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Gunpowder Empire (Crosstime Traffic #1)

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  917 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Jeremy Solter is a teenager growing up in the late 21st century. During the school year, his family lives in Southern California-but during the summer the whole family lives and works in the city of Polisso, on the frontier of the Roman Empire. Not the Roman Empire that fell centuries ago, but a Roman Empire that never fell.

For we now have the technology to move between ti
Paperback, 286 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Tor Science Fiction (first published November 2003)
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Feb 05, 2013 Claire rated it did not like it
Shelves: just-terrible
Wow. I don't know where to start. The book was just so bad. Well, it's dated. It's only 10 years old, but being set so far into the future (he didnt give an exact year, but I estimate about 80 years) ages a book extremely quickly. The tech in this book is actually less advanced than what we have now. I know.

I should probably backtrack. The premise of this book is that at some time (Turtledove doesn't like to use exact years) people in our world learned how to dimension travel. So, like the gree
Kristin Lundgren
I have never read any of Turtledove's work, since they often center on the Civil War or WWII, not my favorite topics. But this sort of YA series intrigued me - it is about the multiverse. A way to cross over to alternate timelines was discovered, and Crosstime Traffic established to train people to go to various timelines, and trade and barter to bring things back. Some timelines have no people yet, even though it is the same "time." Others are ones where Hitler won WWII, or Germany won WWI, or ...more
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 Althea Ann rated it did not like it
I'd always heard of Turtledove as a good writer of alternate history, but hadn't read anything by him until this book, which I picked up at random. Although nothing on the cover marks this as a YA novel, it definitely is - moreover, it's a YA novel written in an infuriatingly condescending, didactic style which assumes the reader knows nothing of the most basic concepts of history, and is incapable of looking things up or even understanding anything that isn't stated in simple, short words. Read ...more
Aug 15, 2010 Villager rated it liked it
I had never heard of Harry Turtledove before last month. I saw his book while visiting my local library. I was intrigued by Gunpowder Empire because of my enjoyment of the ancient Roman empire. I've recently watched the entire ROME television series (via Netflix) and the SPARTACUS: SAND & BLOOD series (also via Netflix). So I was ready to enjoy this science fiction book about an American family in the 28th century who is able to travel to alternative timeline ... and in this case the alterna ...more
Feb 18, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
Yes, this series is targeted at the teen/young adult audience. Yes, that means the writing is less complex than his other series. The point here is that Turtledove is trying to hook younger readers on reading and sci-fi in particular. If you are trying to pull in a younger, newer audience, you don't start them out with the theory of relativity! Crawl, walk, run. Don't write discouraging reviews because you thought you were getting something that wasn't intended. Encourage a new generation. This ...more
Jun 01, 2016 Ellen rated it did not like it
Shelves: genre-study
Really?! I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. I wish I had the 4 hours back I spent reading it. What a waste of time.
Apr 08, 2009 Kyle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, books-i-own
Good idea, bad execution.
Herman Gigglethorpe
Although there's a decent story buried in here, this book still feels like a lot of filler that insults the reader's intelligence.

The basic premise is that traders from 2090 or so in our world can travel to alternate Earths, and bring back scarce resources or food.


The main characters are stuck in a world in which the Roman Empire never fell because a better commander than Quintilius Varus (sp) fought at the Teutoberg Forest battle. This victory me
Pat Cummings
Jun 05, 2015 Pat Cummings rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I admit I’m a history reader. I like Harry Turtledove because he writes real science fiction that just happens to incorporate real history. With that said, I have a real problem with the alternate history genre as juvenile fiction. It’s not that it isn’t good, sui generis (because Gunpowder Empire is enjoyable). It’s that it is aimed at readers who do not have the real history solidly under their belts yet.

The story opens on two time-traveling teenagers (Amanda and Jeremy Solter) spending thei
Mathew Whitney
Feb 24, 2014 Mathew Whitney rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2014
I didn't know this was aimed at a YA audience going in, but I had the feeling it was after a few pages. I don't have a problem with reading YA in general, but this really felt like someone writing down to an audience, which isn't something I find appealing (or would consider the norm for good YA books).

The first half of the book was very dry and the characters felt very flat. There is a lot of unnecessary repetition and over-explanation, and sometimes the historic comparisons seem to be take mor
This book did not impress me, which makes me sad because I have been wanting to read some of Harry Turtledove's alt history for some time. I'm hoping this is a reflection of this being a novel geared towards young adults - if anyone can reassure me, please do in the comments!

