Aliens with a bent sense of the artistic release a "shard" that hurtles a small, American coal-mining town back into the past – to end up in Germany, right during the Thirty-Year's War.

Not the most pleasant period in history to be in.

Plopped in the middle of a medieval war-zone, the residents of six-square miles of West Virginia now discover that they are a magnet for refugees, mauraders, and armies. Somehow they have to survive – and to do that they need to grow...

...and recreate America in 17TH Century Germany.

If the basic idea sounds somewhat Island in the Sea of Time-ish to you, it did to me too. Flint doesn't do nearly as well with it as Stirling does, though. Oh, he knows his history of the period real well, but his characters come off a lot more wooden and cartoonish than I really like.

And while I understand a coal-mining town is very likely to be a lot more unified of mind than, say, Pasadena, no group of people is as unified of purpose & action as Flint describes. I mean, they're there about five minutes and they immediately decide (with few dissenting voices) that they're going to "rebuild America in Germany."

I don't buy it, I don't buy it at all.

Still, it isn't a bad book, as long as you're not setting your standards too high and it's worth a read.

09/01/2001 - I've just recently reread this book and had some time to think about it some more, and I want to upgrade my rating of it a bit.

It still comes across to me as a bit rushed - and that "they're there about five minutes and they immediately decide that they're going to 'rebuild America in Germany.'" still bugs the heck out of me - but in retrospect it's a better written and plotted book than I originally said.

Problem was, I'd just finished reading the then-latest book in the Sea of Time series and was a) so impressed by it that everything else looked pale and b) was mildly annoyed at what looked to be just a "knock-off clone" of that book.

"a)" as a problem, vanished on the second reading. 1632 stands alone as a pretty darn good book.

"b)" vanished when I "calmed down" and realized that it wasn't really some cheap clone of Stirling's work (helped by the fact that Stirling himself said that he knew Flint was working on it before his book ever came out) and that, IAE, this whole "Sea of Time" genre is hardly original to Stirling. Heck, the idea's been around for years (I even used it for a – bad – timeline I did back in 1972!) and it's been used in stories for just as long.

Quick example: the comicbook Cavewoman - where the whole town of Marshville gets sent back to the Cretaceous. Of course, they don't spend so much time trying to fight Mycenaean Greece or 17th century Germans as they do trying not to get eaten, but the basic "Sea of Time" idea is there.

Anywho, I'm now stating that you can set your standards pretty high and still enjoy this book. And, theoretically, there's a sequel planned - 1633 (okay, so Flint isn't too creative with titles - he's better than I am).