1634: The Galileo Affair
This is the third year since the Ring of Fire, the catastrophic event dropping an American town with its inhabitants into seventeenth century Germany. The series began with 1632, continued with 1633 and promises to continue past this installment. The reader is advised to read them in order for maximum enjoyment, as the action builds on previous storylines. Also the wealth of detail interspersing the “up-timers” and “down-timers” will prove very difficult without starting from the beginning. The true joy of this series is the clash of cultures, and for history fans, to view from a totally unexpected angle the notables amid their time and place, and everything going amok with Yankees on the loose. This volume deals with Venice, with the trial of Galileo as the catalytic event. My favorite subplot was the bizarre courtship between an American nurse (skilled enough to be practicing as a doctor in those times) and a Spanish courtier who she describes as “Don Quixote on steroids.” Remarkably, there is even a hint of reverence in the handling of the religious issues that the Ring of Fire has irrevocably altered with its future knowledge. While the violence of the times cannot be avoided and still be authentic, the upbeat tone maintains a lighthearted kind of frothiness despite the messiness of assassination attempts and street battles. If you remember the movie versions of Dumas’ Musketeers of the ’70s with Michael York fondly, you’ll like this series.