In the Crosstime Traffic series, the main timeline has discovered a way to move between alternate histories and Crosstime Traffic is an organization that sends employees to live in alternate histories and collect resources
Carl Alves
Jul 25, 2013 Carl Alves rated it really liked it
I had never read any of Harry Turtledove's previous novels, so I had no expectations at the start of Gunpowder Empire. What I found was a very enjoyable alternate history, time travel novel. Set in the late twenty first century where time travel is possible, society has used this to improve the world by eliminating pollution and gathering additional resources. In Gunpowder Empire, the Solter family is part of the time travel program. They are there to trade gadgets such as Swiss Army knives for ...more
Jul 16, 2013 Randy rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction, 2013
Travelling and trading between alternate histories is how Jeremy and Amanda's family earn their living. Once a year they arrive in an earth in which the Roman Empire never fell. It's one thing to visit a timeline like this, but when they are stuck there without their parents, things begin to get interesting. Add to this an invading army besieging the city, and all of a sudden things are it looking so good.

I picked this book up because few people were borrowing it from my library. The idea if bei
Joel Flank
Aug 27, 2013 Joel Flank rated it really liked it
Harry Turtledove is always a fun read, and once again shows his mastery of both history and human nature in this first book in a young adult series of his. In it, a family goes undercover to an alternate world in which the Roman Empire never fell and has only slowly advanced to a late medieval technology level, with cannons and matchlock firearms. Of course, things go wrong, and the parents of the family have to return home, leaving their teenaged children to handle their trading business. Short ...more
Jun 28, 2013 Paul rated it it was ok

An unimpressive young adult novel. The concept of time travel and alternate histories is an interesting one and that is handled well, although the economics of it seem far fetched. The problem with the book is that Turtledove does so much editorializing about America as compared to ancient Rome. It is not that it is uncalled for, just that it could have been done more artfully. There are huge information dumps in nearly every chapter about the things and customs that we have and the Romans did
D. B.
Jan 03, 2016 D. B. rated it it was amazing
A family, posing as foreign traders, visits a parallel universe where Rome never fell. Teenagers Jeremy and Amanda chafe against their parents' well-meaning disrespect and the antiquated customs of the Empire. When their mother falls ill and returns, with their father, to the "home timeline," Jeremy and Amanda find themselves cut off, stuck in a world they don't particularly like and forced to make their way without any help. And then, the looming threat of war becomes reality.

In the first Cross
Christina Brummett
Jul 30, 2013 Christina Brummett rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
I couldn't decide between a two and a three. I wish I could give half stars. The story was ok, I guess, but so many things kept pulling me out of the world. The kids' reaction to fur, for example, was so over the top that I felt like I was reading a PETA pamphlet. The constant gaping on and on about slavery was another thing that drove me nuts. Yes, it's bad. I know. Next question, please? Add in trying to figure out how the hell no one has figured out a water wheel driven flour mill or any weap ...more
Mar 04, 2012 John rated it liked it
While the book contains an interesting story line, the writing was amateurish and aimed at middle schools students(which you think I would have notices while reading the blurb on the back cover). The book had an intriguing focus on social issues, such as sexism and slavery, that is observed by modern Americans within the Roman culture(I think they said they were from California or were learning American history or something). The characters themselves didn't really have depth or display any form ...more
Nov 11, 2013 Robert rated it liked it
The concept of this book was very interesting to me. However the fact that the Roman Empire survived into the 21st Century because one of Augustus's generals lived longer than in real time and fought the Geremanians people is a little farfetched to me.

Also the Romans were one of the most advanced and technically sound cultures two thousand years ago, and the fact the technology would stagnate because of the Europe being united under the Empire instead of smaller kingdoms after the Fall seems imp
Nov 23, 2009 Marci rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi
The Crosstime Traffic series is an interesting premise on alternate histories. In the 21st Century people go back in time to trade with the locals for food stuffs or other supplies needed in the 21st Century. Or on unpopulated worlds you can mine for minerals and oil without worrying about harming the ecosystem. Jeremy and Amanda Solters’ parents are traders from the 21st Century working in the Roman Empire. They trade pocket knives and straight edge razors for grain. Jeremy and Amanda join the ...more
Feb 26, 2009 Robert rated it it was ok
I was reading this book thinking, "I have read this before" and sure enough I had read it but not finished it. I managed to finish this time.

