1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 36

1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 36

A more realistic concern was that they would gain influence with the czar. Which in fact was true indirectly through Czarina Evdokia. Natasha, and now Brandy, had considerable influence with Czarina Evdokia and the czarina had considerable influence with the czar. Czar Mikhail was loved, but not that well respected. Not considered . . . particularly strong. Of course, his hands were tied. The Assembly of the Land, the Zemsky Sobor, had seen to that when he was elected. Those limitations might well explain why he was so popular. When the government got blamed for something it was usually his advisors, not the czar, who got the blame. It was known that Mikhail had cried when told he had been elected czar. As well, it was known that he had refused the crown. He had continued to refuse until told that if he didn’t accept, the blood of the next Time of Troubles would be on his hands.

Natasha knew the czarina, Evdokia. Before Bernie, that acquaintance would have given her family protection, but not much influence. Now that acquaintance was a way for up-time ideas to reach the czar without going through his father, who was also the patriarch of the Orthodox Church. And the ideas had gotten to Mikhail. Some of them, anyway.


Fedor Ivanovich Sheremetev, Chief of the Bureau of Records, had read the reports. That was one of the reasons that he had pushed for this general demonstration of the products of the Dacha. One of the reasons — the other being his increasing concern about the influence of the Grantville Section and the Gorchakov family. He had been forced, almost against his will, to realize the importance that the Ring of Fire was going to have on the rest of the world, including Russia.

He watched Petr Nickovich pace about in a dither, getting in the way of the workmen handling the ropes and found himself tempted to do the same thing. He knew what was about to happen; he’d read about it in the reports. Then, as the ropes were let out, the thing began to rise. Two poles, about five feet apart with ropes going from them to a basket below and balloons above. He had thought that he knew what was going to happen, but he hadn’t realized what it would feel like. Twenty feet into the air, then twenty-five, thirty, supported by nothing but air. Its only connection to the earth the ropes that held it down. And in the basket that hung below the dirigible test bed, Nikita Slavenitsky smiled and waved to the crowd of dignitaries.

Sheremetev waved back; it was absolutely the least he could do. What he wanted to do was jump up and down and shout. A Russian was flying in the air, held aloft by the knowledge and craftsmanship of his fellow Russians. He had read that the up-timers had already flown. But knowing about it from a report was one thing, seeing it was something altogether different. The up-timers with their machines doing it was one thing. Russians making a flying device out of wood, rope and cow guts — that was something altogether different. Even in his excitement about the flight, he realized that it meant that one of his goals in forcing this demonstration had backfired. If anything it would increase the influence wielded by the Grantville Section. He looked over at the czar’s pet up-timer, in time to see Bernie looking bored. Then the outlander snorted a laugh.


Bernie could understand why Petr Nickovich was so nervous. Today the czar, the czarina and some members of the cabinet had come to see his baby fly. Bernie looked over at the big shots. They were gawking. Totally gone. You’d think the aliens were landing or something. Then he thought about it. Granted, it wasn’t that much of a dirigible. It had no power and there wasn’t much you could do with it, not yet. But, Nikita was the first Russian to fly in this timeline.

Wow! This was history. For here and now, this was like the first rocket ship to the moon or something. Bernie found himself giggling a bit. Nikita Ivanovich Slavenitsky was a nice guy and usually had a joke to tell or a dirty story. But he wasn’t the sort of guy you would think of as Yuri Gararin or Neil Armstrong. But Nick was going down in history anyway.

One of the big shots was looking a bit offended. “You find this funny?”

Bernie had forgotten the guy’s name. He was the head of one of the bureaus, Bernie knew that much. “It’s not that, sir. I just never thought that a guy I had a beer with every now and then would make history.”

“History?” The guy paused. Looked up and nodded. “The first Russian to fly.”

“Yes, sir,” Bernie said. “Nikita Ivanovich Slavenitsky and Petr Nickovich have done Russia proud today. Real proud.”

The big shot looked at Bernie a bit sharply for a moment, then he smiled. “You will excuse me, Bernie Janovich. I must speak to the czar.”


Fedor Ivanovich Sheremetev headed back to the czar in a rather bemused state of mind. He wasn’t sure what to make of the up-timer. Bernie Janovich hadn’t tried to take credit for the flight, even though Sheremetev knew that his explanations had been a large part of making it possible. Nor had he been demeaning of the Russian efforts. Sheremetev didn’t know what to make of the man, and that bothered him. Over all, he rather liked Bernie Janovich. And that was unfortunate because sooner or later the Gorchakov clan had to go. There was too much power in the Dacha, even with the Gun Shop separated out. He glanced up at the flying carriage. Much too much power. Control of such devices and the knowledge that allowed them to be built must be tightly held and controlled, lest it destroy the social order. Control of such knowledge was important; important in more ways than one. Nikita Ivanovich Slavenitsky, a deti boyar of the Gorchakov clan, would go down in history as the first Russian to fly. More status to the Gorchakov clan. Too many things like that could change the rank of a clan. Things like that flowed out of the Dacha, and the Gorchakov clan was gaining too much status to be allowed to survive.

