Thursday, November 6, 2014

1636: The Viennese Waltz-Eric Flint,

1636: The Viennese Waltz
Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett and Gorg Huff
Baen, Nov 4 2014, $25.00
ISBN: 9781476736877

In 1634 in Vienna, the Austro-Hungarian Empire is in trouble from outsiders threatening to invade and from an economic depression eroding from within.  This comes at a particular precarious time since His Majesty Ferdinand II is near death and his heir Prince Ferdinand (soon to be HMF III if the empire survives) prefers driving a sports car rather than run a nation, especially a troubled one.

Meanwhile the leaders of the United States of Europe alliance from Sweden and Grantville, West Virginia see a rare opportunity to broker an agreement with one of the Holy Roman Empire states.  Thus they plan to send a delegation to Vienna that include auto mechanics and Barbie Consortium financial whiz fifteen year old Haley Fortney, who insists her parents have kidnapped her by sending her to that barbaric backwater.  As an assassination is plotted, no one inside of Austro-Hungary is ready for the Barbies waltzing their way to the Danube.

This is an interesting sidebar alternate history that for the most part concentrates on a fascinating but passive economic crisis.  The Cecil B. DeMille’s size cast of previously secondary and tertiary support players and newbies play key roles; but are difficult to keep track of even with a scorecard.  Still the look at early seventeenth century Vienna through the eyes of the transported outsiders (summed up by Haley who feels she is in unfair exile amidst the barbarians) combined with a depression make for a pleasant seventeenth century drama.

Harriet Klausner

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