1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 75

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 75

Chapter 28

Magdeburg, capital of the United States of Europe

Rebecca Abrabanel was a little amused by her emotional reaction to Gunther Achterhof at the moment. How quickly we adapt! Her Imperial Majesty Rebecca I, annoyed by a stubborn adviser.

It really was rather amusing. It had only been a short time, after all, since she was elected the president of the recently formed executive committee that served — insofar as any group of people could be said to — as the central leadership of the revolution.

(Or perhaps it should be the counter-revolution, give that it was Oxenstierna who was trying to make major changes in the USE’s political structure? But applying that term to the people who were in fact trying to overthrow the long-established state of affairs in Europe seemed just plain silly.)

It was a role Rebecca was unaccustomed to, outside of her own household. However great her prestige might have been, she’d always been a counselor, as it were. One of a number of people who proffered their opinion but made no claims to actually managing anything. And much of that prestige, being honest, stemmed from her relationship to Michael.

That had become less so, as time went on. Much less so, eventually. Still, she’d been surprised to the point of astonishment to find herself suddenly elevated to her current position.

That had been Helene Gundelfinger’s doing — which meant the hand of Ed Piazza had also been at work. If there were any two political leaders in the Fourth of July Party better attuned to each other than the president and vice-president of the State of Thuringia-Franconia, they’d have to have been twins joined at the hip.

Perhaps ironically, given how often they clashed, it had been Gunther Achterhof who first advanced the proposal to form an executive committee to replace the large committee that had been meeting regularly in Rebecca’s townhouse since the crisis began. That committee had grown over time to the point where if the entire body was present, they could barely fit everyone into a single room.

“We’ve gotten too big to get much practical work done,” Gunther had argued. “Even more importantly, most of the people sitting around this table — table? say better, indoor tennis court — should be getting back home. And as soon as possible. Things are heating up, people. We need to have our leadership out in the field leading, not sitting around here talking to each other.”

He’d glared around the room, as if daring anyone to disagree with him. But no one had argued the point. Privately, most of them had already come to the same conclusion. The only one who spoke was Werner von Dalberg, and he spoke strongly in favor of the proposal.

“I need to get back to the Oberpfalz, as fast as possible. The fight against the Bavarians is getting intense, and so is the political spill-off.”

“What do you propose, then, Gunther?” Liesel Hahn asked.

“We form an executive committee with authority to make decisions in between meetings of this — this — whatever we call this body, which still has no formal existence. No more than five people, all of them people who either reside here in the capital or can move here for the duration of the crisis. And one of those people will be elected president of the executive committee, so that he can make emergency decisions whenever the executive committee can’t meet.”

The proposal had been discussed for a while. Eventually, it was adopted — with the proviso that it be expanded to include four members who did not reside in Magdeburg, but who could come to the city on short notice if need be.

“I don’t want this executive committee to be too Magdeburg-oriented,” Werner von Dalberg had explained. “I realize that it may be necessary at times for the five people in Magdeburg to make decisions before anyone else can get here. That’s fine. They have a quorum. But I would like to formalize the practice of doing everything possible to bring in the viewpoints from the provinces. Most of the USE is not like Magdeburg, not even the SoTF.”

“Mecklenburg’s getting pretty close,” said Charlotte Kienitz, smiling. “In fact — fair warning, Gunther! — I think it won’t be long before Schwerin supplants Magdeburg as the chief den of iniquity in the reactionaries’ pantheon.”

That occasioned a chuckle around the room. Having now twice defeated what was perhaps the USE’s most detestable aristocracy in open and savage armed conflict, Mecklenburg had become a magnet for a large number of footloose young radicals, mostly but by no means entirely Germans. Poverty-stricken as it might be, the province’s capital of Schwerin had grown explosively over the past year. Fortunately, enough of those newly-arrived youngsters came from moneyed families to keep the city’s economy afloat on a sort of peculiar radical tourism.

***

Melissa Mailey had passed through Schwerin a month earlier, on one of her speaking tours. “I swear, I got homesick,” she’d told James on her return. “It was almost like being back in Haight-Ashbury again, with a hefty dose of Berkeley — except there’s no university in Schwerin.”

“Send a letter to Morris Roth,” Nichols said. “He’d probably be willing to sponsor a university there. College, anyway. ‘Course, they’d have to agree to let in women and Jews and run it on a secular basis.”

“Ha! These days, I don’t think you could do anything else in Schwerin. I really enjoyed the place.”

