This particular website within the 1632 Universe (1632verse) has been developed to help authors write stories, but readers are most welcome to peruse the pages as well. It can be really interesting to see the resources available to writers. It can also be illuminating to see some of the limitations placed on them! (The Many Halves of Grantville does a great job of illustrating this.)
We know, it’s a lot of words.
To address the elephant in the room first: Staring down 14 million (gulp!) words, pretty much all of them canon, is intimidating to say the least. The most commonly asked question for the 1632verse is “what’s the reading order?” While we do have answers for that, the simple truth is that you need to read 1632 and really should ready 1633 (and arguably one or two more mainline novels) to understand the basic universe and high politics, there is ZERO reason you MUST read millions and millions of words to get started. There are literally hundreds of authors (best known count is around 200 as of Eric’s death) who have written and been published in the 1632verse.
Over 170 writers had their first professional sale in The Grantville Gazette! Eric was justifiably proud of that number and the 1632verse remains committed to continuing that legacy. We want new writers! We have tools to help you! This website is a new version of the 1632.org website that has existed for a bit less than 20 years. We have an entire community on Baen’s Bar to help you develop your story and bring up relevant points from canon.
Think of it as a setting.
Here’s my advice to (hopefully) help keep your head from exploding: Think of it as a setting. You don’t need to know everything that’s happening to write a good story, you simply need to be true to the setting. Grantville is the center of the Ring of Fire and the center of a lot of action, but there are many other towns, counties, cities, and countries that have been written about in canon. You know what? There are a ton more that haven’t been written about!
Even after 14 million words, dozens of novels, and over 100 magazine issues, there are seemingly infinite stories to be written in Grantville. The very last volume of The Grantville Gazette #102 has a story about the introduction of clotheslines to down-timers in 1631. (Please note that writing that early in canon is considered “hard mode” and not the best place to start.) The first issue of 1632 & Beyond has a story about textiles and taxes in England.
It can feel like you have to do an overwhelming amount of research to write a story in the 1632verse. While some writers do research a lot, others rely on the knowledge they already have and do a fairly small amount of research, while others write people-based stories that rely on their knowledge of the 1632verse. “Freedom Arches” in The Grantville Gazette #100 is an example of the latter. It is canon that the Committees of Correspondence have the old McDonald’s, which they have rebranded the “Freedom Arches”, and that no one knows how Gretchen received permission. This story gives the all-too-human explanation.
Seriously, it’s a big universe. Small things can be turned into fun stories. Things we take for granted can become literal lifesavers, like when Russia learned about Pedialyte/Gatorade during an epidemic.
The 1632 & Beyond Facebook Group has lots of fun and interesting posts. It’s a great place to join in and make some new friends!