REVIEW: Time Traders by Andre Norton

REVIEW: Time Traders by Andre NortonTime Traders (Time Traders #1) by Andre Norton
Published: Baen Books (1958), eBook, 154pg
Source: Freebie
Genres: Adventure, Fiction, Sci-fi

Intelligence agents have uncovered something which seems beyond belief, but the evidence is incontrovertible: the USA’s greatest adversary on the world stage is sending its agents back through time! And someone or something unknown to our history is presenting them with technologies—and weapons—far beyond our most advanced science. We have only one option: create time-transfer technology ourselves, find the opposition’s ancient source . . . and take it down.

When small-time criminal Ross Murdock and Apache rancher Travis Fox1 stumble separately onto America’s secret time travel project, Operation Retrograde, they are faced with a challenge greater than either could have imagined possible. Their mere presence means that they know too much to go free. But Murdock and Fox have a thirst for adventure, and Operation Retrograde offers that in spades.

Both men will become time agents, finding reserves of inner heroism they had never expected. Their journeys will take the battle to the enemy, from ancient Britain to prehistoric America, and finally to the farthest reaches of interstellar space. . . . (from Amazon)

My second Andre Norton book! Unfortunately, I didn’t really like it. It’s sci-fi, which is what she’s famous for, so that’s good. There’s time travel! I like time travel, generally. And there’s also aliens(?) and lots of Cold War stuff, which can both be interesting.1 However! Despite all the good stuff, I just couldn’t get into this book.

I think my main problem was that even though it’s set roughly 60+ years into the future from when it was written, it’s all “RUSSIA IS EVIL AND OUT TO GET US.” Which fits with the time period it was written in! And I can see why someone who was living back then would think that Russia was still a major threat way into the future. But. Er. From my perspective, now, it just seems kinda overblown and silly.

There’s a lot of spy vs. spy stuff in this book, only with time travel and historical re-enactments and whatnot. I don’t particularly LIKE spy stuff, so that didn’t help with anything. It never got to any ridiculous levels, and the tension between the good guys and the bad guys was very well done. But I couldn’t help but feel like I was reading an out of date car manual or something.

Besides that, there’s also the problem of the characters. The protagonist, Ross, seemed interesting at first2 but he swiftly turned boring. All the other characters are boring, too. They’re spies, and that’s it. Bah. There’s also no main female characters, though there ARE some secondary ones. But all they do is talk at the male characters! Bah again.

On the whole, I liked Time Traders a lot less than The Prince Commands. In fact, I didn’t really like it at all. Maybe if I’d read it back when it was first published in the 1950s, I’d have enjoyed it more? Probably. I’ll try more Andre Norton books, but not ones in this series.

Read: Jan. 5-6, 2013

You can also get it free at Project Gutenberg!


  1. especially if you’re interested in xenophobia and social movements and whatnot.
  2. he’s a criminal! In the future! That’s kinda cool.

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