The Time Traders is the first novel in The Time Traders series by Andre Norton. It is part of Norton's Forerunner universe.
The Time Traders introduces the series' premise, a confrontation between Western heroes, and the "Reds", and a mysterious alien race that has used time travel to alter Earth. This novel alternates among the present day, a trading tribal society in Britain, 2000 B.C., and a glacial outpost in the last ice age.
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.
In her Time Trader novels Norton tacitly assumes that the physics of time travel differs so significantly from the physics of space travel, especially hyperdrive-propelled interstellar flight, that a civilization that discovers the technology of one simply will not discover the technology of the other. Earth’s physicists have discovered the secret of time travel, but the engineers and scientists who built and use the time transporters have devised a clever way to obtain the secrets of space travel: if we can’t discover the secrets for ourselves, we will get them from someone who did.
"Effectively utilizing the concept of time travel, the author ... has written another imaginative, action-filled science fiction story for teenage boys. Young Ross Murdock ... is sent back into the Bronze Age, discovers a derelict galactic ship, and finds himself fighting ... to gain control of the secrets of space flight."—ALABooklist.
The Time Traders was first published in 1958, and has been printed in several editions.
Andre Alice Norton (1912-2005) was an American writer of science fiction and fantasy with some works of historical fiction and contemporary fiction. She wrote primarily under the pen name Andre Norton, but also under Andrew North and Allen Weston. She was the first woman to be Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy, first to be SFWA Grand Master, and first inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. In 2005, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, announced the creation of the Andre Norton Award, to be given each year for an outstanding work of fantasy or science fiction for the young adult literature market.