Schwerin wasn’t really much like Magdeburg, as Melissa’s observations indicated. The USE’s capital was an industrial working class city with a thin veneer of the upper crust. The population was politically radical, but its social attitudes usually remained fairly conservative. Mecklenburg’s capital, on the other hand, had become a sort of radical student hotbed, allowing for the fact that the students were all taking a break from actually studying anything — formal course work, at least — in order to expound theories in the town’s taverns. Those theories were just as likely, on any given evening, to deal with literary or theological issues as political ones — and questioning sexual mores was almost as ubiquitous as alcohol consumption.

It wasn’t all hot air, though. A lot of those young radicals had formed volunteer detachments to fight the nobility’s armed retainers. They’d acquitted themselves quite respectably on the battlefield too, most of them. Just as they’d done, in another universe, in the international brigades that fought in the Spanish civil war.

***

When the vote was taken, the five resident members of the executive committee were Rebecca, Gunther himself, the governor of Magdeburg province, Matthias Strigel; and Helene Gundelfinger and Anselm Keller, both of whom agreed to move to the capital for the duration of the crisis. (Or in the case of Anselm, simply stay there; he hadn’t been back in the Province of the Main for almost two months.)

The four members from the provinces were the mayor of Hamburg, Albert Bugenhagen; Constantin Ableidinger; Liesel Hahn from Hesse-Kassel and Charlotte Kienitz from Mecklenburg.

Melissa Mailey would have been elected to the committee, and by a big margin, but she declined.

“First, I’m too old. The oldest person in this room except for me is Helene, and she’s still on the right side of forty. The average age around this table is thirty, at most. Which is good. Revolution is a young person’s game. You want a few old farts around for advice, but you don’t need them getting underfoot, which they will because their bones are creaky. Second, I haven’t got the temperament for it, anyway. Never did, even in my days as a twenty-year-old student radical. Third and last, let’s be honest — I’m a lot more useful as a roving schoolmarm than I would be as a resident organizer.”

There was a lot of truth to that, and everyone knew it. Melissa Mailey occupied a unique position in the revolutionary democratic movement. Her pre-existing reputation of being a radical intellectual, that she’d carried with her through the Ring of Fire, had become transmuted over time in the Germanies of the seventeenth century. She was viewed by members of the movement and a large number of people on its periphery as something in the way of an elder statesman and theoretician. Their Wise Old Lady, as it were. She was one of the most popular speakers the Fourth of July Party had, and was constantly in demand in the provinces.

Which, admittedly, made her protestations about creaking bones somewhat suspect. “Woman’s a dyed-in-the-wool globetrotter, let’s face it,” was James Nichols’ way of putting it.

Eventually, it was agreed that Melissa would serve as an ex officio member of the committee. She’d attend as many meetings as she could, with voice but no vote.

That settled, they moved on to electing a president.

“I nominate Rebecca,” Helene said, as soon as the question was posed.

“Second the nomination,” said Werner von Dalberg.

“Move the nominations be closed,” said Constantin Ableidinger.

That took all of maybe five seconds. Ten, at the most. If anyone except Rebecca had been chairing the meeting, they’d probably have pushed for an immediate vote. Rebecca had been taken completely off guard, though, so she insisted on opening the floor for discussion.

There wasn’t any. Not even Gunther had any alternate proposal.

And here she was, less than a month later, bridling a little because Gunther was arguing with her imperial decree. Her husband had always warned her that power was seductive.

***

“– still don’t see why we’re going through this rigmarole,” Achterhof grumbled. “We could have them here in a few days, easily — and with a lot less risk than flying in a plane that just got repaired — by who, you have to wonder? that’s the first aircraft anybody in Dresden ever saw, at least on the ground — and is going to be piloted by a down-time amateur. I can name three different ways to do it, right off the top of my head.”

He held up a thumb. “First –”

“Oh, stop it, Gunther!” said Anselm Keller. “I can name four ways we could do it, off the top of my head. So what? The issue isn’t a practical one in the first place. It’s a matter of political perceptions.”

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29 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 75

  1. Vikingted says:

    Melissa Mailey transformed from a wild crazy instructor to beings seen as “Lady” and an elder statesman and theoretician for the FoJP.

  2. Vikingted says:

    the comments seemed a little sparce today. Probably all the normal posters are reading their new copies of this book. Johan, did the book get to Sweden yet?

  3. WCG says:

    My copy hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m still here. :)

  4. summertime says:

    Got it. Read it. Thought it was great! What’s next?

  5. Peter says:

    Rebecca is still such a great character.

  6. Vikingted says:

    I started yesterday afternoon at the beginning and still many chapters before I get to anything new to me.

    @Summertime –> Will we ever get enough of the EF 1632 stuff?

