1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 01

1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 01


1636: The Kremlin Games


Eric Flint, Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett



Cast of Characters



Anya                                                  Runaway slave


Bates, Brandy                                   Researcher at the National Library


Bates, Donna                                    Brandy’s mother


Cherkasski, Ivan Borisovich              Prince; chief of Musketeer Bureau


Fedorov, Anatoly                               Apothecary


Gorchakov, Natalia (“Natasha”)

Petrovna               A princess of Russia; Vladimir’s sister


Gorchakov, Sofia Petrovna                 Natalia’s aunt and chaperone


Gorchakov, Vladimir Petrovich          A prince of Russia; Natasha’s brother


Hampstead, John Charles                English mercenary in Russian army


Izmailov, Artemi Vasilievich               General in the Russian army


Khilkov, Ivan                                     Russian cavalry colonel


Korisov, Andrei                                  Gunsmith


Kotov, Gavril                                      Orthodox priest


Kotov, Kseniya,                                 Father Gavril’s wife


Lebedev, Boris Timofeyevich

                             “Tim,”                    Russian junior officer


Lebedev, Ivan Borisovich                   Commander at Murom; Tim’s cousin


Lowry, Cass                                       American hired by Russians


Maslov, Ivan                                       Russian junior officer


Mikhailovich, Ivan (“Shorty”)             Steamboat operator


Mikhailovich, Pavel (“Stinky”)            Steamboat operator


Millerov, Mikhail                               Commander of Cossacks


Nickovich, Petr (“Pete”)                      Artisan and natural philosopher


Odoevskii, Ivan Nikitich                     Bureau of the Exchequer


Petrov, Boris Ivanovich                      A bureaucrat of Moscow


Petrov, Ivan Borisovich                      Boris’ son


Petrov, Maryia                                   Boris’ wife


Petrov, Pavel Borisovich                     Boris’ son


Radziwill, Janusz                                        Commander of Polish incursion;


Repinov, Ivan                                     Russian spy for Polish forces


Romanov, Alexsey                             Son of Czar Mikhail


Romanov, Evdokia, “Doshinka,”        Czarina of Russia


Romanov, Feodor Nikitich

          “Filaret”                                   Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox

                                                          Church; father of Czar Mikhail


Romanov, Irinia                                 Daughter of Czar Mikhail


Romanov, Mikhail Fedorivich            Czar of Russia, son of Filaret


Sheremetev, Fedor Ivanovich             Russian boyar; cousin to Czar Mikhail;

                                                          chief of the bureau of records


Shein, Mikhail Borisovich                 General in the Russian army


Shuvalov, Leontii                               Colonel in the Russian army


Shuvalov, Ruslan Andreyivich           Commander of dirigible unit at Bor


Sikorski, David                                  Political officer at Bor


Simmons, Tami                                 Up-time nurse hired by the czar


Slavenitsky, Nikita Ivanovich             Pilot


Smirnov, Lazar                                  Electronics and radio technician;

                                                          fifth cousin to the czar


Stefanovich, Petr                               Mechanic


Trotsky, Fedor Ivanovich                    A Russian spy


Tupikov, Filip Pavlovich                     Artisan and natural philosopher


Vasa, Wladyslaw IV                            King of Poland


Vinnikov, Vladislav Vasl’yevich                   Princess Natasha’s captain of guards


Zeppi, Bernard (“Bernie”)                  Up-timer hired by Vladimir





The year 1631


Chapter 1




October, 1631


          Vladimir Gorchakov pulled his horse up as he saw Boris Ivanovich Petrov stopping to look around. “Apparently Tilly’s tercio commander wasn’t the liar we thought he was.”


          “This place is worth the trip,” Boris said. “See the cuts in the earth where the land was changed? Look at these hills. The structure is different from those outside the ring. Everything inside this Ring of Fire is different.”


          Most of their entourage was still on its way from Jena, but neither he nor Boris had wanted to delay long enough to sell all their trade goods or drag what was left along with them. They had left the matter in the hands of Fedor Ivanovich and ridden on ahead, with just two attendants.


