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The Gladiator (Crosstime Traffic #5)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  457 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
In Harry Turtledove's The Gladiator, the Soviet Union won the Cold War. The Russians were a little smarter than they were in our own world, and the United States was a little dumber and a lot less resolute. Now, more than a century later, the world's gone Communist, and capitalism is a bad word.

For Gianfranco and his friend Annarita, a couple of teenagers growing up in Mil
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Tor Science Fiction (first published May 29th 2007)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jess Mahler
I admit it--I picked up this book because of the d20.

Harry Turtledove is not one of my favorite author, I find his stuff very hit-or-miss, but this book is definitely a hit.

Set in Italy in an alternate timeline where the USSR won the Cold War, the story follows Gianfranco and Annarita as their normal lives as teenagers learning to be good communists is disrupted by the intrusion of Crosstime travellers from a timeline that might be the future of our world.

One of the things I really enjoyed about
Craig Tyler
While not a true science fiction book, this one belongs in the alternate history genre, it has a few "techie" things that make it science fiction. I picked this book up on the cheap and read the jacket and I thought it might sound like something I would like. I did. However it took me a few chapters to realize that the voice of the author seemed a little dumbed down. It was then I realized I was not the intended audience and had inadvertenly picked up a "young adult" book. I am not sure what tha ...more
The other John
I don't know, but I've been aching to read some Harry Turtledove since I've returned from overseas. Maybe it was living in an "alternate world" for the past years that moved me to seek out the master of alternate history. Maybe not. Anyway, when I saw this one on the library shelf I snatched it up. The Gladiator is a novel in the Crosstime Traffic series, set in a world where the Soviet Union won the cold war. The year is actually around 2090, and the Crosstime Traffic folks have set up a few ga ...more
Ian Rogers
Not a very cerebral read, although in its defense, Gladiator is written for a young adult audience. I kept expecting something to happen, but there was no hook, and no delivery. I felt empty after speed reading through pointless descriptions and situations that did not develop the story or characters in a compelling way. A disappointment.
Nikki Boisture
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

A YA book with an alternate history timeline, this is better than I expected it to be. It focuses on two Italian high school students, Gianfranco and Annarita, who lived in a future where the Soviet Union won the cold war. They meet up with a game-shop owner who comes from our own timeline and is stuck in this alternate.

I expected a lot of action, but it's pretty character-driven with a lot of focus on the way things work in the communist world.

I'd recommend it to any YA readers who l
D. B.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Gladiator, Turtledove takes advantage of the Crosstime Traffic mythos to draw distinctions between life in a mostly capitalist world versus life in a mostly communist world (one in which the Soviets "won" the Cold War, and so most countries embraced their economic system). It's a compelling, but at times far too repetitive, look at the strengths and weaknesses of each system.

For the first time in the series, none of the main characters come from the "home timeline"; we instead see the sto
Mathew Whitney
While each book in this series seems to improve on the previous in some respects, this one seems to have made a leap. While I still think it only deserves a three-star rating, the difference between this and the previous book (which I also rated at 3) is significant. While that one barely made it to 3, this one left me with no doubt. If you only read one book in this series, so far this should be it (and most would probably be better off to not read any of the earlier books).

While the basic prem
Alan Gilfoy
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though fiction, he seems to do very well at painting a vivid picture of life under Communism. Likewise, his "The Guns Of The South", while also fiction seems to do a particularly good job of illustrating issues related to _its_ setting (the American Civil War). It was an interesting experience in and of itself and it also felt good to be reminded of one of the highlights of Turtledove's career.

The US standing down during the Cuban Missile Crisis and losing the Vietnam War even worse make sense a
Jan 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Younger (young at heart) readers of alternate history.
This is the 5 installment of the Crosstime Traffic series of young adult books. There are a total of 6 in the series, but they are all standalone and mostly can be read in any order.

Crosstime Traffic is a company with the ability to travel to alternate timelines. The series is set in our world (I assume) in the future where traveling to other alternate worlds is used to secretly bring to the home timeline needed resources and to monitor the others to see if they are near to discovering this tec
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love dystopian novels, but this one doesn't make the grade. It doesn't really focus on the dystopia but rather on two ordinary high school students who live and behave pretty much like high school students do anywhere. The Soviets win the cold war. How? America just decides that life under the Soviet's power is preferable? It doesn't really say. The plot takes place in the city of Milan in an alternate universe, in the future, but people from our universe (also in the future though it's identi ...more
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Gladiator has an interesting concept, but it's really about 150 pages too long. At its core is a short story that's been stretched beyond its capacity. I found far too much desperate proselytizing in a story based on the idea "What if the USSR won the Cold War?". It could have been an exciting adventure, but this truly turned into a scene from the 1980's when you knew that Soviets were evil and the Stallone from our reality would save us all by boxing Dolph Lundgren from their's in a winner- ...more
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-writen book. It suffers, though, from a rather formulaic plot. The plot is supported by the idea of parallel alternate universes, which I find so far-fetched and impossible that it necessarily undermines the believability of the plot (how often is an alternate universe spawned? Once a year? Once a microsecond? Once a femtosecond?). The book was set in an alternate universe in which the US and the West lost the cold war, and the Soviet Union reigns supreme. Life is as dull and drab ...more
Oct 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The concept was great- people from one timeline, where Capitalism has won the day, have figured out how to travel across parallel universes. They call the enterprise Crosstime Traffic. In this novel, the reader follows Gianfranco and Annarita in Milan, Italy in a timeline where Socialism/Communism has won. Gianfranco frequents a store called the Gladiator, where games are sold, from miniatures to cards to role-playing. In each game, Capitalism is inserted subtly. The Gladiator stays out of the s ...more
Nathan Williams
I picked it up in the adult section of the library, but I wonder if it was intended for young adult? The writing seemed amateurish to me. There were an unusually high number of misspellings. It felt like it should have been an author's first book, so I was surprised to see he has written so many. Perhaps this one was rushed?

