Worlds Beside Worlds: Andre Norton’s The Crossroads of Time

Somehow in my head I seem to have conflated this novel and its sequel with any number of Doctor Who episodes. It’s not what I would call time travel, it’s parallel worlds—kind of a stripped-down version of The Man in the High Castle, with portals. Our Norton Hero(tm), named Blake Walker in this iteration, slips sidewise through time, rather than back and forth from past to future. He’s always in the same present, but with different outcomes based on the results of key decisions in the past of each world.

Norton had a thing for portal stories. The Crossroads of Time, published in 1956, is one of her earliest, and it’s another solid adventure with a relatable protagonist.

Blake has no family and a standard Norton backstory: policeman dad died in action, mom conveniently pined away and died; he’s on his way to art school in a carefully ...