          “I was convinced it was a fraud of some sort.” Boris was shaking his head in wonder. “But anyone who could fake this kind of thing would have too much power to need to fake anything.”


          Vladimir nodded to the bureau man and patted his horse. “I believed it was a preposterous lie right up until we got to Jena. It was the up-timer and that APC that made me start to suspect it might not be. Once you’ve seen one of those ‘cars,’ well, you must believe that something has happened.”


          “For me it was the view from Rudolstadt.” Boris grinned. “But I am a cynic. Cars can be made by men. Not this!” He waved at the circle of inward-and outward-facing cliffs.


          Vladimir remembered his first sight of over a mile of mirror smooth cliffs. It had been beyond impressive. It was as though God had taken a scoop out of the earth and replaced it with a scoop of something else. He could see Boris’ point.


          Vladimir looked over at Boris. Boris Ivanovich was an unassuming little man, the sort of man who could blend in anywhere and not be noticed. He didn’t look at all impressive. Appearances lied. Boris was a bureaucrat of Russia, specifically of the Posol’sky Prikaz, the Embassy Bureau or State Department. He was an experienced spy and a well-traveled agent. He spoke, read, and wrote Russian, Polish, Danish, German, English, and, of course, Latin and Greek. He had been assigned to accompany Vladimir Petrovich on this “fool’s errand” by the czar’s father in an attempt to keep the czar from looking any more foolish than could be avoided. And probably, Vladimir acknowledged, to keep me out of trouble.


          Vladimir was sure Boris had his own thoughts about the situation. He could even make a good guess about what Boris was thinking. Not that any of it showed on Boris’ face. Boris, at the moment, was wearing his I’m-too-dumb-to-pound-sand look. No, it was the situation; any Bureau man would be thinking the same thing. Boris’ rank in the bureaucracy that ran Russia was higher than Vladimir’s, or had been. He had been demoted without prejudice for this mission since Vladimir was a knaiz, a prince. Vladimir, as a prince with almost independent lands — combined with his friendship with the czar — was almost certain to end up as a boyar of the cabinet. It would be totally inappropriate to have him under the orders of someone with Boris’ lack of pedigree. But without prejudice or not, it was still a demotion. And if things went wrong it would be really easy to leave Boris demoted. That had been a major concern on their way here, Vladimir knew.


          The fact that Grantville wasn’t a hoax presented Boris with both problems and opportunities. Powerful people didn’t like to be proven wrong, and there was more than a little bit of a tendency to kill the messenger in the Russian government. On the other hand, the fact that Grantville was not a hoax meant that keeping the czar from looking foolish in sending the mission became much easier. Certain people at court were not going to like that, either.


          Moreover, since Grantville did exist, a network of spies would have to be put in place to watch it. Boris was in an excellent position to end up an important figure in that network. And the politics of the situation meant the Grantville Office in Moscow would be an important one. Poland was Russia’s great enemy at the moment and Germany was just the other side of it. Now a section of Germany was peaceful and relatively prosperous instead of being torn up by war. The up-timers, as the locals called them, had to be encouraged to take Sweden’s side. So far they had friendly relations with the Swedish king but nothing more than that.


          “It is not such a large place,” Vladimir said, looking around as they rode, and patting the horse’s neck now and then. “And there are not so many up-timers as I had thought.”


          “A small place, yes, but it will play a large role,” Boris said. “The cars, APCs — or whatever their proper name — the improved roads, that device we saw in the fields outside Rudolstadt.” Vladimir knew what Boris was talking about though he didn’t know the name either. Whatever they called it, it did the work of a village of serfs faster and possibly cheaper. 


          “In a way, more important is that scraping bucket that was pulled by a team of horse,” Boris continued. “I would imagine that the cars and that thing in the field are hard to make but the scraping bucket . . . that any Russian smith could build given the idea and a bit of time. This place will change the world. We will need to find any centers of learning they have. Gather quickly the information they give freely. If they really do give it freely.”


          “Yes, Boris. Look into that as soon as we find a place to stay,” Vladimir said.


