Becky Royer accompanies her grandmother back to Virginia. Her grandmother is originally from the state and wants to visit relatives. Yet in this alternate the Constitution never replaced the Articles of Confederation. So, the country broke up into many independent states. Becky finds Viriginia much more backward than her native state of California. She especially doesn’t care for how they treat their blacks. Then a war breaks out between Viriginia and Ohio. Ohio releases an engineered plague on Virginia and Becky is trapped in the little town of Elizabeth on the border.
She does make friends with another teen from Charleston named Justin. Justin was with his uncle and visiting doing business. Justin though has a secret. He is from Crosstime Traffic and the coin and stamp shop is a front. Things start to really deteriorate when the blacks rise up in revolt. Justine steals a Virginia soldier’s uniform to get him back to Charleston. Only he gets caught up in the black revolt as Becky with her grandmother also arrives in the city.
This entry in the Crosstime Traffic series is probably the best yet. A fascinating idea to have a future where the United States broke apart into many different independent states. We don’t get much about this world, but it is made up of many different smaller nations. There was a WWI called the Great War but no WWII. Prussia a one of the powers and apparently westward settlement continued in spite of there being no federal government. California and Texas are both fairly powerful states. Mississippi had a black revolution and that is a black nation. All the other southern states have no civil rights for the blacks and face periodic revolts. Also, war between them is common.
I thought that this book really had some character development for the main character. Justin has to actually fight and kill people to survive which makes the adventure some much more realistic. We find out that Crosstime Traffic also tries to make more positive changes in the alternates that they operate in. They back moderate political parties to try and change the current status quo. Also, this the first where the teen from the alternate never really finds out about the home timeline and travels there. They also monitor more advanced alternates like this one to sabotage any development of alternate travel technology from developing. A fun and exciting book.
Annette Klein is a teenager from Ohio about to start college. She spends her summer with her parents in an alternate for Crosstime Traffic. This alternate is one where the Black Plague wiped out over 90% of Europe. The place is still in the medieval ages. She and her family pose as traders from the Kingdom of Marseille. In this timeline the Muslims still control Spain and southern France and Italy. Going under the name Khadija she poses as a rich Muslim trader in the northern Christian kingdom of Versailles. She also makes a friend in Jacques a young seventeen-year-old in the army of the Duke of Paris.
On the caravan south they are attacked by slavers. Annette and Jacques are taken to Madrid and sold to a wealthy merchant. Only this merchant has a sinister secret. He is from Annette’s timeline and is running an illegal slaving operation. Annette and Jacques are transported to another alternate where Rome never conquered Spain. Here the renegade operation is run to give rich people a chance to lord it over others. They brutally kill the locals for fun. Annette finally gets her chance to escape when she realizes that some of these rich tourists are paying for the privilege of being a slave. She manages to convince the guards that she is one of these people and get back to the home timeline. Then she exposes the whole operation and rescues the slaves.
This book has an interesting twist to the idea. The main characters have to deal with criminals from the home timeline. I can see the whole setup as happening. I am sure there are some very rich and shallow people all for paying some money to be a slave master or a slave. There are some weird people in the world. Once again, a teenage boy and girl are the main protagonists. We get to see the whole operation through their eyes with the perspective of a modern woman and one that comes from a society where slavery is normal. Also has some interesting alternates. The medieval one has developed a second son of God. Henri a Frenchman was broken on the wheel for preaching the Final Testament and now they use the sign of the wheel as a holy symbol. A nice new take on the series.
Paul Gomes has graduated High School and works with this father for Crosstime Traffic. His assignment is an alternate where Germany won WWI. They eventually went on to develop the atom bomb and conquer America in 1956. Now 140 some years later they rule America and the world with an iron fist. Crosstime Traffic runs a shop called Curious Notions in San Francisco. They sell electronic record players and games. The devices are just slightly better than what is available, and they use the money to buy much needed food for the home timeline.
The Germans in this alternate have similar advanced technology but keep it from others to hold them back. The Imperial German occupation authorities start to take an interest in these more advanced items. They want to know where they come from. The father says China and randomly picks a merchant in Chinatown out as the supplier. Lucy Woo a sixteen-year-old who works at a sweatshop gets involved when her father is arrested by the Germans. She joins forces with Paul Gomes to help their fathers and also have to deal with the Tongs. The Tongs are also interested in Curious Notions and hope to get technology that can help China to a more prominent level.
The second in the Crosstime Traffic YA series gives us a look at what the world would look like if the Germans won WWI. This is a much more plausible world if the Schlieffen Plan worked as it should have. A world without Hitler but one that is still pretty grim. America a defeated nation with 12 cities destroyed by atomic bombs. It is stuck in the 1950’s economically, culturally and technologically. Turtledove does a good job of giving us a look at the world with child labor and 65-hour six-day work weeks. As with the standard format it gives us a teenage boy and girl. This time ones that have a romantic involvement. This one deals with the added tension of keeping alternate travel out of the hands of a society that is technologically advanced enough to understand and use it. I found this an interesting and tension filled book. Different from the first book but no less interesting.
It is the end of the twenty-first century, and the world was in serious trouble. Resources were running low and then a miracle happened. Two scientists discovered a way to travel between alternate realities. A huge megacorporation known as Crosstime Traffic was formed to trade with the alternates. Jeremy Solter is a teenager in Los Angeles whose family works for Crosstime Traffic. Every summer his parents and sister go to an alternate to trade. The alternate they go to is in a reality where the Roman empire never fell. Posing as traders in the city of Polisso in Dacia province or what is modern Romania, they trade huge watches, straight razors and Swiss army knives for grain. During one of their stays, the mother gets a burst appendix, and the parents go back to their time. Soon after they lose contact with the home timeline. To make matters worse the neighboring empire of Lietuvan or modern Lithuanian decide to invade. They lay siege to the city, and it looks like Jeremy and his sister could be killed or enslaved in this alternate.
Harry Turtledove known for alternate history decided to get in the YA novel business. His Crosstime Traffic series is basically that. It usually involves two teens a boy and girl. Either brother and sister or boyfriend/girlfriend having adventures in an alternate timeline. The first book does a good job of setting up the premise for the series. A teen brother and sister have adventures in a world where Rome conquered Germany and settled into a bureaucratically static empire. Except for gunpowder and muskets and cannons they haven’t advanced in technology. This world is run by a few Gunpowder Empires that have wars for provinces now and then. The two get trapped because Romanian nationalists launched a biological terrorist attack on Crosstime Traffic sites in their home timeline. Naturally they eventually get home.
This book does a good job of showing what life was like in ancient Rome. The ordinary customs and how they lived gives a nice little education with the story. You even get old Roman jokes. Like, “‘That Slave you sold me died yesterday,’ a man told a halfwit. The halfwit said, ‘By the gods, he never did anything like that when I owned him!'” Yes, the humor just doesn’t translate well for the modern era.