In High Places, by Harry Turtledove (book review) – alternative history, time travel, danger

book cover of In High Places by Harry Turtledove published by Tom Doherty TorWhat if the Black Death had lasted decades and decades?
What if scientific knowledge was scourged from Arabic thought?
What if you could visit timelines where history had changed?

Welcome back to the world of Crosstime Traders, where technology makes it possible – and profitable – to travel to the many timelines where historical events large and small caused different time-streams to branch off from the Home Timeline.

Crosstime Traffic isn’t some science experiment, but a vital business enterprise that brings in food and energy resources from low-population alternates to support the high-technology Home Timeline.

So in this alternate, educated Annette from California must disguise herself as a quiet, modest Muslim daughter of olive oil merchants from southern France and make sure that she never says or does anything that would make locals question that identity.

Of course, profit is the slave traders’ motive, too, but there’s something truly strange here. Could this particular group of slavers be in cahoots with someone from the Home Timeline?

Other Turtledove adventures in the Crosstime Traffic series include The Valley-Westside War, set in an alternate where The Bomb fell worldwide in the 1960s, and The Disunited States of America, where the US Constitution was never ratified. Alternative history brings intriguing answers to “What if?”
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Book info: In High Places (Crosstime Traffic, book 3) / Harry Turtledove. Tom Doherty Associates/ Tor Science Fiction, 2007. [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk:  Almost time to leave muddy Paris and go back to school – on an alternate timeline. Annette’s family is returning to their Crosstime transfer station when slavers attack their caravan and take the teen far from her destination, far from her parents, far from her only way to get Home.

In this 21st century, the “City of Light” is a filthy small town in the rough Kingdom of Versailles. The Black Death killed 80% of Europe in this timeline, allowing the Muslim Kingdoms to spread far beyond the Middle East – no voyages of exploration, no Scientific Revolution, no Industrial Revolution. Here, a second son of God is credited with finally stopping the plague, basic sanitation is unknown, and bad water kills more people than marauders’ arrows.

Masquerading as olive oil traders from Marseilles, Annette’s parents observe local politics in Paris as they gather fine fruits and olives to be sold on the Home timeline, which requires food and energy from many alternate timelines to support its technologically advanced population.

Duke Raoul of Paris feels that something is too-different about these oil merchants, but is more worried about reports of slave traders attacking closer and closer to his realm. By sending young Arabic-speaking Jacques as a caravan guard on the long journey over the mountains, perhaps he can learn more about both problems.

The attack on their caravan was expected; being captured for sale as slaves in far-off Madrid was not! Far from the safety of Marseilles, Annette and Jacques are sold to a large household with some mysterious buildings where large groups of slave disappear for a whole day before returning.

How will Annette’s parents know where she’s been taken?
How can she escape to Marseilles and the only transfer station to Home?
Why does Jacques’ description of a metal room sound so much like that advanced technology?

Take a trip through time to a country that might exist somewhere, some-time, with another exciting adventure of the Crosstime Traders from the master of alternative history, Harry Turtledove.  (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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