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27 Responses to 1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 01

  1. VernonNemitz says:

    Can we assume that “Tilly’s tercio commander” was the guy who went to Russia because of the “WANTED: DEAD” poster in the “1632” book?

  2. VernonNemitz says:

    I just looked up that wanted poster. Now I need to write another comment. It had a date, “July 5, 1631”, and the descriptive paragraph that follows specifies that the officer was in Russia “a few months later”.

    Now, I don’t know how fast the Russian bureaucracy can move, but if it takes another “few months” for this little expedition to reach Grantville, then the date of this snippet might have a problem. And the weather should be rather wintry, regardless of whether or not it is actually 1631….

  3. ecsamurai says:

    I have to agree with VernonNemitz
    the time seems to quick

    when it comes to poland
    i think the commonwealth should be kept (i hope its not destroyed)
    i can see the USE using poland as a buffer state to keep russia in check
    and plus i can see russia not having that much interest in the rest of europe (due to all the conquest not getting anything they wanted in the end, aka warm water port) and focus on moving east to face less resistance. While keeping there military on the borders to prevent invasion.

    Plus i can see the USE, poland, and russia working together to take on the ottamen empire who we all know will be
    invade the Austrian empire (which would probably collapse in the end due to to many conflicts and losses with the USE and the Ottomans).

  4. ET1swaw says:

    With the exception of the Cast of Characters, this snippet is almost word-for-word a snippet of ‘Butterfles in the Kremlin part 1’ in GG 8.

    It is foretold that ‘Kremlin Games’ will diverge from ‘Butterflies … ‘, so I guess I will have to treat the GG serial ‘Butterflies … ‘ as EARC sample chapters. I –am– curious to see what changes!

  5. ET1swaw says:

    Just re-looked at ‘Butterflies …’ and original timeline was Spring 1632 not October 1631.

  6. ET1swaw says:

    @3 ecsamurai: Looks like I posted over you as well; Sorry! But OTL Russia got and eventually mostly retained all of Swedish european lands not in Germany or on scandinavian peninsula and much of the PLC lands as well. The Deluge may have started with Sweden and Russia, but Russia (especially after Peter the Great) won out IMO.
    —– 163x ststus ——————— current OTL ————
    Swedish Ingria ———————- p/o Leningrad Oblast, Russia west of Lava River
    Swedish Karelia ——————— p/o Republic of Karelia (ex-USSR)
    Vyborg Karelia (p/o Sweden Proper) — p/o Leningrad Oblast, Russia; p/o Finland; and p/o RoK
    Finland (p/o Sweden Proper) ———- was p/o Russian Empire; now p/o Leningrad and Murmansk Oblasts, Russia; and p/o RoK
    Swedish Estonia ——————— p/o Estonia (ex-USSR)
    Swedish Livonia ——————— p/o Latvia (ex-USSR)
    Inflanty (Polish Livonia) ———– p/o Latvia (ex-USSR)
    Duchy of Courland (PLC fief) ——— p/o Latvia (ex-USSR)
    Eldership of Samogitia (PLC fief) — p/o Lithuania (ex-USSR)
    PLC Lithuania ———————– p/o Lithuania (ex-USSR); and p/o Russia
    PLC Belarus ————————- p/o Belarus (ex-USSR); and p/o Russia
    PLC Ukraine ————————- p/o Ukraine (ex-USSR); and p/o Russia
    Ottoman Crimea/Black Sea ———— p/o Russia
    Ottoman Romania/Bulgaria/Hungary —– p/o Warsaw Pact (under ex-USSR domination)
    PLC Poland (minus East Prussia) —– p/o Warsaw Pact (under ex-USSR domination)
    PLC Prussia (including AB Warmia) — p/o Kalingrad Oblast, Russia; and p/o Poland
    Swedish Prussia ——————— p/o Kalingrad Oblast, Russia; and p/o Poland
    Ducal Prussia (PLC fief) ———— p/o Kalingrad Oblast, Russia; and p/o Poland
    Wallenstein Bohemia —————– p/o Czech Republic (Warsaw Pact (under ex-USSR domination))
    Eastern USE ————————- p/o Poland; and p/o Czech Republic

    As apparent from the less than comprehensive list above, the Russian Empire and USSR absorbed a whole lot of Swedish, Ottoman, and PLC territory!

