cover image The Valley-Westside War

The Valley-Westside War

Harry Turtledove. Tor Books, $24.95 (285pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1487-1

The thought-provoking sixth Crosstime Traffic book (after The Gladiator), set in a time line where 130 years have passed since the devastating worldwide nuclear war of 1967, shifts the series focus from commerce to wartime ethical dilemmas. The people of Westside, one of the tiny fiefdoms around what was once Los Angeles, don't know that friendly trader Jeff Mendoza and his family are actually scholars visiting from the ""home"" time line, where the Soviets and Americans never launched their missiles. Jeff's teenage daughter, Liz, chafes under the local conditions, struggling to get along with the sexist, condescending locals. When troops from the nearby Valley invade Westside, Liz finds herself fending off a love-smitten Valley soldier who, much to her surprise, is not stupid, just ignorant. Turtledove subtly challenges Liz's assumptions about the superiority of her own culture, raising the question of the home time line's responsibility to help the people of other lines, but leaving it for presumed sequels to answer.