Curious Notions - Harry Turtledove This does rate a solid 4 stars in my book.

Paul and his father are from the Home Timeline, a timeline where technology has advanced a bit further than it has in our own and inflation has hit the world much, much worse. The Home Timeline is like an exaggerated version of our world. There are so many people that the world is starving, cars are cleaner, more animals are extinct, gadgets are even more prevalent, and of course, they can travel across alternate timelines. It appears that alternate timelines appear when major world events happen and can end in one outcome or another, the timeline splits at these points. The people at the corporation Crosstime Traffic, travel across these timelines and set up shops selling technology and things that those timelines need in exchange for food and things that the Home Timeline need (and of course to turn a profit).

Paul and his father head to an alternate timeline where Germany won World War I. They've never even heard of Hitler in this timeline because Germany already rules the world. They work at a shop called Curious Notions, selling technology that is obsolete in the Home Timeline, but just above the level of this timeline. However, the German Police start asking questions, because the technology even trumps what they have hoarded to themselves. Pointing their finger to imports from China, (a rising superpower) they get Lucy Woo's family involved in a war between the Tongs and the Germans. When the Germans arrest Paul's father and watch Curious Notions, they find themselves in real trouble. Could they be stuck here forever? Could the Germans learn the secrets of Crosstime Travel?

I found this book to be a frank look at the pros and cons of the direction that our society is heading as well as an honest discussion of how bad (and better) things could be for us. At the same time, this book was rather fluffy and incredibly easy to read.

The character of Paul was a little obnoxious. He was supposed to be that way, I think, however. He was so naive and continually made the same stupid mistakes that he had, the page before, been dismissing as idiotic. I know he was supposed to be a child and naive, but dear Gods, he was an idiot. Lucy Woo, however, was a strong wonderful female character. She felt like Paul's Hermione, a lot smarter and continually saving his ass.


Where I found myself disappointed is that the language got reused and reused and reused. It felt like whole sentences and thoughts were repeated from paragraph to paragraph. And while this makes following the main important points easier, it got a little annoying from time to time.