    Biggest difficulties with PLC, Russia, and USE working together against Ottomans IMO are: 1) PLC Vasa claiming G2A’s throne; 2) USE and PLC currently at War; 3) G2A cut Russia off from Baltic; 4) Swedish troops took Moscow during Time of Troubles and did not leave a good impression; and etc..

  7. ET1swaw says:

    Swedish Livonia — p/o Estonia and p/o Latvia

  8. ET1swaw says:

    Finland (p/o Sweden Proper) ———- was p/o Russian Empire; now p/o Finland; p/o Leningrad and Murmansk Oblasts, Russia; and p/o RoK

  9. Cobbler says:

    @ 2, VernonNemitz

    My earliest known ancestor fought in the Napoleonic wars. When he was demobilized in Spain, he walked home. From the Peninsula to central Germany took him 18 days. Until I read that, I never imagined Europe was so small.

    The fact that the tercio commander was in Russia “several months” later doesn’t mean he traveled an urgent beeline. I don’t know how long it took a merchant on a mission to get from Moscow to Thuringia. It may have been a journey of weeks rather than months.

  10. Ken V says:

    @9, it’s 1000 miles straight-line distance between Berlin and Moscow, and nearly 1200 miles via modern roads. 17th century roads would have to deviate to cross rivers at fords or major cities, so you’re probably looking at better than 1500 miles between Jena and Moscow. 20 miles a day is the best average a small party on foot or horseback can manage over long distances, and a trade caravan would be lucky to average 15 miles a day. That means the tercio commander is going to take a minimum of 75 days to get to Moscow if he goes there directly, and Boris and Vladimir will take 100 days or more to get back to Jena. Since no one in their right mind travelled significant distances during the Russian winter or early spring, Boris and Vladimir couldn’t have arrived in Jena prior to late summer the year after the Battle of the Crapper, and very possibly a year later.

  11. Cobbler says:

    @ 10

    Thanks, Ken.

  12. Terranovan says:

    @2 VernonNemitz: I’m not reading any references to the weather right now; hot, cold, or otherwise. Even so, this is from the viewpoint of two characters from Russia, probably Moscow. I’m not an expert on the relative climates, but Wikipedia (yes, I know, I’m lazy) says that Germany’s current climate is somewhat mild (mild winters and cool summers) and that Moscow’s current climate includes “long, cold winters”. I don’t know how the Little Ice Age affects their relative climates (specifically, how they compare to one another temperature-wise), but this is where they stand in the 21st century. Maybe some helpful poster with more knowledge and/or time on their hands can back me up or correct me? :-)

  13. Thanks for your reason. I love to see clearly Marcy Lu

  14. ecsamurai says:

    @ET1swaw: i know what your saying
    and i admit your bring up good points
    but the part with peter the great is still alive
    but there is a very good chance that part of history may not happen in the OTL
    if i read the grantvile gazzete right
    the czar survives when he was mean to die due to USE medicine
    what also needs to be said is that the poles were able to stand up to gustav’s second invasion
    what i can see happening is that the war will go no where (stay a stalemate)and the USE gets the poles areas that gave them access to the Baltic. So they would be encouraged to find another sea route and since the austrians were badly beaten and the ottamans control a huge part of the Balkans, i can see poland expand southwards and taking what would be the austrian-hungarian empire as well as the rest of the territory that poland will control.
    As far as alliances go, i seen dozens of times were poland and austria (as well as many european nations)fought wars against each other only to work together to fight a foreign threat
    when the Ottomans invaded, both governments looked the other way and fought the invader.

