In High Places is the third volume in series of young adult novels, Crosstime Traffic. These books have a shared background, a late 21st-century Earth that’s supported by trade with alternate timelines, in the style of classic Paratime stories. But each book is self-contained, with different central characters and a plot that’s completed in one volume, so that they can be read independently without difficulty.
In High Places will be of special interest to libertarian readers, because its focus is on slavery. offers a straightforward economic interpretation of slavery: technologically advanced societies have machines to serve as slaves, but societies without that advantage have no choice but to have human beings occupy that role. On the other hand, he also suggests that slavery is a source of personal gratification for some people, even in an advanced society that has no need for it.is a historian by training, and these books reflect this: all of them have been set in worlds with less advanced technology and archaic customs. A running theme is the confrontation of young people from a modern society with the harsher realities of the past—and the economic constraints that created them.
In High Places, for example, takes place in a world somewhat like that of The Years of Rice and Salt, where the Black Plague was much deadlier than in real history—but divergence is less extreme: rather than killing over 99% of Europeans, leaving the continent empty and Christianity all but forgotten, the plague in this world killed only 80%, leaving Europe vulnerable to a Muslim resurgence in Spain, Italy, and the Balkans, while the surviving Christian areas went down a different historical path.has also made a name for himself in the fictional subgenre of alternate history, creating a variety of historically divergent worlds. Many of his series have focused on the big sellers in this field, the Civil War and World War II. These books seem to be giving him a chance to invent histories with less often used divergences.
As young adult novels, these books are shorter thanbooks for adult readers. Personally, I find this a pleasure; they feel more focused, with smaller casts of characters and a faster narrative pace. I don’t find young adult novels as good as classic juveniles—but the comparison’s not hopelessly one-sided, either; if is the sun in this particular sky, is at least a bright moon. Probably his single worst trait as a young adult novelist is a recurrent impulse to condescend to his protagonists, pointing out things that they don’t know or haven’t realized. But he does this in his adult novels, too. If I wanted to try to infect a young adult reader with an enthusiasm for science fiction, I might pick these over as a starting point, if only to avoid the chance that a fifty-year cultural gap might make less accessible. And a bright middle school student who read could learn enough about historical and cultural gaps to make classic work more accessible to them.
In particular, Podkayne of Mars, and it’s not one of his best books for this age group. Several of juveniles have strongly portrayed female characters (for example, Ellie Coburn, Caroline Mshiyeni, and Peewee Russell), but they tend to be peripheral to the action. books have boys and girls equally well portrayed, and equally central to the action. Annette Klein, the protagonist of this story, has the competence and the will to take effective action on her own, without being turned into a cinematic supergirl. And her friendship with Jacques, a boy her own age native to the alternate history her family is assigned to, is believably portrayed.was writing boys’ books; that was how young adult science fiction was classified when he started. He only wrote one science fictional girls’ book,
This novel is a good introduction to the Crosstime Traffic series. Readers of Prometheus may take a little extra pleasure in its antislavery theme and its quiet support for religious tolerance; but fortunately, neither is heavy-handed. The classic formula, “instruct by pleasing,” is still good advice for young adult fiction, andshows that he understands that pleasing the reader has to drive the story, whatever educational or moral content may be riding in the passenger seat. I’ve liked all three books in this series, but I find this one the best, and it makes me look forward to more.
All trademarks and copyrights property of their owners.