The Time Traders

~ 1st Novel in the Time Traders Series by Andre Norton

(Series aka) Time Travel, Time War or Ross Murdock

 

NOTE: Many “Print on Demand” publishers have started to release this title. This site has chosen to ignore these published versions and only concentrate on estate sanctioned materials.

 

Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of 1958 hardcover ~

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 scientist 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 base 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.
Andre Norton's earlier books, Star Born and The Star Are Ours!, have made this author one of the most popular writers in the science-fiction field. In this daring adventure into the mists of time, readers will find themselves transported to still more exiting "other" Worlds.

 

Write-up from the back of the 1960s ACE paperback editions ~

“If it is possible to conquer space, then perhaps one can also conquer time. To test this theory Ross Murdock finds himself transplanted to the North Pole to participate in a top secret project. It is suspected that Russian scientists have discovered how to transport themselves back to prehistoric times in order to learn long forgotten secrets. Ross successfully assumes the role of trader during the Bronze Age…
Andre Norton is a superb storyteller whose skill draws the reader completely into a fantastic other world of transposed time.” – Chicago Tribune

 

Write-up from the back of1970s ACE paperback editions ~

Ross Murdock, a convicted criminal, is a “volunteer” for a secret government project: Operation Retrograde. Unwillingly at first, but with increasing fervor, Murdock becomes a member of the team fighting the strangest battle of the Cold War.
The Russians have infiltrated an unknown era of the past and developed powerful new weapons by utilizing some lost technology. American scientists also have the means to transport men into the past, and it becomes imperative that Operation Retrograde succeed in finding and tapping the source of the Russian’s secret weapons.
Murdock and the other members of his team embark on a dangerous and frantic search of almost forgotten time periods in a Cold War where the Past has become the battlefield of the future!

 

Write-up from the front flap of the 1978 Gregg Press edition ~

Since its first publication in 1958, THE TIME TRADERS, the first novel in the Time Traders series by Andre Norton, has been hailed as one of her very best SF adventures.- The story unfolds around Ross Murdock, a convicted criminal with an uncertain past, a bleak future, and an independent spirit. In lieu of more traditional forms of rehabilitation, Ross is “volunteered” for a hush-hush government time traveling corps: Operation Retrograde. Led by archeologist Dr. Gordon Ashe, Ross and the other members of the team embark on a perilous and frantic search back through time and space in an attempt to discover the base of operations for a dangerous Russian scheme. It seems the Russians have developed time travel as well, and are harvesting dangerous scientific secrets of a galactic empire from a starship wrecked on Earth thousands of years ago. Ross finds himself disguised as a wandering trader in Bronze Age England, trying to locate the source of the Russian’s alien technology before they can successfully bring some particularly disastrous invention forward into the present. THE TIME TRADERS is a superb time-travel adventure story. Neolithic Britain is colorfully drawn, the details of the time bases nicely worked out and the characters are people we come to care very much about. This is topnotch Andre Norton, working here at the very top of her craft. This Gregg Press edition includes a thoughtful and informative introduction to the Time Traders Series by Thomas T. Beeler.

 

Write-up from the back of 2006 trade-paper edition ~

If it 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 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!

 

Write-ups from fans ~

This is the first in a series of four time travel books featuring Ross Murdock. Murdock is a repeat offender, a habitual criminal and a judge gives him two choices-- rehab or volunteering for a top secret government. He chooses the project and gets more trouble and adventure than he ever imagined. The Americans are looking through and travelling to the past to find alien technology from crashed UFO's. Unfortunately, so are the Russians and they were there first. From the first, trouble shows up, then things go south and then all hell breaks loose as the aliens show up looking for their stuff and woe to anyone who gets in their way. A wild ride indeed!  ~ PG

 

1958’s The Time Traders is the first of seven books featuring Ross Murdoch. Four of these (The Time Traders, Galactic Derelict, The Defiant Agents, and Key Out of Time) were written by Norton solo and three (Firehand, Echoes in Time, and Atlantis Endgame) were written in collaboration with other writers.
I could tell you a funny story about the series but … no, I will get to it later on.
Ross Murdoch has amassed an impressive criminal record for such a young man. For a long time, he has managed to avoid punishment for his multiple crimes, but now…. ~ JN
Read More ...

 

KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1958
At the end of this century Ross Murdock is given the choice between prison and a dangerous role in a secret mission. Accepting the latter, but determined to escape at the first opportunity, the intelligent young man finds himself involved in a project which demands that he be projected back to various periods in history. For the Americans, aware that the Russians, somewhere in time, have learned the secret of space travel, must for the sake of national safety, obtain the same secret. Hurled back into the earliest ages of man, Ross' volatile intelligence is, for the first time, stimulated as he risks death, posing as a member of prehistoric worlds. By the time the Americans gain control of the secret, Ross is rehabilitated and is a willing participant in the benevolent army of the future. An interesting idea, well handled by Andre Norton, science fiction expert, who projects his reader deftly both backwards and forwards in time and injects his narrative with considerable and interesting historical information. 