  15. VernonNemitz says:

    Well, in “1632” the exact wording is, “A few months later, the officer found himself another employer. The Tsar.” If he didn’t travel in a group I would suppose he could have got to Moscow in rather less than 75 days. I assume that as an officer he would have been able to acquire a horse. However, that doesn’t mean he would have been employed immediately on his arrival. In fact, based on this snippet here, I’d say he might have had to waste some time trying to convince various Russians of his story, before he got hired. So, it is possible there is some overlap between those arrival and hiring events, and the bureaucratic decision-making that led to this little expedition to Grantville. It is even possible that the desire to acquire some military knowledge would expedite the bureaucratic process, so suppose we assume that this expedition left Moscow the same date the officer was hired. However, **this** expedition probably could be expected to take 75 days (2 1/2 months) of travel time. If we assume that the “few months” quoted above is at least two months, then the officer would be hired sometime after Sept 5, so that should be the earliest possible departure date. There could be some additional incentive to leave Moscow before the early winter arrives. Anyway, 2 1/2 months after Sept 5 is Nov 20. It wouldn’t take much additional bureaucratic dithering (or Murphy’s Law) to push the arrival to early December. The weather in this snippet might not be particularly wintry yet, but I certainly don’t see how it could be dated October.

  16. ET1swaw says:

    see @5: I am assuming the timeline in the snippets will be adjusted back to that of ‘Butterflies … ‘, as practicality (as noted in posts above) dictates.

  17. eu1 says:

    Approximate distance between San Sebastian – Donostia and Frankfurt is 684 miles or 1100.56 kilometers

    Approximate distance as the crow flies in miles from Frankfurt On Main Germany to Barcelona Spain is 679 miles or 1092.51 kilometers

    Considering that 20 miles a day on foot, day after day, is an excellent pace, then 18 days (360 miles) would seem to be a bit of an understatement. Even assuming 30 miles a day on foot (which is unlikely, but not impossible), 18 days is too short.

    Europe is small in much the same way that the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. is small – the distance between NYC and Philadelphia, or between DC and Boston, are utterly normal distances in European terms.

  18. Cynic says:

    And thats only true in western and central Europw as soon as you get east of Warsawa of north of Copenhagen you are on a different scale.

  19. VernonNemitz says:

    Another point, regarding consistency of this snippet with the rest of the 163x stories, is that word “czar” used here. I’m aware that this is completely equivalent to “tsar” which was used in “1632”. But do downtimers of that era generally interchange both spellings as freely as we might, today? Does anyone have any statistics regarding how often each was used (heh, when it was used at all) in the various 163x canon stories? Which spelling was the more preferred, back then?

  20. Evan says:

    @Vernon – Russians would have spelled it the Cyrillic alphabet, then or now, with a “ts” letter at the beginning (now, anyway)…but I would be very surprised if there was any standard system for transliterating between alphabets back then. So no answer so right as to be worth arguing about, IMO.

  21. robert says:

    Is the date a typo? Should it have been a date in Spring 1632? Has anyone gone to the Bar and asked?

    The spelling of tsar/czar is a Russian to English transliteration from Cyrillic to the Western/Latin alphabet, and has no significance. Like Kaiser, etc. it derives from Caesar.

    Finally, YAY!

  22. dave o says:

    I’m no expert on Russian cultural history. My impression is that Russia in this period was intensely conservative and its suspicion of Western ideas was paranoid. A half century later, Peter the Great had enormous difficulty in introducing mostly military reforms. If anyone knows better, I would appreciate being corrected.

    That said, the GG version of this story seemed to me completely implausible for a number of reasons. First, I thought it was impossible that anyone in Russia would be interested in introducing anything from Grantville. Second, I thought it impossible that any innovation would be acceptable to the Russian people, or even the Boyars. Third, it is impossible that Russia had enough craftsmen with the skill to make any of the sort of goodies that appear. This last is one of the most irritating characteristics of a lot of GG stories, and especially Huff and Goodlett’s. It is true that some 17th craftsmen are capable of fine work. But there aren’t many of them and acquiring the skills without long training is impossible. Even today, patternmakers (necessary to make complex castings) are taught in apprenticeship programs. In 17th century Europe, the craft did not exist and would have to be reinvented by trail and error. The same for any number of crafts.

    It also seems to me ridiculous that there are stories, in GG introducing 20th century technology without discussing 19th century predecessors. The 19th century was the period in which machine tools were designed and first built. And the tools to make them. Brown and Sharp, Starrett and many others started then.