Fedor Ivanovich was effusive in his praise of the device and the Dacha in general and concerned about leaving such an important project in the hands of such a minor house. He argued intensely that even the flying device wasn’t enough to justify any renewal of the conflict with Poland. And he argued that, with the changing state of things, Poland was less of a threat and the Swede was more of one. “The CPE is potentially the most powerful nation in Europe and we are likely to be thankful for Poland as a buffer state in a few years.” That position didn’t please Patriarch Filaret, but much of the Boyar Duma was more worried about the Swede and the CPE than they were about Poland.

The first radios were now working, though less well than they had hoped, and there was one in the Moscow Kremlin and the test one at the Dacha. Fedor Ivanovich Sheremetev wanted one for the Gun Shop and he wanted one for his estates. Actually, it would take more than one radio to reach his estates. They had limited range. More power for the Gorchakov clan, even if that idiot cousin of Pavel’s had done most of the work developing it.


“We can fly,” Evdokia, Czarina of All Russia insisted. Mikhail looked at his wife and sighed. He knew he was going to lose the argument. They were in the best room in the Dacha and it had been an interesting day.

“I know how you feel,” he tried, though in truth he didn’t. He knew his Doshinka had dreams of flight but he never had. Mikhail’s dreams tended to be dark things, best forgotten. “But we have real problems that we must deal with.”

Evdokia, thankfully, didn’t ignore the problems, though Mikhail was fairly sure she wanted to. “I know, Mikhail. But I think that Petr Nickovich made some excellent points about the usefulness of such a flying ship. More importantly, though, is the useful thing he didn’t mention.”

“What useful thing is that?”

“Pride. Pride in being Russian. Pride in being a part of something great. Who is, ah, was . . . will be that up-time general that Mikhail Borisovich Shein is always quoting about eggs?”

Mikhail shook his head, not able to remember the name. He thought the general was French but that was all he remembered.

“Well, that’s not the only quote. The general Nappy-something also said that the moral is to the physical as three to one.” She grinned. “I think to the fiscal, it’s even more. Let us fill the hearts of the people of Russia with pride in who they are. Not with fear of the bureaucrats.”


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21 Responses to 1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 36

  1. VernonNemitz says:

    “Bernie Janovich”
    I think I haven’t seen that name used before.
    If I understand how the naming system is supposed to work,
    then Bernie’s dad is named “Jan”.
    But that doesn’t seem right (where’s the Grid when you need it?


  2. zac says:

    Janovich — Son of Janos — Son of John

    So… Bernie’s dad’s name is John

  3. Robert H. Woodman says:

    I wonder if Fedor Ivanovich Sheremetev understands that even if he controls the knowledge and inventions coming out of the Dacha, the knowledge will not stay controlled. Yes, knowledge will change the social order, but keeping such knowledge tightly repressed and controlled will, eventually, lead to more violent changes. Such a short-sighted, paranoid man.

  4. Stan Leghorn says:

    I think we may see a reverse October revolution, where supporters of the Czar rise up to get repressive bureacrats out of their way. Something akin to the French revolution, minus the hatred of the actual monarch.

  5. Mark L says:

    @3 and @4: I suspect that Sheremetev has no idea what is coming any more than the Communists did when they attempted a coup against Gorbachev in 1991. And I suspect the result when Sheremetev tries to suppress the Gorchakov clan will be similar to what happened in 1991 rather than a reverse October Revolution. Especially with radio filling the role that the Internet and fax machine did in the 1991 uprising (yes, children — there was an Internet, then, albeit primarily e-mail centered). Although it will be a popular uprising in support of the current leader (the Czar as opposed to Gorby).

  6. dave o says:

    # 3,4,5 Well maybe. But don’t underestimate the power of Russian xenophobia. Godless western ideas must be suppresed!!

  7. PeterZ says:

    @6 More likely the Czar and Patriarch will respond against another faction trying to control their hold on that information flow. As it stands Filaret is trying his own version of galsnost. He knows the information really can’t be contained. He simply wants credit for allowing the innevitable. Sheremetev is threatening that policy….oh woe is him!

  8. zakryerson says:

    So just what is the relationship of the name Nikita and the name Nikolai ?
    And will some one in Grantville say
    Remember to always plagerize.
    Remeber why the goo lord made your eyes ……….:”

    Real Big :)

  9. Bret Hooper says:

    @8 zak: But remember to call it, please, research!