Not sure why I bothered.

To be clear this might be a better book for a young adult to read but for adults I can give an easy pass on it. Every second or third chapter contains another summary of how different things are from the one time line to the other. Not unforgivable, except that at least use different examples each time you revisit the topic. Not th
Jun 15, 2009 April rated it it was ok
Hmmmm, I normally like Turtledove and alternate history type books, but this one was kind of a let down. Let me preface by saying I did not know this was for young adults. However, with a good book, that should not matter. Gunpowder Empire follows the Solter family who spend their summers on the frontier of the Roman Empire trading items such as Swiss Army knives for grain. Jeremy and Amanda are the teen-age children who get left in charge when their parents must come back to the present for an ...more
Michael Garner
Jul 02, 2014 Michael Garner rated it it was ok
What audience was this book written for? I found it in the adult sci-fi& fantasy section of the library. I was looking for a quick read and coming in at less than 300 pages fit the bill. Anyways, the summary of parallel universes and families intrigued me. However, the execution with a youthful style did not work for me. I was expecting a little bit more. The plot started off kind of slow and seemed to quickly end with little reason. Not sure what Harry Burglarized other works are like, but ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Igor rated it liked it
For a young readership. There's a lot of repetition, nothing much really happens in the story, and the tone is often annoyingly paternalistic, even when that's really not approriate.
For example, first the Lietuvvan empire is described as barbarian in comparison with Rome, then we readers are reminded that we should not judge the Lietuvans since they are not much different from the Romans.

For a story on such wildly imaginary premises, it could do with more imagination. 2000 years of Roman empir
May 11, 2012 Anthony rated it it was ok
I have been a fan of alternate history stories for a while. I've read some short stories and really enjoyed them. This book I found a little dry. I got bored and stopped reading it for a while then came back to it. Partially it may have been my lack of interest in studying the Roman Empire but I found some of the other Crosstime Traffic books in this series that look really good. I wanted to read the first in the series in case it explained some things that make the later books make more sense. ...more
Jan 08, 2009 Leo rated it did not like it
So far the writing seems rather unsophisticated although the concept is a very intriguing one. The fact that this is a work geared toward juvenile readers probably accounts for the style of writing. At least that is the benefit of the doubt I will give without having read any of his other books. Turtledove is considered one of the masters of alternative history and since that genre is fascinating to me, I decided to give him a try. Unfortunately, my library does not have the titles of his that s ...more
May 20, 2008 T.J. rated it it was ok
You can tell this is Turtledove's first book in the series, as he hasn't quite got the formula down yet. Jeremy Solters and his sister are stuck in an alternate history where the Roman Empire never fell when their parents suddenly fall ill and leave them to their own devices. The story is good, but Turtledove is more interested in setting up the world than his characters who are irritating Mary Sues with no flaws and perfect ingenuity. He irons these kinks out in the next few. Gunpowder Empire i ...more
Apr 18, 2009 Hannah rated it it was ok
Shelves: fluff-reading
Not very impressed with this one. Couldn't really get immersed in the story and/or characters. The writing seemed stilted and the characters thoughts kept thinking about and explaining to themselves (you the reader) where some of their cultural biases came from instead of just reacting with cultural bias. Not that I know how to write so that the cultural biases are visible to the reader but internally integrated in the characters. I just know that the technique used in this story kept me from re ...more
Apr 01, 2010 TK421 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi
Perhaps my one star rating is unfair, Turtledove it seems is a small icon when it comes to alternate history. But I really, really, really, did not like this book. And here's the reason: IT WAS BORING. Let's be honest for a moment, I wasn't expecting my socks to be knocked off, but the plot did nothing for me. In fact, the only reason I finished the darn thing was because I have some stupid gene in me that requires me to finish every book I start. So, if you have that same gene, you might want t ...more
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Dr Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced a sizeable number of works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.

Harry Turtledove attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977.

Turtledove has been dubbed "The Master of Alternate History". Within this genre he is known both for creating original sce
More about Harry Turtledove...

Other Books in the Series

Crosstime Traffic (6 books)
  • Curious Notions (Crosstime Traffic, #2)
  • In High Places (Crosstime Traffic, #3)
  • The Disunited States of America (Crosstime Traffic, #4)
  • The Gladiator (Crosstime Traffic, #5)
  • The Valley-Westside War (Crosstime Traffic, #6)

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