 

Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1958 Kirkus Reviews, October 15
1959 by P. Schuyler Miller in Astounding Science Fiction, May, reprinted in: (UK) Astounding Science Fiction, August -September
1959 by Floyd C. Gale in Galaxy Magazine, August
2009 by Stephen Theaker in Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #28
2015 by James Nicoll, February, 13   Θ
2017 by Patrick T. Reardon, May 15
2018 by Judith Tarr at TOR.com, Oct. 01


 

Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1958) Published by World, HC, WP958, LCCN 58011154, $3.00, 218pg ~ cover by Virgil Finlay {Orange Cloth Boards}
  • (1960) Published by ACE, PB, # D-461, $0.35, 191pg ~ # F-236 1963 $0.40 191pg, # F-386 1966 $0.40 191pg, #81251 1970 $0.60 191pg, covers by Ed Emshwiller ~ #81252 1974 $1.25.220pg,  cover by unknown, #81253 1980 $1.95 220pg, #81254 1984 $2.50 220pg, #81255 1987 $2.95 220pg, #81255 1991 $3.99 220pg, covers by Walter Valez
  • (1978) Published by Gregg Press, HC, 0-839-82421-1, LCCN 78026925, $8.95, 220pg ~ The Time Trader Series 1 ~ Dust Jacket and Frontmatter by Wayne Barlowe, Introduction by Thomas T. Beeler {Binding: 5.625 x 8.25 - Dark Blue Cloth Boards with Silver Lettering, Blue End Papers - ISBN 0-839-82421-1 not on copyright page}
  • (1979) Published by G Prior, HC, 0-860-43331-5, 198pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by unknown
  • Time Traders (2000) Published by BAEN, HC, 0-671-31952-3, LCCN 00058665, $24.00, 370pg ~ cover by Steve Hickman ~ Omnibus containing The Time Traders (1958) & Galactic Derelict (1959)
  • (2017) Published by Open Road Media, DM, no ISBN, $0.99, 191pg ~ cover by Ian Koviak

 

Non-English Editions ~

  • (1964) Published in Munich, Germany; by Moewig, OCLC: 73748140, Terra Sonderband 78, 95pg ~ German title Operation Vergangenheit
  • (1984) Published in Rastatt, Germany; by Pabel, 38-118-3802-4, TB 2, 160pg ~ translation by H. U. Nichau ~ German title Operation Vergangenheit
  • (1992) Published in Debrecen, Hungary; by Phoenix, 963-7457-23-2, 215pg ~ translation by Edit Moczok ~ cover by Tibor Szendrei ~ Hungarian title  Időharcosok
  • (1975) Published in Japan; by Kubo Shoten Books, 47-659-1539-5, QT 23, 226pg ~ translation by Komiya Takashi ~ cover by Ichiro Takebe ~ Japanese title 不時着した円盤の謎
  • (1994) Published in Poland; by Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 83-861-3800-9, 211pg ~ translation by Marta Starczewska ~ cover by Joseph Koczorski ~ Polish title Handlarze Czasem [Traders Sometimes]
  • (1999) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Amber, 83-724-5125-7 ~ translation by Robert Pryliński ~ cover by Mike Herder ~ Polish title Tajni agenci czasu [Secret agents of time] (reprinted in 2002 with new cover by Jeff Sturgeon)
  • (2016) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 978-5-699-88123-9, HC, 320pg ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov ~ Russian title Торговцы во времени [Time Merchants] ~ Limited to 3000 copies ~ includes article by Arkady Rukh - Grand Dame on the Cold War Trail

 

Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1993) Published in Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-863-14015-1, HC, 352pg ~ Russian title Война во времени [War in Time]

Contains:

    • "The Time Traders" as "Merchants in Time" ~ translation by Z. Khashimov, pp. 4-180
    • "Galactic Derelict" as "The Conquered Ship" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 181-349

 

  • (2003) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-03581-8, HC, 512pg ~ cover by B. Shaw ~ Russian title Война во времени [War in Time] ~ Limited to 8000 copies

Contains:

    • "The Time Traders" as "Merchants in Time" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 5-148
    • "Galactic Derelict" as "Abandoned ship" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 149-270
    • "The Defiant Agents" as "Envoys do not surrender" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 271-392
    • "Key Out of Time" as "A key from the depths of time" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 393-509

 

  • (2005) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-13405-0, PB, 384pg ~ cover by B. Shaw ~ Russian title Торговцы во времени [Time Merchants] ~ Limited to 8000 copies

Contains:

    • "The Time Traders" as "Merchants in Time" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 5-210
    • "Galactic Derelict" as "Abandoned ship" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 211-381

 

  • (2014) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 978-5-699-70517-7, HC, 768pgs ~ cover art by A. Dubovik ~ series: All Norton ~ Russian title Торговцы во времени [Time Merchants] ~ Limited to 3100 copies

Contains:

    • "The Time Traders" as "Merchants in Time" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 5-222
    • "Galactic Derelict" as "Abandoned ship" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 223-404
    • "The Defiant Agents" as "Envoys do not surrender" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 405-590
    • "Key Out of Time" as "A key from the depths of time" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 591-755

 

  • (2017) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 978-5-699-95494-0, HV, 672pg ~ Russian Title Торговцы во времени [Time Merchants] ~ Limited to 3000 copies ~ includes article by Arkady Rukh - Grand Dame on the Cold War Trail

Contains:

    • "Grand Dame on the Cold War Trail" (article) by Arkady Rukh, p. 7
    • "The Time Traders" as "Merchants in Time" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pg. 15
    • "Galactic Derelict" as "Abandoned ship" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pg. 201
    • "The Defiant Agents" as "Envoys do not surrender" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pg. 351
    • "Key Out of Time" as "A key from the depths of time" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pg. 517

 

View the Original contract

View the Gregg Press contract

View the 1992 Hungarian contract

View the 1993 Polish contract

View the 2004 Russian contract