  23. robert says:

    Just as a point of information…From Breitenfeld to Moscow on currently existing 21st century roads is just over 2,000 K’s.

  24. Jason Darbe says:

    You know infantry could do some astounding feats of marching for example the union 6th corps did 37 miles in 17 hours to reach the gettysburg battlefield. If one guy was going home and he was willing to walk all day stopping only to eat and heed the call of nature could probably do better than 20 miles a day.

  25. John Cowan says:

    Vernon: According to the OED, the spelling czar is first known in English from 1555, just a few years after Ivan IV adopted it in Russian. Tsar, which is more sensible, first appears in 1670 but doesn’t become general in English until the end of the 19th century (all dates OTL, of course). Here’s the quotation from 1555:

    Wheras now this prince is cauled an Emperour, I haue thought good to shewe the tytle, and the cause of this error. Note therefore that Czar in the Ruthens tounge signifieth a kynge, wheras in the language of the Slauons, Pollons, Bohemes, and other, the same woorde Czar, signifieth Cesar by whiche name Th’ emperours haue byn commonly cauled.

  26. Alex Filonov says:

    I hope this book doesn’t repeat “Butterflies in Kremlin”. Because B in K is one of the worst examples of what in Russia is called “rasvesistaya klukva” (branchy cranberry). Many stereotypes in the series are either anachronisms or complete fabrications. Some ideas are completely wrong: for example, serfs were peasants and house servants were outright slaves (kholopi). Bureaucracy wasn’t that big in 1630s, tzar didn’t have money for that. Middle names ending on “vich” were privilege of nobility, common folk had middle names ending on ov, ev or in. Most of common folks didn’t have last names at all, slaves and serfs usually called by last names of owners or by the name of the village.

    Specially for dave o: Russia wasn’t that conservative and closed as you think even befor Peter the Great. Russians traded with all Europe, officers from Germany, Sweden and even France served in the army. Significant parts of army consisted of Polish mercenaries (some historians joked that it’s hard to call war of 1613 “liberation from Polish” when nobody knows which side had more Polish troops). So Russians were interested in the world, and big events, like Grantville, would raise interest. On the other hand, I’m not sure tzar in 1631 had enough money to have spy networks around the Europe. Most probably he had not. Craftsmen weren’t that bad either, Russia produced a lot of arms, including rifles, pistols and cannon.

    Of course, sending a prince (knyaz) as a spy was out of the question. That would work in 18th century. In the beginning of 17th, there weren’t that many princes around, their families were very powerful and tzar didn’t have power to push them around, more often they pushed him around. And the very idea that prince would work in Prikaz is preposterous. Great nobility in Russia of the time didn’t work, they ruled their estates. They could join the army for a campaign, that all they would do as a government service.

    To Vernon: first Russian great prince to call himself Caesar was Ivan III. He thought he earned that title by marrying Sofia Paleolog, niece of the last Byzantine emperor, in 1472. Official title was “Caesar” until 1917, although it quickly became “tzar” in common language.

  27. Al Viro says:

    @26 Alex: mostly agreed (B-i-K is seriously cringe-worthy for the reasons you’ve mentioned), but as for uses they had for princes in 17th century… I couldn’t find an OTL match to their, er, princely hero even after he’s got a plausible last name, but here’s somebody from that family and period: Dmitry Petrovich Gorchakov, stryapchij – 1611, ob’ezzhij voevoda – 1625-1626, voevoda na Chernom Yaru – 1636-1637, voevoda u Dubenskih zastav – 1638, 1642 – in “New Quarter” Prikaz. And yes, this is the same family, Rurikid and all such… Source: http://www.genealogia.ru/users/rurik/Rospisi/Gorchak.htm.

    IIRC, B-i-K more or less hinted at influence via personal friendship between Natalia Gorchakova and Mikhail’s wife as possible reason for that appointment and very clearly implied that it _was_ a political appointment (both in B-i-K and in this rewrite). Hell knows, might have been plausible enough…

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