is sickened by his order to fire, and he really dislikes the Inquisitor in question, he has to restrain himself from killing the priest on the spot.
  1. "Canon law" is law made by and governing a church. "Cannon law" is "whoever has the cannon makes the law."
  2. The Papal States were parts of Italy directly ruled by the Church.
  3. Raudegen's Karma Houdini status is revoked in a later story by Virginia DeMarce, when his right hand is mangled in an accident — and the medic's Oblivious Guilt Slinging reminds him that it isn't as if he were someone like a blacksmith who needs both hands to do his work....
  4. in the first Ring of Fire anthology
  5. According to the article in the first Grantville Gazette, there were eighteen — three Extra (the highest class), two Advanced, five General, one Tech-plus (making eleven people fluent in Morse Code), five Technician (sixteen, generally knowledgeable about radio operation), and two Novices.
  6. Not zeppelins; there's actually a discussion in-story of how they differ
  7. Death by scalding in this sense results in huge blisters all over their face, hands, and any other exposed skin ... and that's just a side effect. What really killed them, aside from pure shock from the pain, was being suffocated by the blistering inside their lungs.
  8. He hadn't yet learned about electrical conductivity, and was planning to keep two bare copper wires apart with a steel knifeblade. Oops.