In Andre Norton's Cold War-era science fiction story, Russian scientists have found a way to harness time travel and develop new weapons based on lost technology. Convicted criminal Russ Murdock finds himself reluctantly volunteering to join an American team to return to the past to tap the source of the Russians' weapons. Narrator Peter Ganim's bold performance emphasizes the thrills and excitement of this action-filled adventure, populating his narration with easily-recognizable characters, from the military men's gruffness to the menacing accents of the Russian antagonists. Ganim voices Russ as a vintage anti-hero -independent, wary and intelligent - and listeners will find themselves charmed and eager to find out the outcome of his dangerous mission.
If it is possible to conquer space, then perhaps it is also possible to conquer time. At least that was the theory American scientists were exploring in an effort to explain the new sources of knowledge the Russians possessed. Perhaps Russian scientists had discovered how to transport themselves back in time in order to learn long-forgotten secrets of the past.
That was why young Ross Murdock, above average in intelligence but a belligerently independent nonconformist, found himself on a “hush-hush” government project at a secret base in the Arctic. The very qualities that made him a menace in civilized society were valuable traits in a man who must successfully act the part of a merchant trader of the Beaker people during the Bronze Age.
For once they were transferred by time machine to the remote Baltic region where the Russian post was located, Ross and his partner Ashe were swept into a fantastic action-filled adventure involving Russians, superstitious prehistoric men, and the aliens of a lost galactic civilization that demanded every ounce of courage the Americans possessed.
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This is the first book in a great series by Norton. I read all these book when I was in high school and was very pleased to find this one on audible.
This story does have a few old ideas, like the Russians as enemies etc., but it is classic Andre Norton.
The way the author immerses you in a long past world and bring the highly advanced forerunners into the story make this a wonderful way to spend a long car trip.
I look forward to more of the books in this series.
I must have missed this book years ago when reading Andre Norton's works, so I read this with a reasonable familiarity with Andre's works. I enjoyed it immensely. While the Cold War backdrop is quite understandable to someone of my generation, it may be somewhat confusing to younger folks as knowledge of it is assumed.
But having said that, I really enjoyed the plot and the development of the main character. I particularly enjoyed the immersion in the world in the past. You can almost smell the woodsmoke.
I was very sorry when the book ended. It provided hours of enjoyable commuting.
Kat at FanLit
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Ross Murdock just can’t follow the rules, so he keeps getting in trouble with the law. He’s arrogant, rebellious, independent, smart, competent, and proud. That makes him the perfect recruit for the government’s secret Time Traders program, so when they offer Ross the option to either join up or go to jail, he doesn’t have much choice. Ross has no idea what’s going on with his new job, but he figures he’ll be able to escape. That turns out to be a lot harder than he expected — because they’ve sent him back in time! Ross’s job is to figure out how the Soviets (“the reds”) are getting their advanced technology. The U.S. government thinks they are getting it from somewhere in the past and Ross must try to find their secret base in a Bronze Age society. Stubborn and hard to defeat, Ross Murdock is the perfect man for the job. But this job isn’t easy — it’s a constant fight for survival.
The premise of The Time Traders reminds me of Kage Baker’s COMPANY books, which I love — modern humans go back in time to find information or objects that are needed in the future. They have to deal with the discomforts of life in the past while trying to masquerade as a native of that time and place. Much of the challenge involves learning how to cope without modern technology and conveniences, hiding their more enlightened sensitivities, and dealing with the ignorance and superstitions of the natives.
The Time Traders lacks the humor that’s such a big part of Kage Baker’s books, but it almost makes up for this with non-stop adventure. In just this first book of the TIME TRADERS series, Ross encounters numerous deadly wild animals, gets a serious head injury, loses his memory for a while, rides a raft down a river, meets aliens, fights with enemies of all types, gets captured, gets abandoned in the past, trusts a traitor, and more that I can’t tell you without spoiling the plot. Most surprising of all, Ross realizes that maybe he’s not really the loner that he thought he was. It’s an exciting story that would be appropriate for teens or adults.
There are some thoughtful bits, too. For example, there’s an interesting discussions about how some personalities thrive or suffer in certain times and/or civilizations. Murdock was an outcast in the society he was raised in, but he blooms as a Time Trader. As an extension of this, for example, someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder will have trouble in our sit-in-your-seat-and-be-quiet kind of society, but might easily rise to the top in a different environment.
I listened to Peter Ganim narrate Audible Frontiers’ version of The Time Traders and I’d recommend it. I bought the free Kindle version at Amazon and then purchased the audiobook for $1.99 with the Whispersync deal. You can also find free audio versions at Librivox because The Time Traders is in the Public Domain. There are six sequels. The last three books are co-authored.
The story itself is slow and a bit boring but the narrator will put anyone to sleep.
Too poised. No difference in characters. Felt like he was trying to win a proper speaking contest.
I am a retired Credit Union Examiner who loves baseball, sfi-fi stories & reading books about our history. I still believe in the future.
If you Andre Norton's books, you will love this as well.
Allowed me read the book as well as listen to it. Very enjoyable.
I think this is the first of Norton's books I've plowed through. I'd try something else, but this story was a disappointment. A lot happened in the story, but it seemed very contrived. It sort of felt like a poorly conceived first person shooter. There was a lot of action but little satisfaction. I really didn't care about the main character and Norton made time travel about as interesting as driving to Buffalo. It isn't that the story was written in the 50s. I've enjoyed well written SF that was written in the 30s. The "Red Menace" theme is not overplayed or particularily anachronistic. It just wasn't interesting. I recommend taking a pass on this and trying another of Norton's works.
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