    @1 Vernon and @2 Zac: From Virginia’s Grid: “Bernard “Bernie” Zeppi . . . son of John Bernard and Carolyn Zeppi; . . . .”

  10. vikingted says:

    @5 Mark L., I really do not see a few radios, and I mean just a few, will have much impact on the greater Russia at this time.

  11. ET1swaw says:

    Well Mikhail is definately no Peter the Great!!!
    And it is be assumed that we are getting a quick look at one of our bad guys (Sheremetev) finally. Filaret IMO wasn’t portrayed nasty enough to be in that class. And Korisov IMO was just a petty tyrant.


  12. Willem Meijer says:

    @1, 2 and 9
    If his father is called John then he should be Bernie Ivanovich, shouldn’t he?

  13. VernonNemitz says:

    @12, I might be able to guess the rationale for not “Ivanovich”. Bernie could have told some Russian his father’s name, pronouncing it as John. The Russian would not necessarily know that that could translate to Russian as Ivan, and, besides, why do you want to pronounce someone’s name differently from the way you were told it was pronounced? “Janovich” could simply be an *accent* mispronunciation, especially after one Russian begins telling another.

  14. VernonNemitz says:

    @11, Sheremetev may not be the worst bad guy. I recall one of the earlier snippets having Bernie meeting the czar, and a warning not to cross someone, but couldn’t recall the name. It’s in Snippet 10.

    Boris says “…Fedor Ivanovich Sheremetev, the czar’s cousin; he is in charge of the bureau of records. It is an especially powerful post, because he can cause so much trouble for the other bureaus.”

    A couple paragraphs later, “Dmitri Mamstriukovich Cherakasky.” Boris nodded toward another man. “Not a man to cross, that one.”

  15. ET1swaw says:

    @14 VernonNemitz: Both Cherakasky (Cherkasskii) and Sheremetev were historical figures (though their NTL versions may differ from some perceptions of OTL, 163x-verse commitment to historical accuracy to pre-ROF events mandate a very similar person as was done with G2A, Oxenstierna, Richelieu, and others).

    Cherkasskii: http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Cherkasskii

    Sheremetev: http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Sheremetev


  16. TimC says:

    Is Sheremetov to origin of the name of the awful Moscow airport I slept in in the seventies? (waiting for a flight from the equally awful aeroflot). Sheremetovo or some such.

  17. ET1swaw says:

    @16 TimC: Named after the family or one of the descendents of the person in our snippets.


  18. Mark L says:

    @10 “I really do not see a few radios, and I mean just a few, will have much impact on the greater Russia at this time.”

    That’s okay. The Communists didn’t understand how a few personal computers could have that much of an impact on Soviet Russia in 1991.

    And, radios have a habit of multiplying.

  19. vikingted says:

    @18 Mark, I see the receivers being easy enough to propagate, but the transmitters are a whole different story. I do remember reading about the intensive efforts that are going on in Grantville on how to build a new vacuum tube. The power of transmitter is really critical in the transmission of the signal. I worked at a “5000 watt” station in my “yute”. The station engineer indicated that their transmitter was not that efficient (~15%). Not wanting to get to technical here but the easiest method to create an amplifier is also the least efficient. I just do not see the transmitters being made on the fly in Russia. Sure the brain cases can made a spark gap transmitter of a few watts perhaps, but that would not have but a few hundred mile range in the most perfect conditions with fairly sensitive receivers (1960 technology OTL).

  20. ET1swaw says:

    @18 Mark L and @19 vikingted: As I see it they will concentrate their radio attention of LOS military transceivers and ignore broadcast radio.
    Crystal receivers are easy to build with downtime available (at least in the USE) parts; and so might propagate wildly as did PCs in Soviet Russia IF there was an infrastructure or broadcast network to support them in Russia. THERE ISN’T!!! (And I sincerely doubt there will be, as the Russian mindset is centered on control/xenopobia/paranoia IMO!)
    Besides which you still have the Maunder Minimum screwing with longer-range Radio comms and unlike in the USE there is a whole lot of unoccupied space in NTL Russia (For example even added together Swedish Karelia and Swedish Ingria (Territories taken from Russia by G2A) have a total population less than NTL Magdeburg and little more than OTL Hamburg ATT).


  21. vikingted says:

    @20 Rob, good comments. I just do not see the Russians having a transmitters, receivers yes, transmitters no. Have you ever been to one of the hands on science museums where you pedal a bicycle to get a 60 watt incandescent bulb to light? That takes a lot of effort. Bicycles are not in Russia in the NTL from what I have read. To think a transmitter say a hundred watts or so output power would take one hell of a lot of manpower/horsepower to generate 500 to 800 watts to get the 100 watt RF output.


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