1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 21

1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 21

Chapter 9: Rollin’ on the River

September, 1634

Regensburg

“Emperor Ferdinand II has died and Vienna mourns, but it is time for us to move,” Istvan Janoszi said.

“It’s weird,” Hayley whispered to her father as Janoszi turned away. “He was . . . I don’t know . . . the bad guy. Ferdinand II signed the Edict of Restitution that has been the justification for so much war and out and out banditry that it had, halfway trashed central Germany before the Ring of Fire.”

“I know what you mean, Hayley, but go light on the bad guy part of that thought once we get to Vienna. For that matter, go light on it here. Because he was their emperor and whatever their politics, there will be a hole in the heart of most of Austria for a while.”

Hayley nodded. After that, everything went smoothly for the rest of the trip to Vienna. Sonny’s little steam engine barely produced enough way for steering. On the other hand, they were going downriver, so the current was with them.

On the Danube

“Honestly, Hayley, I don’t understand how you girls managed to get rich,” Mrs. Sanderlin said as they were steaming down the Danube the first evening out of Regensburg. Hayley looked at the shore going by, muddy banks and green grass with a small herd of cattle coming down to the river’s edge to drink. The chug-chug of the steam engine made a background to the conversation. The question had come up before and there were standard answers that Hayley and the rest of the Barbies had put together.

“We didn’t have anything else to do,” was the one that Hayley used this time, but Mrs. Sanderlin’s look suggested that she wasn’t going to let it go at that.

“Well, it’s true,” Hayley insisted. “Right after the Ring of Fire, everyone was busy and no one had much money. Then Judy found out about Mrs. Higgins’ doll collection selling for so much. We didn’t have anything like that many dolls, but we had some. And . . . well, everyone — and I do mean everyone — in Grantville was really busy. There was a lot of ‘just take care of yourself, kids’ right around then. As long as we weren’t getting in trouble, our parents had other stuff on their minds. Some of the kids in Grantville got in trouble just for the attention, but most were trying to pitch in in some way. Our way was to take our doll money and invest it. We didn’t know all that much about investing, but we got some good advice from Mrs. Gundelfinger and from Judy’s parents and sister.”

“So you had the advice of Helene Gundelfinger, the Secretary of the Treasury for the USE and a renowned scholar of economics who works for the USE Federal Reserve Bank? No wonder you got rich.”

“Not to mention Karl Schmidt, David Bartley, Franz Kuntz, and half a dozen other members of what has become the financial elite of the State of Thuringia-Franconia and the USE,” Hayley admitted with a grin. “The real question is: with all that good advice why aren’t we richer?”

Mrs. Sanderlin looked at Hayley for a minute, then shook her head. “No, it’s not, Hayley. The real question is: how did a small West Virginia coal-mining town have Mike Stearns and Ed Piazza. How did it have Fletcher Wendell and Tony Adducci, not to mention David Bartley, the Stone family, Doctor Nichols and all the rest? One or two, sure. But dozens, even hundreds?”

“I’ve asked myself that question every day for the last year and a half or more,” Sonny Fortney interrupted their conversation.

“Any answers, Dad?” Hayley asked.

“The best I can come up with is ‘people rise to the occasion.’ Or, put another way, ‘talent is a lot more common and opportunity to express it a lot less common than we tend to think.'”

“I’m not sure it’s just opportunity,” Hayley said. “I think it’s need too.”

“Maybe, darlin’, but you and your young friends argue for it just being opportunity. You didn’t need to become investors. You could have just sold your dolls and bought dresses. A lot of kids did. Which, I guess, argues against my point.”

“It doesn’t matter, Sonny.” Mrs. Sanderlin bit her lip in concentration. “Even if only ten percent took advantage of the opportunity when it happened, that’s still a lot more talent than we expect. Or at least than we expected, up-time. How many inventors, statesmen, businessmen and entrepreneurs were washing dishes and sweeping floors up-time? Because there wasn’t an opportunity for them to shine.”

“Down-time was no different. Even worse, probably,” Hayley said. “Look at Karl Schmidt. Without the Ring of Fire he would never have been anything but the owner of a minor foundry in a small town. Anna Baum would still be spinning thread at starvation wages if she hadn’t actually starved by now. Or Mrs. Gundelfinger. Well, she might have owned her shop, but never much more than that, I think.”

