The Gladiator follows the same concept as the other Crosstime Traffic novels. A parallel world similar in most respects to our own has discovered the technology to visit and trade with other parallels, spreading the notions of liberty and capitalism at the same time.
The plot of The Gladiator follows the same formula of the other books in the series with an imperiled company operative and local protagonists being used as guides to the parallel. In The Gladiator it is indeed the capitalist West that has been consigned to the "dustbin of history" and the world has been remade in the image of the Soviet Union. The point of divergence from ours was the decision of the United States to allow the Soviet missiles to remain in Cuba during the Cuban Missile crisis and the complete withdrawal from Vietnam in 1968. Thus, communism spread throughout Latin America and Southeast Asia giving the Soviet Union an upper hand in economic and military strength over the United States. Due to the embargo of the many countries that were captured in the Soviet Sphere, the United States went bankrupt and lost its position as a super power, and most of Europe went communist afterward in the 1980s and 1990s. A hundred years later, communism has taken over much of the world and capitalism is very much dead.
The protagonists of the novel, Gianfranco and Annarita, are teenagers in an Italian People's Republic, satellite to the interests of the USSR. Amidst the grey Soviet Brutalist tenements they discover a strategy game shop that is disseminating capitalist ideas with the games they sell. The shop is a front for the Crosstime Traffic trading monopoly, as the protagonists discover when the shop is closed by the authorities and one of the clerks, Eduardo, turns to the protagonists for help.
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