  7. I haven’t received mine yet.

    Given the political inclinations of a large part of the bar, I for some reason suspect that the illustrious author took great delight in writing “Just as they’d done, in another universe, in the international brigades that fought in the Spanish civil war.”

  8. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well George, I haven’t seen anybody complaining/commenting about that line on the Bar.

    Of course, when I read it I thought that’s there is a difference acknowledging somebody did the job well and approving of them doing the job.

    On the other hand, discussing the Spanish Civil War gets us into areas that this place isn’t intended to go.

    Oh Summertime, with the final post, I will have posted about half of the book.

    Also, being a “Loyal Baen Fan”, I would like to comment that the ebook is available now for only $6.00 and I don’t think there is any geographic limits to purchasing from http://www.webscription.net. [Smile]

  9. johan says:

    @2 Vikinted: Oh, yes the book is in Sweden. It just takes a few days for it to ship to my part of the country. There’s a chain of Swedish bookstores that specializes in untranslated fantasy/sci-fi books. They usually get it at the same time as in the States.
    Waaah! I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas.

  10. summertime says:

    1632: The Movie. Whom to cast? Marina Syrtis for Rebecca? Who has ideas?

  11. vikingted says:

    Johan…. What general part you from, I spent 2-3 months in Katrineholm back in 1982… Jag ocka runt sveriga pa semester back then also… pardon my horrid svenka

  12. Kurt Winn says:

    Marina Syrtis? Isn’t she a little old to play someone who was 23 at the start of the story.

    BTW I think it would make a great TV series. Start with 1632 as a mini-series and go from there. Better by a huge margin than 99.9% of what is on TV today.

  13. robert says:

    @4 If you mean in the 163x series, see saintonge’s post at:
    http://bar.baen.com/messageview.aspx?catid=37&threadid=40989&enterthread=y

    If you mean what the next book snippeted will be, Drak already said in a prior snippet.

  14. robert says:

    @10 Keep it in the family: Rachel Weisz.

  15. T. Kirby says:

    I would have chosen Matthew McConaughey for Michael Sterns. But Gretchen, that’s another story! Who could fit her part???? The only women I can think of would be Christina Aguilara (She did great in “Burlesque”) or Jessica Simpson. But I don’t either could do a decent enough job with accents. But both would fill the bill at their present age, and build.

  16. Bret Hooper says:

    @10&12 Summertime & Kurt Winn: Kurt, I agree 1632 would make a great TV series; 163x would make a great many great TV series (pl); but they really should be on the big screen first, like Harry Potter for adults (and children with fifth grade or better reading prowess). (Ok, I’ll admit I read and enjoyed all seven Harry Potter books, each once, tho, as opposed to 1632 four times, 1633 three, and 1635TBW twice so far, and want to read them all again if I have time.) I am eagerly awaiting the pkg from Amazon!

  17. Bret Hooper says:

    @16 T. Kirby: I agree that Matthew McConaughey would be a good choice for Michael Sterns but not Christina Aguilara or Jessica Simpson for Rebecca. I don’t know who; the ideal Rebecca might even be an unknown, but she needs to be a really good actress, as well as a semitic beauty. If she were still alive and in her twenties, Claudette Colbert might do, but alas . . . . Jessica Simpson might could be Rita Stearns. Barbra Streisand for Judith Roth! And there are enough important characters, both historical and fictional, to keep you who are movie buffs busy coming up with more casting suggestions!

  18. cka2nd says:

    Marina Sirtis is 55, Rachel Weisz is 40 and Natalie Portman – perhaps an ideal choice if 1632 were adapted to the big screen – is almost 30. Neither Aguilara nor Simpson (?!?) have the acting chops for the role. I honestly can’t think of a young Jewish-American actress for Rebecca, so a young, Sephardic Israeli might be the way to go.

    Gerard Butler for Mike. Hands down. The right age (41), the right physique and not too pretty (Mike is an ex-boxer, after all). McConaughey is WAY too handsome.

    Katee Sackhoff is a perhaps too obvious choice for Gretchen, but after playing Starbuck in Battlestar Gallactica, would she be interested in playing another, if very different, ass kicker? She’s 30, but given that Gretchen was a 17th Century camp follower, she’d probably look 22-25 anyway and Sackhoff can probably pass for that.

    John Francis Daley (Freaks and Geeks, The Good Wife) for Eddie, perhaps, although at 25 he might be pushing it.