“So how did the Ring of Fire change things?” Mrs. Sanderlin asked. When Hayley and Sonny Fortney looked at her in confusion, she tried to explain. “Look, up-time America and Europe had all this stuff and Africa and South America didn’t. So it can’t be just the know-how, otherwise Peru would be building super jets and Zambia or wherever would be building rocket ships and computers. I mean, they could even order the parts that they couldn’t make themselves.”

“I think that may be the key,” Sonny said after a little thought. Looking out over the Danube as the sun slowly set. “They could buy it. They didn’t need to build it.”

 

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22 Responses to 1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 21

  1. Lyttenstadt says:

    “No, it’s not, Hayley. The real question is: how did a small West Virginia coal-mining town have Mike Stearns and Ed Piazza. How did it have Fletcher Wendell and Tony Adducci, not to mention David Bartley, the Stone family, Doctor Nichols and all the rest? One or two, sure. But dozens, even hundreds?”

    “I’ve asked myself that question every day for the last year and a half or more

    And I’m asking myself still, how what began in 1632/ as a typical small blue-collar mining town in West Virginia became “Tokenville” in (often co-authored) sequels and countless short stories published in “Grantville Gazette”, edited by one particular P. Goodlett. A real mystery!

    And I’m not even sure, what to think about this passage. Did authors finally admit the implausibility of many things previously written?

    • Much that happens in real life is implausible. Just one obvious example: as recently as a decade ago, I would have thought it implausible that a ‘black’ man would be elected President of the United States in my lifetime. (And while I am far from happy with some of what he has done as President, I am proud that my fellow Americans have set aside racial prejudice sufficiently to make his election possible.)

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      IMO there’s a good rule to consider when commenting on a book or story.

      It’s the “Your Mileage May Vary” rule.

      What works for one person, doesn’t work for another person.

      Who am I to say that a certain book/story is so bad that nobody could enjoy it?

      Or who am I to say that a certain book/story is so great that only an idiot won’t enjoy it.

      Lyttenstadt, if this book is so “bad” in your opinion, why not stop reading these snippets?

      Some of us are enjoying the snippets.

      Others (like myself) have read the unedited version of the book and enjoyed it.

      You don’t have to like it or comment on it.

      • Drak: I agree entirely. As indexer of the RoF hypernovel, I have probably spotted more errors in the entire corpus than anyone else, but despite the minor flaws, it remains my favorite story.

      • Vikingted says:

        Drak, I agree with your comment to Lyttenstadt and voiced this thought in Snippet 19. Fiction has quite a lot of variety. Not all forms excite me. Murder mysteries do nothing for me. This style of pure fiction does.

      • Lyttenstadt says:

        I’m expressing my criticism.

        Look, I really, really liked 1632. I actually liked it so much, that by now I’ve re-read it 5 times (I’ve re-read 1633 and 1634:BW 3 times). If I really hated the series would I do that? No.

        And because I like series so much, I’m really disappointed with the recent turn in their development. Quality is falling mainly because all these new novels are not written by Eric Flint himself, bun by people lacking in talent and not sharing his original vision and understanding of “Assitis Shards” universe.

        If the focus of the whole series is changing from “Alternative History with interesting charactres, exciting plot, Robinzonade and beleivable setp-by-step attempts to re-create up-time technologies” + (above all) historical accuracy to “Whatever – it has Grantville Series on the cover, so you will buy it anyway”, then, well… I have to admit, that in that case, series are purposedly dumbed-out and I’m against it.

        Instead of suggesting for me to GTFO and don’t euin a fun for people, why not instead to listen to criticism? Why wanting something of a better quality is bad?

        • john f says:

          I agree. I have read most (if not all) of the 163x books, multiple times, and keep reading these snippets hoping this one will get better.

        • Bibliotheca Servare says:

