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Crosstime Traffic is a series of books by Harry Turtledove. The central premise of the stories is an Earth that has discovered access to alternate universes where history proceeded differently. "Crosstime Traffic" is the name of the company with a global monopoly on the technology.

The Crosstime Traffic Series
Gunpowder Empire.jpg
First edition dust-jacket of Gunpowder Empire

AuthorHarry Turtledove
CountryUnited States
GenreScience Fiction
PublisherTor Books
Media typePrint



The background strongly resembles that of H. Beam Piper's Paratime series and Keith Laumer's Imperium Series. One tribute paid to Piper's series is the names of the inventors of temporal transposition: Ghaldron and Hesthor in Piper, Galbraith and Hester in Turtledove. In all of the series the "home timeline" was running low on resources, and it has used its knowledge of time to covertly import supplies from other Earths and save their civilization from collapse. The most important difference is the nature of the home timeline. Piper's world was inhabited by a culture which had been technologically advanced for thousands of years and was even more distantly related to our own. Laumer's series had a civilization that was less advanced than our own in almost every way except for their travel technology. Turtledove's world, although set in the 2090s, resembles the 2010s of the real world, with modest general advances in technology plus the crosstime capability.

The books are young adult novels with teenage protagonists, who frequently become stranded in dangerous alternate worlds and must adapt to survive. Their adventures give them increased appreciation for the benefits of living in a civilized, high-tech society. Invariably, each book has two viewpoint characters, a boy and a girl – different ones in each book; in most books one of them is from the home timeline and the other from a visited alternate. Except for "Gunpowder Empire", where the protagonists are siblings, love interest developing between the protagonists is invariably part of the plot. In two books it ends with successful consummation, the protagonist from an Alternate timeline getting exceptional permission to come to the Home Timeline; in one book, lovers must say goodbye with a tearful heartbreak; and circumstances in one make it end with boy and girl becoming staunch foes, despite their mutual attraction.

While there is considerable violence, the language and plots are restricted by the intended audience. For instance, In High Places includes the prospect of an enslaved girl being sexually abused, but does not use the word "rape" (although the word is later used in The Valley-Westside War). This shows considerable restraint of the author Turtledove, who is famous for writing scenes of unfettered sexuality, violence and profanity in his adult novels such as the series of Worldwar, Southern Victory, and The War That Came Early.


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