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The Gladiator (Crosstime Traffic) Mass Market Paperback – September 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in a future world where the Soviet Union won the Cold War, Turtledove's absorbing fourth Crosstime Traffic novel (after 2005's In High Places) is the best yet in this SF series with substantial YA crossover. The two main characters are particularly well drawn: 17-year-old Annarita Crosetti and 16-year-old Gianfranco Mazzilli, students at Enver Hoxha Polytechnic in a Milan that's part of the quasi-Stalinist Italian People's Republic. Gianfranco is a fairly hopeless student, until he discovers a new game shop called the Gladiator, where he's delighted to play a game, Rails Across Europe, that improves his algebra scores. When the security police close down the shop for teaching capitalism, the head clerk, who's a friend of Gianfranco's and a marooned outtimer, goes on the lam. Fans of Turtledove's unambiguously adult alternative history (Days of Infamy, etc.) will find this effort up to his usual high standard. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Young Socialist Leaguer Annarita and apparatchik's son Gianfranco have grown up together in Milan after the Soviet Union won the cold war. Gianfranco discovers the Gladiator, a game shop whose fascinating wares teach him to think differently. Suddenly, the shop is closed. The regime realized that the games teach capitalism. The proprietors have vanished, and nowhere are their fingerprints registered. Annarita and Gianfranco run into former shop staffer Eduardo, who admits being an accidentally abandoned trader from another time line. The only way home for Eduardo involves getting to another crosstime transfer point--just ahead of the police. The fifth Crosstime Traffic yarn is a barn burner. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Crosstime Traffic (Book 5)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; Reprint edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765353792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765353795
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.8 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,269,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart; The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance; the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, and In at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jerry N. VINE VOICE on October 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found this action-packed alternate world one of Harry's better juveniles... a good Heinlein replica 50 +/- years later. It moves swiftly, with well-drawn high school characters and their "supporting" adults -- and is an almost believable yarn. If you ever visited the old USSR and also understand some of our "real" historical turning points this story makes sense. It didn't happen in our world, but this apparently "re-made" socialist "paradise" a very believable Italy. It is a very "1980's Hungarian or Leningradian almost-replica. I'd debate whether or not such an empire would last 150 years, but that is author's perogative.

Bottom-line -- I enjoyed it thoroughly - and that is after 50 years of deeply reading science fiction, with a personal knowledge base going back to the 1930's pulps. Harry, while I thought some of your other recent books had "slipped," this is one of the better alternative adult world(s) you have invented. In some ways I enjoyed this as well as "Guns of the South." Quick, straight, relatively uncomplicated and easy to sort thru and out. As the saying goes, "you got your groove back."
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Edward E. Rom on June 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked this book a lot! When I first started reading it, I for some reason thought that it might not be all that good, but that thought was short-lived.

The _Crosstime Traffic_ series is a juvenile (or "young adult," if you prefer)series involving a corporation of that name, which has a means of travelling between alternate timelines. They basically do clandestine import/export between their timeline ("home timeline") and the others ("alternates"). In this novel, you see mission creep setting in; Crosstime Traffic is engaged in subverting the political system in a timeline in which the communists won the Cold War. The story is set in a communist Italy of the late 21st century; I must say that it has a very realistic feel, in that it feels like it's been the 1940s for 150 years (I remember reading an editorial which stated that it was the 1940s in eastern Europe from the 40s until the fall of the Berlin Wall -- it makes sense to me). One of the Crosstime Traffic employees gets trapped there when the secret police close down their business (it sells subversive board games), and has to hide out with some acquaintances of his. The story is told from the point of view of the local characters, not the Crosstime Traffic point of view; it feels almost like Turtledove himself has spent time in a communist police state prior to 1990 or so.

In a previous review, I wondered what it is about Turtledove's writing that I like so much. I've thought about it, and a couple of things occurred to me. One is that his "local color" is always very good. His stories have little details in them that give them that sense of authenticity. Another is that his characters tend to be sympathetic, and seem real as well. His pacing is pretty good, too, so that it's easy to keep turning the pages in one of his stories.

I'd highly recommend this book (as well as the rest of the series) to anyone of any age, even though these books are written as juveniles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alan Zisman on July 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to like The Gladiator. Unfortunately, while reading it, I kept coming across what at best I'd describe as very improbably plot elements that made it hard for me to take the book seriously.

(An aside: some may wonder how I can consider anything improbable in a sci-fi book about alternate realities but sci-fi works or doesn't work by getting the reader to accept one big improbability and then setting up a world that proceeds logically from that one changed premise).

For instance: the secret police shut down the game shop in Milan; one employee is left behind when the rest escape. He makes contact with the teenage protagonists and talks with one of their parents. By the end of this chat, he's got a cover story and a usable set of false ID. Is false ID really that easily come by in this police state?

A little later, repair people come by to fix the elevator in the apartment, which has been broken for years and years. The teenagers discover that the repairmen are from a company in Rimini- quite a distance away, and (correctly) guess that they must have been others from the alternative world searching for their missing colleague. How did they track him down? Why did they give up the search after fixing the elevator?

There are other similar holes in the plot...

I did read this book through to the end, but it was less fun than it could have been.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This Harry Turtledove series is loosely based on the Crosstime concept developed by H.Beam Piper, in which myriads of worlds with alternate histories exist parallel to our own timeline. In the 21st century of our timeline, technology has been developed that allows people to visit these alternate Earths and return, usually safely, but sometimes not. A massive corporation called Crosstime Traffic controls most of the access to these alternate worlds, and the plots of Turtledove's five Crosstime Traffic novels all revolve around Crosstime Traffic workers, their families (teenagers included) and the people they come in contact with in the alternates.

I found The Gladiator to be the most exciting of the Crosstime series so far. Its set in a world where the Soviets won the Cold War and set up a worldwide Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist command economy and political dictatorship. Gianfranco and Annarita are schoolmates and neighbors in Milan in the Italian People's Republic. They lead average teenager type lives until one day Gianfranco discovers an exciting new shop called The Gladiator, where games are played and books are sold that give basic instructions on how to be a capitalist. The State Security Police catch on to this subversive counter-revolutionary stuff, and close the shop down. Its mysterious proprietors all vanish except one, Eduardo, who turns to Gianfranco and Annarita for help getting back to his own timeline.

This is a fast-paced adventure story with plenty of attractive characters and a satisfying ending. The contrast between capitalism and communism is well developed, and there's plenty of interesting discussion about the nature of liberty, security, and progress.
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