The 1632 Slushpile
Slushpile is publishing trade jargon referring to the pile(s) of unsolicited submissions to a periodical. 1632 series main author Eric Flint encouraged fans to contribute to the series, several short stories were published in the online magazine The Grantville Gazettes. In the "continuing adventure" of the Grantville Gazettes, according to Flint, the unsolicited stories began shaping the background thought in the series milieu, and the magazine "idea" was born whilst he tried to recoup some of the time costs involved in examining the fan fiction. Also, he judged some of the tales to be professional quality, and indeed, incorporated many of them into about half of Ring of Fire. The flagship novel was written as a stand-alone literary work, an experiment with the new Assiti Shards story premise, and was but one of three such universes planned by Flint in 2000. However, the sensation and interest engendered by the 1632 novel's publication subsequently caused the other works to be delayed while the 1632 series was developed. The other books in the overall Assiti Shard series currently under contract are:
- Time Spike with Marilyn Kosmatka, published in May 2008.
- By Any Other Name with Sarah Hoyt, first draft completed; Eric Flint scheduled his part of the writing for 2007–2008 in October website announcement.
- 1776, a solo novel, original name was 1781; production overdue and delayed.
1776 supposes George Washington and Frederick the Great are transposed to ancient Rome's Crisis of the Third Century, By Any Other Name takes place in several different time frames including a transposition of the Assiti themselves into Elizabethan England, and Time Spike involves transpositions of various populations into the unpopulated late Cretaceous era (145–66 million years ago).
The 1632 Tech Manual forum has had a large role in developing the overall series as its discussions revolve around the course of likely events, reactions, and developments as the fictional town of 3,000 souls is transplanted into the middle of the religion-based Thirty Years' War.
1632 Tech Manual, 1632 Slush, and 1632 Slush Comments
1632 Tech Manual, 1632 Slush, and 1632 Slush Comments are each specialized sub-forums of a specific sub-community of the general online community known as Baen's Bar, which is a web site focused on the publishers' works, and forums to let fans interact with writers. The first sub-forum, 1632 Tech Manual (from early 2000—generally known just as 1632 Tech), is dedicated to developing the background for collaborative fiction in the first Assiti Shards-type fictional universe—1632 universe or 1632-verse—that began in the novel 1632 by Eric Flint, and the second two are spin-offs related to the fact that the series generated a lot of solicited fan fiction, which has become a hallmark of the series, when such is accepted as canon. That process is ongoing at grantvillegazette.com and in part explains the synergy of the series as literally hundreds of well-educated people and experienced people have worked together to put together a logical and likely chain of events and societal impacts given the departure point postulated in the initial novel—a town of thirty-five hundred from a blue collar, rural community characteristic of the town that Eric Flint's mother called home.
The later two forums were eventually created and set aside as a submission venue and talk forum about such submitted work for the initial anthology Ring of Fire and the eventual series of serialized e-zines, The Grantville Gazettes, all of which resulted from (originally) unsolicited manuscripts plus Flint's decision to make the milieu a shared universe by inviting in other writers. About that time, Flint was contributing a short story and contracting for a novella to the Honorverse spin-off series Crown of Slaves and had become good friends with David Weber, who has opened that sub-series in similar fashion to other writers. Weber expressed an interest in writing within 1632-verse, and that discussion may have given Flint the idea of soliciting manuscripts from other writers on the huge infant canvas. It is certain, he had no plans for a sequel beyond the initial novel.
As the collaborative effort evolved, the Grantville Gazettes—along with 1632 Tech, where technical aspects are hammered out and discussed to a surprising thoroughness—became a seed stock of new ideas and developments which give the rich verisimilitude to the background and plotting of the longer fiction in the series. Another distinction (sometimes very indistinct) is that stories in the Gazettes are normally told from the viewpoint of the common resident living through the international repercussions that the influence of Grantville's knowledge has caused on the larger stage. In seeming contradiction, about half the fiction in the Gazettes is merely emotive—amusing, tragic, or dramatic, sometimes taking on many aspects of the popular soap opera—which is to say commercially successful and desirably entertaining to its subscribers. Even though those kinds of tales have little importance save as "color" or deep background, they serve to gradually illuminate the society coming into being and are valuable to the reader in illuminating the dissonances between our modern era and the emerging Europe of the fictional neohistory, as well as the practices and life of the Europe in our real history. Quite frequently a character developed in a minor, soap opera-ish story will appear elsewhere in the series in a more important role, including as a main protagonist anchoring a major work (e.g. Noelle Murphy and others in about half the book 1634: The Ram Rebellion).
- "Grantville Gazette homepage". Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
- Flint, Eric, (ed.); and various others. "Editors' Preface". The Grantville Gazette (anthology, volume I). p. 2 (of 361).
But, in the meantime, the fan-fic kept getting written, and people kept nudging me—okay, pestering me, but I try to be polite about such things—to give them my feedback on their stories. ... Once I realized how many stories were being written—a number of them of publishable quality—I raised with Jim Baen the idea of producing an online magazine which would pay for fiction and factual articles set in the 1632 universe and would be sold through Baen Books' Webscriptions service. Jim was willing to try it, to see what happens.
- "Forthcoming" at ericflint.net (accessed 26 October 2007). "May 2008 will see the publication of TIMESPIKE by Eric and Marilyn Kosmatka, a different branch of the "Assiti Shards" universe."
- "Known scheduled for writing during 2007". Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
[Eric has scheduled his writing for and the] "First draft is in Eric’s hands from Collaborators... By any other name (with Sarah Hoyt)