Friday, January 13, 2012

Valley-Westside War (fiction)

In 1967,
during "the Summer of Love,"
someone dropped the Bomb and began nuclear holocaust...

Why did it happen in one time-continuum and not the others? What made this time-stream different? If Crosstime Traffic seals off this alternate, will if prevent this blight from spreading to others where they trade undercover for resources?

Yes, it's all about the money for Crosstime Traffic; researchers are allowed to travel to alternate time-streams if there's a potential commercial advantage for the corporation.

That's why Liz is spending her gap year between high school and college with her scientist parents in this fragmented L.A. time-stream, with its hippie-talk lingo and scavenged technology. But can she hide her intellect well enough to pass for a young woman of this era during a war between neighborhoods?

You can read the six Crosstime Traffic books in any order, as there are different teens traveling the alternate time-streams in each. The Disunited States of America (review) never saw the Constitution signed - alternate history is an interesting and dangerous place!

Book info: The Valley-Westside War (Crosstime Traffic #6) / Harry Turtledove. Tor Books, 2008 (paperback, 2009). [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Nuclear bombs shattered the US in 1967, leaving pockets of survivors and halting technology development – on this parallel timeline. Sent there by Crosstime Traffic, Liz and her parents pose as traders as they try to discover why this Los Angeles is still a patchwork of neighborhood kingdoms at war with one another 100 years later.

In the nearly abandoned UCLA library lit by oil lanterns, Liz scans crumbling magazines and newspapers with her hidden data device, hunting for the war’s trigger point. She can’t visit the library too often, as women here are expected to run the household and stay quiet – women’s liberation never even got started before someone fired the first deadly missiles. Good thing she’ll be at the real UCLA in the home timeline in just a year, instead of fetching water from cisterns during the ongoing drought.

When the Westside City Council decides to charge a toll for wagons coming through Sepulveda Pass on the old highway, King Zev of the Valley declares war. So it’ll be arrows and knives in hand-to-hand combat, as usual – except someone has found an Old Time machine gun and made it work. As killing from a distance becomes possible for the first time in decades, the stakes are much higher for Dan and the other soldiers.

A chance meeting between Liz and Dan may put both their missions in jeopardy, as Dan invents reasons to visit the Mendoza hacienda in enemy territory so he can talk to her again. It’s hard to transmit data reports to the home timeline when Liz doesn’t know when Dan might show up. He is nice to talk to and look at, of course.

As long as the Mendozas act like regular traders and the locals don’t suspect there’s a time station hidden in their hacienda’s basement, everything will be fine… right?

Turtledove brings readers into another alternate strand of history with this exciting episode of the Crosstime Traffic series, asking “what if?” a single event could change everything we know. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy purchased because it looked interesting.


  1. This Harry Turtledove fan is jumping for joy and looking forward to seeing this at my local library.

  2. Bookworm - there are 6 Crosstime Traffic novels, originally released by Tor several years ago, now getting new covers & re-release in their Tor Teen imprint (I liked the cover shown above from the hardback edition).

  3. Katy - I am loving the variety of books you are reviewing on your blog. So much intriguing subject matter that I look forward to finding at my library. Thank you for stopping by my blog so I could discover yours!

  4. Katy - I read The Gladiator (one of the Crosstime raffic novels) last year, not realizing it was a YA novel (but I should have guessed). My library, for some reason, keeps the Crosstime Traffic books in the same section as Turtledove's adult novels, not in the YA section. I loved The Gladiator - sad to say, I did not like The Valley-Westside War all that much. Various reasons why- it just didn't hold my interest. To me-boring plot, boring characters, not Turtledove at his best - or near his best.

    So what I did was get the very first of the series, Gunpowder Empire, out of the library today. In this way I'll learn more about the "Earth" of Crosstime Traffic. I hope it does not disappoint.

  5. @Bookworm - Turtledove does take a bit of a side-jaunt from his normal alternative-history in these. Since the Crosstime Traffic series relies on "the home Timeline" as its continuing thread, rather than individual characters, it's not your everyday series. The concept of parallel worlds is by no means new, but the idea of traveling to them undercover as merchants & researchers is what makes them novel for me.


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