          As I recall, Drak said nothing even vaguely as coarse and impolitic, not to mention vulgar, as “gtfo” Lyttenstadt. However, I suppose it was inevitable you would assume anyone who posts something you dislike must be frothing at the mouth, linguistically speaking, just as your vitriolic, bitingly acidic “critical” posts present the image of an energetically gesticulating brimstone and hellfire preaching parson from the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries in America to the average reader. (Yes, that’s what you sound like to me. Apologies if you think telling you that means I am “REALLY angry” because…I’m not. Mildly amused/bemused with a light dusting of sympathetic affront is probably a fitting description of my emotions as I write. -Just so you don’t misunderstand-) Amusing psychoanalytical digressions aside, the point is that Drak did not say gtfo, was not implying gtfo, and suggesting otherwise in order to make his gently written, politely addressed response to your comment look like a vicious, mean-spirited attack is childish at best, maliciously intended to start a flame-war of some sort at worst, and still childish in any case. You may dislike this work and the direction the series has taken. You can certainly voice that here. But we have every right to tell you that your criticism is not only not constructive in any way, it actually irritates us, serves no purpose, and we don’t like it because of the way you write it, etc. We have just as much right to tell you that, or to ask you why you comment on a page about something you obviously hate, as you have right to “voice your criticism” thereby inserting your negative “vibes” -pardon the expression- into an environment generally populated by people who are here to enjoy themselves, not just carp about how much they AREN’T enjoying themselves. It’s not WRONG of you…it just serves no purpose, as the authors aren’t going to listen to you anyway, you could reach them better via personal letter or email than by writing here, and considering all of that it makes you look like a mood-killing douch€ who just wants attention. Pardoñ my French. So no, I’m not “VERY ANGRY11!!11” (typing on a tablet. Ones were intentional per usual) Not many of the people who reply to you are. I can’t really speak for them, although I just did in a –hypothetical–, as to how they feel, I can just say what they/we have a right to say if they/we want to, but I can tell you how I feel. I don’t feel angry…I just feel that you are a typical self-centered internet jerk. Granted you demonstrate a more severe case of internet know-it-all-itis than almost any person I’ve met who wasn’t talking about politics or faith, but noting that, I’d still classify you in this context as a class II internet jerk. Victim complex and all. Feel free to keep criticizing. Just try to avoid putting words in people’s mouths. It’s rather unsanitary. ;) Ciao!

          PS: Drak didn’t say wanting something of better quality was bad. He said, quote “your mileage may vary”. As in, you may think this is poor quality, but I may think it is BETTER quality than the original 1632. And who are you/who am I to tell me/you any different? Ie: people like what they like. Telling them that what they like is worthless or of poor quality is not only impolite and distasteful, it is useless. You don’t get someone to stop loving Twilight or Shades of Greg by telling them that those books are a crime against literature. You just offend them and communicate, most likely unintentionally, your opinion that because they like them, they are of less value and lesser intelligence than you. And no one is offended by that, right? Ciao! ;)

    • Laang says:

      I wouldn’t interpret it as lampshading, but more as economic commentary on the state of the world and how the absense of demand for the things which are within people’s capacity to make prevents people from developing their capacity to make things.

  2. Stanley Leghorn says:

    This is the author attempting to refute the “Great Man” theory of history. This concept assumes that history changes only under the influence of individual actions of leaders.
    The opposite is the “Historical Inevitability” concept where the flow of history creates the great leaders rather than the Leader creating the history. My belief is that neither is 100% THE ANSWER, but I do tend more to the Historical Inevitablity side in that many small events result in a major shift which seems to have a Great Leader “causing” if to happen. Rome and Julius is the case most cited with Hitler and Gemany being a close second for the “Great Man” examples. The colonization amd rebellion in America are the opposite where ,despite the histories, the actions required many leaders to occure.Washington would have been replaced had he fallen and yes, Ameica would have been a VERY different place for it, but we would still not be taking order from England which had been bled badly by all the wars going on at that time.

    • Stanley: “This is the author attempting to refute the “Great Man” theory of history.” And yet, RoF features at least three “Great Men,” albeit one of the three was a woman, who turned the third branch of the Habsburgs into a semi-friend of the USE and devised and orchestrated the strategy which defeated Ox’s attempt to restore aristocratic privilege.

      I think you are right that history is shaped by a combination of great individuals (and sometimes not-so-great individuals) and “Historical Inevitability.” Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee were the two “Great Men” of the Civil War, but it was the “Historical Inevitability” that the North had the industrial base and the South didn’t that determined the outcome, just as it was in WWII that FDR had the industrial base and Hitler didn’t. (Yes, Hitler had an industrial base, but not one comparable to USA. The South had some industry, too, but only very little compared to the North)

      • Jonathan Fisher says:

        Actually, the other Big Issue overlooked in Civil War commentary is the South’s Grand Strategic Plan. As in, how did they hope to win the war? Once the first Battle of Bull Run kills both sides’ hope for a ‘short victorious war,’ I mean..

        The North had at least a stab at Grand Strategy, with the Anaconda Plan(a.k.a. Scott’s Great Snake) : blockade the ports and take the Mississippi to cut the South in two, eventually causing economic collapse. Couple that with Sherman’s marches in the later years, and you have Total War in a nutshell. Kill the economy, first passively, then actively.