    Barbra Streisand as a Jewish Melissa Mailey, maybe, but as Judith Roth? Streisand is too regal these days and probably too tall. Both Morris and Judith have been described as kind of short, if memory serves. Tovah Feldshuh might work. She’s still a fine looking woman, but if she can play Golda Meir, she can play Judith Roth.

    Speaking of Melissa, Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men) is one possibility, but at 67 she might be a decade too old for the role. Similarly, Glynn Turman at 65 might be a bit too old for Dr. James Nichols but he looks like an ex-Marine who’s kept in really good shape.

  19. johan says:

    @11 Vikingted: I’m from the west coast, but I study at university in Västerbotten up in Norrland. As of writing, there are 2 feets of snow outside my window :(

    On 163x series: Bret Hooper, while I’ll agree that an expensive movie production would be awesome, the less awesome part would be that they’d inevitably have to shorten the script too much. An HBO or Showtime mini-series would be the most ideal I think. Rome and Pillars of the Earth showed how it can still be big in scope without having it be a movie.
    Regarding actors: McConaughey, really? I would have to agree with cka2nd that Gerard Butler seems more ideal. The only Sephardic actors I know of are Hank Azaria and Lea Michele (of Glee) but obviously neither fit the bill. More importantly ;) who would play G2A? Oh and on that subject, there’s a new biopic about Kristina coming later this year, starring Sarah Polley. It’s directed by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki IIRC so I hope it can treat the setting and persons with respect.

  20. tomhr says:

    Johan — please give us more detail about the Kristina movie. In English or Swedish? What years of her life are shown?

  21. ronzo says:

    Still here, I am not signing of my ship until April 8th when is the last snippet going to be? I’ll be looking for it in the airport book stores!

  22. summertime says:

    I tend to think of Rebecca as older than she actually is in the books because of the many high-level things she has been involved in. Many of the characters in the books, and short stories, are quite young. Gretchen and Jeff, for instance, are certainly young for the circumstances and responsibilities they have taken on. So, young actors, even unknowns, would be appropriate for a TV mini-series or a movie.

  23. alejo says:

    Awesome ending! Great book! More! MOOOOOORE!!

  24. johan says:

    @20 tomhr: I don’t know that much about the movie itself, it still says “in development” on imdb. The information I got were from some articles in movie magazines. Unfortunately I don’t remember their names, though a think there were a link to one in one of Sarah Polley’s threads on her imdb page. I’d guess it will be in English since Sarah is Canadian and it would be far from the first English-speaking movie Kaurismäki’s done. Really wish I knew more. though I will say that I have faith in Kaurismäki both from films he’s done before and from him being Finnish which means he’ll have some sort of historical and cultural connection to the material.

    @23 alejo: You big tease, Alejo!

  25. Bret Hooper says:

    @19 Johan: You are probably right about the movie, except that they wouldn’t really HAVE to shorten the script, but almost certainly they would. BTW, “feets” is a double plural: the singular is foot. And two feet of snow was not considered very much where I grew up in Pulaski, New York; not enough to close school unless maybe it started after 3am and two feet fell by 7am. I have seen eight feet and more on the ground. I have to laugh when they close the schools here in Tennessee for as little as half an inch!
    @23 Alejo: I confidently second your comment, even tho today’s mail came without it–damn!
    @(several above) I am glad to see that my comment seemed to liven up the discussion of a movie or TV miniseries. If either materializes, we all should advise our public school history teachers to recommend it to their students. What a wonderful way to learn history!

  26. johan says:

    @25 Bret Hooper: Thanks for the correction. The amount of snow is more about it being the beginning of April. There will be snow here well into June. Not at all like where I grew up. The Gulf stream warms the west coast nicely. The toughest bit about living less than 400 kilometers from the Arctic Circle though, is the short winter days. Though the summers are nice when the sun barely sets for two months.

    I am hoping that the book will arrive at the end of the week when I usually would have had a snippet to whet my appetite.

    Oh, and I assume that since we’re talking about 1632 on the screen, that everyone here knows that Eric’s been approached to make it into a TV-series. It’s in the Bar. If they didn’t, now they know. :D

  27. Alice Collins says:

    If Brian Blessed were about 25 years younger, he could play G2A. And I would want Peter Jackson to direct. He wasn’t detered by the three thick books of LOTR, so I think he could handle 1632 and sequels.

  28. johan says:

    @27 Alice Collins: Actually, that’s not a bad piece of casting. I’m really drawing a blank on people to play him.

  29. robert says:

    @27, @28 Liam Neeson as G2A? Nah, too old. Somebody between 35 and 50 years old (Hollywood magic will make him about 40, which is right). Hair color can also be due to Hollywood magic. Anyone?

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