As for the story line, the main characters do have a problem to solve, but it's not earth-shattering or terribly dangerous. The book does raise some interesting questions ab
Joel Flank
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another solid entry in the Crosstime Traffic series by Turtledove. This time, the alternate world is one where Soviet Communism won the cold war, and people's revolutions swept across the world. In Italy in the 2090s of this alternate, a strange game store sells games that seems suspiciously like capitalism. The big twist in this book is that neither of the two main characters is from the home timeline, but instead have their lives and perspectives turned around when they meet one of the Crossti ...more
Brian Morin
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
The Gladiator is the first alternate history book that I've read. I purchased it at a book sale after reading the description on the back cover. It wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped, but wasn't terrible either. The problem that I had was that it took a while to get going, dragging at times. It took me a week to read the first half and a day to read the second half. So, I would recommend to anyone that would be interested in picking it up to give it a chance. At times it provides more detail than ...more
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, favorites, read2008
I picked this up on a whim but apparently Harry Turtledove is quite well known for his AU novels. This also is apparently #5 in a series (Crosstime Traffic). I would definitely pick up a few more of his books. This was very well written with engaging characters and an interesting story line. I like using the concept of gaming to improve school work and invoke thought in young boys. I like a strong female who comes into her own as she learns to both play along with those around her, but also ques ...more
Harry Turtledove shines whenever the topic is Communism. In this alternate YA timeline, the Soviet Union has won the Cold War. In a future Italy, a teenaged boy living in a dreary world ruled by the Soviet Union finds a game shop called The Gladiator. This shop stocks games that make the boy think - and thinking can become very dangerous in this world. Then, The Gladiator is suddenly closed down and things are never the same. I found the characters, the consequences of the Soviet Union controlli ...more
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Not as good as the other two of the series thatI've read so-far. A little to "childish" in its presentation. Characters were flat and Turtledove was just a bit too preachy with a rather simpleton world-view of "socialism" vs. capitalism". Some might excuse this considering the publisher's target audience/age group but the lack of thoughtful analysis in trying to gloss over two complex economics theories with an almost infantile black & white schoolhouse dogma was underwhelming.

Nice learning vehicle for the targeted young adult audience. Typical Turtledove prose and pacing, i.e. slow and deliberate pacing. Any teens reading this review should consider, as a followup, reading 'one day in the life of ivan denesovich' by schulzinytsin. Easy read with a much less filtered view of the political prisoners of the USSR. Still going on today, e.g. North Korea and a bunch of other totalitarian states.
Jes. Cavanaugh
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
This is another book that has tricked me into entering a series - a series of which I am not particularly fond. That said, by itself, this was an excellent story. Taking place in an alternate universe where the Russians won the Cold War, it presents and eerie picture of what could have been. It also takes time travel into a universally-friendly concept. Even those who have trouble following time travel will enjoy this story.
Gregory Rothbard
A great book for young adult readers. For me it lost some of its flow when it went into exposition, and explanation of cold war politics. However, for the younger reader it would be a great book. The book was interesting enough to finish, and gave me a new appreciation for Harry Turtledove. I plan to read more Turtledove in the future.
Tome Addiction
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: time-travel
One of the few Crosstime Traffic series by Turtledove. The series is really alternate universe based then time travel and he tells it well. Each book as a premise based on main characters who travel to an alternate universe for a purpose and you get a glimpse at the alternate history through the entertaining story of the characters.

Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a young adult I devoured Turtledove's novels for adults. So I suppose it's kind of fitting to read his YA stuff now that I'm an adult. I wonder if I'd enjoy his adult novels as much now, because there's a remarkable lack of subtlety here in a story that could have otherwise been pretty interesting.
Cool idea of the alternate history, and I was really into it for about half the book then it fell flat and dragged on. I didn't realize it was part of a series of sorts. (Same idea but could stand alone books I think?) Didn't love the ending. Might be interested in the other ones if they have better endings.
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The setting of Milan in a world dominated by Communism was interesting. Turtledove vividly described a world in which thought, money, and movement are restricted. I liked the originality of using board games at the Gladiator to subtly encourage counterrevolutionary thoughts.
May 18, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the first time I have read a crosstime book and it was a different kind of story. At times it was interesting and at other times it got kind of slow. I might try another one in the future, but for now I am going to try reading something else.
Oct 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fictio
I book I picked off the shelf at library. Well worth reading.
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turtledove's Crosstime books are some of my favorites. This is another gem.
Kenneth Flusche
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not what I expected from the title, but exaxctly what i wanted from the crosstime series, loved it in typical thought provoking Turtledove fasion.
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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)
  • Gunpowder Empire (Crosstime Traffic, #1)
  • Curious Notions (Crosstime Traffic, #2)
  • In High Places (Crosstime Traffic, #3)
  • The Disunited States of America (Crosstime Traffic, #4)
  • The Valley-Westside War (Crosstime Traffic, #6)

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