        But going down to the Confederacy, I really haven’t heard of *how* the South planned to win, other than beat an army or two, maybe take Washington, hope the other side gives up at the loss of a city. Is this really the best the side with all the ‘Great Generals of the War’ could manage? Or were all their hopes on “King Cotton” bringing in foreign support from Europe? Basically, hope you can get some really generous friends later, instead of planning for the worst now? Is this really a Strategy?

        I dunno. Maybe it just makes Lincoln greater, and Jeff Davis worse, and we can’t blame Lee for the confused state of the South’s leaders. But as good as Lee was Tactically, and even Operationally. I often wonder if people overestimate his Strategic skill…

        Jonathan Fisher

    • John Cowan says:

      I think we wouldn’t have anything even vaguely like the U.S. without Washington. I described him once as a national founder who wrapped up his rebellion against the colonial power, not by using his supreme military rank to seize power in the newly independent country, but by retiring to his own lands for six years while others ruled. He then came to power through peaceful and democratic means, held office for eight years, and voluntarily retired again, this time for the rest of his life, despite every prospect that he could have become de facto President-for-Life if he had wanted to. The fact that he didn’t want it set a stamp on the infant republic, and indeed amazed the whole known world. Indeed, George III supposedly said that Washington’s retirement from the Continental Army at the end of the war, combined with his refusal to run for a third presidential term (and risk dying in office, creating precedent for a handoff to the vice president), “placed him in a light the most distinguished of any man living […] the greatest character of the age.” Such men are rare but, fortunately for the world, not quite unknown.

      That said, I agree that both the inevitable-forces and great-man theories are oversimplified, and the truth involves components of both.

  3. Peter S says:

    I rather agree with Bret – both theories together make more sense out of our observed past than either does in isolation. So now we need somebody to elegantly synthesize the new unified theory of history into a pithy sentence. :-)

  4. Mark L says:

    I have written published biographies of both George Washington and Ulysses Grant. Both were great men, but that their greatness be made apparent to the world was not inevitable. Had the American Revolution not occurred, Washington would likely have ended as a historical footnote as the man that started the Seven Years War. Without the Civil War Grant would not even be a footnote.

    Both men were handed opportunities in a time of crisis. Both had the greatness to shape their times. However, had they not been around other would likely have emerged, albeit the greatness of those men would have been revealed in different ways with different outcomes.

    Other leaders were around at the start of the Revolution — but failed to deliver as Washington did. (And Washington’s greatness was manifest in his refusal to become a dictator. Had a not-Washington succeeded in defeating the British, but accepting a crown, that man would be remembered as a great man for other reasons.)

    Similarly, Grant’s rise to the top was accomplished almost by accident. He was the general no one wanted, until he began winning battles. Had, say Burnside, possessed the ability to run armies, Grant might well be a minor figure in the Civil War.

    Flint’s larger point — that someone would have done the job is likely pretty well correct, given history. People fill the vacuum when a crisis occurs. Then those people become the “great men and women of history,” and it all looks inevitable in retrospect.

  5. jeff bybee says:

    wish the books would come out a little faster other wise some have been better than others, but mostly wanted to comment on tokenism. I grew up in the “Tokenism” period of history study that stressed the mexicans inside the alamo to the point you almost forgot who was out side ( grin) that this small american town of 3000 would have able people should not come as a susprize and with the need people will very often rise to fill positions that apear because of unexpected change, plus I would argue that in america today so many are so hampered by goverment regs and fear of fighting city hall they do not even try. plus their is the saying when all is said and done much more is said than done. but with extream “darwinian compitition” the mind of many is extra motovated.
    further west virtgina is one of the free-er part of the country. edward abbys brother still used an outhouse not because he downs have the water pressure for indoor plumbing but because it would take three months work to meet all the permit fees and aproved items. in ring of fire I have not noticed a lot of time wasted by governemnt beaurocrats hindering peoples servivle. then again though I see the fallicy of the great man story of history. novels tend to pick the singular out of the herd. how many of the 3000 grants ville people have been named?

  6. Stewart says:

    To put my 2 cents in —
    Eric’s other point in this series is presenting events in history (or re-written history) from a grass-roots perspective, and at that, I feel is done credibly well.
    His other goal is to get apprentice authors some print space.

    There are a few stories I have seen in the slush-pile that, with a little judicious editing, end up in a compilation book, which is essentially what Ram Rebellion was. The Grantville Gazette is a similar venue for the same purpose.

    Have at it folks.

    — Stewart

  7. Greg Noel says:

    The forward link from this snippet should go to Paradigms Lost — Chapter 30. Drak, can’t you make this more reliable?

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